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EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS - Chapter 1 - Verse 22

Verse 22. But if I live in the flesh. If I continue to live; if I am not condemned, and made a martyr at my approaching trial.

This is the fruit of my labour. The meaning of this passage, which has given much perplexity to commentators, it seems to me is, "If I live in the flesh, it will cost me labour; it will be attended, as it has been, with much effort and anxious care, and I know not which to prefer—whether to remain on the earth with these cares and the hope of doing good, or to go at once to a world of rest."

A more literal version of the Greek will show that this is the meaning— touto moi karpov ergou "this to me is [or would be] the fruit of labour." Coverdale, however, renders it, "Inasmuch as to live in the flesh is fruitful to me for the work, I wot not what I shall choose." So Luther, "But since to live in the flesh serves to produce more fruit." And so Bloomfield, "But if my life in the flesh be of use to the gospel, (be it so, I say no more,) verily what I shall choose I see and know not." See also Koppe, Rosenmuller, and Calvin, who give the same sense. According to this, the meaning is, that if his life were of value to the gospel, he was willing to live; or that it was a valuable object—operae pretium —worth an effort thus to live. This sense accords well with the connexion, and the thought is a valuable one, but it is somewhat doubtful whether it can be made out from the Greek. To do it, it is necessary to suppose that moimy—is expletive, (Koppe,) and that kai and —is used in an unusual sense. See Erasmus. According to the interpretation first suggested, it means that Paul felt that it would be gain to die, and that he was entirely willing; that he felt that if he continued to live it would involve toil and fatigue; and that therefore, great as was the natural love of life, and desirous as he was to do good, he did not know which to choose-an immediate departure to the world of rest, or a prolonged life of toil and pain, attended even with the hope that he might do good. There was an intense desire to be with Christ, joined with the belief that his life here must be attended with toll and anxiety; and, on the other hand, an earnest wish to live in order to do good, and he knew not which to prefer.

Yet. The sense has been obscured by this translation. The Greek word kai means and, and should have been so rendered here, in its usual sense. "To die would be gain; my life here would be one of toil, AND I know not which to choose."

What I shall choose I wot not. I do not know which I should prefer, if it were left to me. On each side there were important considerations, and he knew not which overbalanced the other. Are not Christians often in this state, that if it were left to themselves they would not know which to choose, whether to live or to die?

{*} "wot" "know"

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