“That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death.”
Having stated his life ambition to know Christ better, Paul now turned to three specific areas where he wanted to know the Lord better.
There are three parts to his spiritual ambition. Each area is preceded by the pronoun “his.” The first is “the power of his resurrection.” These three items are not listed in order historically. They are listed in the order the believer experiences them in his spiritual life. It is difficult to know something about the sufferings of Christ until we know something about His resurrection. We would not have the spiritual capacity to be conformed to the death of Christ until we experience something of Christ’s sufferings.
Paul wanted to know more than just His resurrection, His sufferings, and His death. He wanted to know something specific about each category.
“And the power of his resurrection”
Paul wanted to know something more than simply the resurrection of Christ. He wanted to know something about the power of the resurrection. The apostle wanted the power of the resurrection of Christ in his everyday life. He was sitting in jail. He needed the power of the resurrection of Christ to go through this trial.
The word “power” here means inherent power. It is the word from which we get the English word “dynamite.” But the idea in Greek is not dynamite but dynamo—a power that is always resident.
The power that brought Jesus up from the grave is the power now residing in believers. The power that raised Christ from the dead now operates in believers. This is the power Paul wanted in his Christian life. This dunamis is a vital power of the Christian life. Dunamis is nothing more than a manifestation of His glory, the sum total of His attributes, bestowed by the Father (Rom 6:4). This power transforms us day by day into the image of Christ (2 Co. 3:18; 4:6). The Christian life rests on the power of God as over against human ingenuity.
This word dunamis occurs in the following passages:
“You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Matt. 22:29)
The Sadducees did not know the daily power of God in their lives.
Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
The gospel has the inherent power to save souls eternally.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18)
The gospel is powerful to Christians who are in the process of being saved from sin daily.
“And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 1:19,20)
These verses are part of Paul’s prayer that God would enable the Ephesians to know Christ better. They would know him better if they knew His power for their daily lives. The mighty power that raised Jesus out from Joseph of Arimathaea’s tomb is the power that can enable a believer to live his Christian life.
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20). God’s power works supernaturally in the believer’s daily life.
“Who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). God keeps our salvation unto eternity through His power, not ours.
We have the power of the resurrection of Christ for our daily lives.
Paul’s life ambition was to know the power of the resurrection for his daily life. That power is available to us. Most of us do not avail of it for ourselves. Do we come to the ocean with a thimble instead of a three-gallon pail? If we come with a thimble, it does not take much to satisfy us.
We have the power of God in salvation, but we have the power of God for the Christian life as well.
“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more . . . ” [there is something much more than our salvation]: “Much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:10).
We are saved every day by Jesus’ life in heaven, the resurrection life of Christ. That life will save us from worry, anger, and from anything that vexes this life. That power will save us from the gravitational tug of sin, from the seductive spell of sin. If Paul could live a life of victory in prison, we ought to live a life of victory in the kitchen or the office. The only thing that can short circuit that power is a break in the line of communication between the Lord and us.