Useful Bible Studies > Philippians Commentary > chapter 1

Prayer for Paul’s ‘salvation’

Philippians 1:19

Paul was living as a prisoner, and the government might soon order his death. However, Paul was not afraid – in fact, he was joyful. He knew that God was working powerfully even in that difficult situation (see Romans 8:28).

God had not forgotten Paul; God would never leave him (Hebrews 13:5-6). Nothing whatever could separate Paul, or any of God’s people, from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39). So Paul urged the other Christians to pray for him as he waited for the Holy Spirit’s help. Paul knew what God would do in that situation. God would bring him ‘salvation’, in other words, God would rescue him. Salvation means rescue and safety.

We may ask whether Paul expected to receive his freedom, or to die and go to heaven. Paul’s word for ‘salvation’ could mean either of these. Usually, of course, we use the word to mean when a person first receives a right relationship with God (Romans 1:16). However, if God freed Paul from prison, God would have rescued him from there; and that is a type of salvation (rescue). If God took Paul to heaven, then Paul would be safe with Christ; that too is a meaning of salvation (safety).

Paul could not be sure which of these God would do (Philippians 1:20-24; compare Daniel 3:17-18). He believed that God still had work for him to do; so he expected to be free (1:24-25). However, whatever happened, Paul’s salvation (his relationship with God) was certain. So, whether in life or death, God would certainly act to rescue Paul and to give him safety.

Next part: Courage in life or death (Philippians 1:20)


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© 2020, Keith Simons.