“According to my earnest expectation and my hope…”
To understand this passage of Scripture (or any passage of Scripture for that matter), we must first examine the context of this chapter to understand why Paul makes the bold statement at the end of the verse: “…so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body…”, from which our blog gets its title.
At this time in his life, the Apostle Paul is in bonds for the Gospel and testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:7). Paul knows that the end of his life could be coming at any moment, and he is at odds whether he desires to die or desires to live (cf. Phil. 1:23-24). The first part of verse twenty, however, reveals that above this inner conflict within Paul remains this earnest hope, this earnest expectation, and gladness. First, let’s do a word study on the word’s earnest, expectation, and hope to get a better understanding of what Paul is saying here.
EARNEST, a. ern’est.
1. Ardent in the pursuit of an object; eager to obtain; having a longing desire; warmly engaged or incited.
They are never more earnest to disturb us, than when they see us most earnest in this duty.
2. Ardent; warm; eager; zealous; animated; importunate; as earnest in love; earnest in prayer.
3. Intent; fixed.
On that prospect strange
Their earnest eyes were fixed.
4. Serious; important; that is, really intent or engaged; whence the phrase, in earnest. To be in earnest, is to be really urging or stretching towards an object; intent on a pursuit. Hence, from fixed attention, comes the sense of seriousness in the pursuit, as opposed to trifling or jest. Are you in earnest or in jest?
Now let’s take a look at the Strong’s concordance to see which definition matches the context.
603. ἀποκαραδοκία apokaradokia; from a comparative of 575 and a compound of κάρα kara (the head) and 1380 (in the sense of watching); intense anticipation: — earnest expectation.
Thus, we see the definition of the words “earnest expectation” fits best into the first Webster’s definition: “Ardent in the pursuit of an object; eager to obtain.” But what was it that Paul was eager to obtain? The syntax and structure of the verse give us a clue.
“According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed…”
Based on the syntax the word “that” implies that the Apostle Paul is eager to have an appreciable Christian testimony, whether he dies and goes to Heaven or whether he remains on this Earth as a preacher of the Gospel. This brings us to the next part of our text:
“…that in nothing I shall be ashamed,”
Let’s do a quick word study on ashamed to make sure we have the right meaning.
153. αἰσχύνομαι aischynomai; from αὶσχος aischos (disfigurement, i.e. disgrace); to feel shame (for oneself): — be ashamed.
The meaning of ashamed here means to feel disgraced or to feel shame for oneself. Thus, Paul is saying that he does not want to be disgraced or feel ashamed of the Gospel, whether he lives or dies. It is almost like he is re-affirming the statement he made in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…” If we compare Scripture with Scripture, it also becomes apparent that this is the same desire of the psalmist:
Psa. 25:2 O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.
Psa. 119:80 ¶ Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.
Psa. 119:116 ¶ Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.
We also see that because of Paul’s expectation and hope, he had the resolve to not be ashamed of the Gospel, regardless of whether he lived or died.
Rom. 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
He also did not want to be disgraced at the end of his life either; he wanted to continue to maintain an appreciable Christian testimony all the way up to his death (cf. 1 Cor. 9:27). What is even more important is that Paul did not want this testimony to end when he died (cf. Phil. 1:20c), he wanted his testimony to live on after he died based on the legacy he left for Christ as a preacher and teacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (and boy has his testimony lived on!).
Finally, we see that the Apostle Paul rested on the everlasting promises of God such that he was not ashamed:
Is. 45:17 But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.
That brings us to the next part of our text:
“…but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body…”
Here it is–the moment we’ve all been waiting for–the culmination of this entire passage: Paul, above all else, wants Christ to be magnified and glorified in his own body. Before we dive into this, let’s do a word study real quickly on the word boldness and magnified:
BOLDNESS, n. Courage; bravery; intrepidity; spirit; fearlessness. I cannot, with Johnson, interpret this word by fortitude or magnanimity. Boldness does not, I think, imply the firmness of mind, which constitutes fortitude,nor the elevation and generosity of magnanimity.
1. Prominence; the quality of exceeding the ordinary rules of scrupulous nicety and caution; applied to style, expression, and metaphors in language; and to figures in painting, sculpture and architecture.
2. Freedom from timidity; liberty.
Great is my boldness of speech towards you. 2 Cor 7.
3. Confidence; confident trust.
We have boldness and access with confidence. Eph 3.
4. Freedom from bashfulness; assurance; confident mien.
5. Prominence; steepness; as the boldness of the shore.
6. Excess of freedom, bordering on impudence.
Based on the fact that Paul mentions that “in nothing I shall be ashamed” and then says “but that with all boldness, as always,” we can infer that the effect of the contrastive parallelism here is to state that he with all confidence and confident trust wants Christ to be magnified in his body, whether he lives or dies. Thus, it appears that the third definition fits best into the context, but let’s check the Strong’s just to make sure.
3954. παρρησία parrēsia; from 3956 and a derivative of 4483; all out-spokenness, i.e. frankness, bluntness, publicity; by implication, assurance: — bold (x -ly, -ness, -ness of speech), confidence, x freely, x openly, x plainly(-ness).
Based on the Greek and some cross-references, we see that the word boldness certainly fits best in the third definition as reflected by the Webster’s cross-reference of Ephesians 3:12, which uses the same Greek word (parresia) as Philippians 1:20.
Now let’s look up the word magnified:
MAGNIFY, v.t. [L. magnifico; magnus, great, and facio, to make.]
1. To make great or greater; to increase the apparent dimensions of a body. A convex lens magnifies the bulk of a body to the eye.
2. To make great in representation; to extol; to exalt in description or praise. The embassador magnified the king and queen.
3. To extol; to exalt; to elevate; to raise in estimation.
Thee that day
Thy thunders magnified.
The Lord magnified Solomon exceedingly. 1 Chr 29.
To magnify one’s self, to raise in pride and pretensions.
He shall magnify in his heart. Dan 8.
Based on the immediate context of the verse, it is somewhat obvious that the meaning of magnify here fits best into almost all of the definitions: Paul wanted to make Christ greater through the preaching of the Gospel and he desired to make Christ great in representation through his own life and testimony and he desired to extol or glorify or elevate Christ in all that he did through the ministry and in his daily life. Let’s take a look at the Greek to make sure our inference is correct:
3170. μεγαλύνω megalynō; from 3173; to make (or declare) great, i.e. increase or (figuratively) extol: — enlarge, magnify, shew great.
The Strong’s definitely confirmed the first and third definitions and to some extent, the second as the last part of the definition says that the Greek here can be translated to mean “to shew great”, which would mean to make Christ greater by representation or by a consistent Christian testimony. Thus, Paul had the confidence and trust to know that Christ would be magnified by his preaching, witness, and consistent Christian testimony, whether he lived or died. Wow! What great faith the Apostle Paul had! That brings us to the last part of our text:
“…whether it be by life or by death.”
This last part of the verse is so important because it shows that for the Christian, we should not be solely concerned about making Christ greater just during our lifetime, but also in future generations. This does not just apply to preachers, either. Individual Christians serving in the local church can still have a huge impact on future generations if we just follow Christ’s example, humble ourselves, and allow ourselves to be faithful, obedient stewards serving the Lord. Only then will Christ be magnified whether it be in our lives now or when we die to go home to the Lord, and our legacy and testimony for Christ lives on after us.
May God bless you all.