A Study of Philippians 3:12-16

A Study of Philippians 3:12-16

A Study of Philippians 3:12-16 shows a work in progress, a certain future, and strong finish for Christ-followers.

A Study of Philippians 3:12-16 shows a work in progress

V.12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

Every Christ-follower is a work in progress. Even Paul admitted it about himself. His desire was to grow in Christ-likeness, but it was a process that would continue his entire life. And it should represent our goal too.

The phrase “make it my own” is translated from the Greek word katalambanō which means to take eagerly, seize, possess. The NIV Bible translates it “take hold of” and perhaps, more accurately describes Paul’s meaning.

Paul admits that as a human he is imperfect. Although he pursues perfection and eagerly strives to take hold of it. But he lives with the assurance that it’s not all on him. Jesus has also, taken hold of him.


Describe how you sense that Jesus has taken hold of you? As you consider your own progress toward Christ-likeness, how are you doing in your eagerness to take hold of it?

A Study of Philippians 3:12-16 shows a certain future

V.13 forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…

Paul doesn’t hold on to any of his credentials or regrets of past sins. And neither should we.

In other words, he doesn’t forget what’s behind by wiping the past from his memory. But by refusing to let it effect his forward progress. He won’t leverage credentials to his advantage or let past sin weigh him down with guilt and shame. Which is a common strategy Satan employs against Christ-followers. If he can’t keep you from entering the Kingdom of God, he’ll try to block you from taking others with you by making you feel inadequate.

Because most of us live with regrets. Things we shouldn’t have done but did. As well as things we should have done and didn’t. And this is where we lean on God’s grace because it covers them all.

A Study of Philippians 3:12-16 shows a strong finish

V.14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul communicates the picture of a runner leaning forward with all his energy as he crosses the finish line. Which is called “a strong finish” in track and field jargon. Because when you’re in a race, it’s critical to ignore the other runners next to you and focus on crossing the finish line looking straight ahead and at full speed. Paul turns that image into a spiritual analogy. He’s leaning forward in the finish of his spiritual race and the anticipation of collecting an eternal reward.

It’s a good question to think about. Are you in a spiritual sprint looking straight ahead or a sight-seeing trot toward heaven?

V.15 Let those of us who are mature think this way,

The Greek word teleo is translated “perfect” in V.12 and “mature” in V.15. And it means to carry out, complete, and fulfill. So Paul does not mean absolute perfection in V.12, but reaching a level of spiritual completeness. To grow to a point of fulfilling the purpose God has for you.


In what ways does your Christian walk demonstrate spiritual maturity? Where does it need adjustment? Are you progressing? Stagnant? Regressing? Where is adjustment needed?

In conclusion, it’s important to acknowledge absolute perfection is out of reach in this life. But we should strain forward towards that goal. And show progression towards a greater level of spiritual maturity.

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About Chip Tudor:

Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and professional writer. He publishes books, humorous Christian drama, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview.