Perfection in Resurrection

In the opening thanksgiving of his letter to the Philippians, Paul prepares his readers for a key theme of his letter – going on to “perfection” in Jesus. The promised bodily resurrection is necessary for their “completion.” It is not optional. Instead, it is an integral part of the future salvation they will receive when Jesus arrives in glory.

What God began in the Philippians He will continue to perform until the day that Jesus “arrives” – at “the day of Christ.”

  • (Philippians 1:3-10) – “I am giving thanks unto my God on the occasion of all my remembrance of you, at all times, in every supplication of mine, in behalf of you all, with joy my supplication making, on account of your contribution to the gospel from the first day until the present, being persuaded of this very thing, that he who has begun in you a good work will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ… And this I pray, that your love may be yet more and more preeminent in knowledge and all perception, to the end, you may put to the test the things that differ, in order that you may be incorrupt and may give no occasion of stumbling unto the day of Christ.”


The term “day of Jesus Christ” refers to his future coming when he will appear in glory and gather his church to himself. It will be a time of both judgment and salvation – punishment for the wicked, but everlasting life for the righteous - (Romans 2:16, 1 Corinthians 1:8, 2 Corinthians 6:2, Ephesians 4:30).

In his letters to the Thessalonians, Paul equated this day with the expectation of the “Day of the Lord” found in the Hebrew Bible. It is an event that results in the final judgment for some, but life and salvation for others - (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-9).

And Paul has provided us with an example of what it means to go on to “perfection.” After his conversion, He put his Jewish heritage aside to pursue completion in Jesus:

  • What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ…I have suffered the loss of all things and do count them dung that I may win Christ.”

And he did this since gaining the knowledge of Christ was of infinitely more worth to him than his past - “…that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death, if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained or am already made perfect, but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus” - (Philippians 3:10-12).


Apparently, some believers in Philippi chose a different path and made themselves “enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” Primarily in view are certain Jewish Christians:

  • (Philippians 3:1-3) – “Beware of the dogs, beware of mischievous workers, beware of the mutilation. For we are the circumcision, who in the Spirit of God are doing divine service, and are boasting in Christ Jesus, and not in flesh having confidence.”

Paul describes them as those “whose glory is their shame.” Euphemistically, he is referring to the circumcisions of his opponents on which they place so much value.

In contrast - “They who worship God in the Spirit and rejoice in Jesus have their citizenship in heaven, from whence we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our lowly body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.”

The future resurrection is necessary for the “completion” or perfection of believers. It is not optional but central to the church’s hope. Whatever we do receive from God between now and then, the process of salvation will remain incomplete until the resurrection, which will occur on the “day of Christ.”

And the resurrection will mean the receipt of a new body, a body of the same nature as the glorious one now possessed by Jesus. Completion does not mean abandoning the present body for a disembodied state, but instead, exchanging our mortal state for an immortal and glorified body.



The Suffering Servant

The Living Word