Useful Bible Studies > Philippians Commentary > chapter 3

Not yet perfect

Philippians 3:12

The Holy Spirit was working extremely powerfully among the first Christians (Hebrews 2:4). That fact caused some of them to believe that their relationship with God was already perfect and complete (1 Corinthians 4:8 and 4:10). Some of them even began to think that the bodies of God’s people will never rise from death (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). Probably those Christians expected Christ to return while they were still alive. So, it upset them much whenever a Christian died (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

It seems that these wrong ideas had reached the church at Philippi. So, in Philippians 3:15, Paul refers to people with different opinions from him. In the Greek language, he also refers there to Christians who consider themselves ‘perfect’. (Many Bible translations say ‘mature’ instead of ‘perfect’ there.)

So Paul teaches Philippi’s Christians carefully about death (1:20-23). He also teaches them about the resurrection, the time when God’s people will rise from death.

Paul wanted Christians to understand the purpose of their lives on earth. They must not simply wait in a lazy manner for Christ’s return (2 Thessalonians 3:6-13). Rather, Paul urged them to think about themselves as runners in a race. The race meant their lives in this world; the prize is the resurrection. That prize is already certain, because Christ has obtained it for them. However, before they can claim it, they must overcome many difficulties in this life first. They overcome, not by their own efforts, but by Christ’s death and in the power of the Holy Spirit (Revelation 12:11; Philippians 3:10).

Christians have a wonderful relationship with God now. At the resurrection, their relationship with him will truly be perfect and complete. That is more wonderful than anything that the human mind can imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Next part: Life as a race (Philippians 3:13)


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© 2020, Keith Simons.