If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
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Gaius Marius Victorinus
It is because Paul is still persevering in the fellowship of suffering, which is very similar to death itself, that he says “that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” There can be no doubt of his attaining to the resurrection. But what is this attaining to the resurrection of the dead? It is the perfect and full life of every individual which is elicited from the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings by every means, which will appear clearly at that end time when the resurrection from the dead occurs, that is, when the dead come back to life.
We who believe in Christ endure sufferings with him and indeed all sufferings, even as far as the cross and death. From the knowledge of all these and from the sharing in suffering comes resurrection. And thus, as we are sharers in his death and his burden, we are enabled to share his resurrection.
If by any means I may attain to the resurrection, which is from the dead; i.e. may attain to a happy resurrection, when the dead shall rise again. (Witham)
This manner of expression does not betray any distrust or fear, but merely insinuates the difficulty of the enterprise, the uncertainty of success, and the ardent desire of the apostle, who sought by every means to arrive at this happiness, either by sufferings and labours, or even by martyrdom. (St. Chrysostom; Estius)
If, therefore, in the present time, fleshly hearts are made partakers of the Spirit, what is there astonishing if, in the resurrection, they receive that life which is granted by the Spirit? Of which resurrection the apostle speaks in the Epistle to the Philippians: "Having been made conformable to His death, if by any means I might attain to the resurrection which is from the dead."
Then they who shall be alive in their bodies shall not die, but during those thousand years shall produce an infinite multitude, and their offspring shall be holy, and beloved by God; but they who shall be raised from the dead shall preside over the living as judges.
It is in expectation of this for himself that the apostle writes to the Philippians: "If by any means "says he, "I might attain to the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, or were already perfect."