19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
20 According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
this (v.19) — Paul’s circumstances
deliverance (v.19) = material and temporal deliverance (2 Corinthians 1:9-10)
prayer (v.19) = supplication. In the New Testament, always addressed to God — asking in regard to a need.
supply (v.19) — with the sense of “full, bountiful”
Spirit of Jesus Christ (v.19) — the Holy Spirit. Paul could be referring to the Spirit Himself or the supply of power the Spirit gives, or, probably, both.
earnest expectation (v.20) = to watch with the head erect and outstretched, eager longing, looking with full concentration for the great object until it is realized
hope (v.20) = happy anticipation of an unseen good
ashamed (v.20) = put to shame — fear of being prevented from magnifying Christ
boldness (v.20) = freedom of speech — the opposite of shame — cheerful courage
Christ will be magnified (v.20) — Paul’s desire was that, through his actions, Christ would be made great in the eyes of those who hadn’t yet realized His glory. Note that Paul writes “that Christ shall be magnified in me,” not “that I shall magnify Christ.”
by life or by death (v.20) — referring to the outcome of his approaching trial before the emperor. Paul’s wish was to glorify Christ — if he lived, by his ministry; if he died, by his bearing and testimony
to live is Christ (v.21) — to Paul (and it should be with us), all of life is centered on Christ. Everything we do should make Christ more fully manifested in us.
to die (v.21) — the condition after death. Paul’s condition after death would be greater than anything he was experiencing while alive
The “to” in “to live” and “to die” makes the verbs very much like nouns.
Paul is determined that Christ shall be radiated through his life, and so he says, “for to me to live is Christ.” His words in Colossians 3:4, “Christ, our life,” helps us to understand this statement. Christ is Paul’s life in that He is that eternal life which Paul received in salvation, a life which is ethical in its content, and which operates in Paul as a motivating, energizing, pulsating principle of existence that transforms Paul’s life, a divine Person living His life in and through the apostle. All of Paul’s activities, all of his interests, the entire round of his existence is ensphered within that circumference which is Christ. The words, “to die” are more accurately, “to have died.” The tense denotes, not the act of dying, but the consequences of dying, the state after death. Death itself would not be a gain to Paul, but to be in the presence of his Lord in glory, that would be gain. — Philippians in the Greek New Testament, by Kenneth S. Wuest, pages 44-45.