For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
To me to live is Christ, to die is gain. This elucidates as well as confirms his previous statement.
I. HIS NATURAL LIFE FINDS ITS SUPREME OBJECT IN CHRIST. The apostle does not here assert that Christ is his spiritual life, for the reference is strictly limited to his "life in the flesh." That life is supremely devoted to Christ.
1. In all its thoughts. There never was a man whose intellectual life was so wrapped up in his Savior; his plans, his anxieties, his hopes, centred in him; every thought was brought into subjection to him; therefore his thoughts were not vain, or selfish, or earthly.
2. In all its deeds. The apostle abounded in labors more than the other apostles. Yet Christ was the object of such holy activity. His ceaseless, exhausting works of love found their spring in the love of Christ as they marked his supreme devotion. Thus Christ was his life. It ought so to be with us all. "For whether we live, we live unto the Lord."
II. HIS DEATH WOULD BE GAIN. "To die is gain."
1. This assertion seems hard to reconcile with human feeling. Death always involves loss of some sort. To the saint it involves the loss of many pure enjoyments of life, of happy domestic ties, of the means and opportunities of working for Christ; while to the sinner it is utter, irreparable loss.
2. The assertion is not that of a mere pessimist, who asks, "Is life worth living?" nor of a worn-out roue, who has outlived the very sensation of enjoyment; nor of a holy man wearied out with exhausting labors and anxious to get quit of trials and persecutions. There is nothing in the apostle's writings to justify the conclusion that he was sour, or morose, or cynical, or merely attached to the scene of human existence at the point of duty; for he possessed hearty human sympathies and entered with spirit into all the schemes of true Christian life.
3. His assertion marks the true connection that exists between death and the believer's gain. Death is pure gain; for it puts an end to all the losses which so largely shake human comfort in this life, to all the evils of sin, and to all temptations to sin; and it puts the believer in possession of his full inheritance with the perfection of grace, the blessed vision of God, the society of the just made perfect. It is gain:
(1) Immediate; for "absence from the body" is "presence with the Lord."
(2) Incalculable; for "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, what God hath prepared for them that love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9).
(3) Everlasting; for God himself is the eternal Portion of his people. - T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.