What does Philippians 3:13-14 really mean?

13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.


Setting the Scene for Philippians 3:13-14

The scene in Philippians 3:13-14 takes place in a quiet garden on the outskirts of the city of Philippi. The apostle Paul, a prominent figure in the early Christian church, is sitting under a large olive tree, surrounded by a small group of believers. They have gathered for a bible study session, eager to learn from Paul’s teachings and insights.

Among the group are Lydia, a wealthy merchant who was one of the first converts in Philippi, and Timothy, a young disciple who Paul has taken under his wing. The sun is setting, casting a warm glow over the garden as Paul begins to speak about pressing on towards the goal of knowing Christ more deeply. The air is filled with the scent of blooming flowers and the sound of birds chirping in the distance, creating a peaceful and contemplative atmosphere for the study.

As Paul shares his own struggles and victories in his faith journey, the group listens intently, hanging on his every word. They are inspired by his passion and dedication to spreading the gospel, and they are encouraged to keep moving forward in their own spiritual growth. The scene is one of unity, fellowship, and a shared commitment to following Christ wholeheartedly, as they strive towards the prize of eternal life in Him.

What is Philippians 3:13-14 about?

This verse encourages us to keep moving forward in our spiritual journey and to focus on the ultimate goal of reaching heaven. It reminds us that no matter what mistakes we may have made in the past, we should not let them hold us back or weigh us down. Instead, we should learn from them, seek forgiveness, and continue striving for a life filled with goodness and love.

Just like a runner who is focused on crossing the finish line, we should put all our efforts into living a life that reflects our faith and values. We can experience the hope and promise of eternal life by staying committed to our spiritual growth and seeking God’s grace each day. So, let go of any regrets or guilt from the past, and keep your eyes fixed on the prize of heaven. Embrace each day with a renewed sense of purpose and dedication to living a life that honors God and leads us closer to Him.

Understanding what Philippians 3:13-14 really means

Structure for Commentary

  1. Introduction to the Verse
  2. Exploring Key Phrases
  3. Connection to Other Biblical Passages
  4. Relevance to Modern Life
  5. Personal Anecdote
  6. Paul writes about the importance of focusing on what lies ahead rather than dwelling on the past in Philippians 3:13-14. This scripture encourages us to keep our eyes on our spiritual goals and the ultimate prize of eternal life with Christ. How often do you find yourself stuck in past mistakes or regrets? This verse offers a pathway to spiritual and emotional liberation.

Exploring Key Phrases

Paul mentions, “Forgetting what lies behind.” This phrase emphasizes the need to let go of past failures and successes. Holding onto the past can hinder our progress. Does dwelling on your past ever keep you from moving forward? Paul’s instruction to forget the past is a call to live in the present and focus on future growth.

Another critical phrase is “straining forward to what lies ahead.” This implies effort and determination. The Christian journey requires active participation and perseverance. Are you putting in the effort to advance in your faith, or are you passively waiting for change? This phrase encourages proactive involvement in our spiritual journey.

Connection to Other Biblical Passages

This theme of focusing on the future and leaving the past behind is echoed in Isaiah 43:18-19: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” Similarly, Hebrews 12:1-2 advises us to “throw off everything that hinders” and “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” These passages collectively urge us to shed the weight of past burdens and aim for the future with confidence. Past mistakes or missed opportunities can bog us down in today’s fast-paced world. This scripture is a reminder that our value isn’t defined by our past but by our ongoing relationship with Christ and our commitment to spiritual growth. How often do you allow past failures to dictate your present actions? Recognizing that each day is a new opportunity to strive toward your heavenly calling can be incredibly liberating.

Personal Anecdote

I remember counseling a young man who was deeply troubled by past mistakes. He felt unworthy of God’s love and forgiveness. We discussed Philippians 3:13-14, and he began to see that his past didn’t have to define his future. Over time, he started focusing on his personal growth and spiritual journey, experiencing a profound transformation. Can you think of a time when letting go of the past allowed you to move forward in a meaningful way?

Reflection and Conclusion

Paul’s message in Philippians 3:13-14 is timeless. It calls us to release the past and dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of our spiritual goals. Are you ready to leave behind what holds you back and press on toward your divine calling? Reflect on what it means to “strain forward” in your own life and consider how this can transform your relationship with God and others. Our past doesn’t determine our future, as this passage serves as a powerful reminder. We can find freedom and purpose by focusing on our spiritual journey and pressing toward our heavenly prize. How will you apply this lesson in your life today?

How can we press on toward the goal in life?

We press on toward the goal in life by forgetting what is behind us and focusing on what lies ahead. We should not be weighed down by past mistakes or achievements, but instead keep our eyes fixed on the prize that God has called us to. We can continue to move forward in our spiritual journey by consciously choosing to let go of the past and embracing the future with determination and faith.

The goal in life that we are pressing on toward is the upward call of God. This goal is ultimately the prize of eternal life with Christ. It is important to remember that our focus should always be on pursuing a deeper relationship with God and seeking to align our lives with His will. We can continue to grow in faith and strive towards the ultimate prize that awaits us in eternity by staying committed to this goal and persevering through the highs and lows of life. We must have a mindset of perseverance and endurance as we press on toward the goal in life. Life is filled with challenges and obstacles that can easily distract us from our purpose. It is crucial that we remain steadfast in our faith and continue to run the race set before us with diligence. We can find the strength to overcome any adversity and stay on course towards the fulfillment of God’s plan for our lives by keeping our eyes fixed on the goal.


Think about your daily grind, juggling work and family. Now, imagine shedding every weight that’s holding you back. Philippians 3:13-14 calls you to focus forward, like setting your sights on a promotion or family milestone. Forget the setbacks; run towards growth and progress in your faith. Ready to chase that ultimate prize that’s waiting for you?