The Meaning of Philippians 3:10 Explained

Philippians 3:10

KJV: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

YLT: to know him, and the power of his rising again, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death,

Darby: to know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death,

ASV: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death;

What does Philippians 3:10 Mean?

Verse Meaning

This verse resumes the thought of knowing Christ in Philippians 3:8. The tense of the Greek infinitive tou gnonai ("to know") is aorist, probably an ingressive aorist, which sums up the action of the verb at the point where it begins.
"It suggests that for Paul just the coming to know Christ outweighs all other values, that for him the significance of Christ, "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" ( Colossians 2:3), is so vast that even to begin to know him is more important than anything else in all the world." [1]
Compare the implication of intimate, complete knowledge in the clause "the man [2] knew his wife, Eve" ( Genesis 4:1).
"I"ll never forget a letter I read from a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, where I serve as chancellor. He wrote of his gratitude for his years at our fine institution. What troubled me was that he also lamented that when he arrived, he was deeply in love with Jesus Christ; but when he left, he had fallen more in love with the biblical text. For all the right reasons, our professors did their best to teach him the Scriptures, but he left loving the Bible more than he loved His [3] Savior. To use Paul"s words, "the serpent seduced him." After a few tough years in ministry, he came to realize that he needed to love Christ. I don"t remember his using these precise words, but he admitted that he had to look intently at his schedule, to face the truth of his drift, and to carve out time to get back to a simple devotion to Christ." [4]
Among all the other things that Paul wanted to learn in His relationship with Christ, he mentioned first the power of Christ"s resurrection. Paul probably did not mean that he wanted to experience resurrection supernaturally as Jesus Christ had done. He knew that if he died he would experience such a resurrection. He probably meant that he wanted the power that resurrected His Savior and was within himself because of the indwelling Christ to manifest itself in his life for God"s glory (cf. Romans 6:4; Colossians 3:1; Ephesians 2:5-6).
Paul also wanted to grow in his experiential knowledge of the fellowship of Christ"s sufferings. He did not mean that by suffering in the service of His Lord he could add to the merit of Christ"s sufferings. Such an idea is completely foreign to biblical teaching (cf. Hebrews 10:14). Rather he saw suffering for the sake of Christ as only fair since the Savior had suffered so much for him. The Christian who suffers because of his or her faithful testimony for Christ can enter into Jesus" feelings when He suffered for faithfully obeying His Father. There is a fellowship in that kind of suffering (cf. Romans 6:8; Galatians 2:19-20). A believer who never suffers for the Lord"s sake cannot do that.
The last phrase in this verse modifies the fellowship of Christ"s sufferings. Complete dedication to the will of God, which resulted in Jesus" sufferings and which will result in the believer"s suffering, means death ultimately. It means death to one"s own agenda for life ( Romans 6:4-11), and it may result in physical death. Death is a grim prospect, but Paul did not have a morbid, unhealthy fascination with suffering and death for its own sake. He so loved Jesus Christ that he wished to share all aspects of His life, to know Him as intimately as he could. He even was willing to follow Him into the valley of the shadow of death.
"Christian life is cruciform in character; God"s people, even as they live presently through the power made available through Christ"s resurrection, are as their Lord forever marked by the cross." [5]

Context Summary

Philippians 3:1-12 - Losing All To Know Christ
Precept must be on precept, line on line. The false teachers who dogged Paul's steps insisted on rigid conformity to Judaism, with its rabbinical accretions, as the condition of being saved by Christ. Paul's answer was that he had gone through all the requirements of Judaism, but had found it absolutely unsatisfactory and inefficient to subdue the sin of his soul. But in Christ he had found everything he needed. What had been gain to him now seemed but dross. He had found the pearl of great price, and was only too glad to sacrifice all else to purchase and keep it, as the talisman of complete victory.
The essence of Judaism was not external but within. True circumcision was deliverance from the self-life, and that could only be gained by the Cross of Christ. The "Israelite indeed," like Nathanael, had three traits of character-his worship was spiritual, he gloried in the Crucified, and he was delivered from reliance upon the self-life. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to know Jesus in the intimacy of personal fellowship, to feel the pulse of His resurrection life, to experience the power of His death, and to realize the whole of His divine program. For this we might be more than content to trample on our boasted pride. [source]

Chapter Summary: Philippians 3

1  He warns them to beware of the false teachers;
4  showing that himself has greater cause than they to trust in the righteousness of the law;
7  which he counts as loss, to gain Christ and his righteousness;
12  acknowledging his own imperfection and pressing on toward the goal;
15  He exhorts them to be thus minded;
17  and to imitate him,
18  and to decline carnal ways

Greek Commentary for Philippians 3:10

That I may know him [του γνωναι αυτον]
Genitive of the articular second aorist (ingressive) active infinitive (purpose) of γινωσκω — ginōskō to have personal acquaintance or experience with. This is Paul‘s major passion, to get more knowledge of Christ by experience. [source]
The power of his resurrection [την δυναμιν της αναστασεως αυτου]
Power (Lightfoot) in the sense of assurance to believers in immortality (1 Corinthians 15:14.; Romans 8:11), in the triumph over sin (Romans 4:24.), in the dignity of the body (1 Corinthians 6:13.; Phlippians 3:21), in stimulating the moral and spiritual life (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:4.; Colossians 2:12; Ephesians 2:5). See Westcott‘s The Gospel of the Resurrection, ii, 31. The fellowship of his sufferings (την κοινωνιαν των πατηματων αυτου — tēn Koinéōnian tōn pathēmatōn autou). Partnership in (objective genitive) his sufferings, an honour prized by Paul (2 Corinthians 1:24). Becoming conformed to his death Present passive participle of συμμορπιζω — summorphizō late verb from συμμορπος — summorphos found only here and ecclesiastical writers quoting it. The Latin Vulgate uses configuro. See note on Romans 6:4 for συμπυτοι — sumphutoi in like sense and 2 Corinthians 4:10. “The agony of Gethsemane, not less than the agony of Calvary, will be reproduced however faintly in the faithful servant of Christ” (Lightfoot). “In this passage we have the deepest secrets of the Apostle‘s Christian experience unveiled” (Kennedy). [source]
The fellowship of his sufferings [την κοινωνιαν των πατηματων αυτου]
Partnership in (objective genitive) his sufferings, an honour prized by Paul (2 Corinthians 1:24). [source]
Becoming conformed to his death [συμμορπιζομενος τωι τανατωι αυτου]
Present passive participle of συμμορπιζω — summorphizō late verb from συμμορπος — summorphos found only here and ecclesiastical writers quoting it. The Latin Vulgate uses configuro. See note on Romans 6:4 for συμπυτοι — sumphutoi in like sense and 2 Corinthians 4:10. “The agony of Gethsemane, not less than the agony of Calvary, will be reproduced however faintly in the faithful servant of Christ” (Lightfoot). “In this passage we have the deepest secrets of the Apostle‘s Christian experience unveiled” (Kennedy). [source]
That I may know Him [τοῦ γνῶναι αὐτὸν]
Know is taken up from knowledge, Phlippians 3:8, and is joined with be found in Him, qualified by not having, etc. That I may be found in Him not having, etc., but having the righteousness which is of God so as to know him, etc. [source]
The power of His resurrection [τὴν δύναμιν τῆς ἀναστάσεως αὐτοῦ]
Power of His resurrection and fellowship of His sufferings furnish two specific points further defining the knowledge of Him. By the power of Christ's resurrection is meant the power which it exerts over believers. Here, more especially, according to the context, in assuring their present justification, and its outcome in their final glorification. See Romans 4:24, Romans 4:25; Romans 8:11, Romans 8:30; 1 Corinthians 15:17; Colossians 3:4; Phlippians 3:21. [source]
Fellowship of His sufferings []
Participation in Christ's sufferings. See Matthew 20:22, Matthew 20:23; and on Colossians 1:24. Compare 2 Corinthians 1:5; 1 Peter 4:13. Faith makes a believer one with a suffering Christ. [source]
Being made conformable [συμμορφιζόμενος]
Explaining the previous clause: by my becoming conformed, etc. Rev., becoming conformed. Compare 2 Corinthians 4:10; Romans 6:5. For conformed see on Matthew 17:2, and see on form, Phlippians 2:6. The most radical conformity is thus indicated: not merely undergoing physical death like Christ, but conformity to the spirit and temper, the meekness and submissiveness of Christ; to His unselfish love and devotion, and His anguish over human sin. [source]

What do the individual words in Philippians 3:10 mean?

- to know Him and the power of the resurrection of Him the fellowship of sufferings being conformed to the death
τοῦ γνῶναι αὐτὸν καὶ τὴν δύναμιν τῆς ἀναστάσεως αὐτοῦ [τὴν] κοινωνίαν [τῶν] παθημάτων συμμορφιζόμενος τῷ θανάτῳ

τοῦ  - 
Parse: Article, Genitive Neuter Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
γνῶναι  to  know 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Infinitive Active
Root: γινώσκω  
Sense: to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel.
δύναμιν  power 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: δύναμις  
Sense: strength power, ability.
τῆς  of  the 
Parse: Article, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ἀναστάσεως  resurrection 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: ἀνάστασις  
Sense: a raising up, rising (e.
αὐτοῦ  of  Him 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive Masculine 3rd Person Singular
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
κοινωνίαν  fellowship 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: κοινωνία  
Sense: fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse.
παθημάτων  sufferings 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Neuter Plural
Root: πάθημα  
Sense: that which one suffers or has suffered.
συμμορφιζόμενος  being  conformed 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Middle or Passive, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: συμμορφίζω 
Sense: to be conformed to, receive the same form as.
τῷ  to  the 
Parse: Article, Dative Masculine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
θανάτῳ  death 
Parse: Noun, Dative Masculine Singular
Root: θάνατος 
Sense: the death of the body.