What does Philippians 3:14 mean?
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.
NKJV: I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Verse Commentary:
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.
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.
Accessed 5/18/2024 7:52:27 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com