Philippians 1:19-26 To Live Is Christ And To Die Is Gain.

Paul depended on the prayers of God’s people. There was no contradiction between giving thanks for this and “the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (v. 19). God works through means and predestines these as well as the end. This knowledge of a deliverance was grounded in his “earnest expectation and hope” that in nothing he would be ashamed, including his chains (v. 20). For Paul to live was for Christ, his kingdom work, and the saints, and to die was to forever remain in His presence (vv. 21-23). His whole focus in remaining was for the service which he might render to the saints, for their “progress and joy in the faith (v. 24). These two things figure prominently for Paul.

The Christian life can never be static. Our love for God and neighbour should always be growing in “knowledge and all discernment” (v. 9). There is also a sense in which true joy is only in the possession of the Christian (v. 25). One can think of C. S. Lewis’ ‘Surprised By Joy’. In turn, his readers might also have cause for rejoicing more abundantly, since his anticipated deliverance would mean his coming to them again (v. 26). If only this were truly the feelings and thoughts we had for our fellow saints. I dare say that one can be missing from church for weeks and months on end and no one even enquires. Sadly, much of what passes as Christianity today falls far short of the situation which Paul herein describes.

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