4. Transformed by God's Glory

Audio (30:02)

Claude Vignon (1593-1670) , ‘St. Paul the Apostle,’ oil on canvas, Galleria Sabauda, Turin, Italy
Claude Vignon (1593-1670) , 'St. Paul the Apostle,' oil on canvas, Galleria Sabauda, Turin, Italy

So far we've taken a deep look at:

  • Lesson 1. God's glory revealed to Moses and the Israelites in the Wilderness and Tabernacle;
  • Lesson 2. Daniel's Son of Man prophecy that foretells the glorious kingdom that will never pass away; and
  • Lesson 3. The glory of God upon Jesus during his ministry, trial, death, and resurrection.

Now it is time to begin to apply this understanding to our own lives. How can we go about experiencing God's glory? What difference can it make in our lives? In Lesson 4 we will examine how the Glorious Kingdom changes us. In Lesson 5 we will consider how the Glorious Kingdom in us changes the wAudio (30:02)orld around us.

We begin by examining in some detail a passage we saw briefly in Lesson 1 -- 2 Corinthians 3:7-18.

The Dynamic Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 3:7-17)

In Paul's second letter to the Corinthian church, he has just introduced a contrast between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, between the letter of the Mosaic law and the leadership of the dynamic Spirit of God. Now he continues this contrast in 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 by showing the basis of the Old Covenant as the work of the Spirit through Moses, the same Spirit that -- under the New Covenant -- works through all believers.

You'll recall in Lesson 1 where we learned that Moses' face glowed when he spent time in Yahweh's presence. In verses 7-18, Paul assumes that his readers remember those occurrences.

"Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily[53] at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading[54] though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?" (2 Corinthians 3:7-8)

No matter how glorious the Law's origins, Paul argues, it can't bring life to God's people as the Spirit does. In Paul's analogy, the glory of the law fades or passes away, while the Spirit of God continues with us to this day. In verse 13, Paul uses the imagery of the veil over Moses' face to symbolize the darkness of the Jews in Paul's day who can't grasp the New Covenant. The Spirit of God is the One who takes away their blindness. Christ offers freedom from the letter of the law to the person who begins to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.[55]

Beholding the Glory of God (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Paul concludes this passage with a wonderful verse describing Christian sanctification, the process of Christ's character being formed in us.

"18 But we all, with unveiled[56] face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18, NASB)

The Greek verb is katoptrizō, formed from the noun katoptron, "mirror." Three possible renderings have been suggested:

  • "to behold as in a mirror" (NRSV, NASB, KJV),
  • "to reflect like a mirror" (NIV, NJB), or
  • "to behold or gaze," with no association with a mirror (RSV, ESV). [57]

Of these three, "look at something as in a mirror, contemplate something,"[58] seems to fit both the derivation of the word and the understanding of early translations of the Bible. The NIV's translation of reflecting God's glory doesn't appear before Chrysostom, about 375 AD.[59]

Behold God's Glory

How did Moses behold God's glory? Moses certainly had some experiences of great glory on the mountain when he saw God's form while sheltered in the cleft of the rock (Exodus 33:18-23). But as we saw in Lesson 1, Moses' continuing practice of speaking to the Lord both in the pre-tabernacle Tent of Meeting, and later in the Tabernacle left a mark on both his face and his character.

"[Moses'] face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD." (Exodus 34:29b)

"But whenever he entered the LORD's presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD." (Exodus 34:34-35)

Why did Moses face glow? I guess because it absorbed just a little bit of God's glory during these times of speaking with him.

Q1. (2 Corinthians 3:18) In your own words, how do you describe what it means to "behold his glory"? Have you ever experienced this? What do you think would be necessary for you to experience this on a regular basis? What keeps you from experiencing this?

Glorious Joy

Beholding Christ, anticipating final victory, and walking with him in this life bring us both hope and joy.

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy." (1 Peter 1:8)

When I was a young assistant pastor, I remember watching the pastor's wife, Helen Stanley, as she worshipped. She was a dear lady, but not endowed with what we think of as physical beauty. In fact, she was rather plain. But when she began to worship God, her face took on a wonderful beauty. I could see such joy on her face as she was transported into God's presence. She was rejoicing, as the King James Version puts it, "with joy unspeakable and full of glory."

For now, we live in a world where the Kingdom of God is not fully realized. Where we experience struggle and suffering. But our glory shines through us as we touch in our spirits the Glorious Kingdom, and that joy and glory of that Kingdom becomes our own.

Morphed into Christ's Likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Moses' glow did have to be renewed by repeated sessions in God's presence, but these times before God had the effect of altering him. This is the idea that Paul is focusing on here.

I like the simple way the English Standard Version puts it:

"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV)

As a result of beholding God in communing with him, we are "being transformed" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "being changed" (KJV, RSV). The verb is metamorphoō, "to change inwardly in fundamental character or condition, be changed, be transformed."[60] It is a compound verb, formed from meta-, "exchange, transfer, transmutation" + morphoō, "to form, shape." From this we get our English word "metamorphosis" or the relatively new English verb, "to morph.[61]

This process of change morphs us into God's "likeness" (NIV, RSV), "image" (NRSV, KJV), Greek eikōn.[62] For our character to be changed into God's image is our destiny. Paul teaches,

"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness (eikōn) of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." (Romans 8:29)

The word "conformed" in this verse uses the same root morph- in the adjective symmorphos, "pertaining to having a similar form, nature, or style, similar in form"[63]

This change is sanctification, the gradual process of becoming holy and godly in our character to match our holy standing, which was brought about instantaneously through Christ's gift of salvation on the cross. Elsewhere, Paul describes it in other terms.

"Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.... The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." (Galatians 5:16, 22-23)

"If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:8-9, NRSV)

Going to church is a good thing. But, my dear friend, going to church, in and of itself, will not transform you. What changes you is regular time before the Lord, contemplating him in worship, meditating on him, singing to him, listening to him, speaking to him, obeying him, drinking him in through the Word and the Spirit. Just like Moses spent time before the Lord and was transformed by it, so as you spend time with the Lord it will change you.

A Progressive Change

This transformation is a progressive process, kind of like growth rings on a tree. The text is literally "from glory to glory" (KJV). This means, as the NIV puts it, "from one degree of glory to another."[64]

The agent of change, according to our verse, "comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18). In other words, this is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit of God, the fruit of the Holy Spirit gradually filling our character, replacing the common and unclean with the holiness and glory of the Lord.

Decades ago when I was in college, I attended a small church in the MacArthur Park area of downtown Los Angeles. There I learned a song, based on the King James Version of this verse, that indelibly impressed the meaning of this verse on my soul.

"From glory to glory He's changing me,
Changing me, changing me.
His likeness and image to perfect in me,
The love of God shown to the world.
    For He's changing, changing me,
    From earthly things to the heavenly.
    His likeness and image to perfect in me,
    The love of God shown to the world."[65]

Dear friend, my prayer for you is that you will indeed so live your life in his presence that his Spirit of Holiness will transform your life. That when people see you, they will not see your imperfections, but the glow of Jesus, so that people might recognize in you what Jesus' contemporaries they saw in his disciples, that "these men had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13).

Q2. (2 Corinthians 3:18) What is the effect on a believer from continued exposure to God's presence? Why do many believers remain spiritual infants? Why does deep exposure to God transform a person?

Transformation and Sanctification

We've spent some time with 2 Corinthians 3:18, which talks about the personal transformation that comes about in our lives as a result of beholding Jesus and spending time with him. I want to continue along this track by looking at some other passages that discuss the process of transformation, which theologians refer to as sanctification, as inner renewal (2 Corinthians 4:16-17)

  • Following Hard after God (Psalm 63)
  • Knowing Christ intimately (Philippians 3:7-19)

Outer Deterioration, Inner Renewal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

In the chapter of 2 Corinthians following the passage we've just examined, Paul continues to explain that this change process is accelerated in times of suffering. Pain can tempt us to get discouraged, to lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:1). Perspective helps.

"We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:16)

Wasting Away. If we live long enough -- or go through enough persecution -- our bodies gradually develop chronic problems. Joints and organs begin to act up. Eyesight dims, hearing fades. "Outwardly" (literally, in "our outer man") we are breaking down.[66]

Being Renewed. At the same time, "inwardly" (in "our inner man") we are being "renewed." Anakainoō, properly means, "to cause to grow up (ana-) new, to make new."[67] We see the same word in Colossians:

"[You] have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." (Colossians 3:10)

This is an ongoing process. It happens "day by day," a little bit at a time. Your body gradually loses vigor, but at the same time, as you focus on Christ each day, you gain in vigor and power and faith. This is simply another way of describing the process of sanctification.

Now Paul introduces the idea of glory with suffering.

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:17, NIV)

If you've just gone through some terrible experience and the pain is fresh, you may be offended by Paul's description of "light and momentary troubles." That may seem too callous. But Paul is speaking in comparative terms. The ESV is a bit more literal so that you can see the contrasts:

"For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison." (2 Corinthians 4:17, ESV)

Paul introduces two pairs of ideas

  1. Light/slight[68] affliction[69] vs. weight[70] of glory
  2. Momentary[71] vs. eternal.

But these aren't equal pairs. The long-term glory exceeds the momentary light trouble by so much that the comparison is trivial -- beyond all measure![72]

If we just look at our present troubles, we fall into despair. We must see our current problems in the light of our glorious inheritance in heaven. This is the secret of ever-increasing faith!

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18)

This phrase "fix our eyes" (NIV), "look at" (NRSV, KJV) is skopeō (from which we get our English word "scope"), "to pay careful attention to, look (out) for, notice someone or something."[73] Paul is recommending thought control, selective attention. Don't be discouraged by the problems you can see in this physical world. They are "temporary" (NIV, NRSV), "transient" (ESV), "temporal" (KJV), lasting only for a time.[74] This concept isn't far from the idea of being transformed by beholding Christ's glory (2 Corinthians 3:18) that we considered earlier in this lesson.

Q3. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) In what way do our "light, momentary afflictions" achieve for us an "eternal weight of glory"? Suffering can make a person bitter or better. How can suffering work God's character in your life?

Following Hard after God (Psalm 63)

There's a wonderful Psalm about seeking God earnestly, written when David was in the Judean desert trying to escape from King Saul. It begins:

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek[75] you;
my soul thirsts for you, my body longs[76] for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you." (Psalm 63:1-3)

David, like Moses before him, wants to gaze on God's glory, to commune with him, to know him. You sense a bit of this hunger for God in Marie Barnett's praise song, "Breathe," as the refrain cries out:

"And I,  I'm desperate for you.
And I,  I'm lost without you."[77]

When you get to Psalm 63:8, there's a wonderful phrase in the King James Version:

"My soul followeth hard after thee." (Psalm 63:8a)

Modern translations are correct when they translate it, "My soul clings to you" (NIV, NRSV, ESV),[78] but this translation somehow lacks the intensity of "following hard after."

We see this intense hunger for God elsewhere in the Old Testament.

 "As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?" (Psalm 42:1-2)

"My soul yearns[79], even faints, for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." (Psalm 84:2)

"I spread out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land." (Psalm 143:6)

"My soul yearns[80] for you in the night;
my spirit within me earnestly seeks[81] you." (Isaiah 26:9a, ESV)

This intensity in following hard after God is matched by Jacob refusing to break off wrestling with God at the Jabbock River.

"I will not let you go[82] until you bless me." (Genesis 32:26b)

This intense, purposeful seeking of God may be what Jesus is referring to when he observes in this difficult saying.

"From the days of John the Baptist until now,
the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing,[83]
and forceful men[84] lay hold[85] of it." (Matthew 11:12)

It's important we understand, however, that we're not saved because we follow hard after God. A.W. Tozer reminds us in his book, The Pursuit of God about God's prevenient grace.

"The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after him, and all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand."[86]

Nevertheless, it is this sort of fastening ourselves to God and not letting go that is at the core of "beholding his glory," and experiencing the change in our lives that the Spirit can bring us.

"I Want to Know Christ" (Philippians 3:7-19)

Paul felt that longing and yearning, too. In an eloquent letter to the Philippian church we hear his heart's cry for God -- a prayer that I pray along with him. "I want to know Christ!" We'll consider two verses especially from this passage. First, verse 8.

"I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things." (Philippians 3:8)

In the Old Testament, knowledge (Hebrew yāda`) denotes "living in a close relationship with something or somebody, such a relationship as to cause what may be called communion."[87] The prophets look forward to that day of intimately knowing God.

"Let us know, let us press on[88] to know the Lord." (Hosea 6:3a)

"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain:
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord,
as the waters cover the sea." (Isaiah 11:9; cf. Habakkuk 2:14)

"No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest." (Jeremiah 31:34a)

 This longing to know God can find fulfillment especially among Christians under the New Covenant because of the Holy Spirit who can reveal to us the very mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).[89]

Paul says that to be intimate with the Messiah is of "surpassing greatness" (NIV), "surpassing value" (NRSV, ESV), "excellency" (KJV). This Greek participle of hyperechō means, "to surpass in quality or value -- be better than, surpass, excel."[90] In our contemporary parlance we talk about "chocolate to die for." But Paul meant it literally. To know Christ is worth giving up everything.

The second verse in this great passage I want us to look at is verse 10. Paul continues,

"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death...." (Philippians 3:10)

Of course, Paul "knows" Christ in an objective way. He met him just outside Damascus and has walked with him ever since. But Paul is longing for more intimate encounters with him that surpass his ability to describe.

Many people have testified that fasting helps them to seek God with greater intensity and earnestness. It shows a humbling before God, and perhaps a desperateness to encounter him.

Jacob declares, "I will not let you go until you bless me."

Moses pleads, "Show me your glory."

David cries out, "My soul thirsts for you."

Isaiah says, "My spirit earnestly seeks you."

Paul declares, "I want to know Christ!"

There is something in you and me that longs for this kind of authentic, selfless, intimacy with God. And so we seek hard after him. Sometimes, we don't seem to have a breakthrough in our quest, but then he surprises us with his overpowering presence and glory.

Q4. (Psalm 63; Philippians 3:7-19) What increases one's hunger for God? What tends to deplete this hunger? What would it take for your hunger for God to be renewed to great intensity? How might fasting help in this process?

Called to His Kingdom and Glory

Why do we long for intimacy with God? Because he has called us to be this way.

"Urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory." (1 Thessalonians 2:12)

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." (1 Peter 5:10)

We are called to his glory and his kingdom and thus we long for him. We are called to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), the process of becoming like him. Paul writes:

"Now if we are children, then we are heirs -- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (Romans 8:17)

Lessons for Disciples

Let's review some lessons for disciples that we see in this chapter.

  1. Just as Moses was changed and glowed by spending time in God's presence, we too are transformed by beholding God's glory (2 Corinthians 3:18), a process called "sanctification."
  2. Paul talks about it as "being renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16).
  3. David describes a hunger for God as "earnestly I seek you," thirsting, longing (Psalm 63:1) "following hard" after God (Psalm 63:8).
  4. Paul's single quest was to know God intimately whatever the cost (Philippians 3:7-19).
  5. We seek God because it is our destiny, to conform to his image, to be "called into his kingdom and glory" (1 Thessalonians 2:12), called to "his eternal glory" (1 Peter 5:10), to "share in his glory" (Romans 8:17).

The Glorious Kingdom: A Disciple's Guide to Kingdom Glory and Authority, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Available in PDF and Kindle formats

Moses returned again and again to his Tent of Meeting to commune with God and the result was a glow about him, and a change in him. That's what experiencing God's glory will do to us. My dear friend, my prayer for you is that your hunger to live in God's glory will be insatiable.


Father, so often we settle for much less access to You than is our birthright as children of the Almighty God. Let us come boldly before Your throne of grace, not just for a moment, but to camp out at Your feet, to live in Your throne room, to take you in, to learn from You, to bask in your glory. Change us, we pray, so that we look like You and radiate Your glory. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Key Verses

"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV)

"[Moses'] face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD." (Exodus 34:29b)

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy." (1 Peter 1:8)

"We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:16)

"[You] have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." (Colossians 3:10)

"For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,  as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, ESV)

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek  you;
my soul thirsts for you, my body longs  for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
 and beheld your power and your glory.
 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you." (Psalm 63:1-3)

"My soul followeth hard after thee." (Psalm 63:8a, KJV)

"I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things." (Philippians 4:8)

"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death...." (Philippians 3:10)

End Notes

[53] "Look steadily" (NIV), "steadfastly behold" (KJV), "gaze" (NRSV) is atenizō, "look intently at, stare at something or someone" (BDAG 148), also found in verse 13.

[54] "Fading" (NIV), "set aside" (NRSV), "done away" (KJV) is katargeō, "to cause something to come to an end or to be no longer in existence, abolish, wipe out, set aside." (BDAG 526, 3). This word is used twice more in verses 11 and 13 to refer to the fading of the glory on Moses' face. In verse 14 it is used in the sense "take a way, remove," of the removal of the veil.

[55] For a detailed exposition of this passage, see my book, 2 Corinthians: Discipleship Lessons (JesusWalk Publications, 2011), pp. 49-57.

[56] "Unveiled faces" (NIV, NRSV), "open faces" (KJV) is anakalyptō, above. In verse 18 we see the opposite to veiling: "unveiled" (NIV, NRSV), "with open face" (KJV) is anakalyptō, "uncover, unveil" (BDAG 65), from ana-, "back, backward" (in the sense of reversal) + kalyptō, "cover."

[57] Paul Barnett, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians (New International Commentary on the New Testament, Eerdmans, 1997), p. 205, fn 38.

[58] Katoptrizō, BDAG 535. Barnett sees Philo's phrase (Allegorical Interpretation 3.101), "see ... as in a looking glass," as an apt parallel (pp. 204-206).

[59] R.V.G. Tasker, 2 Corinthians: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries; London: Tyndale Press, 1958), p. 68.

[60] Metamorphoō, BDAG 639, 2.

[61] Merriam-Webster traces "morph" to a back formation from "morpheme" about 1947.

[62] The noun eikōn here means "that which represents something else in terms of basic form and features, form, appearance" (BDAG 282, 3).

[63] Symmorphos, BDAG 958. From syn-, "participation, together, completely" + morphē, "form."

[64] There's a similar construction in 4:17, literally "from excess to (eis) excess." Eis can carry the idea of a marker of degree, "up to," as well as marker of goals involving affective / abstract / suitability aspects, "into, to," here, of change from one state to another with verbs of changing (Eis, BDAG 289, 3 and 4b).

[65] I found reference to a 1978 song with this title, music: Evelyn Marie Montgomery (1926- ); lyrics: Eddie Montgomery (1926- ), but I first heard the song about 1966.

[66] "Wasting away" (NIV, NRSV), "perish" (KJV) is the verb diaphtheirō in the present tense, which indicates continuous ongoing action. The word means, "to cause the destruction of something, spoil, destroy," and is used to describe the action of rust and of food spoiling, as well as the ongoing physical deterioration suggested in this passage (BDAG 239, 1).

[67] Anakainoō, Thayer, p. 38. This Greek word is unique to Paul.

[68] Elaphros, "having little weight, light" in weight, "insignificant" (BDAG 314, 1).

[69] Thlipsis, "trouble that inflicts distress, oppression, affliction, tribulation" (BDAG 457, 1).

[70] Baros, "weight, burden," here "fullness" (BDAG 167, 3). In Hebrew "glory" carries the idea of heaviness, substance, so "weight of glory" to a Hebrew speaker doubles the idea of weightiness.

[71] "Momentary" is parautika, "pertaining to a point of time immediately subsequent to another point of time, on the spot, immediately, for the present" (BDAG 772).

[72] The Greek uses the idiom "from excess to excess," which we also see in 3:18, "from one degree of glory to another." Eis, "marker of degree, up to" (BDAG 289, 3).

[73] Skopeō, BDAG 932.

[74] Proskairos, "lasting only for a time, temporary, transitory" (BDAG 880), from pros-, "to, for," of a thing adjusted to some standard + kairos, "time" (pros, Thayer, 543, IV, 5).

[75] "Earnestly seek" (NIV, ESV), "seek" (NRSV), "seek early" (KJV) is the Piel stem of shāḥar, "seek early, earnestly" (TWOT 2369), "be intent on, inquire for, seek" (Holladay, p. 366).

[76] "Long for" (NIV, KJV), "faints for" (NRSV, ESV), is the Qal stem of kāmah, used only here in the OT, "long for, yearn for" (Holladay, p. 159); "faint (with longing)" (BDB).

[77] "Breathe," by Marie Barnett, ©1995 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing / ASCAP.

[78] The verb "clings" or "follows hard" is dābaq, "cleave, cling, stick to, stick with, follow closely, catch, keep close to, join to," often used in the Old Testament of physical things sticking to each other" (Earl S. Kalland, dābaq, TWOT #398).

[79] "Yearns" (NIV), "longs" (NRSV, ESV, KJV) is kāsap in the Niphal stem, "deeply long for" (Holladay, p. 162; cf. TWOT #1015).

[80] Yearns" (NIV, NRSV, ESV), "desireth" (KJV) is the Piel stem of ʾāwâ, "want, crave," usually with nephesh, soul" (Holladay, p. 6).

[81] "Longs for" (NIV), "earnestly seeks" (NRSV, ESV), "seek early" (KJV) is the Piel stem of shāḥar, "seek early, earnestly" (TWOT 2369), "be intent on, inquire for, seek" (Holladay, p. 366).

[82] "Let go" is the Piel stem of shālah, "let loose, free" (Herman J. Austel, TWOT #2394).

[83] "Forcefully advancing" (NIV), "suffered violence" (NRSV, ESV, KJV) is the present indicative middle or passive of biazō. This verb is usually found in the middle deponent. The question is whether to translate it negatively (1) "to inflict violence on, dominate, constrain," or positively, (2) "to gain an objective by force, use force," or perhaps, (3) "go after something with enthusiasm, seek fervently, try hard," with the sense "is sought with burning zeal"; or (4) "constrain (warmly)" in the sense of "invite urgently" (the reluctant guest, Luke 14:23) (BDAG 175).

[84] "Forceful men" (NIV), "the violent" (NRSV, ESV, KJV) is biastēs, "violent, impetuous person" (BDAG 176), with the same translation issue as of the verb biazō earlier in the sentence.

[85] "Lay hold" (NIV), "take by force" (NRSV, ESV, KJV) is harpazō, 'snatch, seize," i.e., take suddenly and vehemently, here, "to grab or seize suddenly so as to remove or gain control, snatch/take away" (BDAG 134, 2).

[86] A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Christian Publications, 1948), chapter 1.

[87] T.C. Vriezen, An Outline of Old Testament Theology (Oxford, 1958), p. 129, cited by Peter T. O'Brien, The Epistle to the Philippians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary; Eerdmans, 1991), p. 388. Greek noun gnōsis, "knowledge." It is used of (1) "comprehension or intellectual grasp of something" and (2) "the content of what is known." In the latter sense, it can involve personal acquaintance with someone, in this case, Christ (BDAG 203-204).

[88] "Press on" (NIV, NRSV, ESV), "follow on" (KJV) is the Qal stem of rādap, "pursue" (Holladay, p. 333); "be behind, follow after, pursue, persecute" (TWOT #834). This is the verb used in Psalm 23:6, "Goodness and mercy shall follow me" or actively "pursue me."

[89] Martin notes: "The Pauline expression 'to know Christ' is intimate, and glows with the warmth of a direct relationship; it may be therefore be taken as equivalent to 'fellowship with Christ,' to which Paul was introduced on the day of his conversion (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:6)." Ralph P. Martin, The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries; Eerdmans, 1987), p. 149.

[90] Hyperechō, BDAG 1033. Paul uses this word three times in Philippians: here, 2:3 and 3:8.

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