Philippians 1:19-30

When we were last together, we ran out of time right in the middle of a thought, so let’s backtrack a little bit and remind ourselves of verse 19, before we press on…
Philippians 1:19-30
19For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again. 27Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. 29For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
Last week, we spent some time talking about prayer, since Paul has told us in verse 19 that he expects to be delivered “through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Here now in verse 20, Paul goes on to say that he fully expects that when he is delivered, he will have “nothing to be ashamed of through the prayers of the saints and the power of God’s Spirit”
Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
Ephesians 6:17-20
17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
…and that by Paul’s life and even by his death, Christ will be magnified…
Romans 11:36 – 12:1
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
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Philippians 1:21-26
21For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
Here is our next golden nugget in this beautiful letter! What does Paul mean “to live is Christ?” Once again…
Romans 11:36
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
Paul summed this idea up in preaching to the Athenians about the “Unknown God” to whom they had erected an idol…
Acts 17:24-28
24God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’
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And what does Paul mean by “to die is gain?”
2 Corinthians 5:1-8
1For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5Now He who has prepared us for this very thing isGod, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
All of us who know Jesus as Lord and Savior, who have the assurance of eternal life in Him desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better as Paul says here. Nevertheless, God’s will for the time being is for us to remain here in the flesh. Why? Just as Paul understood that it was better for the Philippians that he remain in the flesh for their edification, so it is better for the unsaved surrounding us that we remain in the flesh for the time being as His faithful witnesses.
 
When I was in Tucson, I was part of an intimate little men’s Bible study group which played a pivotal role in my discipleship as a newborn child of God. One of the guys who joined that group just before our family moved to South Carolina had been mountain biking with friends miles from the nearest road, and was stricken with a heart attack. Thankfully, his fellow riders managed to get him down the mountain to a road where the paramedics treated him and got him safely to the hospital. For this brother, this was an epiphany. Although he had been a Christian for many years, he had been wandering far from the Lord. He viewed this near-death experience as a wake-up call from God. It seemed to him that God must have still had work for this brother to do here on Earth, and he was determined to re-kindle His relationship with the Lord Jesus, and to be about our Father’s business.
 
The same is true of Sue and I. God has rescued us from the wilderness in which we were lost and in great danger for His good pleasure. It seems that God must want us to remain here on Earth to finish the work that God still has for us here. But regardless of whether God has preserved someone through such a trial, each one who has trusted in the Lord Jesus as Savior, and remains alive on the Earth is here to accomplish the work that God set before him from the very foundation of the world…
Ephesians 2:10
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
What, then, are these good works for which God has preserved us? The command is from Jesus…
Matthew 28:19-20
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
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Philippians 1:27-30
27Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. 29For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
With this short passage, Paul is moving on to a new theme of exhortation to the Philippians (and all Christians) to strive together as one in contention for the faith, even knowing that in doing so, they will be subject to persecution. Surely Paul had deep and long experience of suffering for the sake of the Gospel, having even been beaten many times, and even stoned nearly to death at Lystra on his first missionary trip…
Acts 14:19
Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.
Paul understood very well that a life of surrender in service to the Lord Jesus and the spreading of His Gospel would be fraught with danger and hardship for his Philippian brothers and sisters as it had been for him. In fact, in Damascus just after Saul of Tarsus encountered the Lord Jesus on the road, Jesus had spoken to Annanias (from whom the newborn Paul received back his sight, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit) saying…
Acts 9:15-16
15But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
Indeed, Jesus also warned His disciples and us that the believer must suffer for the sake of the Gospel…
John 16:2
They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.
Nevertheless, Paul reminds his readers over and over again that he rejoices in suffering for the sake of the Gospel. Paul had good reason to trust in the Lord through his suffering. While he waited in “protective custody” on the night after his testimony before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, Jesus appeared to Paul in a vision, reassuring him…
Acts 23:11
But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”
I encourage any Christian to take a close look at the story of Paul’s various trials and testimonies in the land of Israel, prior to his departure for Rome (Acts 23-26). We see at the culmination of this story Paul testifying in Caesarea before king Herod Agrippa and Festus the governor…
Acts 26:28-32
24 Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!”
25 But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. 26 For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”
28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”
29 And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.”
30 When he had said these things, the king stood up, as well as the governor and Bernice and those who sat with them; 31and when they had gone aside, they talked among themselves, saying, “This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains.”

32 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

At first glance, it might appear that Paul had made a tactical error by appealing to Caesar in his first trial before Festus some weeks before. But if we consider the story carefully, we find that Paul was merely being obedient to the Lord Jesus, who first had told Ananias that Paul was to “bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel,” and then had appeared to Paul himself in the vision saying that Paul would “also bear witness at Rome.” Paul surely recognized that this obedience would result in his suffering for the sake of the Gospel.
 
Indeed, Paul encourages the Philippians not only to courageously face suffering for the sake of the Gospel, but here in verse 29 says that such suffering is actually a gift of God, and in verse 30 Paul points to his own suffering also as a model, and calls this model of suffering for the sake of the Gospel a “proof…of salvation.” This might at first seem somewhat perverse. But consider the words of Jesus regarding the suffering that His followers were to endure for His Name’s sake…
Matthew 5:10-12
10Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
John 15:18-21
18“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.
John 16:33
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

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