I received the following question:

I have a question.  Would you explain the “resurrection” found in Philippians 3:11?  It is defined as “out resurrection” by Dr. Bullinger, but I am not sure what that means. Is Paul striving to attain unto a special resurrection or is he simply focusing on being “out from among dead things in Christ in this life?” Thanks in advance for any clarity you can provide.  There are some that see this “resurrection” as a special calling with a special hope in the heavenlies.  All of this seems quite confusing in the light of our placement in God’s earthly Kingdom. 

The reason Dr. Bullinger defines this as an “out-resurrection” is that the word used here in Greek is literally the Greek word for resurrection, anastasis, with the prefix “out” in front of it, in Greek ex. So the word is exanastasis, and occurs only here.

Paul throughout this section (Philippians 3:7-15) is discussing his determination to leave old things behind and to press forward to attain to what is new. I believe that the book of Philippians was written to those in Philippi who originally believed in the Acts period who were now dealing with the postponement of the kingdom of God and the cessation of their privileges that they had previously enjoyed under it. They were having to give up the hope that the kingdom would come in their lifetime, as well as all the miraculous benefits of health and healing, not to mention Divine direction, that they were enjoying in the Acts period. Now, they had to learn to start living in the dispensation of grace, when God is silent and all the powers they formerly enjoyed had been taken away.

Paul informs them here that he is willing for the sake of Christ to give up all the blessings that he had formerly enjoyed in the Acts period as one of God’s apostles. He is willing to do this in order to attempt to attain to the blessings of the higher calling God is holding out to men in the dispensation of grace. Part of this higher calling is the resurrection of present-day believers, here called the “out-resurrection.”

There are two things that I believe the out-resurrection is not. One is that it is not to a different place than the normal resurrection. Those who have their place in it will be resurrected to the earth, just like those who are resurrected from other companies. The point of the “high calling” is not that anyone will be called up to heaven or the heavenlies rather than to the earth, but that this calling is higher than that offered to men in the Acts period (and thus Paul’s desire to attain to it.)

Secondly, I do not believe that this “out-resurrection” is at a different time than the other resurrections. Colossians 3:4 says, “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” The word for “appear” is phaneroo, which means to be made manifest. When Who and what Christ is in the sight of God is made manifest to the world, then who and what the believer of today is in the sight of God will also be manifested. This will probably mean that we will be resurrected at that time to be manifested. We, then, may be one of the first peoples to be resurrected in the Kingdom of God, but our out-resurrection will still take place among the resurrections at the start of the kingdom.

Mr. Welch once used the illustration that out of a crowd of people who are graduating, some may be called out of the crowd to receive special awards. These are still among the crowd of people who are graduating, even though they have been called out for a special position in that graduation. He then suggested that the out-resurrection may well be the same way. I like the illustration very much. I think that those who are raised from the dead as having been believers in the dispensation of grace will be this out-resurrection, who will receive a special reward of an exalted position in the kingdom to come.

(By the way, I would disagree with Mr. Welch on many other things regarding the resurrection of believers today, so I am not saying I agree with him on everything regarding this resurrection. I just like this illustration, and think it well illustrates what the out-resurrection is all about.)

I hope that helps.