Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
Paul is in a Roman prison as he writes this letter. He is using his time to encourage believers in some of the cities where he has planted churches. He had previously spent time in a jail cell in Philippi – an experience that his readers would readily recall. You can read about this in Acts 16:16-40.
Verse 19 – Based on what happened to Paul in Acts 16, explain why Paul is certain that the Philippian’s prayers on his behalf will be answered.
What happened to Paul after this imprisonment? (Perhaps this timeline of Paul’s life will help. Note especially the years 60-66 AD)
What confidence do you have that your prayers will be effectual? Describe some very concrete answers to prayer that you have experienced – things that can only be explained because of God’s intervention.
If you have difficulty recounting many of these, why would this be so?
What do you suppose “the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” looked like? Describe a time when you have experienced the help of the Holy Spirit.
Verse 20 – Note Paul’s perspective on life. Do you begin each day with any “eager expectations and hopes”? Why does perspective make such a huge difference in the way that we live life?
How would our lives be different if we genuinely prayed each day, “Lord, use me today to bring honor to Your name in whatever way that You choose – whether by life or by death.”
Can you think of any examples of how a believer’s death has brought honor to God?
Verse 21-22 – What does Paul mean when he says, “To live is Christ“?
In what way is dying “gain“?
How might Paul define what he considers to be “fruitful labor”? Describe any kind of “fruitful labor” that you are involved in.
Verse 23 – What do you anticipate being with Christ will be like? On what do you base your thinking? Why would Paul say that it is “far better” than living in this world?
Verse 24-25 – What are some specific ways that you can help others to make progress and to find joy in their faith?
Verse 25 seems to be Paul’s personal mission statement – the reason why he wants to stay alive. Do you have a personal mission statement? What is your raison d’etre?
Verse 27-30 – How can we encourage one another to stand firm?
Give some examples that you are aware of where believers were “striving side by side for the faith of the gospel”.
What do you think about Paul’s promise that we are called to suffer for the sake of Christ? Where do you see this happening in the world? Where do you see this happening in your own life?
The following quotes are from Matt Chandler’s Book To Live Is Christ And To Die Is Gain. Reflect on each one and be prepared to ponder it out loud with your group.
“if the gospel is true, your life should look like it’s true.”
“There is a greater day coming, a greater reward coming, a greater life coming, and the purpose of life while we are alive is to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel, which holds the promise of life everlasting.”
“This is the question: Are you using God to get something from Him? Or is God Himself the goal of your striving?”
“Fearless faith results from holding on to Christ as our treasure. Gospel courage comes from gospel preciousness. If we truly believed that our reward in heaven far surpasses all the comfort and convenience and collections of the world, we, too, would be willing to consider them all as loss.”