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,
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Gaius Marius Victorinus
If they compared themselves with Paul, the Philippians would understand how far they were from the blessings of freedom. How frequently had he shared in so many of Christ’s sufferings: He had been beaten, imprisoned, thrown to wild beasts and burdened with other evils. Nonetheless even he did not think that he had already taken hold of Christ, as long as he was alive.
I do not count myself. That is, I do not suppose that vain security is sufficient to put my salvation out of doubt, and that Christ having died, nothing remains for me to do. No; I consider myself as a wrestler at the games, uncertain of success. (Calmet) Ver.17. Be followers of me, always in distrust of your own merits, and always eager to advance in perfection, as I am. It is a happy thing when a pastor can thus in all sincerity and simplicity address his flock.
He exhorts them to follow him in what he had taught them, and in the model of a good life, which he had set before them. He repeats to them, with tears, what he had formerly told them, that many walk and conduct themselves as enemies to the cross of Christ, to Christ crucified, by abandoning themselves to the pleasures of a sensual life, who glory in things they ought to be ashamed of. He hints at the disciples of Simon Magus, or of the Jewish doctors. (Witham)
Put the past out of mind. Set your mind to the future. What he has reckoned perfect today he ascertains to have been false tomorrow as he reaches for ever better and higher goals. By this gradual advance, never being static but always in progress, he is able to teach us that what we supposed in our human way to be perfect still remains in some ways imperfect. The only perfection is the true righteousness of God.
Nothing so renders our real excellences vain and puffs them away, as to be remembering the good deeds we have done; for this produces two evils, it both renders us remiss, and raises us to haughtiness. Wherefore see how Paul, since he knew our nature to be easily inclined to remissness, though he had given great praise to the Philippians, now subdues their mind by many other things above, but chiefly by his present words. And what are they? Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended. But if Paul had not as yet apprehended, and is not confident about the Resurrection and things to come, hardly should they be so, who have not attained the smallest proportion of his excellence. That is, I consider that I have not as yet apprehended all virtue, as if one were speaking of a runner. Not as yet, says he, have I completed all. And if in another place he says, I have fought the good fight 2 Timothy 4:7, but here, I count myself not as yet to have apprehended; any one who reads carefully w...