Life Equals Christ
Day: 16 | Plan: Christ Alone
Today’s Reading: Philippians 1:12-30
Philippians 1:21 (NIV) “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Have you ever heard a pastor mention “the original language” when teaching a passage of Scripture? Knowing the Hebrew (for the Old Testament) or Greek (for the New Testament) can provide valuable insight into the text. The meaning is the same, but their syntax or sentence structure was slightly different than ours.
That’s the case for today’s key verse: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). This often-quoted sentence has been translated into English in a way that mirrors how we speak. In the Greek, Paul wrote, “For me to live Christ and to die gain.” In our syntax, translators assume or add the “is.” In the original language, life and Christ were almost one compound idea. Life equals Christ.
In Galatians 2:20, Paul would say without pride or hyperbole, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Paul was experiencing the Christ-life.
Here in his introduction to the Philippians, Paul said it was Christ who ...
… empowered Paul in his ministry. (Philippians 1:6)
… stirred Paul’s affection for the Philippians. (Philippians 1:8)
… strengthened Paul and gives him courage. (Philippians 1:20)
… sustained Paul in his suffering. (Philippians 1:13)
But Paul likely wrote this letter from Rome where he was imprisoned. So tucked in this lovely book are heavy themes of suffering and perseverance. In Philippians 1 Paul says “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29).
Paul knows well that Christ-followers are not exempt from suffering. But Paul goes one step further, explaining that Christ-followers are often entrusted with suffering. In fact, Paul’s exhortations are more potent because they are set against the backdrop of suffering. Paul seems to suggest that our Christ-likeness is more powerful and most evident as we suffer.
In fact, it seems that Christ’s sufficiency in the Christian’s suffering is Paul’s key assertion here. Even as he sat imprisoned in Rome, Paul’s suffering has advanced the gospel. And his suffering has strengthened the faith of others as they faced their own fears of persecution or even death. As Paul suffers, he trusts Christ with life or death.
And Paul’s challenge to the Philippian church is to suffer in a similar fashion. This is the charge he gives them as he closes Philippians 1.
Paul’s message to the believers in Philippi (and to you and me) is that Christ is everything. Because when we “live Christ,” He isn’t just working in us, He is also being revealed through us. The Christ-life is an internal reality that produces external evidence.
Christ works in us to show Christ through us. That is the kind of Christ-life Paul lived and taught. And because this was his reality, Paul could say that to live was Christ and to die was gain.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the life and ministry of Paul. You have given me Christ, not just for my redemption but also for an example of what it looks like to live for You. Though suffering may come, help me to live and suffer like Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen.
I have heard individuals teach a version of the gospel that promises health and wealth for the... Read More
Download the First 5 app to get the full experience