Philippians 1:18b-21 English Standard Version (ESV)
Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
1) What is the “this” that will turn out for Paul’s deliverance in verse 19?
2) What does Paul mean by “to live is Christ”?
3) Paul says he knows his imprisonment will turn out for his deliverance, he expects that he will not at all be ashamed. Why is Paul so confident?
A trip to www.studylight.org is in order here.
We will get super cozy with this site as we study Scripture together!
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The Findings for Original Intent
1) If we look to the rest of the chapter, we see that Paul mentions imprisonment in verses 7, 13, 14, and 17. So, Paul is in prison as he writes to the church at Philippi—which is why Philippians is called a Prison Epistle. Cross-references lead us to the book of Acts, starting in chapter 21, where we see that Paul was arrested because certain people didn’t like the things he was preaching. He did nothing wrong! Yet, because of Paul’s imprisonment, he had many chances to preach the Gospel at his various trials and defenses.
2) Verse 21 begins with a linking word—for—which indicates that what follows (to live is Christ and to die is gain) is the explanation for what came before (verses 18b-20). Paul talks about rejoicing, eagerly expecting that Christ will be honored in his body. Paul feels that his whole life is in pursuit of honoring Christ, and that he would give up his life to honor Christ as well.
3) Paul writes this letter from prison, yet he is confident that he will honor God, whether by life or by death. In verse 19, he mentions a couple of reasons for his certainty—the prayers of the Philippian believers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Some Applications for Our Everyday Lives
1) Paul was definitely persecuted for his faith. I have never been put in prison for preaching about Jesus Christ, but I have certainly gone through trials. Here Paul gives us all an example to follow as to how to rejoice, even in the midst of trials and persecution. We can trust our good God to work in and through us!
2) Am I living to bring honor to Christ in every aspect of my life? Am I so confident of my eternal security with Him that I can fearlessly say, “to die is gain”? If not, why not? What questions do I have that keep me from speaking so boldly about my eternity?
3) Prayer—what a powerful tool! Am I approaching the trials in my life with prayer? Am I being faithful to pray for my fellow believers, especially those imprisoned and persecuted for their faith? And am I asking the Holy Spirit for help to honor Christ with my life?
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