James Nisbet Commentary - Philippians 3:10 - 3:10

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James Nisbet Commentary - Philippians 3:10 - 3:10

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:


‘That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection.’


St. Paul tells us what he meant by the knowledge of Christ. It is personal knowledge, the knowledge of a person, the acquaintance of one person with another. Let this be our aspiration, namely, to know Him, not only to know about Him.

I. We live in an age of doubt.—We must expect to hear every belief rudely challenged, roughly criticised, and too often hastily rejected. Hollow beliefs are giving way; men are forsaking ‘the old paths’ in which their fathers walked in safety through this world. Our own preservation must be sought in something more than an intellectual grasp of creeds and doctrines. We must know what it is to have fellowship with the living Christ, and to hold close communion with Him.

II. ‘The power of His resurrection.’—The words speak to us of a mighty current of forces which the resurrection of our Lord set in motion, forces which had not hitherto been exerted in the world. Thence has come the power which ‘has turned the world upside down’; a power which has been overcoming the world ever since in the hearts and lives of Christ’s people; a power which had its rise, as a river has its springs, in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

III. St. Paul knew this to be the mightiest of all moral and spiritual forces which could be brought to bear upon human life. He knew it as a fact of experience. It had been at work in his own heart; it had revolutionised his life and transformed it.

Rev. F. K. Aglionby.


‘When Saul of Tarsus knew Christ in His risen might and majesty, the saying became true of him which had been uttered concerning the great King of Israel whose name he bore, to whose tribe he belonged, whom he has been thought by a great writer to resemble in his natural temperament, “he became another man.” From a persecutor and a blasphemer, he became thenceforward the devoted slave of Him Whose followers he had hitherto pursued with relentless fury and bitterness. We have ears to hear when a man tells us of a transformation in his own history at once so marvellous and so momentous.’



All facts in God’s universe have some kind of power, but the one central fact in the history of the world is the resurrection of Christ. Well might the Apostle speak of ‘the power of His resurrection.’ I desire to speak of this ‘power’ under four different aspects.

I. Evidential power.—The resurrection is the one fundamental fact which satisfies the Christian of the absolute truth of the religion of Christ. It was the experimental knowledge of this fact which caused a small band of teachers, for the most part unlettered peasants, ‘to be equal to nothing less than the moral and intellectual conquest of the world.’ The resurrection of Christ guarantees the absolute truth of Christ’s teaching and mission.

II. Moral and spiritual power.—The salvation which is by Christ Jesus offers to man not only pardon, but renewal and restoration; a new heart, a new life, a new supreme attraction drawing men ever by its sweet but resistless constraints into close and holy fellowship with the life of God. ‘I live, yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me.’ The same power that raised Christ from the dead quickens and sanctifies the people of God.

III. The power to which the resurrection led.—The incarnation of Christ was the birth of a Priest after the order of Aaron, a Priest Who was to bleed and die. His resurrection was the birth of a Priest after the order of Melchisedec, Who was for ever to live and reign. The resurrection of Christ was the visible enthronement of the righteous and eternal King. ‘All power is given unto Me in heaven and on earth.’ The music of His coronation anthem seemed to stream down along the path by which He passed up to the throne. ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; the sceptre of Thy kingdom is a right sceptre.’ No sooner was Christ seated at the right hand of God than He at once assumed kingly power.

IV. This power asserts the dignity and enforces the claims of the human body.—The relationship of Christ as Head to His people—the body—demands that when He already lives His members should not continue in death. Yea, His Spirit is already in the believing heart, the pledge that He Who raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken their mortal bodies. Christ’s incarnation was the budding of a branch in the tree of humanity; His resurrection was the quickening of the root. Admit the Deity of Christ, and His death and resurrection are no longer of the individual but of the race.

Rev. Canon J. W. Bardsley.


‘In an age of scepticism we thank God for the evidential power of the resurrection of Christ! At the time of the French Revolution, in 1789, atheistic France sought to banish Christianity by the secular arm; but, as man must have a religion, a committee was formed to invent one. They found this most difficult. One of these so-called inventors of a new faith called upon Talleyrand and stated their position. Talleyrand smiled and said, sceptic as he was, “It is most easy to found a religion.” The man said, “How?” “Get yourself crucified, and only rise again the third day from the dead, and you will without doubt found a religion,” was the reply.’



The assurance which the ‘power’ seals within the soul makes the resurrection of the body the most certain of all the certitudes of the future.

I. The power that flows from Christ’s resurrection is a power of reassurance in its widest application. It quickens the soul by the inward assurance of justification and acceptance; it quickens by the inward assurance of union with Him Who, in His glorified body, is now sitting at the right hand of God; but its fullest potency is perhaps to be felt in the assurance to the faithful that the life of the future is to be an embodied life.

II. The spiritual body is silently being formed in the depths of our present inner existence. The thoughts, words, and deeds of the present are all mysteriously contributing to its future manifestation and development. That clothing upon, as the Apostle speaks of the completion of the future body, is now being prepared for; it will be beheld and realised when, as the same Apostle speaks, we shall ‘all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ.’

III. What we need in these days, especially in relation to the doctrine of the last things, is a firmer hold on the fundamental revelations of Holy Scripture. One of these revelations is the power of the Lord’s resurrection.

Bishop Ellicott.


‘While, on the one hand, we bless and adore our Heavenly Father for having given to us this sure and certain hope of the full, complete, and perfected existence after death of our true and veritable self—yea, and has made it realisable by the blessed circumstances, the great object lesson (if we might with reverence so speak) of the Lord’s resurrection—let us never fail, on the other hand, to recognise the profound seriousness of the revelation of all that is involved in this continuity of an embodied existence.’



The power of His resurrection! What is that? Who can fathom the depth of those mysterious words?

I. Power over temptation and sin.—The power of His resurrection means a steady rise over temptation and sin. In some parts of England on Easter Day they have a strange but beautiful superstition that the bright sun dances for very joy, and surely we may excuse that superstition when we remember that on Easter Day we begin to know something of the power of His resurrection.

II. Power over conscience.—The resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has a wonderful power over conscience. If Christ had died, and only died, we should have been grateful for the unparalleled sacrifice; but it would end there. If Christ died upon the Cross merely to exemplify human goodness, He has no power to heal our consciences, to give us rest and peace. The resurrection of Jesus Christ teaches us that the sacrifice which was made by the Lord on Calvary has been accepted by God; and so, when we stand before His open grave we see that this conscience of ours can be healed.

III. Life for evermore.—Look once again into the empty tomb of our Saviour Jesus Christ. He has risen from the dead. We have strange ideas of death! We think of it in quite a wrong way; but the resurrection shows us that death is a phase of life, and not an abrupt close of life. Death is merely a passage, and we pass into the other world to live for ever and ever. In that other life there will be ample leisure.

Rev. C. W. Gib.


‘ “Power” is a word exceedingly familiar to the mind of St. Paul. It occurs more than sixty times in his writings. It suited exactly with his strong and energetic mind. For he was not like many who are content with the letter, or with the surface, or even with the facts of a subject. He investigated depth: he penetrated into “power.” How forcible and emphatic are all the thoughts in this one single passage. See what a reality Christ was to St. Paul. “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” ’