That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death;
It is said that St. wished to have seen three things before he died; Rome in its glory, Christ in the flesh, and Paul in his preaching. But many have seen the first without being the holier, the second without being happier, and heard the third and yet went to perdition. But Paul, in this and the previous chapters, expresses seven wishes which centre in Christ — that he might know Christ, win Christ, magnify Christ, be conformed to Christ, be found in Christ, rejoice in the day of Christ, and be forever with Christ. Now these correspond perfectly with the desires of every child of God. Here Paul desires —
I. TO KNOW CHRIST. St. Paul appreciated the value of other departments of knowledge. He was a scholar and a theologian; but after he had learned Christ they seemed to fade in interest. This knowledge was the subject of his preaching everywhere, as he told the Corinthians and the Galatians. He wished to know Christ.
1. Increasingly. The more he knew Him the more he wanted to know, and no wonder, for(1) in Him is everything worthy to be known.
(2) This knowledge never cloys.
2. Experimentally. To know in Scripture is to see and to taste. It is not the speculative knowledge that devils have, nor mere historical knowledge, but such as a hungry man has when he eats, and a thirsty man when he drinks. It is appropriative of Christ — "My Lord," "My Saviour."
3. Superlatively (ver. 8). For what is the widest and most delightful knowledge in the presence of this? but as sounding brass, vanity.
II. THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION. The word "power" makes all the difference between religion in the head and in the heart, between possession and profession. It is one thing to have knowledge, and another to have it vitally and brought into action. Christ's resurrection has a vast power.
1. In our justification. His ransom could avail nothing without His resurrection. "If Christ be not raised your faith is vain." But by it the Father publicly testified His approval
2. In our sanctification, which is the renewing of our nature and the strengthening of our graces by the Holy Spirit, who is the fruit of the resurrection.
3. In our edification. Every sermon, etc., is vain if Christ be not risen. All the means of Christian growth are dependent upon it (Ephesians 4:7-14). What power it gave to apostolic preaching.
4. In our glorification. There had been no resurrection for us without Christ's. As in Adam, the covenant head, all died; so in Christ, the covenant head of Adam's posterity, all shall be made alive.
III. THE FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERINGS. Not in His merits: the crown must be forever on His head. We know this.
1. By partaking of the benefit of His sufferings, pardon, etc.
2. By communion with Him through the channel of His sufferings — His Divine humanity, hanging on the Cross, and commemorated in the sacrament.
3. By enduring for His sake the same sufferings which He endured — the world's frowns, Satan's temptations. "Is the servant above his master."
IV. CONFORMITY UNTO HIS DEATH. Why not His life? That is not excluded. But His death presents in a condensed form all that we could desire to he on earth. We see in Him —
1. Great patience under suffering.
2. Great faith.
3. Great compassion for dying men.
4. Great filial tenderness.
5. Great love for repenting sinners.
Parallel VersesKJV: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;