To Be With Christ
I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. – Philippians 1:23
The apostle loves Christ, and loves to be with him to glorify him forever, free from sin and from suffering. But he also loves the Philippians and knows that they have definite spiritual needs, and that a further ministry among them will be very fruitful and to the glory of the Redeemer. The choice is a difficult one, which is expressed even more clearly in the words: So I am hard pressed between the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Torn between conflicting considerations Paul is being pressed from both sides:
On the one side there is the desire, the strong yearning, to strike (literally, to loosen) the tent of his earthly, temporary existence; the desire “to break camp,” or “to loosen the cables of a ship,” hence, to depart. See 2Tim. 4:6. Note the words: to depart and be with Christ. The apostle knows that when his soul departs from this earthly life, it is immediately with Christ. It does not “go out of existence” until the day of the resurrection, nor does it “go to sleep” (cf. Psa. 16:11; Psa. 17:15; Matt. 8:11; Luke 16:25; John 17:24; 1 Cor. 13:12-13; 2 Cor. 5:8; Heb. 12:23; Rev. 6:10; Rev. 20:4). It at once enjoys blessed fellowship with the Savior. That is “very far better” than to remain in the flesh. Just why is this far more appealing, subjectively considered? Consult such passages as Rom. 8:18; 2Cor. 5:8; 2Tim. 4:7-8; and Philippians 3:14 for the answer.
– William Hendriksen commenting on Philippians 1:23