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Asbury Bible Commentary – B. Living Means Christ, Dying Is Gain (1:19–26)
B. Living Means Christ, Dying Is Gain (1:19–26)

This section expresses confidence in God's providence. We are reminded of two crucial resources of Christian life: prayers and the help (supply) of the Spirit. This help of the Spirit may mean either the Spirit who is the resource or the resources that the Spirit supplies. No matter, for he is “both Giver and Gift” (Beet, 48). Because of these resources, Paul is confident of deliverance (sōtërian), whether that means release from prison or final salvation. In light of 1:24-26 he hopes for the former, but he expresses uncertainty at two attractive alternatives (v. 23). To be released from prison means more service for Christ; to die is to be with him. Either way the center of life for Paul is Christ. Whether Paul is released or executed, Christ will be exalted in Paul's body (v. 20).

Two especially significant aspects of Paul's thought arise from this passage and are elaborated further in this and in some of his other letters: (1) A prominent theme of glory through suffering, pointing to a theology of the Cross (see comments under 1:29); and (2) the importance of bodily existence, pointing to the significance of resurrection (cf. 3:10-21).