To Know Him
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. (Phil. 3:10-11)
I do not possess a lexicon or have an understanding of the Greek so I can only take these verses at face value. We could use an allegorical approach in explaining these verses, but most of what Paul says does not need to be spiritualized. It is usually straight forward and to much so for some people's taste. Many would like to water down Paul's writings by saying, "surely he couldn't have meant to say that." Even Peter brought out this detail when he said, "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood," (II Pet. 3:16) Peter had difficulty comprehending much of what Paul said and did, but that's another story. If Peter who lived at the same time as Paul didn't understand, adding almost 2000 years to the equation, doesn't make the picture any clearer for us. Without the revelation of the Holy Spirit, you can read the Bible until your eyes fall out and it will be just so many words.
Paul's ability to pen these verses shows he had a love for his Savior that was fourth dimensional. Being in the fourth dimension means it was not his love, but the love of Christ, Himself that constrained him to be who he was. The flesh has great difficulty with this kind of commitment and can not comprehend how the soul can be so foolish. Paul was simply giving back to Christ that which had been given to him.
The first part of verse 10 is not hard to take. To know the power of his resurrection. The power Paul is talking of here is truly out of this world. This is the power the kingdom message is trying to apprehend. It is the power that has the ability to overcome death, itself. What more could a person ask for than the power to bring life out of death. Paul had this power, but knew full well it wasn't where he was to live. To have stayed at this level of understanding would have been defeat for not only Paul, but for everyone who followed. If the life could not be lived by the Christ in Paul, who was hand picked, then what would be left for the birthed children of the Father? Jesus walked on this earth doing only the will of the Father. Paul is the best human example we have of one who lived by the life of Another.
The second part of this verse gets a little heavier. It is talking of knowing the fellowship of his sufferings. Paul could have gone all day without saying this as far as I'm concerned. This commitment to knowing borders on the frightening for some. It poses the question, "Do I really want to be this deeply conformed to my Lord?" Paul could only say what he said, because I am crucified with Christ....(Gal. 2:20) was a reality in his life. He embraces the suffering of Christ with total abandonment, because at this point in his journey, Christ is his life. Nothing else possesses any value. Two verses prior to this we are told, "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord:" (Phil. 3:8) In verse 10 he is describing how deep and how complete this excellency has taken hold of him. It is an excellency that welcomes whatever may come his way. He has learned to abound and to suffer need. To Paul these are two sides of the same coin-- Christ.
The last part of verse 10 pulls out all of the stops. Being made conformable unto his death. He is telling us he is willing to go to the grave for what he believes. Some may wonder about Paul's sanity at this juncture. Commitment is fine, but let's not get carried away. The reality is the revelation of Christ as his life has completely overwhelmed the survival instincts of his flesh. The flesh can no longer instill fear in his mind, because the Spirit is in control. This is the living life of Christ that we all desire, but find so elusive. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:7) This verse is tossed to others almost as a life preserver. I have done it myself trying to offer encouragement to someone in need. Now I understand the peace in this verse should be Peace, for it is Christ, Himself who keeps our hearts and minds through Himself.
Verse 11 explains why he has no fear of death. If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. His trust in the Father was so complete that he was certain of one thing. If the Father desired that Paul be raised from the dead, it would happen. I am sure Paul was thinking of the time he was stoned and left for dead. You may say, "but he wasn't dead, he was only left for dead." This may be true, but ask yourself this question. How many people, beaten and left for dead, get up, dust themselves off and walk away? If he was that severely beaten, crawling would have been more appropriate. Whether he was dead or only mostly dead is not the point. The fact that he walked was nothing short of a miracle in itself. At this time in his life, Paul had endured just about every unkindness and hardship known to mankind. The faith of Christ in him had never failed him and he was not about to start looking over his shoulder.
This is the end the Father desires for all of us. Not that we would suffer or die for our belief, though this may happen, but that we would know the power of his resurrection. The power of His resurrection leaves no room for defeat, because it overcomes all. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Cor.15:55)