Resurrection Power

In the opening thanksgiving of Philippians, Paul prepares his readers for his discussion on going on to perfection in Jesus in Chapter 3, meaning the future resurrection of believers. That must occur to complete their faith and consummate their salvation. Bodily resurrection is foundational to the Apostolic hope of salvation, which believers receive when Jesus appears in glory.

What God began in the Philippians at their conversion He will continue to perform until the “Day of Christ” when Jesus returns, raises the dead, and gathers his elect. The Apostle begins by thanking God for what He has accomplished in the Assembly “from the first day until the present.”

Cemetery Sun - Photo by Simeon Muller on Unsplash
[Photo by Simeon Muller on Unsplash]

Paul remains convinced that God will complete what He started among the Philippians “
until the Day of Jesus Christ,” not simply because of Who He is, but also based on the past resurrection of His Son from the dead - (Philippians 1:3-10).

The clause “Day of Jesus Christ” refers to his future coming when he will appear in glory and gather his saints. It will be a time of judgment and salvation – condemnation for the wicked, but vindication for his elect - (Romans 2:16, 1 Corinthians 1:8, 2 Corinthians 6:2, Ephesians 4:30).

In his two letters to the Thessalonians, Paul equates this day with the expectation of the “Day of the Lord” found in the Hebrew Bible, an event that results in judgment and punishment for some, but salvation for many others - (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-9).

As for going on to “perfection,” Paul provided an example based on his life. After his conversion, he put his Jewish heritage aside to pursue completion in Jesus - “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ…I have suffered the loss of all things and do count them dung that I may win Christ.”

He did this after obtaining the knowledge of Christ, which he found to be of infinitely greater value than his past accomplishments in Judaism, including the death and resurrection of Jesus on which the Gospel and salvation are based, what the Apostle now describes as the “power of his resurrection.”

  • “…That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death, if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained or am already made perfect, but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus” - (Philippians 3:10-12).

Bodily resurrection is powerful because it reverses the state of Death, voids its sentence imposed on all men thereby breaking the tyranny of sin, and invalidates the Devil’s legal claim and actual dominion over humanity exercised since the transgression of Adam (“The sting of death is sin” – 1 Corinthians 15:56).

Rather than excel in the traditions of his ancestors as he previously did, Paul now pursues conformity to the sufferings and death of the Nazarene so that he might attain the “resurrection out from among the dead,” and in this way achieve “perfection.”


Since the Death and Resurrection of the Messiah, the true “circumcision” consists of those who are “rendering divine service in the Spirit of God and boasting in Christ Jesus, and not having confidence in the flesh.” Perfection cannot be achieved by removing foreskins or rigorously observing lunar calendars. Such fleshly rituals are rendered obsolete by the Cross of Christ - (Philippians 3:1-3).

Conformity to his death must be pursued through the Spirit of God that transforms believers daily into the image of Christ, and the future resurrection is necessary for the “completion” of this process. Indeed, the Gift of the Spirit is the foretaste and the guarantee of the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23, Ephesians 1:14). Resurrection is not optional. It is central to the Apostolic teachings and hope.

Moreover, whatever disciples receive from God between now and the return of Jesus, the process of salvation will remain incomplete until they are raised from the dead on the “Day of Christ.”

For the disciples of Jesus, the future resurrection will mean receiving a new body of the same nature as the glorious body possessed by the Risen Jesus. Thus, his past resurrection demonstrates and confirms the future glories we will inherit when he arrives “on the clouds of Heaven” to gather us to himself.

Completion” means exchanging our mortality for an immortal and glorified body conformed to the resurrection body of Jesus Christ. Thus, “death, the last enemy, will be abolished,” we mortals will put on immortality, and “Death will be swallowed up in victory” - (1 Corinthians 15:54).

  • Defeating Death - (Paul reminds Timothy of Christ’s resurrection and victory over death since false teachers are denying the resurrection of believers)
  • Raised from the Dead - (Paul anchored all that God has done in the resurrection of Jesus, which also inaugurated the Messianic Age - Galatians 1:1-5)
  • The Redemption - (At the heart of the salvation provided by Jesus are bodily resurrection and New Creation, and both events will occur at his arrival from heaven)



Covenant and Redemption

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