May 5 – Resurrection Power

That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.

Philippians 3:10

Jesus Christ’s resurrection most graphically demonstrated the extent of His power. That’s the kind of power the apostle Paul wanted to experience because He realized he was helpless to overcome sin on his own.

The resurrection power of Christ deals with sin at our salvation. We experience His resurrection might at salvation. We were buried with Christ in His death, and we rose with Him to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).

But to defeat sin daily, we need His resurrection power to be our resource. We need His strength to serve Him faithfully, to conquer temptation, to overcome trials, and to witness boldly. Only as we build our relationship with Christ and tap into His might will we have victory over sin in this life.[1]


Power

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection (3:10a)

Paul had already mentioned the deep, experiential knowledge of Jesus Christ that comes at salvation (v. 8). But still the cry of his heart was that I may know Him. That initial saving knowledge of Christ became the basis of Paul’s lifelong pursuit of an ever deeper knowledge of His Savior. Specifically, Paul longed to experience the power of His resurrection. He knew there was no power in the Law. He also knew there was no power in his flesh to overcome sin or serve God (cf. Rom. 7:18). But because he knew Christ and had His righteousness imputed to him, Paul had been given the Holy Spirit and the same spiritual power that raised Jesus from the dead.

His resurrection was the greatest display of Christ’s power. Rising from the dead (cf. John 2:19–21; 10:17–18) revealed His absolute power over both the physical and spiritual realms (cf. Col. 2:14–15; 1 Peter 3:18–20). Paul experienced Christ’s resurrection power in two ways. First, it was that power that saved him, a truth he affirmed in Romans 6:4–5: “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” In salvation, believers are identified with Christ in His death and resurrection. But more than that, it is Christ’s resurrection power that sanctified him (and all believers) to defeat temptation and trials, lead a holy life, and boldly and fruitfully proclaim the gospel. Paul gladly exchanged his impotence for Christ’s resurrection power, and desired to experience its fullness.[2]


That I may know Him. To know Him means to gain practical day-by-day acquaintance with Him in such an intimate way that the apostle himself would become more Christlike. He wants the life of Christ to be reproduced in himself.

And the power of His resurrection. The power that raised the Lord from the dead is set forth in Scripture as the greatest display of might which the universe has ever seen (Eph. 1:19, 20). It would seem as if all the hosts of evil were determined to keep His body in the tomb. God’s mighty power defeated this infernal army by raising the Lord Jesus from the dead on the third day. This same power is placed at the disposal of all believers (Eph. 1:19), to be appropriated by faith. Paul is stating his ambition to experience this power in his life and testimony.[3]


10 Paul understands that knowledge of God only comes from knowing Christ, whom God raised from the dead (Koperski, 236). “To know Christ” is akin to putting trust in him (Ps 9:10) and being loyal to him (Jer 2:8; 9:2–3). Putting trust in Christ is for Paul the same thing as putting trust in God. He assumes that one becomes like the one who is known, so that one is willing to forgo privileges and entitlements and undergo suffering and death. Knowing Christ is not some sublime, cerebral enlightenment but something that is experiential. For him it means becoming Christ’s slave, loving others as Christ did, and giving of himself as Christ did.

The “power of his resurrection” may refer to the influence that the risen Christ exerts on the believer, but it more likely refers to the power that raised Jesus from the dead (Eph 1:19–20). Paul’s belief that Christ’s resurrection was the firstfruits and that those who belong to Christ will be raised with him (1 Co 15:20–28) drives his reversal of values and reordering of priorities. The difference is between placing one’s confidence in the flesh and placing one’s trust in the hope of the transformation of the flesh.

Paul makes clear that experiencing the power of Christ’s resurrection is accompanied by participating in his suffering and death (Ro 8:17; cf. 1 Co 15:30–31; 2 Co 1:5; 4:8–11; Gal 6:17; Col 1:24; 2 Ti 2:10). God’s power and protection of his people do not prevent them from bearing the cost of holding fast to the gospel in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Php 2:15–16). They must experience the weight of the cross before they taste the power of the resurrection (cf. George R. Beasley-Murray, The Book of Revelation [NCB; London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1974], 181). Paul understands from Christ’s example that one only finds life by pouring it out for others, just as Christ poured out his life (cf. Stagg, 207). Resurrection is placed first because one will not be able to put suffering and death in proper perspective unless one is first convinced that God conquered death by raising Jesus from the dead (1 Co 15:12–28). Paul is no masochist and does not rejoice in suffering for its own sake. It only brings him joy because it is “certain evidence of his intimate relationship with his Lord” (Fee, 333). His aim is not to suffer but to become Christlike in suffering—being obedient to death and dying for others. Being conformed (symmorphizō, GK 5214; NIV, “becoming like”) to Christ’s death (Ro 6:5; 2 Ti 2:11) will result in being conformed (symmorphos, GK 5215; NIV, “like”) to his glorious resurrected body (3:21).[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 142). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (pp. 238–239). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1973). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Garland, D. E. (2006). Philippians. In T. Longman III (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 242–243). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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