The Berean Expositor
Volume 46 - Page 179 of 249
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"if his bonds had furthered the Gospel, what might not his death do?" and this is to the
point. There is a structural chiasmos here, which, when fully filled out, reads:
"For me to live is Christ (His gain), and to die is (Christ's) gain."
If we could only catch this spirit so that the whole of our life and service aims solely
at Christ's glory and magnification!
Apokaradokia, "earnest expectation", is a picturesque word, used only by Paul in two
contexts; Rom. 8: 19, "the earnest expectation of the creation", and here. It was
possibly coined by him and describes a keen anticipation of the future, literally a "craning
of the neck" to see what lies ahead. This future certain hope bore a relationship to his
imprisonment and testing, making them "a light affliction", while he looked at this future
glorious scene (II Cor. 4: 17, 18), and so enabling him more resolutely to magnify the
Lord in his body, whether in its present sufferings or in final martyrdom!
At this point the Apostle's language becomes broken and irregular, reflecting in a
vivid way his thoughts as they pass from the possibility of further service for the Lord on
his release from prison, or the giving of his life for His Saviour.
"But if to live in the flesh--if this is the fruit of my work, then what I shall choose I
wot not" (1: 22 R.V.).
The R.V. margin gives the alternative reading "I do not make known". Gnorizo
occurs 24 times in the N.T., but never in the sense of "knowing". It is generally rendered
make known, or declare, and what Paul is saying here, is not that he did not know what to
choose, but he did not make it known. Whatever his personal desires were, he put them
on one side for the will of the Lord to be accomplished and His glory furthered.
Two alternatives presented themselves to him: (1) departing and being with Christ,
(2) staying in this life with the object of serving Him and His people.
"But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ;
for it is very far better; yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake" (1: 23, 24
These are two opposites which put him under constraint. He was "hemmed in on both
sides (J. B. Lightfoot). If he merely considered himself, then to be with Christ was
infinitely better, with all the sufferings and imperfections of this life finished for ever.
But the spirit of this intensely unselfish man so controlled him that he was willing to put
self and its desires entirely on one side. It was more needful for the Philippians (24) that
he should stay here, and so this became the overriding consideration.
What a lot of wishful thinking and even rubbish has been read into the statement "to
depart and be with Christ". Those who indulge in this seem to have forgotten that Paul
had already dealt with the state after death and resurrection to follow in I Cor. 15:, and
II Cor. 5:, and that, being the man he was, he was not likely to contradict himself and
cause confusion among the churches. The fundamental doctrine of the resurrection of the