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Philippians 1:21 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— For to me to live [is] Christ, and to die [is] gain.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— For to me to live [is] Christ, and to die [is] gain.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— For for me to live [is] Christ, and to die gain;
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— For, unto me—living, is Christ, and, dying, gain.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— for to me to live [is] Christ, and to die gain.
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— For to me, to live is Christ: and to die is gain.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— For to me to liue is Christ, and to die is gaine.
John Etheridge Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1849)
— For my life is the Meshiha; and if I die, it is gain to me.
James Murdock Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1852)
— For my life is, the Messiah; and if I die, it is gain to me.

Strong's Numbers & Red-LettersGreek New TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
For 1063
{1063} Prime
γάρ
gar
{gar}
A primary particle; properly assigning a reason (used in argument, explanation or intensification; often with other particles).
to me 1698
{1698} Prime
ἐμοί
emoi
{em-oy'}
A prolonged form of G3427; to me.
to live 2198
{2198} Prime
ζάω
zao
{dzah'-o}
A primary verb; to live (literally or figuratively).
z5721
<5721> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Infinitive (See G5795)
Count - 647
[is] Christ, 5547
{5547} Prime
Χριστός
Christos
{khris-tos'}
From G5548; anointed, that is, the Messiah, an epithet of Jesus.
and 2532
{2532} Prime
καί
kai
{kahee}
Apparently a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so, then, too, etc.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words.
to die 599
{0599} Prime
ἀποθνῄσκω
apothnesko
{ap-oth-nace'-ko}
From G0575 and G2348; to die off (literally or figuratively).
z5629
<5629> Grammar
Tense - Second Aorist (See G5780)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Infinitive (See G5795)
Count - 454
[is] gain. 2771
{2771} Prime
κέρδος
kerdos
{ker'-dos}
Of uncertain affinity; gain (pecuniary or generally).
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Philippians 1:21

_ _ For — in either event (Philippians 1:20) I must be the gainer, “For to me,” etc.

_ _ to live is Christ — whatever life, time, and strength, I have, is Christ’s; Christ is the sole object for which I live (Galatians 2:20).

_ _ to die is gain — not the act of dying, but as the Greek (“to have died”) expresses, the state after death. Besides the glorification of Christ by my death, which is my primary object (Philippians 1:20), the change of state caused by death, so far from being a matter of shame (Philippians 1:20) or loss, as my enemies suppose, will be a positive “gain” to me.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Philippians 1:21-26

_ _ We have here an account of the life and death of blessed Paul: his life was Christ, and his death was gain. Observe, 1. It is the undoubted character of every good Christian that to him to live is Christ. The glory of Christ ought to be the end of our life, the grace of Christ the principle of our life, and the word of Christ the rule of it. The Christian life is derived from Christ, and directed to him. He is the principle, rule, and end of it. 2. All those to whom to live is Christ to them to die will be gain: it is great gain, a present gain, everlasting gain. Death is a great loss to a carnal worldly man; for he loses all his comforts and all his hopes: but to a good Christian it is gain, for it is the end of all his weakness and misery and the perfection of his comforts and accomplishment of his hopes; it delivers him from all the evils of life, and brings him to the possession of the chief good. Or, To me to die is gain; that is, “to the gospel as well as to myself, which will receive a further confirmation by the seal of my blood, as it had before by the labours of my life.” So Christ would be magnified by his death, Philippians 1:20. Some read the whole expression thus: To me, living and dying, Christ is gain; that is, “I desire no more, neither while I live nor when I die, but to win Christ and be found in him.” It might be thought, if death were gain to him, he would be weary of life, and impatient for death. No, says he,

_ _ I. If I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour (Philippians 1:22), that is, Christ is. He reckoned his labour well bestowed, if he could be instrumental to advance the honour and interest of the kingdom of Christ in the world. It is the fruit of my labourkarpos ergouoperae pretium. It is worth while for a good Christian and a good minister to live in the world as long as he can glorify God and do good to his church. Yet what I shall choose I wot not; for I am in a strait betwixt two. It was a blessed strait which Paul was in, not between two evil things, but between two good things. David was in a strait by three judgments — sword, famine, and pestilence: Paul was in a strait between two blessings — living to Christ, and being with him. Here we have him reasoning with himself upon the matter.

_ _ 1. His inclination was for death. See the power of faith and of divine grace; it can reconcile the mind to death, and make us willing to die, though death is the destruction of our present nature and the greatest natural evil. We have naturally an aversion to death, but he had an inclination to it (Philippians 1:23); Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, Observe, (1.) It is being with Christ which makes a departure desirable to a good man. It is not simply dying, or putting off the body, it is not of itself and for its own sake a desirable thing; but it may be necessarily connected with something else which may make it truly so. If I cannot be with Christ without departing, I shall reckon it desirable on that account to depart. (2.) As soon as ever the soul departs, it is immediately with Christ. This day shalt thou be with me in paradise, Luke 23:43. Absent from the body and present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8), without any interval between. Which is far better, poll gar mallon kreissonvery much exceeding, or vastly preferable. Those who know the value of Christ and heaven will readily acknowledge it far better to be in heaven than to be in this world, to be with Christ than to be with any creature; for in this world we are compassed about with sin, born to trouble, born again to it; but, if we come to be with Christ, farewell sin and temptation, farewell sorrow and death, for ever.

_ _ 2. His judgment was rather to live awhile longer in this world, for the service of the church (Philippians 1:24): Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. It is needful for the church to have ministers; and faithful ministers can ill be spared when the harvest is plenteous and the labourers are few. Observe, Those who have most reason to desire to depart should be willing to continue in the world as long as God has any work for them to do. Paul's strait was not between living in this world and living in heaven; between these two there is no comparison: but his strait was between serving Christ in this world and enjoying him in another. Still it was Christ that his heart was upon: though, to advance the interest of Christ and his church, he chose rather to tarry here, where he met with oppositions and difficulties, and to deny himself for awhile the satisfaction of his reward.

_ _ II. And, having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith, Philippians 1:25. Observe here, 1. What a great confidence Paul had in the divine Providence, that it would order all for the best to him. “Having this confidence that it will be needful for you that I should abide in the flesh, I know that I shall abide.” 2. Whatsoever is best for the church, we may be sure God will do. If we know what is needful for building up the body of Christ, we may certainly know what will be; for he will take care of its interests, and do what is best, all things considered, in every condition it is in. 3. Observe what ministers are continued for: For our furtherance and joy of faith, our further advancement in holiness and comfort. 4. What promotes our faith and joy of faith is very much for our furtherance in the way to heaven. The more faith the more joy, and the more faith and joy the more we are furthered in our Christian course. 5. There is need of a settled ministry, not only for the conviction and conversion of sinners, but for the edification of saints, and their furtherance in spiritual attainments.

_ _ III. That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me, by my coming to you again, Philippians 1:26. They rejoiced in the hope of seeing him, and enjoying his further labours among them. Observe, 1. The continuance of ministers with the church ought to be the rejoicing of all who wish well to the church, and to its interests. 2. All our joys should terminate in Christ. Our joy in good ministers should be our joy in Christ Jesus for them; for they are but the friends of the bridegroom, and are to be received in his name, and for his sake.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Philippians 1:21

To me to live is Christ — To know, to love, to follow Christ, is my life, my glory, my joy.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

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Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
to live:

Philippians 1:20 According to my earnest expectation and [my] hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but [that] with all boldness, as always, [so] now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether [it be] by life, or by death.
Philippians 2:21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.
1 Corinthians 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Colossians 3:4 When Christ, [who is] our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

to die:

Philippians 1:23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
Isaiah 57:1-2 The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth [it] to heart: and merciful men [are] taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil [to come]. ... He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, [each one] walking [in] his uprightness.
Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ... Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 Corinthians 3:22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of [this] tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2 Corinthians 5:6 Therefore [we are] always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, [I say], and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-15 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. ... For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed [are] the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
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Is 57:1. Ro 8:35. 1Co 1:30; 3:22. 2Co 5:1, 6, 8. Ga 6:14. Php 1:20, 23; 2:21. Col 3:4. 1Th 4:13. Rv 14:13.

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