What does Philippians 3:12 mean?
ESV: Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
NIV: Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
NASB: Not that I have already grasped it all or have already become perfect, but I press on if I may also take hold of that for which I was even taken hold of by Christ Jesus.
CSB: Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.
NLT: I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.
KJV: Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
NKJV: Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
Verse Commentary:
Paul has just spoken about his future death and resurrection with Christ. Someday, he will be made complete and perfect before the Lord (Philippians 3:10–11). He begins a new section in this verse, starting with an important qualifying statement. Paul does not want his readers to think he saw himself as perfect and sinless. He is clear that his life is a work in progress (Romans 7). Paul has not yet been made like Christ, in a resurrected body, and has not yet reached the point of being without sin. This accomplishment is something which only happens when we are perfected in heaven.

Instead of claiming to be perfect now, Paul continues to pursue becoming more like Christ. A Christ-like life is not a moment to achieve, but a goal to pursue. Paul knows he would never be perfect in this world, but instead made it his ambition to become increasingly like Christ in this life.
Verse Context:
Philippians 3:12—4:1 explains the proper attitude Christians ought to have on the process of ''sanctification.'' This is the gradual, lifelong path of becoming more and more like Jesus. Our place in eternity is secure from the moment we trust in Christ, but it takes time to see our actions and attitudes change to be like His. Paul notes that he is not perfect, but encourages Christians to mimic his singular focus on pursuing Jesus. Paul also weeps for those who reject the gospel, a choice that will result in their destruction.
Chapter Summary:
Paul details his impressive Jewish resume. None of his critics or challengers could boast the pedigree carried by Paul. He mentions this only to emphasize how little such things mean, next to faith in Christ. Paul's language here is sharp and to the point. He then explains how a Christian's focus ought to be purely on Christ, just as a runner concentrates on their goal in order to run effectively. Rather than looking to the past, or to ourselves, we ought to look forward, to an eternity with the Lord.
Chapter Context:
In chapters 1 and 2, Paul explained how Christians should respond to hardships. Since Christ was willing to obey God, even to the point of death, we should do the same. Complaining and worry have no place in the life of a saved believer. Chapter 3 makes a bold contrast. Paul's credentials, according to Jewish tradition, were impeccable. And yet, for him, none of those accomplishments are worth anything next to fellowship with Christ. For this reason, Christ is to be the sole focus of the believer. This sets up Paul's final greetings and instructions in chapter 4.
Book Summary:
Philippians is Paul's discussion of living the Christian life. In this letter to the church of Philippi, Paul highlights themes such as joy and glory. He also puts great emphasis on how a Christian's thinking—their attitude—affects the way they live out their faith. Paul is very thankful for the support of the Philippian church, but is also concerned about the influence of various false teachers. This letter is less theological than most of his other writings, and more practical.
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