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.”
When the Apostle Paul penned the words of the Epistle to the Philippians (by inspiration of Spirit), the disciples in Macedonia faced much tribulation and trouble. As we examine the information from Acts 16, where the Church had its beginnings, (a) we can easily gather the population of the Macedonian area were involved in many ungodly things. Acts 16:16 tells us about a woman who had a spirit of divination. She was a woman with an evil spirit that was a fortune or future teller; (b) The people of the area were also worldly minded. Rather than having a sorrowful attitude towards people like this woman, the people would use her for financial gain. According to Acts 16:19, “And when her masters saw that the hope of their gain gone. They caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,…” (c) By reading 2 Corinthians 8:2, we find the Macedonians were in deep poverty. Without doubt, many had lost their jobs and way of life because of the persecution against the saints. In the four chapters of this precious letter, we can see how the Apostle desired to lift up their spirits and encourage them in their faithful service.
One of the ways the Apostle labored to spiritually strengthen them was to tell them how his “hope and earnest expectation” affected his life. Paul would tell them how his hope of a better place gave him:
(1) A heartfelt peace that he will not be disappointed (vs 20, ashamed). When the Apostle Paul says “that in nothing I shall be ashamed”, he is saying that I will not be ‘let down’ in any way when I finally get to heaven. So many times in this world, people, businesses, and even our political leaders ‘let us down’ and leave us feeling disappointed. But brothers and sisters, when the elect child of grace stands in the presence of the One who loved them and gave His life for them, they will be completely satisfied.
(2) Courage for his faith (vs 20, boldness). The Apostle Paul, throughout his writings, reveals that his hope was not in this world, but in the world to come. Since Paul knew that this world was temporary and that an eternal rest awaited in glory, he had boldness to preach the gospel even in the face of opposition. Paul did not run in fear of persecution, because he knew the worse that anyone could do was take his natural life. And if that happened, it would send him home to glory to be with Jesus Christ his Lord.
(3) A stronger desire to live an obedient life to the Lord (vs 20, magnified in my body, vs 21, for me to live is Christ). The Apostle knew that it took the shed blood of Jesus Christ for him to have a home in heaven. Since his hope was not in this world, he would be willing to live his days on earth, not for his own glory, but to the glory of Jesus Christ his savior.
(4) A strength to face death (vs 22, strait betwixt two, a desire to depart, and to be with Christ). The Apostle, because of the hope he had, was not shaking in fear of death, but understood that being with the Lord Jesus Christ was “far better” than living in this world. Paul said in verse 21 “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
(5) A joy filled purpose for life, the service of God and other children of God. Paul said in verse 24, “to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” With the “hope and earnest expectation” of heaven on his mind, Paul’s focus was on pleasing God and doing for others.
(6) A zeal and excitement for others to experience the same (vs 23-25, for your furtherance and joy of faith). Paul wanted other children of God to have what he had. He wanted the comfort and peace of Jesus Christ, which passeth all understanding, to dwell in the hearts and minds of the family of God. Paul was willing to spend and be spent to give his knowledge away so others could be comforted in this precious hope. Paul was always encouraged to see other children of God place their hope in heaven and not in this world. In verses 25 and 26, he declares his happiness is in their “furtherance” and “rejoicing” of the expectation of glory.
(7) An energized effort for unity in the truth (vs 27, striving together). Since Paul knew that we would all be together one day in heaven, he directs his efforts to see unity in this world (not at the cost of truth, but in truth). In Ephesians 4:13, the Apostle tells us the gifts of the ministry should strive “Till we all come in unity of the faith”. Brothers and sisters, that faith is the truth about Jesus Christ and Heaven above. May we all strive together to share the knowledge of salvation by grace, that other children of God may be in the unity of the faith having their hope and earnest expectation of being with Jesus increased. Amen!