Every search of God’s Word uncovers a treasure. Let us seek to attain to all that He has for us as His people here, now, and forever.
The Old Testament uses the word ATTAIN in many references as it pertains to man’s inability to accomplish ~ always falling short of ~ what is expected of God’s creatures. The New Testament uses the word in reference to attaining the righteousness of Christ. We will look at different meanings of the word.
Old Testament H7069
Strong’s concordance defines ATTAIN, qanah kä·nä’; to get, acquire, create, buy, possess by extension, to procure.
“A wise man will hear, and will increase learning;
and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:”
H5381 nasag nä·sag’; to reach, overtake, take hold upon
This word is used in reference to the duties of the priest in offerings.
“And he shall prepare a meat offering, an ephah for a bullock,
and an ephah for a ram, and for the lambs
according as his hand shall attain unto,
and an hin of oil to an ephah.” Ezekiel 46:7
“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high,
I cannot attain unto it.” Psalm 139:6
This is a well-known verse in which David speaks of the knowledge of God– whether the truth of God’s knowing him or the wonder of God’s ability to know all things – it is high, beyond his understanding. In search of the meaning of the word attain in this verse, I found a different link from the others.
H3201 yakol yä·kōle’: to prevail, overcome, endure, have power, be able refers to what he cannot do. He is not able to reach high enough, to prevail over his weakness, or to have the power to understand that which is heavenly. In the following quote, we have one of Charles Surgeon’s priceless gems.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. I cannot grasp it. I can hardly endure to think of it. Such knowledge not only surpasses my comprehension, but even my imagination. It is high, I cannot attain unto it. It seems to be always above me, even when I soar into the loftiest regions of spiritual thought. Is it not so with every attribute of God? Can we attain to any idea of his power, his wisdom, his holiness? We are not surprised that the Most Glorious God should in his knowledge be high above all the knowledge to which we can attain: it must of necessity be so, since we are such poor limited beings; and when we stand a tip-toe we cannot reach to the lowest step of the throne of the Eternal.
G5348 phthanō fthä’-nō; to come before, precede, anticipate, to come to, arrive at, to reach
“But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness,
hath not attained to the law of righteousness.”
Phthano referred to Israel who had not attained to the law of righteousness because they trusted only in their own righteousness. But to the Philippian church, he speaks of those who are like-minded in the righteousness of Christ as coming to the same faith as other believers.
“Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained,
let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.”
G2983 lambanō läm-bä’-nō; to take with the hand, lay hold of, any person or thing in order to use it. to receive (what is given), to gain, get, obtain
“Not as though I had already attained,
either were already perfect: but I follow after,
if that I may apprehend that for which also
I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”
Paul’s purpose was to reach the destination set before him in the gospel. As he continued to preach, teach, and lead others in the way of righteousness, his focus was intentional, not to fall short, but to press on to reach his goal and to train others to follow him until they obtained the promised reward.
G3877 parakoloutheō pä-rä-ko-lü-the’-ō; so to follow one as to be always at his side.
“If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things,
thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ,
nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine,
whereunto thou hast attained.”
1 Timothy 4:6
Paul speaks of Timothy having attained the place of a good minister of Jesus Christ through faith and doctrine, following as to be always at His side and bringing others to walk with him.
Dear Father, what joy to know that we have attained to a like-faith with other believers; that we walk together with Christ in our pilgrimage toward our eternal home, encouraging and supporting, as we, like Timothy, are nourished in the words of faith and of good doctrine. Continue to lead us by the presence of your Holy Spirit and power. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.