THE UPWARD CALL
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet;
but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God
IN CHRIST JESUS.
(Philippians 3:13-14 NASB)
by – Stuart H. Pouliot
February 18, 2015
Paul's 3:11 Verses ─ Good News of ALL
One day during my meditative time, the thought came to me to look at verse 3:11 in Paul's epistles to the
Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. When I did, I discovered something quite interesting.
Before looking at these verses, a word is needed about the origin of biblical chapters and verses. The Spirit of God
did not lead the writers of scripture to break down their material into chapter and verse; this came much later
through the efforts of others. It is doubtful that any of the original writers even knew or considered that one day
their material would be canonized and organized into what we call the Bible . In 1227 AD, Stephen Langton, a
professor at the University of Paris who later became the Archbishop of Canterbury, divided the Bible into
chapters. In 1448 AD, a Jewish rabbi named Nathan divided the Old Testament into verses, and, in 1551 AD, a
French printer named Robert Stephanus divided the Greek New Testament into verses. Whether the Lord led
these men in these endeavors we do not know, but we do know that the result of their work has been a great
help in navigating scripture.
Now, on to the 3:11 verses ─ as I looked at them, I realized that strung together as one sentence they form a
uniform thought. Here is how they read all together. The bracketed words are inserted for continuity.
THE RIGHTEOUS SHALL LIVE BY FAITH, according to a purpose of the ages, which He made in Christ Jesus our
Lord, if by any means I [the righteous] might arrive at the goal, namely, the out-resurrection from among those
who are dead, where there is no Greek or Jew, no one with circumcision or without circumcision, no division
between nations, no servant or free man: but Christ is all and in all.
Man might have organized the chapters and verses, but I see the hand of God in this, for this makes for a mighty
powerful declaration of truth, so much so that we can only briefly touch upon it. Now, let's look at each verse to
see what they might tell us as a whole.
The righteous shall live by faith. (Galatians 3:11 ASV)
Paul quoted from Habakkuk 2:4 not only in Galatians but also in Romans 1:17 and Hebrews 10:38. As a former
Pharisee, Paul knew what it was like to seek after one's own righteousness, especially under the Law. He testified:
As to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless (Philippians
3:6). But after Jesus broke into his life on the road to Damascus, Paul realized that his righteousness was not
enough. As it is written, "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10 ASV). The indictment of man is
made quite plain through Isaiah: But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy
rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away (Isaiah 64:6).
Paul's eyes were opened to see that the only way through is "not having my righteousness, which is of law, but
that which is through the faith of Christ─the righteousness that is of God by the faith" (Philippians 3:9) The JM-
NT words through the faith of Christ as through means of Christ's faith . In other words, righteousness comes not
through our faith (i.e., our faith in ) but through Christ's faith (the faith of ), so that our boast is entirely in the Lord.
In His Son, God brings salvation to all mankind. As Paul declared: But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who
became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Jeremiah declared: The Lord our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6). Consequently, those in Christ have His
righteousness and are to live by the faith, the faith of the Son, holding to His righteousness.
Paul's 3.11 Verses ─ Good News of ALL
According to a purpose of the ages, which He made [makes] in Christ Jesus our Lord…. (Ephesians 3:11 YLT [CLV])
Most translations that have injected the interpretative bias of the word eternal use the expression the eternal
purpose of God ; however, this is incorrect. The Greek word used in this verse is aion , which is age , meaning a
period of time or a long duration of time. It does not refer to endlessness or forever. Eternal purpose of God
makes it sound like God has a never-ending purpose or one that is outside of time. Again, this is incorrect. The key
to understanding this is not only in the word aion but also in what follows – which He made in Christ Jesus our
Lord . This clause refers back to the ages, meaning the ages were made in Christ. This is further confirmed in
Hebrews: God … i n these last days speaks to us in a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom
He also makes the ages (Hebrews 1:2). The Son makes the ages, which means that the ages have something to do
with Jesus. Many make a big deal about the eternal side of God to the point of suggesting that God is so outside of
time that He is not interested in time and our future has nothing to do with time. This couldn’t be further from
the truth. If it were true, it would mean that the Father is not interested in what His Son is doing in and through
the ages He made. This is folly. The Father is vested in His Son, and this means the ages have great purpose to
God. The fact of the matter is that the ages are all about His Son. In Christ is a purpose of the ages, meaning time
itself has meaning, and this meaning is found and explained in the Son. Time has purpose; leave the Son out of the
ages and time has no meaning. It behooves the righteous to know this purpose and to live by faith according to it.
Hold on; we will come to the purpose.
If by any means I might arrive at the goal, namely, the out-resurrection from among those who are dead.
(Philippians 3:11 Wuest)
Paul not only saw a purpose of the ages in Christ but also a goal or something that he had to attain, namely, the
out-resurrection from among the dead. Paul was not seeking to attain some spiritual resurrection while in his
body of death, as so many today seem to think. No; he was seeking for a future resurrection just like His Lord's
resurrection; it is a resurrection from the dead. John called it the first or former resurrection . The rest of the dead
did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection (Revelation 20:5).
The rest of the dead will rise to appear at the Great White Throne Judgment . However, there will be a company
of the Lord's people who will be raised up from among the dead 1,000 years earlier, in what Paul called the out-
resurrection, taken from the Greek word exanastasis . Jesus was resurrected from the dead and so will be His
conquerors who will reign with Him for 1,000 years. This was the goal that Paul pressed on toward.
Where there is no Greek or Jew, no one with circumcision or without circumcision, no division between nations,
no servant or free man: but Christ is all and in all . (Colossians 3:11 BBE)
In the out -resurrection, there is absolutely no division of people based on the flesh or any other criteria, for that
matter. There is only one criteria, and that is in Christ. As written previously, this is the one new man that must be
proclaimed. The one new man is the Christ-man or the fully Anointed-man. Coming into the presence of the
Father is not based on anything any of us can bring before Him in our flesh. It is all based on God's Son. But there
is much more, for in this, we discover that the ages were made through the Son for the purpose of Him becoming
all and in all. Paul described it as the summing up or heading up of all things in the Christ, things in the heavens
and things upon the earth (Ephesians 1:10). Paul stated it another way: For it was the Father's good pleasure for
all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through
the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven (Colossians 1:19-20). The
purpose of the ages is to head up, reconcile, and subject all things to the Son, the Christ. But it does not stop here,
for this purpose is to achieve a much grander ultimate purpose, also given to us by Paul: When all things are
subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so
that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28). This is God's ultimate purpose; and the ages have been made in
His Son to achieve this purpose, all to the glory of the Father and His Son.
As for the righteous, we are to live by the faith of the Son through whom the Father makes the ages and fulfills His
grand purpose of ALL . With this purpose in view, let us, by His faith, press on toward the goal for the prize of the
upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). The upward call is the out-resurrection ; it is the rising up
from our mortal bodies into Christ's immortal body. This is the expectation of the righteous.