The Berean Expositor
Volume 21 - Page 133 of 202
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"The high calling" or "The upward call"?
pp. 91 - 94
Many translate the words of Phil. 3: 14 as though they teach a future summons on
high. "The on-high calling" and "the upward call" are phrases in common use, implying
the thought of a future summons on high. While we do not need the names of other
teachers to support our witness, a remark of Sir Robert Anderson in this connection is
worth weighing over. With reference to the "upward call" he remarked that those who
used the phrase never completed the quotation. The complete statement, "The upward
call of God in Christ Jesus", does not so readily fit in with the thought of a future
However, we have a greater witness than man; we have the consistent usage of the
Word, and those for whom we write will be convinced by this, though they may be
unmoved by a university. The word in question is klesis and occurs eleven times in the
N.T., being translated once "vocation" and ten times "calling".  Let us note these
passages before proceeding further:--
"The gifts and calling of God are without repentance" (Rom. 11: 29).
"For ye see your calling, brethren" (I Cor. 1: 26).
"Let every man abide in the same calling" (I Cor. 7: 20).
"That ye may know what is the hope of His calling" (Eph. 1: 18).
"Walk worthy of the vocation (calling) wherewith ye are called" (Eph. 4: 1).
"The prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3: 14).
"That God would count . . . . . worthy of this calling" (II Thess. 1: 11).
"Called us with an holy calling" (II Tim. 1: 9).
"Partakers of the heavenly calling" (Heb. 3: 1).
"Make your calling and election sure" (II Pet. 1: 10).
There is scarcely any need to debate the meaning of "calling" in these passages. The
calling of Rom. 11: 29 refers back to 9: 7 and might well be rendered "vocation". The
calling of I Cor. 1: 26 refers back to 1: 9--again a vocation, not a future summons from
God. The calling of I Cor. 7: 26 is most definitely a man's means of livelihood, his
profession or business. Eph. 4: 1 translates the word unambiguously "vocation". And
there is no reason why the same rendering should not be adopted in Phil. 3: 14:--
"The prize of the high vocation of God in Christ Jesus."
It is true proverb that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. We have often had an
argument pressed upon us based on the fact that the word "high" in Phil. 3: 14 is an
adverb, the reasoning put forward being as follows:--
"Adverbs govern verbs; therefore `calling' must have here be a verb and refer to a
call yet to be given by God--a call or summons on high, for which the church is