Reading through Philippians this morning, I was again struck with Paul’s teaching to the Philippians about his mindset: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (3:10-11). All too often this teaching is reduced so that Paul’s focus is made out to be that of just knowing Christ.
Such reduction does not account for what Paul himself here teaches that he was seeking to attain by any means–the resurrection of the dead! As this passage actually reads, the statements about knowing Christ, etc., are on the way to Paul’s attaining the resurrection of the dead. He thus emphasized in his teaching to believers that attaining bodily resurrection was a paramount motivation for him.
Other passages show that Paul also testified to unbelievers that he had this same focus:
“But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question” (Acts 23:6).
“But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men” (Acts 24:14-16).
From this Scriptural data, we learn that Paul stressed to both the saved and the unsaved that he was profoundly oriented in his mindset toward the truth of the resurrection of the dead. We would do well likewise to focus both our own attention and the attention of all to whom we minister–both unbelievers and believers alike–on this central teaching of Scripture.