“That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death;”

“That I may know Him,”
Literally:  “To know Him.”To be the true and promised Messiah, and experience all that salvation which He has bought by His blood.  This is Paul’s major passion:  to get more personal knowledge of Christ by experience.

         That I may be fully acquainted with His nature, His character, His work, and with the salvation which He has wrought.  It is one of the highest objects of desire in the mind of the Christian to know Christ,  (Eph. 3:19).  To be ready to die as Jesus did, and so to have fellowship with him in death, is a glorious lesson in the learning of grace.  To know Christ in His true character, by trusting in Him and experiencing the transforming effects of such knowledge in my own soul.
         Unfortunately, many Christians think that once they have received their salvation through faith in Christ that there is nothing else to pursue.  Such a believer will remain in the infancy stage of Christianity

“God feeds His children in response to an appetite and a desire, and apart from that desire there will be no feeding.  And apart from that feeding there will be no growth, and apart from that growth, there can never be spiritual maturity.  Spiritual giants are not born, they are made.”–Dwight Pentecost, The Joy of Living, p. 138.

        TO KNOW:  (Grk.–gnōnai)–It is important to note the Greek verb which Paul uses for “to know”  is from the Greek verb (ginōskein), which usually indicates personal knowledge. This is Paul's major passion, to get more knowledge of Christ by experience.  That I may be fully acquainted with His nature, His character, His work, and with the salvation which He has wrought.  It is one of the highest objects of desire in the mind of the Christian to know Christ. See  Eph 3:19.

Paul is not just referring to intellectual knowledge; the knowledge of knowing certain facts or principles.  We may see the depth of this word from the fact of its usage in the O.T.  The Septuagint (LXX) uses it to express sexual intercourse:   “Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived  and bore Cain” (Gen. 4:11).  Paul is using this word to show that it is not just his aim to know about Christ, but personally  to know Him.  For Paul, salvation was only the beginning, not the end.  For Paul, to know Christ means certain things.    

KNOWLEDGE #1—It Means to Know the Power of His Resurrection.

“and the power of His resurrection,”–Paul is here stating his goal to know Christ completely, not simply as the Justifier, but also as the Sanctifier.  That is, that he may understand and experience the proper influence which the fact of His resurrection should have on the mind.

         While righteousness comes from the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the power of God is demonstrated in the resurrection of Christ. In having this body of my humiliation raised from death, and made like unto His glorious body. This seems to be the sole meaning of Paul; for it is in virtue of Christ's resurrection that we are to be raised incorruptible and immortal.  raised from the dead!   There is no one truth that will have greater power over us, when properly believed, than the truth that Christ has risen from the dead. His resurrection confirms the truth of the Christian faith.
          Having this body of my humiliation raised from death, and made like unto His glorious body.  This seems to be the sole meaning of Paul
's; for it is in virtue of Christ's resurrection that we are to be raised incorruptible and immortal.  For Paul, the resurrection was not simply a past event in history, however amazing it may have been; it was not simply something which had happened just to Jesus.  The resurrection of Christ is the great dynamic; the driving force in at least three different directions:
1.      It is the guarantee of the importance of this life and of this body in which we live.  It was in the body that Christ rose, and it is this body which He sanctifies (see I Cor. 6:13ff).
2.      It is the guarantee that in life and in death, and beyond death the presence of the Lord is always with us.  It is the proof that His promise to be with us always to the end of the world is true.
3.      It is the guarantee of the life to come (Rom. 8:11; I Cor. 15:15Iff).  Because Christ lives, we shall also live;  His victory is also our victory.

        POWER:  (Grk.–dunamis)—This word here translated as “power” refers to ability. 

Paul realized that the same power that was operating in raising Christ from the dead was the only power that could give him the ability he needed for living the victorious Christian life.  This is the same word used in Acts 1:8 where we read that Christ promised the disciples that they would receive “power” after the coming of the Holy Spirit.  The indwelling Holy Spirit gives the believer the ability (power) to be an effective witness for Christ.  Paul wanted to personally experience more of this ability/power in his life.

KNOWLEDGE #2—It Means to Know the Fellowship of His Sufferings

“and the fellowship of His sufferings,”– Partnership in His sufferings, an honor prized by Paul (Col. 1:24). Paul wished to imitate Him. Christ died, not only as a victim for sin, but as a martyr to the truth. Not only in Paul but in the primitive Christians generally, there seems to have been a strong desire after martyrdom: that I may participate in the same kind of sufferings that He endured; that is, that I may in all things be identified with Him.       

         By identification with Him in His sufferings and death, by imputation; also, in actually bearing the cross whatever is laid on us, after His example, and so “filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ” (Col 1:24); and in the will to bear aught for His sake (Matt. 10:38; 16:24; II Tim. 2:11). As He bore all our sufferings (Isa. 53:4), so we participate in His.
         Paul wished to be just like his Savior. He felt that it was an honor to live as He did; to display the spirit that He did, and to suffer in the same manner. All that Christ did and suffered was glorious in Paul’s view, and he wished in all things to resemble Him. He did not desire merely to share His honors and triumphs in heaven, but, regarding His whole work as glorious, he wished to be wholly conformed to that, and, as far as possible, to be just like Christ.
         Many are willing to reign with Christ, but they would not be willing to suffer with Him; many would be willing to wear a Crown of Glory like Him, but not the Crown of Thorns; many would be willing to put on the robes of splendor which will be worn in heaven, but not the scarlet robe of contempt and mockery. They would desire to share the glories and triumphs of redemption, but not its poverty, contempt, and persecution.
         This was not the feeling of Paul. He wished in all things to be just like Christ, and hence he counted it an honor to be permitted to suffer as he did. As Peter says, “rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings,” I Pet. 4:13., so Paul says Col. 1:24 that he rejoiced in his sufferings in behalf of his brethren, and desired “to fill up that which was behind of the afflictions of Christ,” or that in which he had hitherto come short of the afflictions which Christ endured. The idea is, that it is an honor to suffer as Christ suffered; and that the true Christian will esteem it a privilege to be made just like Him, not only in glory, but in trial. To do this is one evidence of piety; and we may ask ourselves, therefore, whether these are the feelings of our hearts.
         Are we seeking merely the honors of heaven, or should we esteem it a privilege to be reproached and reviled, as Christ was; to have our names cast out, as His was; to be made the object of sport and derision, as He was; and to be held up to the contempt of a world, as He was? If so, it is an evidence that we love Him; if not so, and we are merely seeking the crown of glory, we should doubt whether we have ever known anything of the nature of true religion.
         When Jesus was on earth, He suffered for the sake of righteousness, and Paul wanted to participate with Him in this suffering.  After Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, the Lord directed Ananias to go to him.  One of the reasons the Lord gave Anananias for sending him to Paul was, “For I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:16).  Paul had not shrunk back from this suffering; in fact, since this letter to the Phil-ippians was written several years after his conversion, we see that even then he was still considering it a privilege to fellowship in the sufferings of Christ. 

KNOWLEDGE #3–It Means to Know Christ so Intimately that
We Become Conformed with Him in His Death.

         “being made conformable unto His death;”
         Literally:  “Being conformed to the death of Him.”–In all things, being just like Christ; to live as He did, and to die as He did.

        Paul would rejoice to go with Christ to the cross, and to pass through the circumstances of scorn and pain which attended such a death. Yet how few there are who would be willing to die as Christ died, and how little would the mass of men regard it as a privilege and honor!  Indeed, it requires an elevated state of faithful or devout feeling to be able to say that it would be regarded as a privilege and honor to die like Christ; to have such a sense of the loveliness of His character in all things, and such ardent attachment to Him, as to rejoice in the opportunity of dying as He did!
1.      When we think of dying, we wish to have our departure made as comfortable as possible.
2.      We would have our sun go down without a cloud.
3.      We would wish to lie on a bed of down; we would have our head sustained by the kind arm  of a friend, and not left to fall, in the intensity of suffering, on the breast;
4.      We would wish to have the place where we die surrounded by sympathizing kindred, and not by those who would mock our dying agonies.
And, if such is the will of God, it is not improper to desire that our end may be peaceful and happy; but we should also feel, if God should order it otherwise that it would be an honor, in the cause of the Redeemer, to die amidst reproaches-to be led to the stake, as the martyrs have been-or to die, as our Master did, on a cross. They who are most like Him in the scenes of humiliation here, will be most like Him in the realms of glory.

To know Christ is not to be skilled in any theoretical or theological knowledge;
1.      it is to know Him with such intimacy that in the end we are as united with Him as we are with those with whom we love on earth, and that, just as we share their experiences, so also we share His.
2.      It means so be so united with Christ that day-by-day we come more to share in his death, so that finally we share in His resurrection.
         Rom. 8:29 reveals what God desires for each believer:  “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son.” 

        CONFORMED:  (Grk.–summorphizō)-A word which emphasizes one’s inner essence.  Thus, as Paul wrote, he was thinking of the spiritual development of the inner person.  As he learned more about Christ, experiencing more of the ability expressed in His resurrection and participating in the fellowship of His sufferings, Paul knew that these would be used to mold him into the image of Christ. 

“If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”

Better far to die for Christ than live by apostasy.  Gain by selling Christ would be deadly loss; loss for Paul is gain.  May the Lord enable us calmly to choose Christ and his cross and to forsake sin and its transitory pleasures. 

“If by any means”
Literally:  “If somehow.” Implying, that Paul meant to make use of the most strenuous exertions to obtain the object; not implying uncertainty of the issue, but the earnestness of the struggle of faith (I Cor. 9:26-27), and the urgent need of jealous self-watchfulness (I Cor. 10:12).  Paul was not sure of the means, but that he would attain the resurrection. What Paul is really saying here, in our vernacular, is “if somehow.” He was not sure of the means, but he did know his goal.

“I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”
Literally:  “I might attain to a resurrection out of the dead.”–There are two main schools of thoughts among expositors as to Paul’s meaning with this phrase.

        RESURRECTION:  (Grk.–exanastasin)– Here apparently Paul is thinking only of the resurrection of believers out from the dead.  He is not denying a general resurrection but is emphasizing the resurrection of believers.  This word is not used in the LXX. 

Some believe the resurrection that Paul referred to was the resurrection of believers.  They stress that it is not that Paul doubted whether or not he would be resurrected; rather, his doubt was whether he would be living when Christ returned, or would have died by that time.  Others see this verse in connection with Rom. 6:4-5.

        “Therefore we are buried with Him in baptism into death:  that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even as we also should walk in the newness of life."

        “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we should also {in the likeness} of {His} resurrection” (Rom. 6:4-5).

         Either view fits the context of Phil. Chapter 3. where Paul stressed that believers have died with Christ and have been raised to walk in the newness of life.  He believed that all the dead would be raised (Acts 24:15; 26:6-8); and in this respect he would certainly attain to the resurrection of the dead, in common with all mankind. But the phrase, “the resurrection of the dead,” also might be used, in a more limited sense, to denote the resurrection of the righteous as a most desirable object; and this might be secured by effort.
         It was this which Paul sought-this for which he strove-this that was so bright an object in his eye that it was to be secured at any sacrifice. To rise with the saints; to enter with them into the blessedness of the heavenly inheritance was an object that Paul thought was worth every effort which could be made. The doctrine of the resurrection was, in his view, that which distinguished the true religion, and which made it of such inestimable value, (Acts 23:6; 26:6-7; I Cor. 15); and he sought to participate in the full honor and glory of such a resurrection.