Useful Bible Studies > Philippians Commentary > chapter 1

Courage in life or death

Philippians 1:20

Paul was not ashamed that he trusted in Christ (Romans 1:16). Even now, with his life in danger, Paul had complete confidence in Christ. Christ would gain great honour in this situation, whatever happened to Paul.

If God permitted Paul to live, then Paul would use the rest of his life to give honour to him. If Paul received his freedom, then Paul would declare that freedom to be God’s gift to him. Paul would not consider his freedom to be the result of a judge’s decision: rather, it was proof that God was working powerfully in his life. So, Paul would use his freedom to continue to declare God’s message. However, even if Paul remained a prisoner, he would still declare that message (Acts 28:16-31).

On the other hand, perhaps God would permit Paul to die at this time. If so, Paul had strongly decided to stand firm for Christ until the end. He requested prayer that he could continue to be bold, even until his death (1:19). Perhaps even at the last moment, his actions and attitudes might impress someone so much that that person would trust Christ.

Paul did not consider that his death would be any kind of defeat. Rather, Christ was rescuing him from the troubles of this life, to live with him always (1:23). Christ promised that God has provided a place for all his people in heaven (John 14:1-2). There, the troubles of this life and the cruelty of their enemies cannot upset them. There, they will know joy and comfort, peace and happiness. There, they are waiting for Christ’s return to the world (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), because in the future, their bodies too will live again (1 Corinthians 15:51-54) .

Next part: 'To live is Christ, to die is gain' (Philippians 1:21)


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