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Volume 8 - Page 122 of 141 Index | Zoom | |
The Hope and the Prize.
"Not already perfected" (Phil. 3: 12).
To attain unto the out-resurrection, that which is out from among the dead, was the
apostle's earnest desire; that he had not, at the time of writing Phil. 3:, reached the
position that would mean he was certain of attaining to it is clearly indicated by the words
already considered, "if by any means I might attain", of verse 11, and the added statement
of verses 12 and 13 now to be considered.
The fact that the apostle reiterates his uncertainty of attainment, and that he elsewhere
is so positive with regard to the believer's hope, makes it clear that the out-resurrection is
a prize to be won, and not simply a matter of free and sovereign grace.
"If by any means I might attain unto the out-resurrection that which is out from among
the dead. Not that I have already obtained (i.e. obtained the prize. Compare I Cor. 9: 24,
`receiveth'), or already been perfected; but I pursue if indeed I may lay hold on that for
which also I was laid hold of by Christ. Brethren, I count not myself to have laid hold of
(it); but one thing forgetting the things behind and stretching forth to the things before,
according to a mark I pursue towards the prize of the high vocation of God in Christ
Jesus" (Phil. 3: 11-14).
The apostle seems to desire to make it plain that the race was still in progress, the
prize still unwon, and so he says, "not that I have already obtained, or already have been
perfected". It would seem that to have been perfected, would have placed the apostle in a
position to have obtained, but seeing that he had not been perfected, he still had to run the
race with patience. The out-resurrection and the prize of the high vocation were not to be
attained or obtained without labour.
The believer, like his Lord, is perfected through sufferings. Christ Himself is the great
example, He is the author and PERFECTER of faith, and in that capacity is represented
as enduring the cross and despising the shame, for the joy set before Him. Though a Son,
yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered, and was thereby perfected.
The apostle desired this perfecting; hence, in the verse preceding his reference to the
out-resurrection, he gives as qualifications for attaining unto it, fellowship in Christ's
sufferings and conformity to His death*. The perfecting work of "temptation" is shown
by James, for in 1: 2-4 he writes:--
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that
the trying of your faith worketh patience, but let patience have its perfect work, that ye
may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
The same writer goes on to show the perfecting of faith in the case of Abraham when
he was tried (2: 22).
[ * - For further notes on the subject of "perfecting" the reader is referred to Volume VII pages 117-121.]