18: What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. 19: For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 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. 21: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22: But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23: For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. 25: And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; 26: That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again. 27: Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28: And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. 29: For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; 30: Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
Paul is confident that as a result of their prayers and the help of the Holy Spirit he would be released from prison. (This did in fact happen). Our prayers for other people are heard and God acts on our behalf when we ask him. Paul was expecting and was sure that when the time came to testify to Christ he would not be afraid and that the Lord would give him sufficient courage to face either life or death. We may not be required to stand before Kings of Caesars but we have to stand up and be counted for Christ too. Paul says that his life is dedicated to Christ but that if he does die then that is not a disaster in fact it means that it will be the greatest gain that he has ever known. He will be immediately in the presence of God. Paul was torn between to options. He wanted to die to meet Christ. That would be far better. However he was still needed here and while he was still needed here he was glad to stay even though it would mean more suffering. Paul is convinced that for now he will remain and will work with the Believers so that their spiritual lives will progress and that they might have the joy of faith. And he believes that he will at this time be released and meet them again. Note. It is almost certain that he was released and that he visited France, Spain, Greece and Macedonia. There were assemblies in France that maintained that they were never participants in the Roman church and when the reformation broke over Europe they were happy to be associated with them. In this passage we have the only hint at a rule that is applied to christians. Paul says that believers are to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Christians are to have a dignity about them. They are not to be found having off days or acting in a manner unworthy of the name of Christ. It’s interesting that Paul does not give ten rules as an example of what he means. That would be legalism. No he states that we are to walk (Live) worthily. In other words we are to live in a manner that is befitting of the high calling that we are in Christ. Not in a superior attitude but in humility and a godly manner. Of course every christian is different and every conscience is different too. Therefore every believer is to seek to live under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in a way that brings honour to Christ. Paul may have been alluding to the Roman and Greek practise of linking shields together to become an impenetrable wall. The wall is only effective if the soldiers stand shoulder to shoulder and work in harmony. No Soldier is more important than another, their strength is in their determination to work as one whole unit. This means understanding each other, supporting each other and being strong for each other. The Roman legion fought as one huge man. Unity was their strength. That is what we are to be, supportive and protective of each other. Confidence in the face of persecution is a sign to the persecutors that the persecuted are saved and of the persecutors eternal doom. So let us not be afraid but let us come with confidence before God. Paul is at pains to point out that suffering for Christ is part of the christian life. It’s a part as night is to day. We may be surprised when opposition comes but we must learn that persecution and the suffering that comes in its train is something that comes because of a faithful witness. In fact the word witness means martyr. We are to stand up boldly for Christ and never be afraid. Of course there will be times to face the mob and there are times to be let down in a basket. When we suffer, if it’s for Christ and his testimony, then we stand sure but if it is mindless men who seek an excuse to destroy us for fun! We call the police or run away. We must remember that those who will live godly will suffer persecution. Do you suffer? If not ask yourself, Am l living a godly life?