10/17/13 Pressing toward the Mark

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Phil. 3:13-14

Morning Meditation 10/17/2013

Verse 13-14 says, “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, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul had a goal in life. A lot of us have wondered about his secret. This has to be an important part of it. Many of us are like a little twig in a mad river carried along by its swift currents and taking whatever course the particular current we encounter takes us. We don’t have to do that. We can be committed to a purpose, a goal, and resist contrary currents and refuse to be carried off course by this current and that current. Now I realize that in our own strength we cannot resist the currents of this world. They are overpowering. But in this little epistle, before Paul said, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” he said, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (2:13). And he says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (4:13). We can commit ourselves to a goal but that goal can only be accomplished in his strength.

In previous lessons I dealt with the words “this one thing I do” and “forgetting those things which are behind.” So in this lesson I will begin with “and reaching forth unto those things which are before..” The words “reaching forth unto” (epekteinomai) translate a single verb form. It means, according to Robertson’s Word Pictures of the Greek New Testament “a stretching myself out toward.” It is a metaphor of a runner leaning forward as he runs.” It is a present middle participle. This means first of all, Paul is giving testimony to the Philippians what his practice was at the time of the writing of this epistle, i.e., I keep on stretching myself toward. With the middle voice Paul is saying “Not only am I doing this but I’m being helped by this action.” Now if this helps Paul, it will help the Philippians and all of us who read and understand what he is saying. We need to stretch ourselves out toward something. The stretching is an exercise in self discipline. We can float like the twig being carried along by every current or we can “stretch forth” which is an action against the current.

The words “those things which are before” (emprosthen) translate a single word and mean, “before, i.e., in that local region which is in front of a person or thing.” The thing that is before Paul is described in verse 14. Paul has something that he constantly keeps before him. He does not allow himself to be distracted from his one purpose in life. This adds a dimension to “I count not myself to have apprehended” and “and this one thing I do.” He says, “I am continually straining forward to what lies ahead.” This means that it is right to stay in a strain over the right thing! We do not need to relax concerning what is taught here. The strain in not “building buildings” or “preforming so that we can make a good report to impress the brethren” but it is described in verse 14. Let’s look at it.

He says, “I press toward the mark.” The words “I press” (dioko) mean “to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after.” The race course is still the illustration Paul uses to explain his activity in Christ. The word here is actually made up of two words (deilos) which means “timid or fearful” and (diakonos) which means “one who executes the commands of another.” This means that Paul is pressing on in this race with “timidity and fearfulness” (not in self confidence. This actually makes him afraid) and he makes sure as he presses on that he is “executing the commands of Christ. Paul says in 2 Tim. 2:5, “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” One cannot “press” on in this race just any way he wants. And since the Lord tells none of us all that he has in mind for us in advance (This is what Paul means when he says, “if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.) we must press on with fear and trembling as we diligently execute the commands of Christ as we look at the mark that is out before us.

Then Paul says, “I press toward the mark.” The word “mark” (skopos) has two senses in its definition. The one is “overseer” and the other is “mark” at which one shoots. I believe it means both here. Paul presses toward the “Overseer.” He is out front coaxing us on. Heb. 12:2 says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus has already run the course. He has finished. He stands at the end of the course and is the Mark at the finish line. If you have made some human your mark, you have made a mistake. We can admire others but Jesus must remain our Mark, i.e., he oversees from the finish line. Excuse me while I have a camp meeting spell!

The words “for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” describe motivation. The word “prize” (brabeion) means “the award to the victor in the games, a prize.” The Scriptures everywhere teach that there will be rewards and loss of rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ that awaits every believer at the end of the course. There is a “prize” to be obtained. Any of us who study the life of Paul know that he did not have a wrong motive for serving the Lord. He did not sacrifice here in order to beat someone else or to selfishly obtain something that would elevate his ego through the eternal ages to come. He loved and served the Lord with that motive. But he also knew that there was a “prize” and he tells us here he wanted that prize. The problem is that we don’t know what the prize is that he is talking about. Let me tell you what I think. This is strictly an opinion. I believe the prize to Paul was for Jesus whom he loved passionately to say to him, “Paul you faithfully did what I wanted. Well done.” I’m going to tell you from my personal viewpoint, I would rather have that than to rule cities and a wear a hundred crowns.

Then he says, “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” The word “high” (ano) means “upward call.” This means our call comes from above. Paul’s calling was not from man. He made this clear. It was not his own choice.

May God bless you.

In Christ

Bro. White

Comments left for "10/17/13 Pressing toward the Mark"

1. victor apolos 8/20/2015 10:14:11 PM

Please, how will i press toward the mark or goal of a high calling?

2. Afshin 9/1/2016 11:57:07 PM

Good insight. Thanks. God bless.

3. Ebony 4/24/2018 3:22:50 PM

I "googled" "press toward the mark" because I wanted to use it as my affirmation today. I thoroughly appreciated your explanation and think it applies to my life and my purposes. There are so many times that I am afraid of what God has and wants me to do. This encourages me to continue to seek him and normalizes my fear, yet encourage me to press toward what he has me to do. THANK YOU!

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