By Frank Dupree
"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." Phil 3:13-14
When Paul writes that he is pressing "toward the mark
for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,"
he is conveying to us the deepest desire of his entire life.
Paul's intention in sharing his testimony is to fan the flame
of desire in others, that we also might aspire to this. He
believed in the resurrection of the dead as do all Christians,
but there is a difference between his understanding and many
In Revelation chapter 20, John the Apostle opens our understanding
by speaking of two resurrections. He tells us in verses 4
6, that after Satan is bound, there is an elect group who
will be resurrected to reign with Christ for 1,000 years.
This is what Paul is referring to when he says that he is
"reaching for the prize." He is saying that he desires
to be counted worthy to attain to this elect group.
Paul understands that there is a general resurrection, which
is called the "great white throne judgment," where
everyone will be raised from the dead. But he cannot be speaking
of this, because there is nothing to which to attain.
A paraphrase of verse 14 will help us to understand his passion;
"I have set my sights on the award of the upward invitation
of God in Christ Jesus, and I am pursuing it with everything
This "upward invitation" is nothing less than our
being included in that group of saints who will meet the Lord
in the air, and return with Him to "rule and reign"
during the Millennium. He is saying that the Lord "apprehended"
him for this very purpose, and that he is actively pursuing
"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." Phil 3:12
Paul uses a particular word for resurrection in Phil 3:11.
It is not the usual word "anastasis" but a compound
word "ex anastasis." This is the only place where
it is found in Scripture. It literally means an "out
resurrection" or, "a resurrection out of the resurrection."
John simply calls it "the First Resurrection."
Therefore the High Calling of God is to be a partaker in
this out resurrection from among the dead, in order to be
a part of this elect group that will reign with Christ. Those
who partake in this "First Resurrection" are blessed
and holy because they are the priests of God who will "reign"
with Christ for 1,000 years. The rest of the dead do not live
again until the "great white throne" judgment.
"And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy
to take the book, and to open the seals thereof:
for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God
by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue,
and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our
God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the
earth." Rev 5:9-10
There is another key word that Paul uses to inform us of
this great truth. It is the Greek word "tagma" which
is translated "order" in I Corinthians 15:23.
"But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become
the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by
man came death, by man came also the resurrection
of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in
Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in
his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward
they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh
the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom
to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down
all rule and all authority and power." I Cor 15:20-24
This word "tagma" is a military term meaning "by
ranks." Paul shows us exactly how the resurrection will
take place. Jesus was the first to rise from the dead, so
He is the "firstfruits." Secondly, there are those
who will rule with Him, and lastly all others, after the Millennium.
Is the Lord stirring your heart to "press toward the
mark for the prize of the high calling?" If you desire
to be among those who will "reign" with Christ for
1,000 years, then your prayer must be to become an overcomer.
"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me
in My Throne, even as I also overcame, and am set
down with My Father in His Throne." Rev 3:21