Monday in the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time

Philippians 3:9-16

Press On!

Normally Philippians 3:12-16 is treated as a unit in most commentaries and probably constitutes a paragraph in your Bible.  There is nothing wrong with this; we must slice the books and letters of the Bible into manageable parts if we are to speak coherently about those parts and about the Bible as a whole.  But I have included the few previous verses of 3:9-11 with 12-16 lest we misunderstand the latter.

As we saw yesterday, Paul wants to be found in Christ not with his own righteousness (which is no righteousness at all) but with the righteousness which comes through faith in Christ.  It is this righteousness which is the means of knowing him, the power of his resurrection, and sharing in his sufferings—to which Paul then adds the line, “that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”  Now we should not think that Paul doubts that he shall be raised from death unto life everlasting on the last day.  Instead we should see Paul’s humility here, a humility which will not allow him to presume upon God’s grace, and a humility which urges him to continue running the race aiming for a prize which he has not yet attained for the simple fact that he is still living in this world.  At any rate, I attach verses 9-11 to 12-16 so that we should not make the mistake of thinking that Paul is speaking in 12-16 of a “works-righteousness” as he is clear in 9-11 where righteousness comes from.

In 12-16, Paul states that he is not already “perfect”; the Greek word could also be translated “mature.”  Still, he presses to “make it [his] own, because Christ Jesus has made [him] his own.”  Furthermore, Paul does not consider that he has made it his own.  “It” seems to be this maturity or perfection, though “it” is not in the Greek text but assumed by the translators.  Regardless, Paul refuses to slacken his pace even though he has not yet reached maturity or perfection, but laying aside past defeats and victories, or worries about the future, he continues to strain ahead and press on.

And this should be every believer’s task.  Until we reach our heavenly goal, we should press on in holiness and godliness every day, not so we may earn the prize which has already been promised us, but so we may anticipate and enjoy the benefits of the prize even now.  Paul tells us that to think this way is a sign of maturity, and if there are those who think that they have already reached perfection, they’ll learn otherwise soon enough.  In the end, let us hold fast to what we have attained—by pressing on.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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