Should "the fellowship of His sufferings" (Philippians 3:10) be understood spiritually or literally?
- Parent Category: FAQs
- Category: Questions about Christian Life
- Published on Thursday, 19 November 2009 11:52
To be consistent, if we interpret this spiritually we must do the same for the two surrounding expressions: the power of His resurrection, being made conformable to His death. These two expressions take us to the truth of Romans 6. We walk by the new power of resurrection life (v. 4b), reckoning ourselves to be united with Christ in His death (vv. 5-11). The difficulty is to understand in what spiritual way we share in His sufferings.
The context of the book and the verse favors a literal sharing in Christ’s sufferings. Paul was in house arrest in Rome because of the gospel. He desired either the power of Christ’s resurrection (Ephe-sians 1:19; 6:10) or the energizing truth of a living Savior (Mark 16:14, 15; 1 Corinthians 15:8-10) to enable him in his sufferings. Because of the resurrection, he was willing even to suffer death for Christ’s sake ("made conformable unto His death"). His overriding longing was to be as like Christ now as it is possible to be (Philippians 3:11).