Paul was being held prisoner in Rome at the time of his writing Philippians. He was under house arrest; chained to a Roman soldier around the clock. He was waiting to appear before the judgment seat of Caesar. While he could be released, he also knew he could be found guilty of sedition against the Empire and be put to death.
Read Phil. 1:19-26. When you read this text, you can't help but feel that Paul was so much stronger in his faith than you and I. After all, the consequences we face here in America will seldom result in our being killed for the faith. Paul had no fear in the prospect of his death, and neither should we.
The true believer in Christ is changed. Jesus tells us in Jn. 3:3, "Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." When one is born again they become a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). A new life in Christ has begun. In Rom. 6:4, "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." The verses that follow this one make it clear that we are dead to sin, which once held us captive."
But along with our salvation comes transformation. This transformation occurs because we now look at everything differently. Look at Rom. 12:2. Here Paul indicates that we must not continue to think and act like the worldly do. This is because our mind is being renewed. Now everything we do should serve God's purposes.
In Phil. 1:19,20, Paul expresses his confidence that one way or another, he will be delivered. The Greek word here in v.19 translated "deliverance" can mean either delivered up to death or delivered as in "saved from death." Paul realized that in his own death he could still magnify Christ! As Christians we "magnify Go" by our good works (Mt. 5:14-16). Christ is "magnified" when people's attention is shifted to God. Because of this, Paul would later challenge the Philippians to "shine like lights in the world." (Phil. 2:14-16)
In vv. 21-23, Paul arrives at the true lesson that you and I should learn from this text. "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." As you can imagine this was a source of conflict for Paul. He truly wanted to die and "be with Christ." The faithful Christian only dies physically. At death his soul goes to be with the Lord in Paradise; a temporary dwelling place where they are with Christ until the day of judgment (2 Cor. 5:8, Lu.23:43). As good as our lives often are here in America, it can be hard for us to embrace death as Paul did. We should all see death in the same light as he did.
For Paul, if he was released and lived on it would mean the continuance of his ministry and more fruit that he could bear for Christ. We all need to bear fruit in our lives. Jesus shares God's expectation of the fruitfulness of our lives in Jn. 15: 1-8. Fruit comes when we engage ourselves in prayer, Bible study, fellowship and the Lord's Supper. It is also born when we bring others to Christ (Mt. 28:18,19).
Paul reaches a logical conclusion about his future in vv. 24-26. He now realizes that the great need that the churches, including Philippi had means he will be released and resume ministry. God had a purpose in Paul's life and ministry. Jesus, Himself defined it in Acts 9:15, "He is a chosen vessel of mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel." Paul realized he was still needed. Knowing this he was confident that he would one day return to the Philippians to bless them with his teaching.
All of us in Christ have a purpose. We all have different talents and gifts. Paul makes this pointy clear in 1 Cor. 12:14-31. Here he compares the church (the body of Christ) to the physical human body. Each part, though all members of the whole body have different functions. Have you asked God to show you His purpose for your life in the body of Christ?
1. True or False, Paul knew he would soon be executed by Caesar?
2. True or False, If Paul died he wouldn't see Christ until His Second coming?
3. True or False, The Christian is expected to bear fruit for God's glory?
4. True or False, Paul was confident that he still had a purpose in his living?
5. "rather to be absent from the body and to be _________________with the Lord." NKJV
6. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be_____________________by the renewing of your mind." NKJV