Philippians 1:21-24: “For Me To Live Is Christ”
INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:
Background to Philippians…
The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (personal letter) (1:1) to the Philippian church, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. The letter was written from a heart of love and concern for the Philippians. Due to Paul’s imprisonment, he could not personally visit with the church so he sent this letter with Timothy to encourage them and bring back news of their condition to Paul. (2:19).
Some of the main divisions of the book include:
1. Introduction to the book: 1:1-2
2. Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians: 1:3-11
3. News of Paul’s imprisonment and dedication: 1:12-26
4. Following Christ’s example is our duty: 1:27-2:18
5. Paul’s representatives and the need to treat them kindly: 2:19-30
6. Paul’s example of living a joyous life: 3:1-11
7. The Christian’s heavenly calling: 3:12-21
8. The need for Godly living: 4:1-9
9. The love offerings of the Philippians: 4:10-20
10. Closing to the book of Philippians: 4:21-23
Php 1:21-24 KJV – “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”
Paul recognizes that he will be delivered from prison by release or his physical death (vs 19-20). He now stops and considers which type of deliverance would be more preferable for himself and others …
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
If Paul was released from prison, it would open up continuing opportunities for Christ to be glorified and served with his life. However, if Paul’s deliverance came about due to his death, he would be home with His Lord. His death would result in a better end for himself, but would be a loss for those around him.
But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
If Paul continues to live physically (“in the flesh”) he will reap eternal blessings as he continues to faithfully serve his Lord. In either situation, Paul will benefit. If he dies, he goes home to the Lord; if he lives, he will gain more eternal rewards for his service.
In spite of all this analysis of his death and life, and who gains and who might lose through it all, Paul affirms that all he wants is the will of God done with his life. It really it doesn’t matter what Paul wants… it is all about what His Lord wants.
For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
Paul was in a very tight place caught between two options for his future. He was torn between his desires (death to be with his Lord) and what is good for others (release from prison to continue to spread the gospel of Christ.)
What was his conclusion to all of this? Lord, your will be done!
Folks, how often in life do we face events that are out of our control, that will either fulfill our desires, or that will bring about what is best for others? For what are we to pray?
Paul helps us to understand that, when we are confronted with events that are not in our control, we are to simply submit to the Lord’s intervention and seek to be submissive to whatever the Lord has for us.
May we all be in submissive to the will of our Lord for our lives and follow his example as we pray about the upcoming events in our lives….
Luk 22:42 KJV – “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
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