Behind and Before
Philippians 3:13-14
Brothers, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind…

1. This is the language of men who subdue the world, the motto of all heroes, the secret of all triumph.

2. We here observe one of those laws of compensation by which nature would atone for the inequality of her gifts. All men have not great talents: but all men may have great industry, and as talents are useless without diligence, one talent improved by honest labour will make a greater man than ten that rust unused.

3. Paul's entire life was an illustration of the text. As a lad he was bent on scholarship, and won honours at the feet of Gamaliel; as a member of the Jewish Church by his prodigal ability he soon placed himself beyond parallel. As a convert to Christianity he was the same man in singleness and intensity of purpose.

4. Another feature in Paul's character. He arrogates no particular saintship. His fellow disciples are not left to infer that his path is accessible to no traveller but himself, He preaches to sinners as the chief of sinners, to Christians as a fellow citizen; the race and fight were his no less than theirs.


1. Whatever he had given up for Christ (ver. 7). He forgot them in the sense of neglecting them. He not only never repented these sacrifices, he forgot them. The Israelites fondly recollected the fleshpots of Egypt, and there are Christians who dispute with themselves whether in the sensitive jealousy of their first love they did not make too many sacrifices for their Master. The man who calculates with even a tincture of discontent what he has suffered for Jesus, has never seen the Cross.

2. The errors and doubts that marked his first approach to Christ.

(1) He never said but once, "Who art thou, Lord? What wilt Thou have me do?" As soon as it pleased God to reveal His Son to Paul, he disentangled his mind forever from the elements or rudiments that typified and foreshadowed Christ, and never returned to those beggarly elements. Mark the confidence of his personal feelings when he finds occasion to impart them — "I know whom I have believed." This is the language of a man who has laid aside forever the doubt of his acceptance with God, of Christ's ability to save, of his Master's constant presence and guiding spirit. Doubts on other matters arising in the progress of his ministry he would discuss in their proper time, but those which had been once disposed of were forgotten forever.

(2) What a melancholy religion is theirs who are ever contending with old doubts. After the Lord has shown Himself to the eye of faith, they seem unable to let this matter rest. A conversation with an unbeliever, the perusal of a book, the pressure of a besetting sin, disturbs their assurance, and they go over the old ground.

(3) Having obtained faith in Jesus and adoption into God's family, they ought to give all diligence to add to their faith courage to confess it. A bold utterance of our trust in Jesus is an excellent remedy for unbelieving fears. To this boldness of confession they should add knowledge, and follow on to know the Lord. This will multiply instances of His faithfulness. And then, lest knowledge should puff up, there should follow self-discipline, meek endurance, fervent piety towards God, and charity to men.

II. We have seen what Paul left behind: LET US NOW COME UP TO THE FRONT AND LOOK INTO THE DISTANCE FOR THE THINGS TOWARDS WHICH PAUL IS RUNNING, AND REACHING AS HE RUNS. These are all embraced in fellowship with Christ.

1. Few knew more of Christ than Paul, yet he considered his attainments but as the first steps in a path of ever-unfolding discovery. Jesus was a mine just opened; and he describes his prospects like a man almost bewildered by the sudden inheritance of wealth untold.

2. To win Christ was not to gain His favour simply, but to be conformed to His image.

(E. E. Jenkins, LL. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

WEB: Brothers, I don't regard myself as yet having taken hold, but one thing I do. Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before,

An Indomitable Purpose
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