BUT I AM HARD-PRESSED FROM BOTH
(2Sa 24:14; 1Th 2:1; 2:13 Lk 12:50; 2Co 6:12) "I am hemmed in, as it were, a wall on this side and a wall on that" (Lightfoot)
But - See
discussion of importance of observing and querying
terms of contrast.
= with + echo =
hold) literally means hold together and is a picturesque word which serves to heighten
the magnitude of Paul's dilemma. Sunecho means to be hemmed in on
both sides and was used of a traveler in a narrow passage or gorge, with
a wall of rock on either hand, unable to turn aside and able only to go
straight on. The picture is that of a man pressed on both sides. The
idea is not urging or driving, but shutting up to one line and purpose,
as in a narrow, walled road.
Wuest - “I
am hemmed in on both sides by the two,” or “I am held together by the
two so that I cannot incline either way.” The definite article appears
in the Greek text before “two,” the word “two” referring back to the
life and death previously mentioned. There is an equal pressure being
exerted from both sides, from the desire for continued life and from the
desire for death. Paul was perplexed, held in, kept back from decision.
There was a strong pressure bearing upon him from both sides, keeping
him erect and motionless.
- The figure is that of one who is in a narrow road between two
walls. I am held together, so that I cannot move to the one or the other
side. The pressure comes from (eκ) both sides, from ‘the two’
considerations just mentioned, departing and abiding in the flesh.
(Critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistles to the Philippians
and to Philemon)
In sum hard
pressed means Paul had to consider a difficult decision between two
possibilities—that of going home to heaven or that of remaining on earth
as an apostle of Christ Jesus. However as noted above in the discussion
regarding Paul's choice, ultimately his life was in the hands of His
I like the way
John MacArthur explains hard pressed - Every Christian ought
to feel the strain of desiring to be with Christ, yet also longing to
build His church. If the Lord said to me, “You have five minutes to
choose between being in heaven or on earth,” I would have a difficult
time making that decision. And I would want to be sure I was choosing
for the right reasons. I’d have to ask myself, can I glorify Christ more
in heaven or on earth? Paul found it an impossible choice. Nevertheless,
most people would choose to stay on earth. When asked why they would,
most would give some selfish reason, such as, “We’re getting a new
house,” or “I don’t want to leave my kids.” For Paul, nothing really
mattered except glorifying Christ. When faced with the most basic of
life’s issues—whether it would be better to live or die—his response
was, “I would be thrilled to glorify Christ in heaven or on earth. Given
the choice, I can’t choose.” Because glorifying Christ was Paul’s
motivation, where he glorified Christ was not the issue. That ought to
be true for you as well. (Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s
From both -
More literally "the two."
the two - The two alternatives just spoken of, life and
death.—The imagery is of a man hemmed in right and left, so as to be
stationary. Quite literally the words are, “I am confined from the two
(sides)”; the position is one of dilemma, viewed from whichever side.
Wonderful is the phenomenon of this dilemma, peculiar to the living
Christian as such. “The Apostle asks which is most worth his while, to
live or to die. The same question is often presented to ourselves, and
perhaps our reply has been that of the Apostle. But may we not have made
it with a far different purport?… Life and death have seemed to us like
two evils, and we knew not which was the less. To the Apostle they seem
like two immense blessings, and he knows not which is the better.” To
the question, “Is life worth living?” this is the Christian answer. (Cambridge
Francis Patton (1843–1932) a former president of Princeton University
observed that whereas the high watermark of the Old Testament was Psalm
23:4, that of the New Testament was Philippians 1:23. David was willing
to go, but wanting to stay, but Paul was willing to stay, but wanting to
HAVING THE DESIRE TO DEPART:
(Lk 2:29 Lk 2:30; Jn 13:1; 2Co
5:8; 2Ti 4:6)
Having (echo) is in the
present tense indicating this was Paul's continual mindset. He longed to
see His Lord! This is a good mindset for a saint to cultivate.
[word study]) means passionate desire and most of the NT
contexts are negative (and so it is often translated "lusts") but in
this context clearly the "lust" is positive. There is an equal pressure being exerted from
both sides, from the strong desire for continued life and
from the strong desire for death and release into the presence of
Christ. Paul was perplexed, held in, kept back from decision. There was
an intense desire and strong pressure bearing upon him from both sides,
keeping him erect and motionless.
having the desire - That is, the whole element of personal
preference lies that way, not merely one desire among many.—We may
paraphrase, “my longing being towards departure etc.” (Cambridge
The Puritan Thomas Watson wrote, "Spiritual things satisfy; the more of heaven is in us, the less earth
will content us.... Fly aloft in your affections (Col 3:1, Col 3:2, 1Pe
1:13), thirst after the
graces and comforts of the Spirit; the eagle that flies above in the
air, fears not the stinging of the serpent (cp Isa 40:31); the serpent creeps on his
belly, and stings only such creatures as go upon the earth."
Consider what your heart and mind are
set on. If you're set on the right things, you'll be content with the
circumstances in which God has placed you.
means transitively to loose or until and intransitively to depart or
return. In Phil 1:23 analuo is used as a euphemism of "to die."
In secular Greek analuo described the loosing of the anchor or mooring of a ship so it could
depart port and set sail. Analuo was also used of striking one’s tent as one would do in the
military when "breaking camp". The latter figure
may have been the main idea Paul wanted to convey here since he was a
tent maker by trade and spoke of the human body as a tent. Compare his
description in Second Corinthians - " For we know that if the earthly
tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a
house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." (2Cor 5:1-note)
the related (cognate) noun analusis in his last letter writing
"For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of
my departure (analusis) has come." (2Ti 4:6-note)
In the NT,
analuo is used twice, first to return from wedding (Lk 12:36) and
here in Philippians where Paul says that "setting sail" to a
better and a more blessed world is very much better.
Luke 12:36 "And be like men who are
waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast,
so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and
knocks. (Comment: Luke used analuo of men who should be
prepared should their master “depart” from the marriage feast with the
implication that he would then return.)
Barclay on analuo -
(i) It is the word for striking camp, loosening the tent
ropes, pulling up the tent pins and moving on (read
Death is a moving on. It is said that in the terrible days of the
war, when the Royal Air Force stood between Britain and
destruction and the lives of its pilots were being sacrificially
spent, they never spoke of a pilot as having been killed but
always as having been “posted to another station.” Each day is a
day’s march nearer home, until in the end camp in this world is
for ever struck and exchanged for permanent residence in the world
(ii) It is the word for loosening the mooring ropes,
pulling up the anchors and setting sail. Death is a setting sail,
a departure on that voyage which leads to the everlasting haven
and to God.
(iii) It is the word for solving problems. Death brings
life’s solutions. There is some place where all earth’s questions
will be answered and where those who have waited will in the end
Wiersbe adds that
had 2 additional secular usages that Paul may have had in mind:
was also a political term; it described the setting free of a prisoner.
God’s people are in bondage because of the limitations of the body and
the temptations of the flesh, but death will free them. Or they will be
freed at the return of Christ (Ro 8:18-23)
if that should come first. Finally, departure was a word used by the
farmers; it meant “to unyoke the oxen.” Paul had taken Christ’s yoke,
which is an easy yoke to bear (Mt 11:28-30),
but how many burdens he carried in his ministry! (2Co 11:22-12:10.)
To depart to be with Christ would mean laying aside the burdens, his
earthly work completed. (Wiersbe,
W. W. The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill.:
Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary - The classical definition
of analuo includes the senses of “to unloose” or “to set free.”
It refers to the “unwinding” of a cocoon or to the melting of snow with
the subsequent emergence of the ground. It can denote the “loosing” (and
hence “departing”) of a boat from its moorings and the “unloosing” of a
garment for such a wide variety of reasons as bearing a child or having
sexual relations. Aristotle employed analuo in reference to
“reducing” a syllogism by means of logic (Analytica Prioria)
- analuo = to unloose, undo, of Penelopé's web -
“During the night she undid it” (Homer, “Odyssey,” ii., 105), Od. 2. to
unloose, set free, release, II. to restore to a dead man the use
of his eyes and voice, Pind. 2. to analyse, Arist. 3. to put an end to a
thing, Xen.:-to abolish, cancel, Dem.:-Med. to cancel faults, Xen., Dem.
III. intr. to loose a ship from its moorings, weigh anchor, depart,
Polyb.:-metaph., of death, NT 2. to return, Ib.
The only other
uses of analuo are in the Apocrypha - 1 Esd 3:3; Jdt 13:1; Tob
2:9; 2 Macc 8:25; 9:1; 12:7; 15:28; 3 Macc 2:24; 5:21, 40, 44; 7:13, 20;
Wis 2:1; 5:12; 16:14; Sir 3:15. Moule - Analuo "does not occur in
the LXX., but is not infrequent in the Apocrypha, and there usually
means to go away, or, as another side of the same act, to return (cp.
Tob 2:8; Jdt 13:1)."
Suicer (Thesaurus, under analuo), says that Melanchthon on his death-bed
called the attention of his learned friend Camerarius to this word,
dwelling with delight on the passage, correcting the “dissolution” of
the Vulgate, and rendering rather, “to prepare for departure,” “to
migrate,” or “to return home.”—Luther renders here abzuscheiden, “to
- It appears to be a metaphor taken from the commander of a vessel, in a
foreign port, who feels a strong desire, to set sail, and get to his own
country and family; but this desire is counterbalanced by a conviction
that the general interests of the voyage may be best answered by his
longer stay in the port where his vessel now rides; for he is not in
dock, he is not aground, but rides at anchor in the port, and may any
hour weigh and be gone.
You have to love
Spurgeon's picturesque comment - "The sail is spread; the soul is
launched upon the deep. How long will be its voyage? How many wearying
winds must beat upon the sail ere it shall be reefed in the port of
peace? How often shall that soul be tossed upon the waves before it
comes to the sea that knows no storm. Oh tell it, tell it everywhere;
yon ship that has just departed is already at its haven. It did but
spread its sail and it was there."
AND BE WITH CHRIST:
(Job 19:26;19:27 Ps 49:15; Lk
23:43; Jn 14:3; 17:24; Acts 7:59; 2Co 5:8 1Th 4:17; Rev 14:13)
Be (einai) is in
the present tense = to continually be with Christ! Throughout
With is not the Greek word
meta (primary meaning = mid, in midst, among, implying accompaniment
but not union) but syn/sun (see
which speaks of an intimacy and union. We are in union with Christ now
through the New Covenant, but we still live in mortal bodies and grapple
with the fallen flesh, both of which diminish our full enjoyment of our
union. Paul longed for the day when that union would be experienced to
the fullest potential, and that should be every saint's great longing!
The destination for which
Paul yearns to depart is into the presence of his Lord. Absent from the
body, present with the Lord. No "long lines" or flight delays for this
departure! Immediate transport into the presence of Jesus (cp 2Cor 5:8). There is no soul-sleep
discussion). There is no
intermediary period (no purgatory -
see discussion) before
entering eternity with Christ.
Moule on be with Christ
- (This is) The other side of the fact of departure, and that which
makes its blessedness....Christianity meets us where most of all we need
its aid, and it meets us with the very aid we need. It does not tell us
of the splendours of the invisible world; but it does far better when,
in three words, it informs us that (analuo) to loosen from the shore of
mortality is (sun Christo einai) to be with Christ.” It is divinely true
that the Christian, here below, is “with Christ,” and Christ with him.
But such is the developed manifestation of that Presence after death,
and such its conditions, that it is there as if it had not been
before.—Cp. Acts 7:59; words which St Paul had heard. (Cambridge
Guzik - Other men have also
wanted to die. • Some men have wished to die, gripped by the gloom and
darkness that leads to suicide. • Some have been so tired of this world
and the cruelty of others that they thought death was better. • Some
have wanted to die in the crisis of some kind of suffering. Paul’s
desire to depart had nothing in common with these attitudes among men.
Paul probably had many motivations to depart. • Going to heaven meant he
would finally be done with sin and temptation. • Going to heaven meant
that he would see those brothers and sisters who had gone to heaven
before him. • Most of all, going to heaven meant being with Christ in a
closer and better way than ever before.
FOR THAT IS
VERY MUCH BETTER: pollo
(Ps 16:10; 16:11, 17:15; 73:24, 73:25, 73:26; Rev 7:14, 7:15, 7:16, 7:17)
- The Christian view of death is given in just four words in this
passage: "with Christ, far better." That sums it up. (Commentary)
is a strategic
term of explanation, which
begs the question "What is the writer explaining?" "For" (gar) is not
present in all Greek texts but Vincent states "The best texts
That - What is "that?"
In context it is clearly absence from this temporal life and entrance into the
eternal life with Christ.
Very much better
(Literally = much more better)
- This phrase
is a double (some even say triple) strengthened comparative and as such expresses the highest
superlative. More than "better" or "much better," to be with Christ so
far surpasses anything in this life that it is "very much better."
It's as though Paul could find no superlative adequate to express the
comparison between being on earth and being with Christ in heaven
and sharing complete, conscious, intimate, unhindered fellowship.
Vincent - Notice the heaping
up of comparatives according to Paul’s habit. (Comp. Rom. 8:37; 2 Cor.
7:13, 4:17; Eph. 3:20.) (Ibid)
Moule on very much better
- a bold accumulation, to convey intense meaning. R.V., for it is
very far better. Observe that it is thus “better” in
comparison not with the shadows of this life, but with its most happy
light. The man who views the prospect thus has just said that to him “to
live is Christ.” Death is “gain” for him, therefore, not as mere escape
or release, but as a glorious augmentation; it is “Christ” still, only
very far more of Christ. (Cambridge
Labor for Christ is sweet, but
rest with Christ will be sweeter. Paul was ready to go but he was also willing to
wait. Life has its attractions (most are passing), but death has its advantages
(all are eternal).
is a comparative of kratus
(strong) and the comparative degree of agathos which means “good”. This
reminds one of our English comparative "good, better, best." That which
is of high status, is more prominent or higher in rank (Of a person -Heb
7:7; of things Heb 7:19). Kreitton relates to that which has "a relative
advantage in value" (BDAG) (Heb 6:9).
Francis Patton (1843–1932, a former
president of Princeton University, observed that whereas the high
watermark of the Old Testament was Psalm 23:4, that of the New
Testament was Philippians 1:23. David was willing to go, but wanting
to stay, but Paul was willing to stay, but wanting to go.
The great English Evangelist preacher George Whitfield said
“I am often weary in the work, but never weary of it.”
Motyer summarizes this passage
- This is a very full and remarkable statement about the death of a
Christian. He teaches us first about the nature of a Christian death: it
is ‘to depart’. This may be a camping metaphor. Paul, the old
‘tent-maker’, resorts to the language of his trade. In this case, death
for the Christian is the end of what was at best a transitory thing, a
camp-life, in which he traveled without permanent resting-place. This is
to be exchanged for the ‘house not made with hands, eternal in the
heavens’. (2Cor 5:1-8) Camp-life is exchanged at death for home-life
with Christ. But the other possibility is that this ‘departing’ is a
‘weighing of the anchor’, a ‘setting sail’. Bishop Moule speaks
of ‘that delightful moment when the friendly flood heaves beneath the
freed keel, and the prow is set straight and finally towards the shore
of home, and the Pilot stands on board, at length “seen face to face.”
And, lo, as He takes the helm, “immediately the ship is at the land
whither they go” (John 6:21)’. When a Christian dies all the
uncertainties and dangers lie behind: the uncertainties and dangers
whether of camp-life or of temporary stay in a foreign port. All the
certainties and safeties lie ahead in the presence of Christ. And this,
in the second place, is the blessedness of Christian death. The
Christian goes to be with Christ. Scripture leaves so much about life
after death undescribed, but on this central fact there is no
hesitation: the Christian dead are ‘with Christ’. Paul takes the
matter a stage further. He declares that death to the Christian is
(literally) ‘by far the best’. Suppose we had been with Paul in
Rome just then, and had seen him as he was, a man of immense vigor of
mind and body, with gigantic gifts, a man irreplaceable in the church.
How keenly we should have felt the loss were he to be executed! What an
untimely death!—and all the other things we hear said when a notable
Christian dies unexpectedly. But what is the reality for the person
concerned, for Paul? He is not the loser; he is not ‘poor Paul’. For him
it is better by far than anything else that could have happened or could
be imagined. Indeed, even while the church mourned his loss, he would
possess unimaginable riches. For him, as for us at our death too, it is
far better. This is not, of course, to say that mourning is out of place
for the Christian when loved ones go to be with the Lord. The fact that
they are experiencing the supremely best lightens but does not take away
the fact that our experience is of loss, loneliness, and great joys now
irretrievably gone—however much we know that they will be transcended by
the ‘joyful reunion in the heavenly places’. It is a very beautiful
thing that in this same letter in which Paul sounds the note of
confident expectation in the face of death he also expresses the
desolation which bereavement brings: ‘sorrow upon sorrow’. And how true
that is! In bereavement every tearful memory waits to be replaced by
another, every sharp pang of loss is succeeded by a greater. Tears are
proper for believers—indeed they should be all the more copious, for
Christians are more sensitively aware of every emotion, whether of joy
or sorrow, than those who have known nothing of the softening and
enlivening grace of God. In this too we follow the example of him whose
tears were not restrained at the graveside. (The Bible Speaks Today)
STAY OR GO? (Dave Brannon) - Falmouth, Kentucky,
residents faced a nightmare of a decision in early 1997. The
nearby Licking River was rising at the rate of a foot an
hour, and local officials were urging people to evacuate.
Most people left, but others, either fearing looters or
downplaying the severity of the flood, refused to go.
We can understand why the people had such a tough time
leaving. Each of us has possessions or places we want to
protect and not let go of.
In Philippians 1, Paul spoke of being torn between two
locations: “I am hard pressed between the two” (Phil 1:23).
He longed to join his Savior in heaven, but he also knew
that God had given him a purpose to fulfill on earth. He was
torn between his desire to be with Christ and his calling to
minister to people.
If you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior
and Lord, you can understand Paul’s dilemma. You look
forward to being with Jesus, yet you realize God has a
reason for you to stay on this troubled planet.
To stay or to
go? The time for you to leave this world is God’s decision,
so make the most of your life while you’re here. Give each
day to Jesus Christ. Keep living for Him and rescuing others.
do the most earthly good.
Not what I wish to be, nor where I
wish to go,
For who am I that I should choose my way?
The Lord shall choose for me, 'tis better far I know,
So let Him bid me go, or stay.
Illustration of Php
1:23 in the Life of
-The book "To the Golden
Shore" tells the story of Adoniram Judson, one of the first
American missionaries sent overseas (Courtney Anderson [Grand
Rapids: Zondervan, 1956]). He was a brave ambassador of Jesus
Christ who served his Lord in what was then known as Burma. After
fourteen years of enduring wretched imprisonments and
life-threatening diseases, all he had to show for his pains were
the graves of his wife and all his children. He was all alone, yet
was faithful to remain there. He wrote that if he had not felt
certain that every trial was ordered by God's infinite love and
mercy, he could not have survived his accumulated sufferings.
Judson understood his trials were a part of the sovereign plan of
God. Although he must have longed to be with Christ and enjoy the
fellowship of his beloved family, he also longed to meet the needs
of the pagan Burmese people. Therefore he prayed God would allow
him to live until he had translated the entire Bible into Burmese
and had presided over a native church of at least 100 Christians.
Judson had the spirit of the apostle Paul, who longed to be with
Christ but also desired to be useful to the church.
Click for more on the
incredible sacrificial life of Adoniram Judson and be
challenged by his life even as you are by Paul's words in
adds this note on Judson - Adoniram Judson was the
first overseas missionary sent out from America. In the
early nineteenth century, he and his first wife went to
India and, a short while later, to Burma, where he labored
for nearly four decades. After fourteen years, he had a
handful of converts and had managed to write a Burmese
grammar. During that time he suffered a horrible
imprisonment for a year and a half and lost his wife and
children to disease. Like Paul, he longed to be with the
Lord, but, also like the apostle, he considered his work for
Christ to be infinitely more important than his personal
longings. He therefore prayed that God would allow him to
live long enough to translate the entire Bible into Burmese
and to establish a church there of at least one hundred
believers. The Lord granted that request and also allowed
him to compile Burmese-English and English-Burmese
dictionaries, which became invaluable to the Christian
workers, both foreign and Burmese, who followed him. He
wrote, “If I had not felt certain that every trial was
ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have
survived my accumulated sufferings.” (Ibid)
Adoniram Judson - "How Few There Are Who Die So Hard!" by
Or even better listen to John Piper's
address to the 2003 Bethlehem Conference for Pastors
LONGING FOR HOME
(Bill Crowder) - When our son Stephen was a youngster, he
went away for a week at a Christian summer camp. Later that
week, we got a letter from him that was addressed to “Mom
and Dad Crowder” and simply said, “Please come and take me
home today.” What his child’s mind couldn’t comprehend, of
course, was that it would be days before we got his letter
and more time before we could come for him. All his young
heart knew was that he longed for home and for Mom and
Dad—and that can be tough for a child.
Sometimes we can be like Stephen as we think about this
world. It’s easy to think longingly about being with Jesus
and begin to wish we could go to our “eternal home” (Eccl.
12:5) where we will “be with Christ” (Phil. 1:23). As God’s
children (John 1:12), we know that this world will never
truly be home to us. Like the apostle Paul, we especially
feel that way when the struggles of life are hard. While in
Rome awaiting trial, Paul wrote, “I am hard pressed between
the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which
is far better” (Phil. 1:23). He loved serving Christ, but a
part of him longed to be with the Savior.
It’s comforting to know that we can think ahead to being
with Jesus—in a home that is far better.
To see His face, this is
The deepest longing of my soul;
Through storm and stress my path I’ll trace
Till, satisfied, I see His face!
There is no place like home—
especially when home is heaven.
- For the believer, death means
entering into the glorious presence of Christ. The 18th-century Bible
commentator Matthew Henry expressed this confidence in words he hoped
would be read after his death by anyone who might unduly mourn his
passing. He wrote: “Would you like to know where I am?
I am at home in my Father’s house, in the mansions prepared for me
here. I am where I want to be—no longer on the stormy sea, but in God’s
safe, quiet harbor. My sowing time is done and I am reaping; my joy is
as the joy of harvest. Would you like to know what I am doing? I see
God, not as through a glass darkly, but face to face. I am engaged in
the sweet enjoyment of my precious Redeemer. I am singing hallelujahs to
Him who sits upon the throne, and I am constantly praising Him. Would
you know what blessed company I keep? It is better than the best on
earth. Here are the holy angels and the spirits of just men made
perfect. I am with many of my old acquaintances with whom I worked and
prayed, and who have come here before me. Lastly, would you know how
long this will continue? It is a dawn that never fades! After millions
and millions of ages, it will be as fresh as it is now. Therefore, weep
not for me!” (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries)
CHANGE OF ADDRESS (Dave
Branon) - Every 26 years or so, we move to a different house.
Actually, Sue and I moved into our first home when our first child was a
baby. We had no idea we would live there for 26 years. When we finally
did change our residence, it was an emotional time. On the day we moved,
after everything was out of the house, we did one final walk-through to
relive the memories. The toughest moment came when we entered Melissa’s
bedroom. We had said goodbye to her 2 years earlier after a car accident
took her earthly life. Now we were bidding adieu to the
sunflower-decorated room she loved so much.
As I think of that emotional time when we moved, I am reminded of what a
great change of address Melissa enjoyed on the day she was ushered into
God’s presence. Our move to a different house pales in comparison to the
glories our daughter now enjoys in heaven. What a grand comfort to know
that our departed loved ones who have trusted in Jesus are now living in
God’s majestic kingdom! (2 Cor. 5:1).
Are you ready for that ultimate change of address? No matter where you
live on this earth, make sure your final home will be heaven.
Someday my Redeemer shall call me to
And leave all these earth-scenes below;
And take me to be with my loved ones at home—
I want to be ready to go!
Our heavenly home
is our real estate.
GETTING BETTER (Bill Crowder)
- A popular song from the 1960s was titled “Getting Better.” In it, the
singer considers his young life and happily declares that he sees things
“getting better all the time.” It is a song of optimism but,
unfortunately, without any real basis for that hope.
By contrast, the Bible warns us that we live in a world that in many
ways is actually getting worse (2Ti 3:13). Daily we’re faced with
increasing evidence to support that contention. So how do we respond to
the realities of life in such a badly marred world? With empty optimism?
With hopeless discouragement? The apostle Paul shows us how.
While imprisoned in Rome, Paul wrote to the church at Philippi to offer
them genuine hope in a broken world. He encouraged his readers by
telling them that though life in this world is often hard and painful,
for the Christian things will get better. He wrote, “I am hard-pressed
between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is
far better” (Phil. 1:23). It is a reminder to us that we can face the
difficulties of living for Christ now because one day we will be with
Him in an eternal home of splendor and fullness.
Life can be hard, but one day when we see Christ it will truly get
To see His face, this is my goal,
The deepest longing of my soul;
Through storm and stress my path I’ll trace
Till, satisfied, I see His face!
To be with Jesus forever
is the sum of all happiness.
EAGER FOR HEAVEN (Anne Cetas)
- My neighbor Jasmine, age 9, was sitting on the front porch with me one
summer evening. Out of the blue she started talking about her bad
choices and how she needed God’s forgiveness. We talked and prayed
together and she asked Jesus to be her Savior.
Questions about heaven started pouring out of her: “Are the streets
really gold? Will my mom be there? What if she isn’t? Will I have a bed,
or will I sleep on a cloud? What will I eat?” I assured her that heaven
would be a perfect home, and that she would be with Jesus, who would
give her everything she needed. She replied with excitement, “Well, then
let’s go right now!”
The apostle Paul had a heavenly perspective too (Philippians 1:23). His
testimony was, “To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (v.21). He
knew that this life was about knowing, trusting, and serving God. But he
also knew that life in heaven would be “far better” because he would “be
with Christ” (v.23). He wanted to stay here so that he could minister to
the Philippians and others, but he was ready to go to heaven at any time
to see Jesus. Jasmine is ready to go now. Are we as eager for heaven as
No matter what we learn of God
And of the fullness of His grace,
The picture will not be complete
Until we meet Him face-to-face.
Those who have their hearts fixed on heaven
will hold loosely the things of earth.
HARD TO IMAGINE (Joe Stowell)
- Whenever my wife, Martie, and I get ready to go on vacation, we like
to read about our destination, study the maps, and anticipate the joy of
finally arriving at the place we’ve dreamed about for so long.
For those of us who know Jesus Christ, we have an incredible destination
ahead of us—heaven. But I find it interesting that a lot of us don’t
seem to be very excited about getting there. Why is that? Maybe it’s
because we don’t understand heaven. We talk about streets of gold and
gates of pearl, but what is it really like? What is there to look
I think the most profound description of heaven is found in Paul’s words
to the Philippians. He said that to “depart and be with Christ” is “far
better” (Phil. 1:23). It’s what I told my 8-year-old grandson when he
asked what heaven is like. I started by asking him, “What is the most
exciting thing in your life?” He told me about his computer game and
other fun things he likes to do, and then I told him that heaven is far
better. He thought for a minute, and then said, “Papa, that’s hard to
What is it that you look forward to in life? What really excites you?
Whatever it is, although it’s hard to imagine, heaven will be far
To be in His presence! A glorious
So awesome I cannot conceive;
I’ll bow down and worship the Lord on His throne
And add to the praise He’ll receive.
The more you look forward to heaven,
the less you’ll desire on earth.
PULLED IN TWO DIRECTIONS - As
Christians, we are pulled in two directions. We all want to go to
heaven, but this life also holds great appeal. We are like the youngster
in Sunday school who listened intently while the teacher told about the
beauties of heaven. She concluded by saying, "Raise your hand if you
want to go to heaven." Every hand shot up immediately--except one. "Why
don't you want to go to heaven, Johnny?" "Well," he replied, "Mom just
baked an apple pie for dinner."
Now, we don't need to feel guilty for having a strong desire to enjoy
life. Marriage, a family, a fulfilling job, travel, recreation--these
all have a legitimate appeal. But if the delights of our earthly home
are so attractive that we lose sight of God's purpose for putting us
here, something's wrong.
The apostle Paul had mixed feelings too. Although he believed he would
be released from prison, he knew that he could possibly fall victim to
Nero's sword. This created a conflict. He longed to be with Christ, for
that would be "far better" (Phil. 1:23). He also wanted to live--not
merely to enjoy life but because he was needed by his fellow believers
Paul was pulled in two directions, and in both cases it was for the
highest reason. What about us? --D J De Haan (Ibid)
Tempt not my soul away--Jesus is
Here would I ever stay--Jesus is mine.
Perishing things of clay, born but for one brief day,
Pass from my heart away--Jesus is mine.
To make the most of your time on earth,
always keep heaven in mind.