In Philippians 3 Paul used two different (but related) Greek words which were both translated with the same English word "perfect".

Here is the passage:
Php 3:11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

Php 3:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already PERFECT : (#1) but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

Php 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

Php 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Php 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as be PERFECT, (#2) be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

#1 refers to spiritual perfection which Paul said he had not attained.

Robertson's Word Pictures: "Paul pointedly denies that he has reached a spiritual impasse of non- development ....but the goal is still before him, not behind him."

#2 refers to the spiritual maturity which Paul expected some in Phillipa (including himself) to have. (Those no longer on milk)

RWP: "Here the term teleioi means relative perfection, not the absolute perfection so pointedly denied in Phi_3:12. Paul here includes himself in the group of spiritual adults (see Heb_5:13)"

The interesting and important teaching is that Paul wanted those who were mature to press on to receive the "prize" of the high calling* of God in Christ Jesus.

*Literally, “of the upward calling.”

Paul did not explain so we must assume that the Philippians already knew about the prize to be won. What is that prize?

The answer which makes most sense to me is that the prize is the "crown of life". Crown was a word used to denote a wreath awarded to the winner of a contest.

For example:
Jas 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the CROWN OF LIFE, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

The ASV brings out the sense of the Greek when it translates "...when we are approved..."

Jas 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he hath been approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to them that love him.

We must pass the testing of our faith to receive the crown of life promised to those who love God. (The love of God is to keep His commandments).

Only those who love God with their whole heart, mind and soul - will be able to pass the fiery trials which come to all who seek eternal life.

If those who have the crown of life remain faithful until death they will have "attained that prize" That is why Paul said " Not as though I had already attained"

Harold Kupp

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