Perfection and Resurrection

Paul prepared his readers in Philippi for one of his letter’s main themes: Going on to “perfection” in Jesus. Bodily resurrection must take place for the consummation of this process. This will occur when Jesus appears “on the clouds of Heaven.” What God began in the Philippians at their conversion He would continue to perform until “the Day of Christ.”

The Apostle began by giving thanks for what God had accomplished in the Assembly, and for its contribution to the Gospel, “from the first day until the present.” He remained convinced that God would complete what He started among the Philippians - (Philippians 1:3-10).

Dawn - Photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash
[Dawn - Photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash]

The phrase “
Day of Jesus Christ” refers to his future coming when he will appear in glory and gather his saints to himself. It will be a time of judgment and salvation – condemnation and punishment for the wicked, but vindication and everlasting life for faithful disciples - (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, an event that would destroy some, but mean life and salvation for others - (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-9).

As for going on to “perfection,” Paul provided an example based on his life. After his conversion, he put his Jewish heritage aside to pursue completion in Jesus Christ:

  • 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.”

This he did after obtaining the knowledge of Christ, which he found to be of infinitely greater value than his past accomplishments and heritage in Judaism:

  • “…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).

Some believers 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.”


Paul had in view certain Jewish believers who stressed their conformity to the traditions and regulations of Judaism, including circumcision and calendrical observations:

  • (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 described them as those “whose glory is their shame, an allusion to their circumcision on which they placed so much value.

In contrast - “Those 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 his glorious body.”

The future resurrection is necessary to “complete” or “perfect” believers. It is not optional but central to the Apostolic hope and doctrine of salvation. The process of salvation will remain incomplete until the resurrection on the “Day of Christ.” It will mean receiving a new body of the same nature as the glorious body of the Risen Jesus and exchanging our mortal state for an immortal and glorified body like his.

  • Resurrection Hope - (Central to the future hope of the Apostolic Faith is the bodily resurrection of the dead when Jesus arrives to gather his saints)
  • Death of Death - (The arrival of Jesus at the end of the age will mean the end of the Last Enemy, namely, Death. Its sentence will be reversed - 1 Corinthians 15:24-28)
  • The Redemption - (Salvation includes the bodily resurrection and the New Creation that will take place at the arrival of Jesus)



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