Saturday, July 22, 2006

New Testament Reflections: Phil 1:19-26 (part 1)

Philippians 1:19-26

Paul's Mindset

NOTE: Rather than continuing to reproduce the Greek text on this series (which was relevant only to those who know Greek in any case, and anyone in that category already has a copy of the Greek text at his side) I will present the NASB as the standard text I'll be using in the commentary, along with my own "literal" translation of the text where significant words or phrases in the Greek text merit special attention .

NASB: 19 For I know that this shall turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I shall not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 And convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.

Literal: 19 For I know that this for me will result into salvation, through your petition and the supply from the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 corresponding to my deep desire and hope; because/that I will be ashamed in nothing, but in every boldness, now as always, Christ will be enlarged/magnified in my body, whether through life or death. 21 For to me, to live is [nothing other than] Christ, and to die is [nothing less than] gain. 22 Now, if [I continue] to live in the flesh, this [will mean] fruit of labor for me. And what I shall prefer I do not know. 23 Now, I am torn out of the two, having the longing to depart and to be with Christ, for that is better by far; 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary because of you. 25 And convinced of this I know that I will remain and will continue with all of you with a view to your progress and joy in the faith 26 in order that your ground of boasting may overflow in Christ Jesus, by me, through my coming to you again.

I can think of no better way to drive home the point of this passage than to administer the following exercise. For your own benefit, take the time to answer these five simple questions before proceeding on to the study.

Fill in the blank:
For each question below, spend no time analyzing the question or thinking through a response; just record the first thought that comes to your mind.

1. I spend most of my time thinking about ________________

2. My life will be fulfilled if ___________________________

3. My time is pretty much spent on _____________________

4. I will have achieved all my goals if ____________________

5. If I die before that goal is reached, I will be ______________

You may safely treat these as rhetorical questions if you like, since any response you give publicly will likely be an embarrassment. We will return to this exercise—as well as your potential answers—in the commentary itself.