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The analysis of the passage is as follows:
A | Predestination. Steps leading to Conformity.
B | Purpose. Christ. Firstborn among many brethren.
A | Predestination. Steps leading to Glory.
Predestination is the link that goes back into the timeless past. Glory is the link that
reaches on to the ages of the ages. Calling and Justification are the links that unite past
and future and belong to the present time. Conformity to the image of Christ must
include justification, for righteousness is a fundamental necessity; it is the value behind
all values, without it even Divine Omnipotence would be unable to attain the goal of
the ages. The Greek word summorphos `conform' is found only in Rom. 8: 29 and
Phil. 3: 21.
"Conformed to the image of His Son."
"Fashioned like unto His glorious body."
In these references, the work is the Lord's, and lest this should escape us, Phil. 3: 21
ends with the words:
"According to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself."
The word morphe `form' gives us `conform' and `be conformed', and schema
`fashion' found in Phil. 2: 6-8, gives us metaschematizo `change' in Phil. 3: 21. This
reference to His work is not thrown in just to round the passage off. It is a special aspect
of His work that is in view, namely that which "subdues all things". Paul uses the same
word here, hupotasso that he uses six times over in I Cor. xv, 27, 28 translated "put
under", "subdue", and "subject". Transfiguration is an integral part of the process that
has the goal of the ages in view.
Here therefore we have `purpose', for it is written that He makes all things work
together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His
purpose, and whoever is "predestinated", of them it can be said:
"Being predestinated according to the purpose of Him Who worketh all things after
the counsel of His Own will" (Eph. 1: 11).
The practical approximation of the truth is suggested by the use of the verb
summorphoomai in Phil. 3::
"That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His
sufferings, being made conformable unto His death" (Phil. 3: 10).
Here the Apostle looked back to the cross, whereas in Phil. 3: 21 and Rom. 8: 29
he looked forward to the glory. The doctrine of `the cross' is so vast that it is necessary
to take the matter further. The particular aspect of the subject is found in Phil. 2: 6-8:
"Who being in the form (morphe) of God . . . . . . . taking the form (morphe) of a
servant . . . . . made in the likeness of man . . . . . . . found in fashion (schema) as a man,
He humbled Himself . . . . . even the death of the cross . . . . . Wherefore God also hath