“For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; {which is} far better:”

“For I am in a strait betwixt two,”
Literally:  “For I am constrained by the two.”  Between the thought of dying now, and being immediately with God; or living longer to preach and spread the Gospel, and thus glorify Christ among men.

        FOR:   (Gr.-gar)–The oldest manuscripts read, “But.” "I know not (v. 22),.

         “But” I am in a strait (am perplexed) between the two (namely, “to live” and “to die”), having the desire for departing (literally, “to loose anchor,”  II Tim. 4:6) and being with Christ.  FOR (so the oldest manuscripts) it is by far better; or as the Greek, more forcible–“by far the more preferable.” This refutes the notion of the soul being dormant during its separation from the body (soul sleep).  It also shows that, while Paul regarded the Lord's advent as at all times near, yet that his death before it was a very possible contingency.
         In a strait between two things; each of which I desire.
1.      I earnestly long to be with Christ; and,
2.      I desire to remain to be useful to the world.

        I AM IN A STRAIT:  (Gr.-sunechomai)–Literally "I am held together." Present passive indicative of the common compound Greek verb sunechô–“to hold together, to hem together” 

         The Greek word (sunechomai) means, “to feel one's self pressed,” or “to be pent up,” so as not to know what to do; and it here means that Paul was in perplexity and doubt, and did not know what to choose.  It is often used to mean, “to be pressed on” or “to be constrained,” as in a crowd; as in Luke 8:45. “I am hemmed in on both sides.”
         The words of the original Greek are very emphatic.   They appear to be derived from a ship when lying at anchor, and when violent winds blow upon it that would drive it out to sea. Paul represents himself as in a similar condition. His strong affection for them bound his heart to them as an anchor holds a ship to its moorings; and yet there was a heavenly influence bearing upon him—like the gale upon the vessel—which would bear him away to heaven.

“having a desire to depart,”
Literally:  “having the desire to depart”–It appears to be a metaphor taken from the commander of a vessel, in a foreign port, who feels a strong desire, to set sail, and get to his own country and family.

         In writing his epistles, Paul often drew upon his past experiences for illustrations (or metaphors), to illustrate a point.  He often drew illustrations from his childhood military background. It would seem that he may be doing this here in that he is using his experience from his trip to Rome as a prisoner as recorded in Acts chapter 27.  In that chapter is recorded the experience that he had as he went through a terrible storm (possibly even a hurricane) and shipwreck.  Here he may be drawing upon his memory of that experience for illustrations.
         However, this desire is counterbalanced by a conviction that the general interests of the voyage may be best answered by his longer stay in the port where his vessel now rides; for he is not in dock, he is not aground, but rides at anchor in the port, and may any hour weigh and be gone. Such was Paul’s condition but although he was abroad it was on his employer's business; he wishes to return, and is cleared out and ready to set sail, but he has not received his last orders from his owner, and whatever desire he may feel to be at home he will faithfully wait till his final orders arrive.

         By nature, men usually dread to die. Few are even made willing to die. Almost none desire to die, and even then they wish it only as the lesser of two evils. Pressed down by pain and sorrow, or sick and weary of the world, the mind may be wrought up into a desire to be away. But this, with the world, is in all cases the result of pessimism, or morbid feeling, or disappointed ambition, or an accumulation of many sorrows.
1.      It was not because Paul hated man, for he ardently loved mankind;
2.      It was not because Paul had been disappointed about wealth and honor, for he had sought neither;
3.      It was not because Paul had not been successful-for no man has ever been more successful;
4.      It was not because Paul had been subjected to pains and imprisonment for he was willing to bear them;
5.      It was not because Paul was old and infirm and a burden to the world, for he was in the rigor of life, and in the fullness of his strength.
6.      It was from a purer, higher motive than any of these, the strength of attachment that bound him to the Savior, and which made him long to be with Him.

        DEPART:  (Gr.-analusai)—This is the same word that Paul uses in II Tim. 4:6, where he wrote, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.”  

Both in his letter to Timothy and here in his letter to the Philippians, Paul referred to his physical death by this word, which was used in secular Greek for the untying of tent ropes from the stakes in preparation for moving on.  Evidently, Paul viewed death as a loosening of those ties which held him to this life and the freedom to move into the presence of Christ.

“and to be with Christ”
Literally:  “And with Christ be.”–This was the true reason why he wished to be away. It was his strong love for Christ; his anxious wish to be with him; his firm belief that in his presence was “fullness of joy.”

Paul believed that the soul of the Christian would be immediately with the Savior at death. It was evidently his expectation that he would at once pass to His presence, and not that he would remain in an intermediate state to some far distant period.  Get this thought fixed in your mind:  contrary to what those who expound this heresy of “soul sleep,”  the soul does not sleep at death.  Paul expected to be with Christ, and to be conscious of the fact-to see Him, and to partake of His glory.  The soul of the believer is made happy at death. To be with Christ is synonymous with being in heaven, for Christ is in heaven, and is its glory. We may add…
1.      That this wish to be with Christ constitutes a marked difference between a Christian and other men. Other men may be willing to die; perhaps be desirous to die, because their sorrows are so great that they feel that they cannot be borne. But the Christian desires to depart from a different motive altogether. It is to be with Christ-and this constitutes a broad line of distinction between him and other men.
2.      A mere willingness to die, or even a desire to die, is no certain evidence of preparation for death.

If this willingness or desire is caused by mere intensity of suffering; if it is produced by disgust at the world, or by disappointment; if it arises from some view of fancied Elysian fields beyond the grave, it constitutes no evidence whatever of preparation for death.

{which is} far better.”
Literally:  {Which is} rather much better.”–That is, would be attended with more happiness; and would be a higher, holier state than to remain on earth. This proves, also, that the soul of the Christian at death is made at once happy-for a state of insensibility can in no way be said to be a better condition than to remain in this present world.

The Greek phrase wording here (pollōi mallon kreisson)—is very emphatic, and Paul seems to be laboring for the right language which will fully convey his idea.  The phrase means, “by much more, or rather better;” and we might express it as, “better beyond all expression.” Paul did not mean to say that he was merely willing to die, or that he acquiesced in its necessity, but that the fact of being with Christ was a condition greatly to be preferred to remaining on earth. This is the true feeling of the Christian; and having this feeling, death to us will hold no terrors.

VERSE  24:
“Nevertheless to abide in the flesh
{is} more needful for you.”

“Nevertheless to abide in the flesh”
Literally:  “But to remain in the flesh.”– Paul is saying, it would certainly be gain for me  to die, but it will be a gain to you Philippian believers if me to live.

If I die I shall go immediately to glory; but if I live I shall continue to minister to you, and strengthen you in the faith. All this is language derived from the belief that the soul will be separate from the body at death, and will occupy a separate state of existence.

“more needful for you.”
Literally: {Is} more necessary on account of you.”–This is another objective that was dear to the heart of Paul.  

He never supposed that his life was useless, or that it was a matter of no importance to the cause of the faith whether he lived or died. He knew that God works by means; and that the life of a minister of the gospel is of real value to the church and the world. His experience, his influence, his paternal counsels, he felt assured, would be of value to the church; and he had, therefore, a desire to live-and it was no part of his religion affectedly to undervalue or despise himself.

        FOR YOU:  (Gr.-di humas)—Literally:  “on your account”  or “for your sake”  Paul is saying, “In order to be of service to you, I am willing to forego my entrance a little sooner into blessedness; heaven will not fail to be mine at last.”

Although he would have been better off personally with Christ, Paul realized that for the sake of the Philippian believers it was better that he remain alive. He was confident that the Lord was not ready for him to die at this time because his work on earth was not yet finished. 


VERSE 25:  “And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith.

“And having this confidence,”
Literally:  “And being assured of this.”  This is referring back to what Paul had just written in v. 24:  “To abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”  Although he wanted to be released from his body so he could go to be with his Lord, he realized this was not the best time because of the need of the Philippian believers.

A literal translation would be, “And being persuaded as to this, or of this.”   “Being persuaded of this, that my continuance on earth is desirable for your welfare, and that the Lord has a work for me to do, I confidently expect that I shall be permitted to live.” The “confidence” here referred to was, that his life was needful for them, and hence that God would spare him.

        CONFIDENCE:  (Gr.-pepoithōs)—The definiteness of Paul’s confidence is seen in the fact that this Greek word translated “having this confidence,” is in the Greek perfect tense, which emphasizes something that has been completed in the past but has a continuing effect.  What Paul was saying, “I have become confident of this in the past and, and I am still confident of it.”  Paul knew that if he were to be helpful to the Philippian believers he would need to be released from prison. Thus, he was assured that his life was not to be taken at this time.

“I know that I shall abide and continue”
Literally:   “I know that I will remain and will continue.” Convinced that it is necessary that I should live longer, for the spreading and defense of the Gospel, I am persuaded that I shall now be liberated. This was in fact the case, for, after having been two years in bonds at Rome, he was released.

The words “abide” and “continue” in English seem so much alike that it almost seems strange as to why Paul used them both; however, he made a delicate distinction that is seen in the English translations.  The Greek word rendered as “abide” is (menō), which literally means, “to remain,” or, “to stay;” and the word rendered as “continue,”  is (paramenō).   Note that this second word also has menō at the end of it, and the first part of the word is para which means “alongside of.”  So Paul is emphasizing that he will remain alongside of these believers and thus be of spiritual help to them.         

“for your furtherance and joy of faith.”
Literally:  “For you advancement and joy of faith.” For the increase of your faith, and the promotion of that joy which is the consequence of faith.  For your furtherance in the way of righteousness; and happiness in that way. FURTHERANCE:  (Gr.-prokopē)—Literally means, “progress” or “advancement.”  It is also used in verse 12.  Paul’s remaining with the Philippians would result in their spiritual progress, or advancement, and would also add to their “joy of faith.”

        JOY OF FAITH:   (Gr.-charin tēs pisteōs)—Literally: “joy in your faith.” And happiness in that way.  The farther a man proceeds in the way of truth, the stronger his faith will be; and the stronger his faith, the greater his joy or happiness.

“That your rejoicing may be abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.”

This verse reveals the result of Paul’s remaining with the Philippians. 

         “That your rejoicing may be abundant in Jesus Christ”|
Literally:  “That your glorying may abound in Christ Jesus.”  Men rejoice more in recovering a thing that was lost, than they do in a continual possession of what is of much greater value. Through the mercy and grace of Christ. If he was spared, his deliverance would be traced to Christ, and they would rejoice together in the One Who had so mercifully delivered him.

        REJOICING:  (Gr.-kauchēma)—The Philippian believers were already rejoicing because of what they had in Christ, but Paul’s remaining with them would cause them to rejoice even more, thus their rejoicing would be “more abundant.”  Note also, that their abundant rejoicing was focused “in Jesus Christ.”  Their only true source of joy is Jesus Christ.

                 BE ABUNDANT:  (Gr.-perisseuēi)—Literally:  “may abound.” 

“for me by my coming to you again.”
Literally:  “Through my presence again with you.” Their joy would not only be that he was delivered, but that he was permitted to see them again.   Their joy would be complete if they were to see him again.

FOR ME:  (Gr.-en emoi)—Literally:  “in me.” 

Leave a Reply