If by Any Means
by Henry Morris, Ph.D.
"If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." (Philippians 3:11)
The usage of this seemingly insignificant phrase, "if by any means" (Greek ei pos), follows a significant order of development in the New Testament. Occurring only four times, it is used to express the urgency of an object sought, and the background needs and means for its attainment.
The context of the first occurrence is the presumed need for physical comfort and security. "Because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter" (Acts 27:12). This particular goal, however, was never attained.
The second is a more noble object, that of reaching an area of spiritual ministry. "Without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers," Paul said. "Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you . . . that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift" (Romans 1:9-11).
The next occurrence speaks in even greater urgency, the object being the conversion of Paul's Jewish brethren. "For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles. . . . If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them" (Romans 11:13-14).
The final occurrence is in today's verse, speaking of the supreme importance of a Christ-centered life: "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead" (Philippians 3:10-11). By all means, therefore, we should, like Paul, seek to live for Christ, minister to others, and win souls for Him. HMM