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Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:16)
Paul is encouraging the Philippian believers to get active – don’t sit on the sidelines and wait for further revelation – put what they already knew into effect. God expects believers to walk in the light they already have; the knowledge and understanding they have should be put to use.
Apparently, in Philippi (as is the case today), some were waiting until they had full knowledge and understanding before ministering for Christ in the world around them. We will never have perfect knowledge of all things until the time of our glorification, but until then, God calls us to use what he has given us.
Paul has finished addressing those who thought that they had already obtained perfection and challenged them to have the same mind of Christ. Now he will touch on the believers who held the erroneous view that Christians are released by grace from the obligation of observing the moral law.
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This is a genuinely sensible and beneficial principle that would save a lot of problems and conflict in the church if it were applied correctly. The Greek word (στοιχέω stoicheō) rendered hold true literally means to agree on a position, conceived of as being in proper battle formation with other soldiers. It has the sense to agree, fall in line, behave, adhere one’s life to a standard, and serve God faithfully. The Greek word (φθάνω phthanō) rendered attain means to arriving at a location, to achieve a particular state. In five of the NT references ‘φθάνω is used with a prepositional phrase: with ἐπί in Mt. 12:28 and par.; 1 Th. 2:16, with εἰς in R. 9:31; Phil. 3:16, and with ἄχρι in 2 C. 10:14. The meaning is always “to arrive at,” “to reach,” “to come or attain to.” At 2 C. 10:13 f. φθάνω means the same as the NT hapax legomenon ἐφικνέομαι: Paul has reached them with the Gospel. The use is the same in Phil. 3:16 but more profound. Paul employs the clause πλὴν εἰς ὃ ἐφθάσαμεν, τῷ αὐτῷ στοιχεῖν (only let us hold true to what we have attained) to conclude a train of thought contrasting imperfection and perfection.’ A large part of our growing spiritually more mature, serving God more faithfully, having the mind of Christ involves holding “true to what we have attained.” This means fall in line, behaving, adhering one’s life to God’s Word, becoming biblically minded. In other words, we need to develop good spiritual habits and make every effort to retain them. How? “We must pay much closer attention* to the things that have been heard so that we do not drift away** from it.” – Hebrews 2:1.
* Pay Attention: (προσέχω prosechō) The sense of προσέχω prosechō is to give heed or the need to pay attention. One must hold more firmly to what they believe or what they have known to be true. Paul is telling these Hebrew Christians, who no longer have the visual aids like the temple or the Jewish high priest, you need to hold more firmly to the things that you have heard.
** Drift Away: (παραρρέω pararreō) The sense of pararreō is to disbelieve or drift away gradually or slowly from what one had formerly known to be true. It is like being carried away by the water current. Because of their daily harassment from the Jews in and around Jerusalem, these Hebrew Christians, who were living where they could see what we now call the eighth wonder of the world, the Jewish temple, was gradually giving up their belief in the truth.
To walk through our daily lives according to the principles found in the Word of God requires us to walk disciplined, in agreement with the direction he has laid down for us to guide us. Jesus Christ, throughout his life on earth, gave us a perfect example of living according to the will and purposes of the Father. Paul elsewhere warns us, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ. 9 For in him is dwelling all the fullness of the deity bodily.” – Col. 2:8-9.
 Consider the parables of Jesus on the talents in Matthew 25. Here He even warns that not using what we have been given could mean it would be taken away. Jesus was not speaking of losing one’s salvation, but of their effectiveness in the world around them.
 Gottfried Fitzer, “Φθάνω, Προφθάνω,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 90.
 The NIV reads, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy” and the NET Bible reads, “Be careful not to allow anyone to captivate you through an empty, deceitful philosophy …” In other words, there is nothing wrong with philosophy (i.e., love of wisdom), but we should be wary of hollow, deceptive, or empty philosophy.
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