Paul's Dilemma PDF Print E-mail

Sometimes when we read the Bible we seem to forget that the people that are being talked about or doing the writing are people just like you and I. As we begin to look at the dilemma of Paul we find that he dealt with the same items as you and I. This is one of many things that encourages us as believers to trust in the word of God because it is not outdated or old fashioned. What Paul dealt with then are the same issues that we deal with today.

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.”

In reading this verse we find the very dilemma that Paul was encountering. Christ shall be magnified through Paul’s life or death. Now, before we go into the life or death issue, we must first look at the fact that Paul knew Christ was to be magnified. You see, all that Paul did, his focus was always to magnify our Lord and Savior. This means that his attention was to always point the people to the Savior Jesus. We see this great example through Jesus.

John 6:38, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”

Jesus was always about glorifying the Lord. He was always pointing all of the attention to the Father. And the same was done with Paul towards Christ.

Now, the dilemma. Remember, as Paul was writing, he was in prison. That being said, would he live or would he die? Were the Romans going to set him free or would he be sentenced to death? This is why he was in a predicament. However, regardless of the situation, we do know that he was going to magnify the Lord. The dilemma that Paul had is one that we see with many people who truly love the Lord. Live for Christ or die and be with Christ.

Paul was very clear in his stand about serving the Lord with all of his heart, mind, and soul. He was going to do it with all that he had. Lets look at a couple of examples of Paul’s intent to magnify the Lord through his life.

Colossians 4:3, “Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:...”

Paul, while in prison writes a letter to the Colossians and asks them to pray for him while he is there. What is it that Paul asks for through prayer? Is it freedom? Is it for food? Is it for clothing? No, his request is for the opportunity to witness. All Paul asks for is the opportunity that God would grant him an open door to share the gospel.

Ephesians 6:19, “And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.”

We find once again that Paul asks for the believers to pray that he would have boldness to share the mystery (gospel) of Christ. How is it that a man in prison could be asking for such things? The answer, Paul’s focus was to magnify the Lord.

On the flip side to the dilemma, if he died he would be with Christ. What great expectation could one have? How many times have we as believers mentioned that if we died we wouldn’t have to deal with all of the issues of the world. We wouldn’t have to deal with sickness, pain, jobs, or unkind people. If we think like that, don’t you think Paul would have as well? Once again, remember, Paul was in prison. His freedom was no more and the possibility of execution was very real. If he were to die he would no longer have to endure the hardships of this world. Jesus said in John 14:2-3,

John 14:2-3, “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

Paul knew the rewards of being with Christ for eternity.

1st Corinthians 15:50-53, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”

Paul knew that the battles that he had with his flesh would be no more.

I don’t know about you but the choice seems to be clear…or does it? On one hand you have life to live here on earth so that you can continue to tell people about the wonderful, merciful, loving, Christ. On the other, you have living with Christ for eternity with no more sorrow and no more pain. Which would you choose? Paul’s choice, was to continue in serving the people.

Philippians 1:24, “Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”

Why not make the same choice?