For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
I. THE CONVICTION of the apostle.
1. It did not rest on observation or speculation. These would lead a man to regard death as the very reverse. We naturally shrink from death, and that because death is unnatural, yet we know it to be the destiny of every one of us. An element of uncertainty mingles with every other expectation, but with this none. Think, too, of its irrevocableness. Many of our efforts may be repeated, but there is no repetition of death. Mere human speculation, even in the wisest, never approached a conviction that death could bring gain. Strong desire and sublime guessing, this is all we find in Socrates or Cicero.
2. Paul's conviction rested on faith in Christ as the conqueror of death. The causes of aversion to death include the "dread of some thing after death." The only adequate explanation of death is that it is the wages of sin. The glorious tidings of the gospel are that Christ hath borne the curse and overthrown the power of death. Death is abolished, only the form remains. The saint shrinks from dying but has no fear of death.
3. The conviction stood in the very closest relation with the clause, "To live is Christ." Only those who are alive unto God will find death to be gain.
II. THE FACT THAT TO THE CHRISTIAN DEATH IS GAIN.
1. It is wider, deeper, clearer, more accurate knowledge of God and truth.
2. It is perfect holiness. "We shall be like Him."
3. We shall enter a glorious society.
4. We shall engage in joyful tireless work.
(R. Johnstone, LL. B.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.