Christ Honored in Life and Death -or- Unashamably Shamed
“Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance , as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death” (Phil. 1:18-21).
Paul rejoices not just in his soon-to-be-deliverance, for all through his letters he counts it a joy to be in chains for the gospel of Christ. While in most of his greetings he gives his title next to his name, ‘Paul, an apostle’ (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus 1:1) or ‘Paul. a servant’ (Philippians 1:1), yet, we see in Philemon 1, Paul greets Philemon by saying, “Paul, a prisoner of Christ.” This is his title he gives himself – his boast, if you will. So the cause of his rejoicing is not just in his release but in the honor of Christ by his work through (1) the Philippians prayers for deliverance and (2) Paul, himself, unashamably and courageously honoring Christ in life and death.
Paul’s lot on earth was shame – imprisoned, beatings, stonings, and false witnesses by false brothers, and much more. And in all this, in 2 Corinthians 11:23, Paul says his labors are greater than many because of his sufferings. His shame was his boast for it honored Christ.