“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”
We have before us the life ambition of a spiritual giant. More than anything else, Paul wanted the excellence of the knowledge of Christ, his Lord. Initial salvation does not exhaust the person of Christ. Paul had been a Christian for two and a half decades, yet his life ambition was still centered in Christ.
“Yet indeed I also”
These four words constitute five Greek particles. These particles indicate Paul was speaking with passion and force here. He was shouting out. He was about to speak of his greatest passion. Paul waxed eloquently about the most important ambition of his life.
“Count all things loss”
The word “count” means to conclude. After thinking through a comparison between his achievements and his knowledge of Christ, Paul came to a conclusion. It implies that he kept on concluding all things loss for something of greater importance in the present tense. He had been a Christian for 25 years, and he was still concluding this.
“All things” are his successes of verses 3 to 6: all his energy of the flesh, all his status symbols of success. This is all his achievement without God: his popularity, all the approbation he received, all his accomplishments. But this is a stronger statement than the loss of his achievements; he counted everything loss compared to Christ.
“Loss” is singular. All his accomplishments as one big ball of wax were nil.
“For the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord”
Now Paul stated his greatest aspiration. The most important ideal for Paul was the excellence of the knowledge of his Lord. It was more important than his ministry, prayer, fellowship, or even evangelism. Fellowship with his Lord was the driving force behind these other wonderful values.
The word “for” means because of. This was the cause of Paul’s suffering the loss of all things.
The word “excellence” is a verb that means to be held over or beyond. It means to be superior, to excel. The Greek indicates that his superiority was the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. This knowledge was constantly superior. Nothing else was worth living for in the light of his superiority.
Our highest ambition is the excellence of the knowledge of Christ.
The studied estimation of Paul after 25 years of the Christian life was clear. After all those years as a Christian, he had something more than a Savior—he had a Lord. Nothing brings greater glory to God than when a child of God confesses Christ as his Lord:
“And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (2:11)