“Let us press on toward the goal” Phil 3:12-14

 by Steven Chan

In Phil 3:16, the apostle Paul exhorted Christians: “Let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.” What’s that same mind that he wanted us to have?

He explained it in Phil 3:12-14: “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.”

Twice in the above paragraph, Paul said, “I press on”:-

  • “I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”
  • “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

What is it that Paul was seeking to “lay hold of” which is the “goal for the prize”?

Paul tells us in Phil 3:11 the goal that he strives to lay hold of: “if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” He was not referring to the raising to walk in newness of life when one has been baptized (Rom 6:3-5; Col 3:1). He was referring to the day when he will be raised from the dead at the coming of the Lord Jesus, and to be with Him thereafter in heaven. This is the hope of every Christian (John 14:1-3; Acts 24:15; I Thess 4:13-14, 16; Titus 2:13).

Paul explains it further in Phil 3:20-21: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”

He explained this resurrection to the Christians in Corinth: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power…we shall all be changed– 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Cor 15:42-43; 51-53)

Paul said that this resurrection and transformation will occur when He comes again: “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”(1 John 3:2-3) “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thess 4:16-18)

Let us have the same mind of pressing on to the attainment of the resurrection from the dead. This is the “salvation ready to be revealed in the last time”:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”(1 Peter 1:3-5). Because Jesus He lives (by overcoming death), we have a living hope that we too will be raised from the dead at His coming, to receive an inheritance reserved in heaven for us all. “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Heb 6:19). May we never lose this hope which is the goal of the prize of the upward call of God.