The resurrection of the dead - That is, the resurrection of those who, having died in the Lord, rise to glory and honor; and hence St. Paul uses a peculiar word which occurs no where else in the New Testament, εξαναστασις . The words, as they stand in the best MSS., are as follow: εις την εξαναστασιν την εκ νεκρων, to that resurrection which is of the dead. This glorious resurrection, and perhaps peculiarly glorious in the case of martyrs, is that to which St. Paul aspired. The word αναστασις signifies the resurrection in general, both of the just and unjust; εξαναστασις may signify that of the blessed only.
If by any means - Implying, that he meant to make use of the most strenuous exertions to obtain the object.
I might attain unto - I may come to, or may secure this object.
The resurrection of the dead - Paul believed that all the dead would be raised Acts 24:15; Acts 26:6-8; and in this respect he would certainly attain to the resurrection of the dead, in common with all mankind. But the phrase, “the resurrection of the dead,” also might be used, in a more limited sense, to denote the resurrection of the righteous as a most desirable object; and this might be secured by effort. It was this which Paul sought - this for which he strove - this that was so bright an object in his eye that it was to be secured at any sacrifice. To rise with the saints; to enter with them into the blessedness of the heavenly inheritance, was an object that the apostle thought was worth every effort which could he made. The doctrine of the resurrection was, in his view, that which distinguished the true religion, and which made it of such inestimable value Acts 26:6-7; Acts 23:6; 1 Corinthians 15; and he sought to participate in the full honor and glory of such a resurrection.
The apostle himself was endeavoring to reach the same standard of holiness which he set before his brethren. He writes to the Philippians: “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: ...that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:7-14). There is a striking contrast between the boastful, self-righteous claims of those who profess to be without sin, and the modest language of the apostle. Yet it was the purity and faithfulness of his own life that gave such power to his exhortations to his brethren. SL 86.1Read in context »
Writing to the Philippians, he describes his experience before and after his conversion. “If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh,” he says, “I more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” Philippians 3:4-6. SR 311.1
After his conversion his testimony was: SR 311.2
“Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” Philippians 3:8, 9, A.R.V. SR 311.3
The righteousness that heretofore he had thought of so much worth was now worthless in his sight. The longing of his soul was: “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:10-14. SR 311.4Read in context »