Philippians 3:10-11

10 That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

11 If, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

know (v.10) — more than mere knowledge — appropriation — to come to know by experience.

that I may know Him (v.10) — not referring to salvation. Paul was already saved. This is experiential knowledge applied to daily life.

power of His resurrection (v.10) — The power of new life and all it enables us to do — imparted by the Holy Spirit. At salvation, this power gives us new life, but it is also available in our daily lives (Romans 6:13) and, ultimately, when we are glorified.

fellowship of His sufferings (v.10) — being crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20), but also the fact that living for Christ involved suffering for His sake (2 Corinthians 1:5; Colossians 1:24; 1 Peter 4:12-13) — the ongoing rejection of Christ.

conformed to His death (v.10) — death of the carnal self — dying to self, living as one who died with Christ and has been raised in newness of life (Romans 6:4, 6-8)

if (v.11) — not a condition — lit. “if somehow,” a contingency

If, by any means (v.11) — Paul (and we) will experience resurrection whether by martyrdom, natural death, or Rapture

attain (v.11) = reach, arrive at

resurrection from the dead (v.11) — identification with Christ in His resurrection and its effects — not referring to the physical resurrection which is assured to all believers (Philippians 1:21)

Paul’s statement, “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead,” was not an expression of doubt, as it has been noted, but one of humility. He wanted to humbly attain to this particular resurrection. Since the apostle uses the definite article (the) he is making reference to a specific resurrection that we believe only pertains to the Body of Christ. He then uses a triple compound Greek word exanastasis, which literally means to stand up out from. This word is exclusively used by Paul and only appears in this passage. The last phrase, of the dead in the original has the idea of out from among the dead. So then, when we tie all of this together we have the following: “If by any  means, I might arrive unto the out-resurrection out from among the dead.”

We believe the out-resurrection is a reference to our spiritual resurrection in Christ, specifically in its practical application. When we follow the theme Paul has been developing of his identification with Christ, not only was he crucified with Christ, but he had also been raised with Him to walk in newness of life. As the apostle sought to apply this wonderful truth experientially, he wanted his resurrected life to stand out among those who were spiritually dead in the world so they might be drawn to Christ through his godly example. As Paul strove to attain his goal he had learned the importance of setting his affections on things above.

“If ye then be risen [past tense] with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). — Sadler, pages 158-159.


But Paul has forfeited the loss of all things not only that he might appropriate Christ as Savior and have others see by his life that that was the case, but in order that he may know Him. The words “to know” are again, “to know by experience.” The tense causes us to translate, “to come to know by experience.” Paul wants to come to know the Lord Jesus in that fullness of experimental knowledge which is only wrought by being like Him. He wants to know also in an experiential way the power of Christ’s resurrection. That is, he wants to experience the same power which raised Christ from the dead surging through his own being, overcoming sin in his life and producing the Christian graces. The Greek word for “power” used here is the same one that is used in Romans 1:16, and means, “that which overcomes resistance.” He wants to come to know the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. The Greek word for “fellowship: here means “a joint participation.” The sufferings of Christ spoken of here are of course not His substitutionary sufferings on the Cross, but His sufferings for righteousness’ sake while on earth. Paul speaks of these and of his joint-participation in them in Colossians 1:24.

When these four things are true of Paul, namely, to be discovered by men to be in Christ by the very life he lives, by coming to know Him better all the time, by experiencing the same power that raised Christ from the dead surging through is own being, and by becoming a joint-participant in His sufferings for righteousness’ sake, then Paul will constantly be made conformable to Christ’s death. The words “made conformable” mean literally, “to bring to the same form with some other person.” It is the same Greek word the apostle used in the great Kenosis passage (Philippians 2:5-8), meaning in its verb form “to give outward expression of one’s inner intrinsic nature.” Paul’s desire was that he might so come to know his Lord, the power of His resurrection operative in his life, and a joint-participation in His sufferings, that he would be brought to the place where he would become, both as to his inner heart life and also as to the outward expression of the same, like his Lord with respect to His death, not merely His physical death which was for others, but His death to self, as illustrated so vividly to the Philippians in the self-emptying of the Lord Jesus in 2:7, a self-emptying that was true of our Lord not only in His act of becoming incarnate and of stooping to the death of the Cross, but also one that conditioned His entire life and made it the beautiful life it was, a death to self, a denying of self for the blessing of others. This was what Paul was striving for. The most radical conformity is here indicated. It was not only the undergoing of a physical death like that of Christ’s, but a conformity to the spirit and temper of His life, the meekness, lowliness, and submission of Christ.

The expression “if by any means” is not an expression of doubt but one of humility. It is a modest but assured hope. The servant of the Lord who wrote this passage by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit also wrote Romans 8 which begins with no condemnation for the believer in Christ and ends with no separation of the believer from Christ. “Might attain” has the idea in the Greek text of “to arrive at, as at a goal.” The Greek word used here translated “resurrection” is only found here in the New Testament. It is literally “out resurrection.” The word Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 15:12 is the simple word for “resurrection,” speaking of the fact of either the lost or saved being raised from the dead. But here he has a reference to a particular group raised out from among those who are dead, the saints. Luke in Acts 4:2 speaks of this particular and separate resurrection of the saints out from among the unsaved dead who will be resurrected one thousand years later, and uses the same Greek word that Paul does, but does not prefix the preposition “out” to the word “resurrection,” the idea of a particular resurrection “out from among” coming from the Greek words translated “from the dead.” Paul’s use of the word “out,” here merely intensifies the idea of a particular and separate resurrection of the saints from that of the unsaved. This participation in the out-resurrection from among the dead will mean to Paul unbroken knowledge of and fellowship with Christ. Translation: Yes, for His sake I have been caused to forfeit all things, and I count them but dung, in order that I might come to know Him in an experiential way, and to come to know experientially the power of His resurrection, and a joint-participation in His sufferings, being brought to the place where my life will radiate a likeness to His death, if by any means I might arrive at the goal, namely, the out-resurrection out from among those who are dead. — Wuest, pages 93-95.

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