Philippians 3:12-16 Scripture
“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.
“15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.” (Philippians 3:12-16)
Philippians 3:12 Meaning
“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.” (Philippians 3:12)
Verse 11 says, “if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” So if we put that verse together with verse 12 it reads…
“…if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 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.” (Philippians 3:11-12)
What does it mean that Paul wants to attain to the resurrection from the dead?
Paul knows that the second resurrection won’t happen until Christ returns, so what does he mean by this statement?
He means that in the same way that he will be absolutely holy and perfect when Jesus returns and gives us a glorified body (1 Thessalonians 5:23), so too Paul desires to be perfect in his walk on this earth.
Once Paul says that this is what he desires, he continues by saying, “not that I have already attained” to this or am already perfected, but I continually press on to this life that Jesus called me to.
You see, Jesus laid hold of us for a purpose and that purpose is to be conformed into His image (Romans 8:29).
Jesus is calling us to put away the old man and his deeds, and put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.
The Father is calling us to be like His Son in every facet of our lives.
Bearing His image and nature is what we are called to, it is our purpose, it is our destiny, it is what we were originally created for, and it is what we have been redeemed back into.
The whole point of us being grasped by Christ is to become like Christ in every expression of our lives.
And the only way to do this is to do exactly what the apostle Paul said he was doing, which is knowing Him.
In verses 9-11 of Philippians chapter 3, Paul said that he received the righteousness of God by faith “that I might know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
I know that there is a lot here but Paul is basically saying, “I want to know Him. I want to know His power. I want to know His suffering. I want to be conformed to His death. I want to lay my life down as He did. I want to do all of this so that I can be like Him on this earth.”
Knowing Him is how we become like Him.
This is why Peter said that all things that pertain to “life and godliness” is accessed “through the knowledge of Him” (2 Peter 1:3).
The only way we can know Jesus is by spending time with Him in His word, in prayer, and in fasting. There is no other way.
Quality and quantity of time are the foundations of every relationship. It is no different with Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14 Meaning
“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. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
Paul continues this theme of becoming like Christ when he says, “I do not count myself to have apprehended.”
Meaning, he has not yet attained to becoming like Christ on this earth.
And honestly, I don’t think he ever attained to perfection, but this I know for sure: he got closer and closer every single day, as it should be for all of us.
But right after Paul finishes recognizing his weakness, he continues by saying, “but this one thing I do” I forget what lies behind me (failures, mistakes, stumbles, etc.) and reach forward to those things that are ahead (holiness, legacy, Chirstlikeness, etc.), “I press toward the goal” of becoming like Christ to which I am called.
So many of us have sincere hearts and desire to be conformed into the image of Christ, but when we stumble or make a mistake we forget to receive forgiveness from our Lord and move on.
The Bible promises us that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins (1 John 1:9).
So if God has forgotten our failures the moment that we acknowledged them through confession, then why should we hold onto them and let them wear us down?
Hebrews 12 says, “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
The act of sin is obviously a snare and a weight to our life, but more than that the remembrance, reflection, and condemnation of sin does just the same.
Let us cast it off! Jesus has already bore our sins, so why should we continue to wear them?
We’re free from the old man so that every day we can wake up in Him and look like Him as we go about our day!
Get alone with God today and talk to Him. Thank Him for forgiving you and wiping you clean with His Son’s blood, and then move on from your past.
Philippians 3:15-16 Meaning
“Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.” (Philippians 3:15-16)
We have seen throughout the past couple of verses the believer’s calling to be conformed into the image of Christ and the intense desire that the apostle Paul had to attain to Christlikeness.
And we see here, in these verses, that the apostle Paul encourages those who are mature to “have this mind.”
“This mind” that Paul is referring to is simply a mind that desires to become like Christ through a relationship with Him and by forgetting failures and reaching forward to Christlikeness.
In fact, Paul even says that if we don’t have “this mind” God will reveal our hearts to us to show us that our eyes should be fixed on becoming like Jesus.
Right after this, Paul says that we should walk out our life to the degree that we have attained.
In other words, don’t beat yourself up if you stumble, just come to Jesus and continue to grow in Him.
Don’t stop walking with Him through life just because you stumbled. Too many Christians do this!
Instead, get a grip on your heart, repent, and get your eyes back on Jesus. Forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead.
A simple way to apply these verses to our lives is by repenting if we have not had our eyes fixed on becoming like Christ.
If you think that you are mature in Christ, but yet you do not have an intense desire to be like Him, then you do not have a mature mindset.
You see, life is full of distractions; our jobs, children, bills, vacations, daily tasks, etc.
All of these are necessary and are a part of life but they are not the reason for life. Don’t let the day-to-day distract you from what really matters.
Our goal in life is to know Him to such a degree to where we become like Him. Christlikeness is Christianity and it is the reason why we breathe.
It is critical that we never forget this.
I hope you enjoyed this article and that it assisted you in your walk with God.
If you want to read more commentary on the 3rd chapter of Philippians you can by clicking the titles below.
Also, if you want to read my commentaries on the other chapters of Philippians you can by clicking one of the titles.
God bless you all and enjoy!