For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:…
Nothing is more unpleasant than uncertainty and indecision. Shall I take a journey or not? Sometimes the ease is very important; marriage, e.g. What a strait was Jacob in between starvation and letting Benjamin go to Egypt, and David with his three things to choose. Paul was now in a strait not between two evil but between two good things. It was the strait of a man in a garden between a peach and a nectarine; a rose and a lily. He was between living and dying; but Christ was connected with both; whether he should enjoy Christ in heaven or serve Him on earth.
I. HIS REPRESENTATION OF DEATH. Consider —
1. Its nature — departure.
(1) The idea may be exemplified by the traveller's departure from the inn, a prisoner's from his dungeon.
(2) By so calling it Paul showed that man is a compound being. Cowper does not inscribe on the tomb of his dog, "Here lies the body," but "Here lies poor Dansy." There is a spirit in man.
(3) This departure was the inlet to future blessedness. "To be with Christ." So heaven will be a social state. If Socrates could feel pleasure at the thought of being with Musaeus, and other worthies who had lived before him, what must be the attraction of the believer in Jesus.
2. The preference he gives it. "Far better" than what?
(1) Than to be stoned in the streets of Corinth; to fight with the beasts of Ephesus, etc.? That would he saying very little.
(2) It would also be saying very little if far better than his temporal mercies. There are things now that the believer deems far better.
(3) It would be far better than the enjoyment of the best and most spiritual things below.
II. HIS DESIRE AFTER IT.
1. The desire of death can never be natural.
2. The fear of death is as natural as hunger and sleep; and there is no evil in it. If anything can raise us above it it must be supernatural.
3. There may be more who feel this desire than you are aware of.
4. Christians have more of this readiness to die as they approach death.
III. THE COUNTER BALANCE BY WHICH HE WAS WILLING TO REMAIN. The apostle shows the sense he had of his own importance, and the self-denial he was willing to exercise in order to be useful. Humility does not consist in ignorance.
Parallel VersesKJV: For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: