That I may know him - That I may be fully acquainted with his nature, his character, his work, and with the salvation which he has worked out. It is one of the highest objects of desire in the mind of the Christian to know Christ; see the notes at Ephesians 3:19.
And the power of his resurrection - That is, that I may understand and experience the proper influence which the fact of his resurrection should have on the mind. That influence would he felt in imparting the hope of immortality; in sustaining the soul in the prospect of death, by the expectation of being raised from the grave in like manner; and in raising the mind above the world; Romans 6:11. There is no one truth that will have greater power over us, when properly believed, than the truth that Christ has risen from the dead. His resurrection confirms the truth of the Christian religion (notes, 1 Cor. 15); makes it certain that there is a future state, and that the dead will also rise; dispels the darkness that was around the grave, and shows us that our great interests are in the future world. The fact that Christ has risen from the dead, when fully believed, will produce a sure hope that we also shall be raised, and will animate us to bear trials for his sake, with the assurance that we shall be raised up as he was. One of the things which a Christian ought most earnestly to desire is, to feel the power of this truth on his soul - that his great Redeemer has burst the bands of death; has brought life and immortality to light, and has given us the pledge that our bodies shall rise. What trials may we not bear with this assurance? What is to be dreaded in death, if this is so? What glories rise to the view when we think of the resurrection! And what trifles are all the things which people seek here, when compared with the glory that shall be ours when we shall be raised from the dead!
And the fellowship of his sufferings - That I may participate in the same kind of sufferings that he endured; that is, that I may in all things be identified with him. Paul wished to be just like his Saviour. He felt that it was an honor to live as he did; to evince the spirit that he did, and to suffer in the same manner. All that Christ did and suffered was glorious in his view, and he wished in all things to resemble him. He did not desire merely to share his honors and triumphs in heaven, but, regarding his whole work as glorious, he wished to be wholly conformed to that, and, as far as possible, to be just like Christ. Many are willing to reign with Christ, out they would not be willing to suffer with him; many would be willing to wear a crown of glory like him, but not the crown of thorns; many would be willing to put on the robes of splendor which will be worn in heaven, but not the scarlet robe of contempt and mockery.
They would desire to share the glories and triumphs of redemption, but not its poverty, contempt, and persecution. This was not the feeling of Paul. He wished in all things to be just like Christ, and hence he counted it an honor to be permitted to suffer as he did. So Peter says, "Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ' s sufferings;" I Peter 4:13. So Paul says Colossians 1:24 that he rejoiced in his sufferings in behalf of his brethren, and desired "to fill up that which was behind, of the afflictions of Christ," or that in which he had hitherto come short of the afflictions which Christ endured. The idea is, that it is an honor to suffer as Christ suffered; and that the true Christian will esteem it a privilege to be made just like him, not only in glory, but in trial. To do this, is one evidence of piety; and we may ask ourselves, therefore, whether these are the feelings of our hearts. Are we seeking merely the honors of heaven, or should we esteem it a privilege to be reproached and reviled as Christ was - to have our names cast out as his was - to be made the object of sport and derision as he was - and to be held up to the contempt of a world as he was? If so, it is an evidence that we love him; if not so, and we are merely seeking the crown of glory, we should doubt whether we have ever known anything of the nature of true religion.
Being made conformable to his death - In all things, being just like Christ - to live as he did, and to die as he did. There can be no doubt that Paul means to say that he esteemed it so desirable to be just like Christ, that he would regard it as an honor to die in the same manner. He would rejoice to go with him to the cross, and to pass through the circumstances of scorn and pain which attended such a death. Yet how few there are who would be willing to die as Christ died, and how little would the mass of people regard it as a privilege and honor! Indeed, it requires an elevated state of pious feeling to be able to say that it would be regarded as a privilege and honor to die like Christ to have such a sense of the loveliness of his character in all things, and such ardent attachment to him, as to rejoice in the opportunity of dying as he did! When we think of dying, we wish to have our departure made as comfortable as possible. We would have our sun go down without a cloud. We would wish to lie on a bed of down; we would have our head sustained by the kind arm of a friend, and not left to fall, in the intensity of suffering, on the breast; we would wish to have the place where we die surrounded by sympathizing kindred, and not by those who would mock our dying agonies. And, if such is the will of God, it is not improper to desire that our end may be peaceful and happy; but we should also feel, if God should order it otherwise, that it would be an honor, in the cause of the Redeemer, to die amidst reproaches - to be led to the stake, as the martyrs have been - or to die, as our Master did, on a cross. They who are most like him in the scenes of humiliation here, will be most like him in the realms of glory.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Philippians 3:10:
1 Corinthians 1:9
2 Corinthians 4:10
2 Corinthians 6:8
1 Peter 2:21
1 Peter 4:13
1 Peter 4:16
1 John 3:2
DISCLAIMER: Church of the Great God (CGG) provides these resources to aid the individual in studying the Bible. However, it is up to the individual to "prove all things, and hold fast to that which is good" (I Thessalonians 5:21). The content of these resources does not necessarily reflect the views of CGG. They are provided for information purposes only.