12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
perfected (v.12) = brought to completion — realizing the complete and constant power of Christ — spiritual maturity
press on (v.12) = pursue
that (v.12) — “if that” in KJV — as in verse 11, contingency (if, somehow), not condition
lay hold (v.12) = lay hold of so as to possess as one’s own
that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me (v.12) — Paul desires to grasp the full meaning and purpose of what the Lord had done for him when he was saved on the road to Damascus.
Brethren (v.13) — Paul is expressing an earnest appeal
count (v.13) = looking back on a process and drawing a conclusion
I do not count myself (v.13) — emphasis on “I” in contrast to others who were counting themselves. Some considered themselves as sinlessly perfect, but Paul didn’t.
but one thing (v.13) — (“I do” was added by translators) Paul’s great object and goal
forgetting those things which are behind (v.13) — Paul isn’t surveying his past progress in the Christian life. He’s not resting on past laurels.
reaching (v.13) = stretching forward — continuing with the illustration of a foot race — concentrating on the goal
press (v.14) — pursue, same as “press on” in verse 12
goal (v.14) = aim, object — a mark on which the eye is fixed
prize of the upward call (v.14) — prize received (crowns?) at the high calling — not our “calling in life,” but a call from heaven that we should always focus on.
Paul is pursuing the goal of Christlikeness. He has no time to ponder either his life before salvation or even his earlier Christian life. He is setting his eyes entirely on the ultimate goal. If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:1-2).
Our goal is perfect Christlikeness, even though we will never obtain it until we are glorified.