“not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect. But I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I am apprehended of Christ Jesus”. Paul here saying he was not yet perfect but that he follow after that which would eventually make him perfect. Vines states perfect in this verse means, “to bring to an end by completing or perfecting, to accomplish, fulfill
Of Christ it is stated in Heb. 2:10, “ for it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect though his sufferings”. Heb. 5:9, “and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him”. When did Christ become perfect”? Matthew 28:18, “all power has been given to me in heaven and in earth”. He received this power when he ascended to the Father. Daniel 7:13, 14, “ I was watching in the night visions, and behold One like the Son of Man, coming in the clouds of heaven. He came to the Ancient of Days. Then to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away. And his kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed”. Made perfect at that time.
If we run the race that is set before, die in the Lord, at the resurrection we will at that time will be made perfect. Phil. 3:14, ‘I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. II Timothy 4:12, 13, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Therefore there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me on that day. And not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing”. These verses show what must be done while here on earth, before we become perfect in heaven. So, what are we to do here on earth?
The word perfect also carries with it a different meaning from the one above. Paul states in Phil. 3:15, “let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded”. I Cor. 2:6, “howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect”. Eph. 4:13, “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man”. Strong’s states the meaning in these verses of “perfect” means “growth”. If we are to be made perfect to be in heaven, we must strive to be perfect here on earth. Can it be attained? These verses shows it can. But only through growth of the Scriptures.
Phil. 3:15, “let us (Paul includes himself as being perfect here on earth) therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded”. In what ways was Paul perfect here on earth? He was perfect in comparison to others who had not yet come to the full knowledge of the gospel. Eph. 3:4, Paul states, “whereby when you read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ”. Paul stating they should reach the state where he was in the gospel. Paul tells the Philippians in 1:9, “and this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment”. In what ways was Paul perfect here on earth? He was perfect in comparison to others. Perfection demands sincerity, uprightness, integrity. Truth was in him, his faith unfeigned, his love was without hypocrisy, his manner of life was godly, his conduct and preaching was sincere, and in this meaning he was perfect before God. How are you doing in your growth? Can we place ourselves of the same level as Paul?
- CL Bruner