We have heard many times: “That I may know Him….That if by any means, I might attain to the resurrection from the dead.” But what in meant or implied in “attaining the resurrection”? Surely it doesn’t mean that we work for our salvation. Does it mean that we must complete our salvation or become perfect by our actions? Of course, it goes along with “work out your own salvation.” What can we learn if we delve into the whole passage, and include Greek word and grammar study? This such an important passage that we must not merely rely on some titillation of the past, nor some bullying of an impressive man, or even the point we came to in revelation in some point in the past. Let us press on to have an accurate understanding, with balance. Who could argue with that?
Let us unpack the Scripture, relying on Wuest’s Wordstudies in the Greek New Testament. This is really the best authority from Greek for this passage, as Wuest goes in depth. Going to the Greek does not change things; it helps us understand what was originally said. I think you will enjoy it, and be freed from much confusion and concern.
Other study on this passage Bible Hub and Clark’s commentary along with translation from Young’s and Darby
John Wesley’s notes show that he considered this attaining to be attaining the removal from all sin in life.
I have not found John Calvin mentioning the passage; he is much more interested in other comments in the same passage, in an effort to fend off the teaching of works in the Roman Catholic church of his time. Ligonier, representative of the Reformed tradition, understands this passage to be Paul’s doubt about his manner of death and what the route might be towards his final judgement.
F.F. Bruce, highly regarded scholar and commentary writer saw this as a problem passage.” He denies that this attaining must be by martyrdom. Instead, F.F. Bruce thinks that this resurrection is that same as for all believers. He thinks instead, that Paul is doubting that he will still be alive when Jesus returns.