That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death;
He who of mortal men knew Christ best confesses that he knew Him but imperfectly.
1. How much, then, must there be in Him to know. Do we lose a sense of the Redeemer's majesty by familiarity with His name? See, then, His chief disciple, after years of contemplation, imitation, and adoration, confessing that the great object of God, manifest in the flesh, seems greater than ever, so that at the last he offers the prayer suitable to a novice.
2. This is true of all the works of God, whether in the material or the spiritual world, and is illustrated by what a climber sees of the starry firmament: from the bottom the mountain tops seem among the stars, but as he ascends they seem to recede, and their vastness and distance are best seen from the summit.
3. What Paul meant is clearer from the following explanations.
I. KNOWING THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION. Paul laboured and suffered much, and was pursued by great infirmity and frequent depression; but he saw above him the figure of the once suffering but now risen Christ — his brother throned and crowned. Looking up it seems as if he were moved to say, "Would that I could be raised out of what I am, and become as He is — victor over sin, sorrow, and death." In this sense we may feel the power of Christ's resurrection. In Christ, risen and glorified, is the image in which we may behold what we may become.
II. A SHARE OF CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS THE CONDITION OF A SHARE IN HIS RESURRECTION. He has just expressed a desire to resemble Christ glorified, but he here checks himself in order to show that what he desires is not an easy and instantaneous change. What he seeks is not simply repose and relief. He is perfectly willing to resemble Christ glorified by passing through the intermediate stages. He, too, would reach the crown through the Cross, remembering that "it is enough for the disciple to be as his Master." Whoever then would know Christ must face —
1. Suffering — the suffering of arduous effort, patient resignation, and trust when faith is tempted to fail.
2. Death — the death to much that is attractive here, and especially to sin, as well as to the death of the body.
(T. M. Herbert, M. A.)
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;