Philippians 3:11-15
Phil 3:11 (KJB)
If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Here Paul is expressing his desire to be part of the physical resurrection unto life which awaits all true believers who have physically died before the Lord returns. When Paul spoke of becoming saved, this spoke of a spiritual resurrection, that is, we were once spiritually dead to the things of God but when we became saved, we were indwelled by the Holy Spirit and we were made alive unto the Lord. (Eph 2:6 KJV) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: Now since we are resurrected spiritually we are now able to walk the Christian life. (Rom 6:4 KJV) Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Once the Christian is raised from the dead, they will be in absolute perfection of holiness because the old body of sin will have been completely done away with and sin no longer harasses the believer.
Phil 3:12 (KJB)
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
I follow after - Pursue or press forward
If that I may apprehend & I am apprehended - Seizing, take over, grasp, laid hold
Here Paul is stating that he is not claiming that he has already attained that perfection neither was he claiming that he was perfect since the day he became saved because he knows fully well that the ultimate perfection of the Saints will happen after the resurrection. While he remains on the earth he continues to follow after, and that word “follow after’ in the Greek carries with it the same strength as one who is persecuting someone. Paul would have been familiar with this since before salvation he was a persecutor of the church. So Paul states that he zealously follows after his life of sanctification in the true Gospel of which Christ has already given him. What he is saying here is that when he met the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, this was only the beginning of his salvation experience and Paul had always desired to know more of Christ and that is what he so zealously pursues. The Lord Jesus was the beginning of Paul’s salvation and will be the end, but during that time period, Paul wants to become more intimate in his knowledge and understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Phil 3:13 (KJB)
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
Reaching forth unto - Stretching out
Paul continues to state that he knows that he has not attained that spiritual perfection which all the true Saints seek but here Paul lays down a principle which if adhered to can engender much growth in the believer’s life. Believers must consistently forget what they did in the past life and this is not just a single occurrence but it must be done continuously. If we were a drunk before salvation, we must never dwell on it because all that we did has been forgiven by God and it is our responsibility to stretch forward unto the things which are before us and that is our pursuit of the Christian life with the zeal of a persecutor. Too many times Christians are still living their lives in the past and this causes stagnation of spiritual growth. Some Christians glorify their past lives and call it testimonies. How many times I have heard Christians repeat their past lives. The problem is that what is focused on is the past life and Christians forget the fact that we are not to be living in the past but we are to be focused upon our future, both the ministries here on earth and eternal life. The problem is too many ministries. Such as “Focus on the Family” consistently airs programs with pre-salvation lifestyles and they focus on the emotions rather than the present spiritual life. We are to forget whet we were in the past life and we are to forget what we did in the past life because it is gone, finished, removed, expunged, and most of all forgiven. If anyone had cause to feel remorse for their past it would have been the Apostle Paul who had personally persecuted the church and even gave consent to the death of Stephen. Paul could not change what he did before salvation and neither could we and that is why we are to constantly forget or put out of our minds the things which could hinder our spiritual growth.
Phil 3:14 (KJB)
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
I press - I pursue
The mark - Goal or objective
High - Above or upward
The reason we are not to bask in our past life is because we are to press toward the mark for the prize of our high calling in Christ by God. Paul uses the athletic example that we are to pursue that higher calling in Christ as the goal or objective of every believer. That calling is not a lateral calling but is one that is from above. Every believer has a calling from God upon their life and if we insist on living in the past, we will lose sight of our reason of existence. As Christians we continue to mature in the faith and that maturation comes not from sitting on the side lines feeling sorry for ourselves from our past life but it comes from continuing to pursue the goal of that high calling which means we have a part to play and God has a part to play. As we pursue, we grow. The goal or objective for the believer is to continue with the pursuit of that high calling, whereby we grow, also our growth is accelerated by a wider gap between our past life and our present life.
Phil 3:15 (KJB)
Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
Be perfect - Mature, complete, full-grown
Minded - Disposition or attitude of mind
Otherwise - Differently
Here Paul is telling the Philippians that as many of them which are perfect or mature are to have the same attitude of mind which he just explained to them, that is, to forget what lies behind and to press toward the high calling of Jesus Christ. He is not speaking of those who are ultimately perfect but those who are becoming more mature as they continue to walk in the prescribed manner of growing Christians which he just expounded on. If any of the Philippians were not thinking in this manner, maybe some might have still clung to portions of the law, God would eventually reveal the errors to them. If any Christian holds a wrong doctrine but they are sincerely seeking the truth in these matters, then God will show them the errors to gently guide them back into the right understandings. If a Christian is not open to correction of wrong doctrine, then God may just allow them to continue on and later they will be shown the truth in a very hard way.