William Barclay's Daily Study Bible

The Happy Ending (Philippians 1:19-20)

1:19-20 For I know that this will result in my salvation, because of your prayer for me, and because of the generous help the Holy Spirit of Christ gives to me, for it is my eager expectation and my hope that I shall never on any occasion be shamed into silence, but that on every occasion, even as now, I shall speak with all boldness of speech, so that Christ will be glorified in my body, whether by my life or by my death.

It is Paul's conviction that the situation in which he finds himself will result in his salvation. Even his imprisonment, and even the almost hostile preaching of his personal enemies, will in the end turn out to his salvation. What does he mean by his salvation? The word is soteria ( Greek #4991 ), and here there are three possible meanings.

(i) It may mean safety, in which case Paul will be saying that he is quite sure that the matter will end in his release. But that can hardly be the meaning here, since Paul goes on to say that he cannot be sure whether he will live or die.

(ii) It may mean his salvation in heaven. In that case Paul would be saying that his conduct in the opportunity which this situation provides will be his witness in the day of judgment. There is a great truth here. In any situation of opportunity or challenge, a man is acting not only for time, but also for eternity. A man's reaction to every situation in time is a witness for or against him in eternity.

(iii) But soteria ( Greek #4991 ) may have a wider meaning than either of these. It can mean health, general well-being. Paul may well be saying that all that is happening to him in this very difficult situation is the best thing for him both in time and in eternity. "God put me in this situation; and God means it, with all its problems and its difficulties, to make for my happiness and usefulness in time, and for my joy and peace in eternity."

In this situation Paul knows that he has two great supports. (i) He has the support of the prayers of his friends. One of the loveliest things in Paul's letters is the way in which he asks again and again for his friends' prayers. "Brethren," he writes to the Thessalonians, "pray for us." "Finally, brethren," he writes, "pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph" ( 1 Thessalonians 5:25 ; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 ). He says to the Corinthians "You must help us by prayer." ( 2 Corinthians 1:11 ). He writes that he is sure that through Phlippians's prayers he will be given back to his friends ( Phlippians 1:22 ). Before he sets out on his perilous journey to Jerusalem, he writes to the Church at Rome asking for their prayers ( Romans 15:30-32 ).

Paul was never too big a man to remember that he needed the prayers of his friends. He never talked to people as if he could do everything and they could do nothing; he always remembered that neither he, nor they, could do anything without the help of God. There is something to be remembered here. When people are in sorrow, one of their greatest comforts is the awareness that others are bearing them to the throne of grace. When they have to face some back-breaking effort or some heart-breaking decision, there is new strength in remembering that others are remembering them before God. When they go into new places and are far from home, it is an upholding thing to know that the prayers of those who love them are crossing continents to bring them before the throne of grace. We cannot call a man our friend unless we pray for him.

(ii) Paul knows that he has the support of the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit is the fulfilment of the promise of Jesus that he will be with us to the end of the world.

In all this situation Paul has one expectation and one hope. The word he uses for expectation is very vivid and unusual; no one uses it before Paul and he may well have coined it himself. It is apokaradokia ( Greek #603 ). Apo ( Greek #575 ) means "away from," kara, "the head," dokein ( Greek #1380 ) "to look"; and apokaradokia ( Greek #603 ) means the eager, intense look, which turns away from everything else to fix on the one object of desire. Paul's hope is that he will never be shamed into silence, either by cowardice or a feeling of ineffectiveness. Paul is certain that in Christ he will find courage never to be ashamed of the gospel; and that through Christ his labours will be made effective for all men to see. J. B. Lightfoot writes, "The right of free speech is the badge, the privilege, of the servant of Christ." To speak the truth with boldness is not only the privilege of the servant of Christ; it is also his duty.

So, then, if Paul courageously and effectively seizes his opportunity, Christ will be glorified in him. It does not matter how things go with him. If he dies, his will be the martyr's crown; if he lives, his will be the privilege still to preach and to witness for Christ. As Ellicott nobly puts it, Paul is saying, "My body will be the theatre in which Christ's glory is displayed." Here is the terrible responsibility of the Christian. Once we have chosen Christ, by our life and conduct we bring either glory or shame to him. A leader is judged by his followers; and Christ is judged by us.

- William Barclay's Daily Study Bible