Philippians: To Live is Christ

September 18, 2017

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Phil 1:21

Paul had a purpose so clear, so definite, and so profound that it permeated everything he said and did and gave him hope in the darkest moments of life. If you want Paul’s secret of success in just one sentence, here it is from Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

If you had to fill in that blank, what word would you choose? For me to live is ___. The list of possibilities is endless. It could be fun or family or sex or entertainment or money or material posessions or career or winning the big game. Don’t miss the point. No one leaves that sentence blank. Everyone finishes it with something. If you don’t fill the blank with Christ, what do you put there?

Instead of complaining about being in jail, Paul rejoices that even in chains, he has experienced the power of Jesus Christ in his life. And when he dies, his current life will get even better. How could Paul say such things? It’s because for Paul death didn’t put him in a cemetery; it ushered him into a sanctuary. He knew that he would enter the presence of Christ at the moment of his death. That would truly be “gain” for him.


Philippians 1:19-26 contains a unique and contradictory philosophy of life. It is remarkable because it was written by a man in a Roman jail chained to a soldier 24 hours a day. He was on trial for his life with no certainty that he would ever be set free. To Paul, even in the depths of his persecution, as long as Christ was magnified in his life, he was content. Do we feel the same when we face trials and tribulations?