“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

“I press toward the mark”
Literally:  “I press on after a mark.”–As he who was running a race did.

        I PRESS: (Grk.–dōkō)—This word show the intensity with which Paul was moving toward his goal.  The word appears in v. 12, where it is rendered as “follow after,”  but it means more than just a lackadaisical following after, for it means an intense pursuit.  All of Paul’s attention was on the goal before him—“the mark.”

        MARK:  (Grk.–skopon)–This word is from a form of the word meaning, “to see;”  therefore, the goal is what one sees, whether he sees it with his literal eyes, or simply has his attention fixed on it.  The same word is used by Paul in I Cor. 9:24 when he writes, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize.?”  The prize is the mark Paul is referring to here.  This word is used only here in the N.T.

The “mark” that Paul may have had in mind, and which these Philippian Greeks would have understood, is the object set up at a distance at which one looks or aims; and hence the goal, or post which was set up at the end of a race-course, and which was to be reached in order that the prize might be won. Here it means that which is at the end of the Christian race-in heaven.

Greek RacersGreek Racers


         Paul is saying, “I pursue along the line.”   This is a reference to the white line that marked the ground in the stadium, from the starting place to the goal, on which the runners were obliged to keep their eye fixed; for they who transgressed or went beyond this line did not run lawfully, and were not crowned, even though they got first to the goal.

“for the prize of the high calling of God”
Literally:  “For the prize of the high calling of God.” –The reward which God from above calls me, by Christ Jesus, to receive. Paul still keeps in view his Crown of Martyrdom and his glorious resurrection.  The prize of the racer was a crown or garland of olive, laurel, pine, or apple. The prize of the Christian is the Crown that is Incorruptible in heaven (I Cor. 9:24)

        PRIZE:  (brabeion)—The prize is incorruption and eternal life.  This points to that unbroken and complete fellowship with Christ which is attained through the power of His resurrection; that resurrection being the condition of the believer’s victory over sin and death, and making it possible for him to enter the “house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”. The purified life in heaven is both the goal and the prize.

Greek Stadium            Ancient Greek Stadium

        HIGH CALLING: (Grk.–anō klēseōs)—Literally:  “Calling from above,” or “upward calling.” A calling which is from heaven and to heaven.  The prize is bound up with the calling; promised when the call is issued, and given when the call is fulfilled. 

         Interpreters have differed over what this “calling” involved.  Some think it has to do with the calling at the time of salvation concerning the purpose chat God has for an individual.  Others see it as the time of rewards at the end of the Christian life.  Paul may have had both in view because the not only wanted to faith in the race, but he also wanted to seek to win the prize.
         He may have had in mind what occurred at the Greek games after a person had successfully run the race.  At the end of the race the successful runner was summoned from the floor of the stadium up to the judge’s seat (the BEMA) to receive the prize–the victor’s crown, (the stephanos).  This was known as the “upward calling” for having been successful and faithful in the race.


The BEMA of Philippi Today



“Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded:  and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”

         “as many as be perfect”–Those who would be perfect; or who are aiming at perfection.

Those whom he addressed who might supposed to be aiming at perfection, and he exhorts them, therefore, to have the same spirit that he himself had, and to make the same efforts which he himself put forth. It can hardly be supposed that Paul would address them as already being perfect, when he had just said of himself that he had not attained to that state himself.

        THEREFORE: (Grk.—oun)–Literally: “then”–Then be thoroughly instructed, deeply experienced.  Paul here seems to be picking up his train of thought from verse 3–“as many of us then, as are perfect;” that is, full grown (no longer “babes”) in the Christian life

         PERFECT:  (Grk.—teleioi)–This word is taken here in the same sense in which it is taken in I Cor.14:20: “Be not CHILDREN in understanding, but in understanding be ye MEN.”  Understand that this word “perfect” does not mean to convey sinless perfection, but a desired end, or maturity.  The noun is used in v. 15, whereas the verb is used in v. 12, where it is also translated “perfect.”

In I Cor. 2:6: “We speak wisdom among the perfect, that is, among those who are fully instructed, adults in Christian knowledge.
1.      In Eph. 4:13: “Till we all come unto a perfect man;”  to the state of adults in Christianity.|
2.      In Heb. 5:14: “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, the perfect;” those who are thoroughly instructed and experienced in Divine things.

       Paul is saying, let us therefore, as many as be matured Christian—to have entered fully into the spirit and design of the Gospel, be thus minded, i.e., forget the things which are behind, and stretch forward along the mark for the prize.
       Apparently, Paul is using this word used with a touch of irony (as perhaps the word “spiritual” is used in Gal. 6:1), in reference to those who hold themselves “to have already attained, to be already perfect.”  It is mostly used of such maturity in faith and grace as may be, and ought to be, attained here (Matt. 5:48; I Cor. 2:6; 14:20; Eph. 4:13; Col. 1:28; 4:12; Heb. 5:14).

“be thus minded”
Literally:  “Let us keep on thinking this,”– i.e., That we have not yet attained absolute perfection.

“and if in an thing ye be otherwise minded,”
Literally:  “And if you think anything other.” Paul was calling on all those who were mature in attitude to think the same way that he was thinking.  He wanted them to have their minds fixed on the goal of honoring Christ in all they did so that He might be glorified in their lives.  If they had thought other than this, he realized that he alone could not help them to see the real issues.

         Those of you who have not yet entered into the full spirit and design of this Gospel; if you still have remaining any doubts relative to Jewish ordinances, or their expediency in Christianity, or who had not learned that such high attainments were possible. There might be those among them…
1.      Who had been incorrectly instructed in the nature of the Christian faith;

2.      Who entertained views which impeded their progress, and prevented the simple and earnest striving for salvation which Paul was enabled to put forth.
He had laid aside every obstacle; renounced all the Jewish opinions which had impeded his salvation, and had now one single aim—that of securing the prize. But he realize that there might be those who had not attained to these views, and who were still impeded and embarrassed by erroneous opinions.

         If any had not attained to so much light as to their duty, let them improve what they had, and earnestly seek the teaching of God, and He would impart more. Those who would be perfect must not imagine that they are already so, or count themselves to have already attained complete likeness to Christ; but they must press onward and daily seek it, in obedience to Him, till the end of life.  Possibly, too, he refers to those who were tempted to think to attain to perfection by the Law

“God shall reveal even this unto you.”
Literally:  “Even this God will reveal to you.” —Only God could; but Paul was confident that as long as their desire was to please the Lord, He would reveal to them the areas where their thinking needed correction.

God shall reveal even this unto you; for while you are sincere and upright, God will take care that you shall have full instruction in these Divine things. He will correct your erroneous opinions, and disclose to you the importance of making this effort for the prize. This is the expression of an opinion, that to those who were sincere and true Christians, God would yet make a full revelation of the nature of religion, or would lead them on so that they would fully understand it. They who are acquainted with religion at all, or who have been truly converted, God will teach and guide until they shall have a full understanding of divine things.

“Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.”

“Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained,”
Literally:  “Yet, {as} to where we have arrived.”–Paul is telling them to not lose that part of the race which they have already run, instead to walk by the same rule.  Keep the white line continually in view; mind the same thing, always considering the glorious prize which is held out by God through Christ Jesus to continue to animate and encourage you.

Paul was concerned that the believers in Philippi consistently live according to what they had already attained in the Christian life.  Although one is not to rely on past victories for present successes, one should live in a manner consistent with the level of life he has attained for the Lord.       

        ATTAINED:  (Grk.—ephthasamen)–Whatever real Christian and moral attainment you may have already made, let that serve as a rule for your further advance. 

“let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.”
Literally: “Walk by the same rule, {being} of the same mind.”– Paul means this that having come thus far, the thing to do is to go “in the same path” in which we have been travelling so far. A needed lesson for Christians weary with the monotony of routine in religious life and work.

         The meaning is this: that though there might be different degrees of attainment among Christians, and different views on many subjects, yet there were points in which all could agree; there were attainments which they all had made, and in reference to them they should walk in harmony and love. It might be that some had made much greater advances than others. They had more elevated views of religion; they had higher knowledge; they were nearer perfection. Others had had less advantages of education and instruction, had had fewer opportunities of making progress in the divine life, and would less understand the higher mysteries of the Christian life.
        Paul did not want the Philippian believers to in any way recede in their spiritual fervor.  Instead, he wanted them to continue on from where they were to even higher levels.  Just as a runner loses precious time if he wavers from the direct path, so also did Paul want these Philppian to keep their eyes on the goal and to keep moving forward for Christ