Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 3:10-14 Paul emphasizes the out-resurrection. Verse 11 says, “If by any means I may attain to the out-resurrection from among the dead.” Paul’s endeavor was to attain to this outstanding resurrection. In verse 12 he goes on to say, “Not that I have already obtained or am already perfected, but I pursue, if also I may lay hold of that for which I also have been laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” Here Paul admits that he had not yet attained the out-resurrection, but he continued to pursue that he may lay hold of it. For this out-resurrection, Christ had laid hold of him, and now Paul’s desire was to lay hold of the out-resurrection. The purpose of Christ in laying hold of him was that he might obtain the out-resurrection. Hence, in verses 11 and 12 the out-resurrection is Paul’s goal, the object of his pursuit.
In verses 13 and 14 Paul continues, “Brothers, I do not yet reckon myself to have laid hold, but one thing—forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before, I pursue toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Here we see that Paul did not reckon himself to have laid hold of the out-resurrection already. However, he pursued toward the goal, the goal of the out-resurrection, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
There is a difference between the goal and the prize. Paul pursued toward the goal for the prize of God’s high calling. Every calling has a purpose with a goal. What are the purpose and goal of God’s high calling? The expression “high calling” used here does not mean that the calling is high; it means that this calling is from above, that is, from the heavens. Literally translated, the Greek means “the above calling.” In Hebrews 3:1 Paul uses the term “heavenly calling.” The out-resurrection is both the purpose and the goal of God’s heavenly calling. Therefore, if we consider 3:10-14 carefully, we shall realize that the out-resurrection is Paul’s subject.
The term “out-resurrection” is found in the Bible only in 3:11. According to my knowledge, most translations ignore the Greek prefix ek, which means “out.” Here Paul adds this prefix to the usual Greek word for resurrection. What was his reason for doing this? According to his vision and experience, Paul realized that God’s intention in the universe is altogether related to something which is new, something in resurrection, but resurrection in a very particular sense, not resurrection in an ordinary sense.
The common meaning of resurrection is that something dies and comes to life again. Lazarus was resurrected in this way. He had died, had been buried, and had even begun to smell bad. Then the Lord Jesus came and cried out, “Lazarus, come forth!” and Lazarus came out of the tomb (John 11:43-44). Was the resurrection of Lazarus a case of the out-resurrection? No. Even though Lazarus was raised from the dead and came to life again, nothing of the new creation was wrought into him. Instead, he continued to be a person in the old creation. At most, Lazarus experienced restoration; he was restored from death to the natural life. But he was neither regenerated at that time nor did he receive a new constitution. Have you ever heard a message telling you that the resurrection of Lazarus was still in the realm of the old creation and that Lazarus was not resurrected into the new creation? The fact that Lazarus was not brought into the new creation through resurrection is proved in that one day he died again and his once-resurrected body was laid once more in a tomb.
The out-resurrection in 3:11 is very different from the resurrection of Lazarus. Did Paul expect to return to the tomb once he obtained the out-resurrection? Certainly not! The resurrection Paul was pursuing in Philippians 3 was something absolutely apart from the old creation and in the new creation. What Paul terms the out-resurrection refers to a resurrection out of the old creation and into the new creation.
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