To Die Is Gain

Philippians 1:20–23


Principle for Bible Reading

John Piper says this passage has been one of the most pivotal for him and his ministry. These four verses hold profound and precious truths about life and about death. In this lab, Piper shows why Christ is most magnified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

View the outline.


Outline

Introduction (00:00–00:30)

The Passion of Paul’s Life (00:30–03:08)

  1. Paul has a passion in life (“eager expectation and hope”). (Philippians 1:20)
  2. That passion — or longing — has two components: 1: that he not be ashamed (of Christ) and 2. that Christ would be honored in Paul, whether by life or by death. (Philippians 1:20)
  3. Therefore, Paul would be happy if in everything he did in his body (whether in life or in death) Christ was made to look great.

The Prize of Paul’s Death (03:08–05:09)

  1. There is a parallel in Philippians 1:20 and 1:21. “To live” corresponds back with “by life,” and “to die” corresponds with “by death.”
  2. We need to ask how Christ could be honored in our death. It is easier to see how we make him look great in life, but maybe harder to make the connection in death.
  3. Christ is honored in our dying when we experience death as gain. That is the argument of the word “For” in Philippians 1:21.

Implications for Christian Hedonism (05:09–08:04)

  1. Death is gain because death means more of Christ. And more of Christ is gain because he is better than anything this life can give you. (Philippians 1:21)
  2. Therefore, Christ is most magnified in us when we are most satisfied in him.


Study Questions

  1. Explain the “For” at the beginning of Philippians 1:21. How does what comes after the “For” explain or ground what comes before?
  2. Based on these verses, how does Paul honor Christ in his life? In his death?
  3. What does it mean that death is gain? Look specifically at Philippians 1:22–23.
Piper: “Death is gain because death means more of Christ, and he’s better than anything this life can give us.”