Online Bible Commentary
Seeing Things from God’s Perspective
Philippians 1: 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again. 27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. 29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me. (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul, writing from a Roman prison to the church at Philippi, begins this passage with “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (v.21) He is looking at things from his own perspective, not God’s. He would rather be in Heaven than confined to chains in a prison cell.
But Paul also realizes that he can do effective work for the Lord if he stays (v.22). He is torn between Heaven and, Hell on earth, prison (v.23). Then he sees things from God’s perspective and realizes that it will be better for the church, and God, if he stays (v.24).
Now that Paul is convinced it is better to stay, he is confident that the Lord will let him continue to do his work, helping the church to progress and increasing their joy (v.25). He knows that their joy in Christ Jesus will overflow because of his ministry (v.26).
Since he is convinced that the Lord has more work for him on earth, Paul continues his work by cautioning the believers at Philippi to be, no matter what happens, Christ like in all that they do (v. 27a). Whether he sees them in person or only hears about them from prison, Paul wants to know that they are of one accord, united in the work of the gospel (v. 27b).
He then exhorts them not to be frightened by persecution (v. 28a). He writes that if they stand strong in the face of persecution two things will happen. First, their enemies will know that they are fighting against God, and that they will be destroyed (v. 28b). Second, the enemies will know that God will save his people in the end (v.28c).
God may save the believers’ physical bodies, but most certainly will save their spiritual bodies. Because they are Christians, they will suffer for Christ (v.29). Paul was living proof of that. They saw his persecution while he was with them, and also have heard of his present persecution in prison (v.30).
As Christians, we can look at things in one of two ways, our perspective or God’s perspective. In the face of persecution, from our perspective we may think it is better for us to depart this earth and bask in the beauty of Heaven. But God’s perspective is to stay and continue to do his work. As Christians we are to look at things from God’s perspective.
Like Christ and Paul, we are not to fear persecution but are to stand firm in the midst of it. We are to continue to serve God, and not man. All they can do is destroy the body. God will save our soul. The persecutors will be destroyed forever and we will abide with our lord Jesus Christ forever in Heaven. We win in the end!