NKJV - 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
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Once we admit that we cannot save ourselves and obtain eternal life through our own efforts, but instead place our faith and hope of eternal life totally in the redemption that Jesus gained for us by His sinless life; His undeserved, atoning death; and His resurrection, Christ (as Paul said in the verse cited in the question) "lays hold" of us. The purpose for which He does this is so that we may then become progressively more like Him throughout our earthly lives; serve God by telling others about the salvation that God offers in Christ; and finally receive the reward of eternal life in God's presence, which Christ became human, suffered, died, and rose again to make possible. That ultimate realization and attainment of eternal life is what Paul was striving to "lay hold of", and what gave purpose to everything that he did, through conscious effort to bring the gospel of Christ to others regardless of any opposition that he might encounter, which Paul expressed elsewhere as fighting the good fight, finishing the race, and keeping the faith (2 Timothy 4:7) -- again, not because he was already perfect (or even could be in this life); or because those efforts were the reason he would be granted eternal life, but in gratitude to God for the salvation that he had received when Christ had laid hold of him.
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