3:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am {l} apprehended of Christ Jesus.

(l) For we run only as far forth as we are laid hold on by Christ, that is, as God gives us strength, and shows us the way.

3:12 Not as though I had already attained. Had already obtained the great prize. It still requires effort. The prize is at the end of the race.

Either were already perfect. He never claimed to have received such a state; nor does he intimate any where that such a state is ever reached on earth.

But I follow after. Press on, as one who must push forward.

If that I may apprehend. The idea is, I press on in the hope that I shall lay hold upon the prize.

That for which also I am apprehended by Christ Jesus. He will seek to lay hold of that for which Christ laid hold of him at conversion, viz. his eternal salvation.

3:12 Not that I have already attained - The prize. He here enters on a new set of metaphors, taken from a race. But observe how, in the utmost fervour, he retains his sobriety of spirit. Or am already perfected - There is a difference between one that is perfect, and one that is perfected. The one is fitted for the race, Php 3:15; the other, ready to receive the prize. But I pursue, if I may apprehend that - Perfect holiness, preparatory to glory. For, in order to which I was apprehended by Christ Jesus - Appearing to me in the way, Acts 26:14. The speaking conditionally both here and in the preceding verse , implies no uncertainty, but only the difficulty of attaining.

3:12-21 This simple dependence and earnestness of soul, were not mentioned as if the apostle had gained the prize, or were already made perfect in the Saviour's likeness. He forgot the things which were behind, so as not to be content with past labours or present measures of grace. He reached forth, stretched himself forward towards his point; expressions showing great concern to become more and more like unto Christ. He who runs a race, must never stop short of the end, but press forward as fast as he can; so those who have heaven in their view, must still press forward to it, in holy desires and hopes, and constant endeavours. Eternal life is the gift of God, but it is in Christ Jesus; through his hand it must come to us, as it is procured for us by him. There is no getting to heaven as our home, but by Christ as our Way. True believers, in seeking this assurance, as well as to glorify him, will seek more nearly to resemble his sufferings and death, by dying to sin, and by crucifying the flesh with its affections and lusts. In these things there is a great difference among real Christians, but all know something of them. Believers make Christ all in all, and set their hearts upon another world. If they differ from one another, and are not of the same judgment in lesser matters, yet they must not judge one another; while they all meet now in Christ, and hope to meet shortly in heaven. Let them join in all the great things in which they are agreed, and wait for further light as to lesser things wherein they differ. The enemies of the cross of Christ mind nothing but their sensual appetites. Sin is the sinner's shame, especially when gloried in. The way of those who mind earthly things, may seem pleasant, but death and hell are at the end of it. If we choose their way, we shall share their end. The life of a Christian is in heaven, where his Head and his home are, and where he hopes to be shortly; he sets his affections upon things above; and where his heart is, there will his conversation be. There is glory kept for the bodies of the saints, in which they will appear at the resurrection. Then the body will be made glorious; not only raised again to life, but raised to great advantage. Observe the power by which this change will be wrought. May we be always prepared for the coming of our Judge; looking to have our vile bodies changed by his Almighty power, and applying to him daily to new-create our souls unto holiness; to deliver us from our enemies, and to employ our bodies and souls as instruments of righteousness in his service.