Examination Of Philip. 3:11 And Rev. 20:4 -- By: John J. Owen

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 021:82 (Apr 1864)
Article: Examination Of Philip. 3:11 And Rev. 20:4
Author: John J. Owen


Examination Of Philip. 3:11 And Rev. 20:4

John J. Owen

The first of these passages, as found in our common version, reads thus: “If by any means, I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” That the general resurrection of mankind, both good and bad, is not here referred to, appears quite evident from the context, which represents it as an object of the apostle’s greatest concern to secure personally for himself. To share in the general resurrection, he had only to live and die as a heathen man or an unbelieving Jew; but to attain to the resurrection here spoken of, he must “know Christ, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, and be made conformable unto his death.” Even then, possessed of all these high spiritual attainments, there is an εἴπως (if possibly, if by any means), which, connected as here with the indicative mood, implies indeed no uncertainty of result, but nevertheless emphasizes most strongly the great difficulty of the achievement.

The resurrection here spoken of, must then be a resurrection of the righteous dead, who, as Paul in 1 Thess. 4:16-17, informs us, are to rise first — that is, before those living on the earth are changed — and be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and so to be ever with the Lord. To this resurrection, as being distinct from, and antecedent to, that of the wicked dead, our Lord may have had reference in Luke 14:12–14, when he exhorted the chief Pharisee at whose table he was reclining, to bid the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind to his entertainments, adding for his encouragement, that he should be recompensed therefor at the resurrection of the just. A reference to the resurrection of the righteous dead, apart from that of the wicked, appears also clearly to be found in our Saviour’s reply to the Sadducees (Luke 20:35), “but they who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry,” etc.

It cannot be denied, that Paul may have had such a beatific vision of the glory of this resurrection of the just, that it seemed to him an object of attainment, in comparison with which everything else seemed insignificant and worthless. The marvellous disclosure of revelation, that from the loathsome grave the body so long held in its putrid embrace was to come forth, no more an object of aversion and horror, but one of resplendent beauty and loveliness, fashioned like unto Christ’s glorious body, to dwell forever with God and the holy angels, was enough, perhaps, of its...

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