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Philippians 3:14

ESV I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
NIV I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
NASB I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
CSB I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus.
NLT I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
KJV I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

What does Philippians 3:14 mean?

Paul has used the analogy of a runner who focuses on the goal ahead of him. This prevents distractions and stumbling. Paul's spiritual goal is stated directly here: "the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

As verse 13 notes, Paul's focus is on forward momentum, not prior mistakes. A person cannot move ahead if their thoughts and vision are focused on the past. Paul has a clear goal: being in heaven with the Lord. He looks forward to the ultimate reward for his faithful service. This prize is to be with Christ, though there is some uncertainty about what he specifically meant, in the context of this remark.

Is this "upward call" a reference to the rapture, or to his death? Paul does not appear to distinguish between these two ideas, at least in this context. He simply writes about the goal of pursuing Christ until he meets with Him after this life. This is a useful focus for believers today as well. The point is not to worry so much about whether we will die first, or if Christ will return. Rather, we should be prepared for whenever and however we meet with Christ. Paul's teaching was to not look back at the past, but instead to focus on what we can do today and in the days ahead to live for Christ until we meet with Him.
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