2. Paul's personal situation. 1:12-26

ii] Through Paul's personal difficulties Christ is glorified


Paul begins his letter to the Philippians with a thanksgiving and prayer for the church, 1:3-11. He then touches on his personal situation, 1:12-26. Having spoken about "the attitudes of others, both those who are for him and those who are against him, [Paul] now proceeds, with serene nobility, to speak of his reactions toward all of them", TH. The passage before us reminds us to let Christ be exalted, whether in our day-to-day living, or in the day of our dying.


i] Context: See 1:12-18b. As already noted, it seems likely that alla kai, "but and", v18b, serves to introduce a new paragraph, so Hawthorne, although the content of the new paragraph is clearly related to v12-18b.


ii] Background: See 1:1-11.


iii] Structure: Paul's final vindication and his glorifying of Christ:

Joy in the promise of salvation, v18c-20;

The threat of death holds no dread

when hope is set on being with Christ, v21-24;

A word of encouragement in the hope

of a positive outcome for Paul's imprisonment, v25-26.


iv] Interpretation:

As already noted, a highly personal statement, as found in 1:12-26, is unusual in Paul's letters. Some personal statements are found, but usually toward the end of the letter. Here in Philippians we find "a remarkable passage in which the apostle lays his heart bare and reveals the deepest motives of his life", Silva. Paul's words are future-looking, a reflection of the expected outcome of his coming trial. Lurking behind his words is the fear of death, and this causes him to muse on which of the two would be better: death leading to life with Christ, "the better by far"; or life leading to an ongoing relationship his brothers and sisters. If the choice remains his, then he chooses to be with his brothers and sisters enabling his continued ministry in the gospel. Yet, Paul's outlook is fundamentally positive, rather than negative, so instead of death he expects vindication for himself and the gospel, so leading of to a future visit with the Philippian believers.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 1:18c

Paul's dilemma, v18:c -26: i] Paul is sure that he will be delivered from his present difficulties, 1:18d-20. Paul knows that the prayers of the church and the ministry of the Holy Spirit will support him in this difficult time. He believes he will stand firm, courageous to the end. Thus, Christ will be honored, either by his life or by his death. He actually uses the word "deliverance", but does he believe that the prayers of the church will gain his release from prison? It is likely that "deliverance" here has an eternal sense. Paul knows that all things will ultimately work for God's good and therefore his good. Of one thing he is sure, that Christ will be exalted through the situation he now faces, whether it leads to his release, or his execution.

The one element he needs in either situation is "courage", a courage instilled in him through the ministry of the Holy Spirit and bolstered by the prayers of the church. Thus, he will not be "ashamed"; he will not let Jesus down. Paul knows that Christ will never be put to shame, but rather exalted, and this whether his situation will lead to death, or ongoing life.

alla kai "Yes" - but also. The conjunction alla is not adversative here, but climactic. Paul has just stated that he rejoices, whether the situation is evil or good, because Christ is preached in both situations. He now reinforces his state of joy with a "not only so, but I will rejoice."

carhsomai (cairw) fut. pas. "I will continue to rejoice" - i will rejoice. Usually treated as a durative future, as NIV.


gar "for" - for. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul rejoices.

oJti "[I know] that" - [i know] that [this to me will turn out for my deliverance]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul knows.

dia + gen. "through" - through, by means of [the prayers of you and]. Instrumental; expressing means.

epicorhgiaV (a) "help given" - the supply, provision. "Resources", Phillips.

tou pneumatoV (a) "by the Spirit" - of the spirit. Is this a subjective or objective genitive? i] Objective = "their prayer will help to supply the Spirit", Varner; "the Spirit of Jesus Christ is given me for support", NEB, Williams, Moffatt, ... ii] Subjective = the Spirit does the giving, so NIV, TEV, CEV, ... "the Spirit of Jesus Christ supplies me with all I need", NEB, alt. Possibly ablative where the "bountiful supply" is sourced from "the Spirit / the Holy Spirit" - the resource being divine in origin.

Ihsou Cristou (oV) gen. "of Jesus Christ" - This second genitive is adjectival, of definition, appositional, "the Spirit who is Jesus Christ" / epexegetic, but possibly source / origin, "the Spirit comes from Jesus Christ", Varner. Which Spirit? The Spirit who is one with Christ Jesus, the divine Spirit.

touto pro. "what has happened" - this. "This state of things, these perplexities and annoyances", Lightfoot. The recent trial, but also possibly the dangerous future.

moi dat. pro. "to me" - to me. Dative of interest, advantage, "for me."

apobhsetai (apobainw) fut. mid. "will turn out" - will go away, depart. Producing the sense will "result in", "end in" and so + eiV = "lead to."

swthrian (a) "deliverance" - salvation, deliverance. Personal safety is possibly Paul's intention here and in particular, his release from prison; "the outcome of this, I know, will be my release", Moffatt. If this is the sense then it is modified by Paul's "hope", v20, which hope rests on God's will. The other possibility is that the trial he is undergoing will serve an eternal end: i] his shaping toward eternity, "spiritual welfare", Williams; ii] Paul's future eschatological redemption.


kata + acc. "-" - according to. Expressing a standard; "according to / in accord with my eager expectation and hope." This phrase modifies "what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance", v19, which deliverance is "in accord with", possibly even "as a result of / on the basis of" "my expectation and hope."

thn apokaradokian (a) "eagerly expect" - the eager expectation, earnest desire. With focused attention, deep desire for ... Used in a typical Old Testament sense of a sure confidence that God will act for the welfare of his people according to his revealed word / covenant promises.

elpida (iV idoV) "hope" - [and] hope [of me]. "Expectation and hope" is probably a hendiadys serving to express Paul's conviction that he will be vindicated; "confident hope", REB / "eagerly expectant as I am", Cassirer.

oJti "that" - Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing the content of Paul's "confident hope."

en oudeni "in no way" - in nothing. Adverbial use of the preposition, modal, expressing manner, "I will not be put to shame", NAB, or temporal,"I will never", Barclay.

aiscunqhsomai (aiscunw) fut. pas. "I will [in no way] be ashamed" - i will be put to shame, disgraced. "Disgraced" in regard the realization of the promises of God as they pertain to Paul. The word is set to oppose pash/ parrhsia, "all boldness, courage, confidence / frankness, plainness" with the adversative alla "but"; "that I shall never fail in my duty, but ..... I shall be full of courage", TEV. The "courage" is probably a boldness of speech, so "frankness". The preposition en, "in [all boldness]", is adverbial, modal / manner. "In a totally free and open way", Reumann.

all (alla) "but" - Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction.

wJV .... kai ..... "[now] as [always]" - [in all courage] as [always] and [now]. "As always so now." Introducing a comparison.

megalunqhsetai (megalunw) fut. pas. "will be exalted" - [christ] will be magnified, enlarged, lengthened, increased. Although passive, an active causative translation makes better sense; "bring honor to Christ", CEV, cf., 2Cor.4:10, 1Cor.6:20. Whatever happens to him, Paul wants Christ magnified, rather than himself.

en + dat. "in [my body]" - in [the body of me]. local, expressing space, metaphorical; simply, "in me", REB, "in my person", although Varner suggests an instrumental sense, expressing means, "Christ will be magnified with my body, whether it is through life or death", cf., 1Cor.6:20, 2Cor.4:10.

eite ..... eite "whether ..... or ......" - either [through life] or [through death]. A disjunctive correlative construction.

dia + gen. "by" - through, by means of. Instrumental, expressing means. "Either through living or through dying", Berkeley / "weather I live or die", TEV.


ii] Paul reflects on the options that are coming his way, whether he will continue to live, or to die, and which of these options is better, v21-24. To die is better for Paul, but to live gives the opportunity of fruitful labor, and this is far better for the church. For Paul, life is about "fruitful labor." It gives us the opportunity of service to Christ on earth, which service prepares us for our reign with Christ in eternity. Yet, at the same time, in the midst of the difficulties of life, Paul is very aware of the advantage that comes when we "depart and be with Christ." Seen in these terms, death is certainly a beautiful option.

Paul's words do not imply that we have some pre-resurrection existence with Christ prior to the resurrection of our bodies in the last day. It just illustrates the immediacy of eternal life for a believer. Time no longer has hold over us. As Jesus said to the thief on the cross, "this evening you will be with me in Paradise." In fact, even now God has "seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus", Eph.2:6. Yet, Paul knows well that "it is more necessary for you that I remain." It might be better for Paul to go to be with the Lord, but it is not better for the church. God's people need to be built up and an apostle like Paul is not easily replaced. In fact, it is true of anyone who seeks to serve the people of God; it is better to stay and serve. "Living to me means simply 'Christ', and if I die I should merely gain more of him", Phillips.

gar "for" - More explanatory than causal. Christ is exalted in either Paul's living or his dying, v20, "so for me ......."

emoi dat. pro. "to me" - Emphatic by position, dative of interest, advantage, or ethical, so Wallace, or reference / respect, so Varner; "to me, whatever it may be for others, ...."Reumann.

to zhn (zaw) pres. inf. "to live" - to live. Articular infinitive serving as the subject of the sentence. The tense is durative, expressing continuation, so "live" in the sense of living life, "to continue to live."

CristoV (oV) "is Christ" - christ. Predicate nominative of an assumed verb to-be, understood as "life means Christ", Bruce; "I live only to serve him, only to commune with him, I have no conception of life apart from him", Bengel.

to apoqanein (apoqnhskw) aor. inf. "to die [is gain]" - [and] to die [gain]. The infinitive as for "to live." The tense indicating a single action, "die" as in suffering death. Death has profit / advantage because then we will be eternally one with Christ. Again the verb to-be is usually supplied, and the sense taken as "death means gain." Presumably the gain is for Paul, but possibly the gospel. "I will gain even more", CEV.


de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument, here to a development of v21; "but then, if it is to be life", Moffatt.

ei "if" - if, as is the case, [this means i am to live in flesh, then this for me will mean fruit]. Introducing a conditional clause, 1st class, where the proposed condition is assumed to be true. The NIV divides the apodosis to form a new sentence; "Yet what shall .....". The usual indicative verb is missing and so "I am" is often supplied, as NIV. It is possible that the construction is simply expressing indecision. Lightfoot's suggestion that the form implies interrogation. Literally, "what if to live in the flesh is fruit of my work to me? What I shall choose I know not." So, something like "there is certainly a great advantage in death. Yet, what if there is still much I can do for the Lord? What then is best?" The final clause is usually treated as the result of the life / death dilemma; "I'm unsure."

to zhn (zaw) pres. inf. "to go on living" - to live. The articular infinitive serves as a substantive, subject of the sentence.

en + dat. "in [the body]" - in [the flesh]. Local, expressing sphere. Living in the flesh / body expresses natural life, as opposed to spiritual / heavenly / eternal life. "Flesh", often with a negative connotation, is neutral here.

touto pro. "this will mean" - this. Referencing the articular infinitive, neut. sing. nom., ie., "to live", so "this ongoing life in the flesh." Probably introducing the apodosis of the conditional clause, so "then this." Again there seems to be an ellipsis requiring a verb, as NIV, "will mean"; "then I will have the chance to go on doing (= "this" = to go on living in the body) useful work", Barclay.

ergou (on) gen. "[fruitful] labor" - fruit [of labor]. The genitive is adjectival, attributed, so Wallace and BDF, as NIV, although Zerwick suggests it is epexegetical. Referring to the souls gathered by his missionary work.

moi dat. pro. "for me" - Dative of interest, advantage, "this means there is fruitful missionary work for me still to do", or dative of possession, "the fruit of my labour", AV.

kai "yet" - and. Somewhat adversative and serving to introduce a new sentence in the form of an abrupt indirect question, as NIV.

aiJrhsomai (aiJrw) fut. "[what] shall I choose" - [what] i will choose. Not that Paul could choose either life or death; this lies in the will of God. The dilemma lies in not knowing which is for the best.

ou gnwrizw pres. "I do not know" - i do not declare, make known / understand, know. In New Testament Greek the word usually means "make known", but the less common "understand" is best here. "I am not aware of God's will on this matter"; "I cannot tell", Goodspeed.


de "-" - but/and. Transitional. Zerwick suggests the conjunction is explanatory here, "that is ..."

sunecomai (sunecw) pres. pas. "I am torn" - i am hemmed in, constrained, hard-pressed / torn apart, pulled. Note the two possible meanings which, of course, are reflected in the different translations offered for this verse. We might say something like "I am drawn between the advantages of both life and death and find it difficult to know where the advantage lies." "I am in a dilemma", Moffatt.

ek + gen. "between [the two]" - from [the two ideas]. The preposition here possibly expresses cause, "I am torn because of the two options, either life or death, namely desiring to depart ......v23b, but [desiring] to remain ....... v24."

ecwn (ecw) part. "-" - having [the desire]. The participle is adverbial, probably causal. It agrees with the nominative "I" of "I am torn"; "I am torn ........ because [on the one hand] I have the desire to depart ......... de "but [on the other hand] [I have the desire] to remain in the flesh which is more necessary for your sake."

eiV to analusai (analuw) aor. inf. "to depart" - to break camp, pack up and move on, depart. Used literally, or as here, figuratively of death. This construction usually introduces a purpose clause, "in order to depart", but more likely just an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul desires. So also the infinitive of the verb to-be; "I desire to leave this life and [to] be with Christ", TEV. It is interesting how Paul maintains both the immediacy of union with Christ upon death, as here, but at the same time he can speak of sleeping in Christ as he awaits the day of resurrection. Again we see how death transcends time.

ei\nai (eimi) pres. inf. "to be" - The infinitive as with "to depart."

sun + dat. "with [Christ]" - Expressing accompaniment / association.

pollw/ mallon kreisson "which is better by far" - [for this seems] much much better. A positive, comparative, superlative, construction. A very interesting triple comparative. "A better thing, much more than a better thing", Knox.


de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step to a contrasting position; "nevertheless", AV.

anagkaioteron (anagkaioV) comp. adj. "more necessary" - [to remain in the flesh is] more necessary. The comparative adjective carries the verbal sense of this clause / verse, with the infinitive serving as its subject; "to remain is more necessary." "For your sake the greater need is ...", REB.

dia + acc. "for [you]" - because of, on account of [you]. Causal.

epimenein (epimenw) pres. inf. "that I remain" - to remain, abide (in the sense of continue to abide in the body). The infinitive serves as the subject of an assumed verb to-be. The sense is: remain in this present life. "I should stay here on earth", Phillips.

en + dat. "in [the body]" - in. Local; expressing space, metaphorical. "To go on living in this world", Barclay.


iii] Paul expects to live through the present difficulties and continue his missionary work, particularly as this relates to the Philippians, v25-26. Given that it is better to live and serve, Paul is convinced that he will visit the Philippians again. When Paul says "I will remain", he is saying he knows that God's intention for him is that he will live longer so that he may continue in his labor for Christ. Of course, there is a purpose for his remaining, and that is "your happy furtherance in the faith." Paul's hope is that he might labor for a growing understanding of divine truth in his new churches. This would naturally be accompanied by joy, the fruit of knowing Christ. So he adds, "your glorying in Christ will abound."

pepoiqwV (peiqw) perf. part. "convinced of [this]" - having been persuaded of. Genitive absolute participle, usually forming a temporal clause, but here probably causal. Either, i] Paul is confidently persuaded that his life will be spared and that he will continue to minister to the church, "I am sure I shall remain", REB; or ii] Paul is sure that his view expressed in v24 is the most advantageous, "I am convinced of this and I know ..", Weymouth.

touto pro. "this" - Referring back to v24, that it is more needful to remain in the body.

oida perf. "I know" - i know. "Know" in the sense of personal conviction.

oJti "that" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul knows.

paramenw fut. "I will continue" - [i will remain and] i will continue with. "I shall stay on and serve you all", Goodspeed.

uJmin dat. pro. "[all of] you" - you [all]. Dative of direct object after the para prefix verb "to continue with."

eiV + acc. "for" - into. Here adverbial, consecutive, expressing result; "for your progress and joy, but possibly purpose, "to promote your advancement and enjoyment of the faith", Berkeley.

thn uJmwn prokophn kai caran "your progress and joy" - the progress and joy of you. These two nouns joined by kai, given that only one article is provided, possibly convey a single idea, qualifying both "your" and "faith", ie. a hendiadys; "happy furtherance", Knox / "your joyful progress", Zerwick.

thV pistewV (iV) gen. "in the faith" - of the faith. There are different ways to understand this genitive.

• "The happy furtherance of your life of faith", adjectival genitive, of definition; "your growth and joy, a life of trusting Jesus";

• "The happy furtherance of you life that develops from your faith", genitive of source;

• "Your happy furtherance in the faith", objective genitive - "faith" in the sense of "Christian truth", as NIV.

The second option is usually favored, ie., Paul knows that staying is the best, as it enables him to build up the church with the knowledge of Christ. Yet, the third option, an ablative genitive of source, seems best, ie., their progress and joy in the Christian life comes from / derives from their faith, a) their belief, confident trust / reliance on Christ, or b) their body of belief, that which is believed = the teachings of Paul.


iJna + subj. "so that" - that [the boast of you may abound in christ jesus in me]. Introducing a purpose clause, as NIV, "in order that", although Varner suggests it is consecutive, expressing result, "with the result that ..." A translation, "so that", leaves the exact translation open.

dia + gen. "through [my being]" - through [my presence again]. Here "through in time", so temporal: "when I come again to visit you", Knox.

proV "with [you]" - to, toward [you]. Here expressing association; "in company with."

to kauchma "[your] joy" - the pride, boast . Here "ground for boasting", so something to exalt about.

en Cristw/ Ihsou en emoi "in Christ Jesus [will overflow] on account of me" - in christ jesus in me. The two uses of the preposition en are different. The first is local, expressing incorporative union, while the second is possibly causal, "because of me", or reference / respect, "with respect to me", as NIV, or even benefit, "for me." It is unclear whether Paul, or Christ, is "the ground of boasting" and so translators follow both possibilities. Probably, "that you may have much more to boast about in Christ Jesus through my presence with you again", cf., JB, RSV, NRSV, Moffatt, ... "I want to visit you again and so to give you the opportunity to have still more Christian pride in me", Barclay.

perisseuh (perisseuw) "will overflow" - abound. The ground for boasting will overflow ..... you will have much more to exalt about.


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