New Living Translation
Paul’s Life for Christ
20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.
What does Philippians 1:20 mean?
Though Paul is confident of his release, he still has to face some form of trial. This could potentially end in death. After all of his troubles and tribulations, Paul was secure in his faith, and confident that he would represent his Savior well. In fact, Paul is not only poised, he looks forward to the opportunity to speak about Christ. Paul speaks as if he’s already won the battle, and knows that no matter what happens to him, God will be glorified.
Regardless of the outcome of his trial, Paul wanted to honor God. He was willing to do this either through continued life and ministry, or through the kind of death he would endure. According to history, both were actually the case. Paul was released from this first Roman imprisonment and continued on with his ministry. However, he was ultimately arrested again and was incarcerated in Rome where he would die at the hands of the legal system. He remained faithful in both life and death, serving as a strong example for believers today.
Philippians 1:19–30 shows Paul reflecting on two competing desires. On one hand, a believer wants to serve God and bring others to Christ through their life. On the other hand, a Christian yearns to leave suffering behind—to be with God in eternity. Paul concludes that it’s better to live until God calls him home, so he can serve his fellow men. Paul also encourages the Philippians with his conviction that he will be released to see them again. His experiences, good or bad, are all adding to the glory of Jesus Christ.
In chapter 1, Paul thanks the Philippian believers for supporting his ministry. Even when Paul was jailed, or persecuted, they had been generous and loyal. Paul encourages these Christians by explaining that all of his suffering has been for a good cause. Even better, these attempts to persecute Paul have actually caused the gospel to spread. For this, Paul is grateful. He fully expects to be released, and to see the believers of Philippi again.
The earnest desire of Paul’s heart was to know Christ more, to live for Him, to die daily to self and if necessary to give his life for the precious Saviour he loved so dearly. The deep desire of Paul’s inner being was to be his utmost for the glory of Christ Jesus, so that others would come to know Him as their Lord and Saviour – as Paul irrevocably surrendered his all to his Lord.
The determined purpose of Paul’s heart was to exalt his Saviour for the greatest glory of God and to continue to his life’s end, declaring the goodness of his gracious Master. Paul’s highest resolve was that in all things he surrendered his will to his Lord – and that he both lived and died absolutely, entirely and in every way for Christ Jesus.
As a prisoner in Rome he sought to tell of the good news that Christ died for our sins and was raised on the third day, for he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Paul knew that it was the power of God to salvation to ALL who believe.
Paul fully expected and hoped that he would remain faithful to his life’s end and never be ashamed of his Saviour – but would continue to be as bold for Christ, as he has been in the past, trusting that his life would bring honour to Him, whether he lived or died.
Let us endeavour to be like Paul and develop an eager expectation to be our utmost for His highest. May we stand fast to the end and never have reason to feel ashamed of our Saviour, so that Christ is glorified in all we say and all we are – whether we live or die.