|Philippians 3:12,15 |
12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect,1 but I press on, so that I may apprehend that for which I am apprehended by Christ Jesus. [Paul is being modest and advises all to remain humble and modest, not boasting of their position in Christ. In these next verses he is telling perfect men to follow him as the example of humility. See Footnotes 1 and Footnote 3 to verse 15 below.]
15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded;3 and if in anything you are otherwise minded, God will reveal this to you. [Paul is instructing perfect men to be like him; and then in verse 17 below, he tells them to be followers of him. Whom would perfect men follow but another perfect man? — proving Paul was clearly perfect.]
3 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything you are otherwise minded, God will reveal this to you. Phil 3:15
He is saying, as many of us as are perfect, don't consider yourself so; don't relax, satisfied that you have everything, rather press on.
Be like me, be humble, not boasting; and if you have a different opinion, God will straighten you out.
Why would Paul be reluctant to claim perfection? Because Paul was very careful to be humble.
It is dangerous not to be. It is even against a tenet of Love: Love does not boast! 1 Cor 13:4
May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, and the tongues that speaks proud boasting, Psa 12:3. The boastful shall not stand in your sight. Psa 5:5
He is advising the brothers not to boast about being perfect or even claim perfection, but to be like him,
and take notice of those who walk like him, considering themselves to have room for improvement and growth.
Brothers, be followers of me, and observe those who walk after the pattern we have set, so that you have us for an example. Phil 3:17
A perfect man would only follow a senior perfect man; proving Paul was a senior perfect man, to be followed as a pattern and example.
He had further statements on boasting: I will not boast, except as regards my infirmities (my weaknesses).
For though I might choose to boast, I will not be a fool; because I would be speaking the truth. But now I refrain, so no one will think me above that which he sees me to be or hears of me. 2 Cor 12:5-6.
However we speak wisdom among those who are perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the rulers of this world who come to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world to our glory. 1 Cor 2:6-7.
Now if Paul is speaking wisdom from the mysteries of God to an audience of perfect men, then we can rightly conclude that perfect men would not want to listen to an imperfect speaker, and therefore Paul was obviously perfect, speaking among those who were perfect.
Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, so that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Col 1:28.
Now obviously an imperfect man cannot perfect other men, so without a doubt Paul was perfect.
For of this you can be sure, that no sexually immoral, or impure, or covetous person, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Eph 5:5-6.
So, if Paul were imperfect, he would not have any inheritance in the kingdom either; but Paul was translated into the kingdom already, so he must have been perfect: Giving thanks to the Father, who has made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son; Col 1:12-13.
Paul even states that the purpose of Holy Spirit appointed apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers is: For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; until we all come to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; Eph 4:11-13. Paul was an apostle. Paul had to be perfect to be an apostle and supervise others whose job was to perfect the saints, unto a perfect man with the fullness of Christ.
The first stage of perfection occurs after you have crucified you lusts and affections, and Paul wrote: "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. Gal 2:20. In this one verse, there are two evidences of Paul's perfection.
Then Paul wrote to the churches telling them to attain perfection and encouraging their perfection, (which only a perfect man could do with credibility and in good conscience):
Therefore, leaving the elementary principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Heb 6:1
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Cor 7:1
Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace. 2 Cor 13:11
Epaphras, a servant of Christ who is one of you, salutes you, always striving fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. Col 4:12
For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong; and we also pray even your perfection. 2 Cor 13:9
From the Word of the Lord within: "Clearly the scriptures show that Paul was a perfect man."