GLORIFYING CHRIST 1:19-26
While expecting to be released from prison (1:19), Paul has a larger expectation—to glorify Christ in whatever happens. His release is not a certainty. He expresses that in these verses. While he expects to gain his freedom, he has a greater expectation—“an earnest expectation and hope” (1:20). The word expectation (apokaradokian) comes from the sports world (used only here and Romans 8:19). The word is made up of three words: “away, the head, to watch.” It speaks of a spectator who stretches over a crowd to see the outcome of the event. His attention is directed toward one thing—the outcome. It means to anxiously watch with eager longing to confirm what is an uncertain outcome until it becomes a reality. Gromacki says “Expectation is the outward manifestation of hope, whereas hope is the inward conviction of heart.” Both are awaiting the outcome.
We tend to look at this expectation and hope as future outcome at the judgment seat of Christ. Certainly there is a future expectation and hope. However, the context shows this expectation is not some future event, but a daily expectation and hope with a daily outcome. It is a here and now expectation. This daily expectation is centered in Christ. The daily outcome is to glorify Christ. This daily expectation does three things: (1) It broadens the dimension of our circumstances. (2) It delivers us from preoccupation with others. (3) It calms our fears regarding ourselves and our future. Paul’s daily expectation and hope brings the following outcome:
He would not be ashamed—“that I will not be put to shame in anything” (1:20).
Kent suggests this is a broad
statement referring “to his appearance before the authorities for the final
disposition of his case.”
This would surely be an expectation and hope in his current circumstances. Yet
it points beyond that to not being put to shame in any circumstance. The word
shame has the idea of being disgraced. This shame had nothing to do with public
opinion but relates to his relationship and standing before God. The phrase “in anything” refers to all situations,
good or bad. We are not to be ashamed of the gospel (Rom 1:16), nor of our
identity with believers (2 Tim. 1:8) in any circumstance. The servant of Christ
should be ashamed if his Lord is not gloried through him in every circumstance
With boldness magnify Christ—“[that] with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (1:20). The word exalted is the Greek word is megalyno which means to amplify or enlarge, thus to magnify or exalt. Wuest’s freely translates this “Christ shall be conspicuously and gloriously manifested.” Gromacki gives the following features of magnifying Christ:
- It is a manner of boldness. This is a common element that Paul needed and wanted (Eph. 6:19-20; Heb. 10:19). Boldness (parresia) entails two elements which are closely connected: courage and freedom. An internal freedom from fear to act or speak with conviction and the courage to do so. It is manifested by witnessing to the love and grace of our Savior.
- It is to be done consistently—“even now, as always.”
- Its sphere is in the body—“in my body.” Compare this with Paul’s instruction in 1 Cor. 6:20: “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” Here body denotes the entire person. It speaks of our consecration.
- The means of accomplishment—“whether by life or by death.”
It is a manner of Life and Death—(1:21-24). O’Brien points out that these verses have a series of parallels between the alternatives of life and death. He sets forth the structure as follows: 
21a – “For to me to live: Christ (Life)
21b – “to die: gain (Death)
22 – ‘if I am to live on in the flesh” (Life)
23 – “to depart and be with Christ” (Death)
24 – “to remain in the flesh” (Life)
These parallels bring out another element: internal conflict. This conflict is concisely noted by Paul--“for to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (1:21). The word “for” gives the explanation. He gives what the two elements of the conflict means: Life means Christ. Death means gain. Paul sees this conflict of terms of a win-win situation. The words “to me” are emphatic. It is extremely personal for him. It carries the idea of “as far as I am concerned.” There are no losers by those who have this conflict. It is no doubt that both aspects of the conflict are viewed as a method of glorifying Christ.
There are two alternatives in bringing glory to God.
- First, is to continue to live is Christ. In this epistle that means deriving strength from Christ (Phil. 4:13); to have the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5-11); to rejoice in Christ (Phil. 3:1; 4:4) while living on this earth. He describes what will result. To live means a continuing successful ministry—“[will mean] fruitful labor for me” (1:22). This speaks of God’s blessing on his ministry. He will remain active in preaching and teaching the gospel. As a result God will bless in salvation and edification of more people. When one serves Christ and lives for Him, his “labor will not be in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).
- Second, is death, which he says will be gain. Death is not a loss for the believer, but a gain. The word gain (kerdos) means to profit, or have an advantage, thus gain. It means being in the presence of Christ (2 Cor. 5:8). Hendriksen points out that, “Death will be a distinct gain because it will be the gateway to clearer knowledge, more wholehearted service, more exuberant joy, more rapturous adoration, all of these brought to a focus in Christ.” It is also gain because it brings release from this sinful body and limitations.
Paul is torn between the two—“I am hard-pressed from both [directions]” (1:23). The Greek word for hard-pressed is synechomai, when used of feelings indicates at the least constraint, and at worst torment. Silva says “we surely miss the real import of this passage if we fail to see in it an echo of Paul’s psychological ordeal.” This was a real struggle for Paul. It was a struggle between desire and necessity. “Having a desire to depart and be with Christ, for [that] is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake” (Phil. 1:23-24). Personal desire gives way to necessity as it should. Fulfilling desire over necessity is selfish. Pentecost observes: “I find no selfishness in Paul’s heart that puts his own good above those to whom he is privileged to minister.”
Paul’s conviction is that he would stay—“Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again” (1:25-26). Confidence carries the idea of being persuaded in ones mind. He is confident that he has not finished his course, and he will continue on the course. The purpose of his continuing is (1) their progress in the faith, (2) their joy in the faith.
To be continued
 Wuest,PHILIPPIANS, 43.
 O’Brien, PHILIPPIANS, 113.
 Gromacki, UNITED IN JOY, 63.
 Charles R. Swindoll, LAUGH AGAIN: EXPERIENCE OUTRAGEOUS JOY, 58.
 Homer A. Kent, Jr, EBC: PHILIPPIANS, 114.
 Wuest’s, 44.
 Gromacki, 65-66.
 O’Brien, 117. Also Hawthorne, WBC: PHILIPPIANS, 44.
 Hendriksen, NTC: PHILIPPIANS, 76.
 Silva, PHILIPPIANS, 81.
 J. Dwight Pentecost, THE JOY OF LIVING, 43-44.