For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
I. IMMEDIATELY ON DEATH MAN IS CAPABLE OF GAIN. The text is altogether against the notion of the soul's sleep between death and the resurrection.
1. The soul is distinct from the body and is not merely the vigour of the blood (Genesis 2:7; Ecclesiastes 11:7). It is distinct
(1) in its supports;
(2) in its operations;
(3) as to weakness and perfection;
(4) as to pleasure and pain;
(5) in the commands God hath given about it (Matthew 6:25; cf., Deuteronomy 4:9).
2. The soul can exercise its operations apart from the body (2 Corinthians 12:2).
3. That the souls of the saints do exist apart from the body appeareth from Scripture (Philippians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 5:1-2; Luke 23:43).
II. WHAT THIS GAIN IS.
1. Its nature.
(a) A freedom from all misery (Revelation 14:13; Revelation 21:21; Matthew 25:21). There is to be no serpent in the upper Paradise.
(b) Freedom from sin (1 Corinthians 15:26; Ephesians 5:27; Jude 1:24).
(a) The vision of God (1 Corinthians 22:12); 1 John 3:2).
(b) The full fruition of God (2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 John 3:2) in holiness and happiness.
2. Its comfortable adjuncts.
(1) The place which is very glorious.
(2) The company (Hebrews 12:22-23; Matthew 8:11). As the loops of the tabernacle did couple the curtains, so dear love unites the glorified saints.
III. WE SHALL LOSE NOTHING THAT SHALL NOT BE MADE UP.
1. Do we lose friends? They are better in heaven, and we shall rejoin them.
2. Is it ordinances that we lose? There the Lamb shall be the light of the New Temple. We shall study Divinity in the light of Christ's face; and drink of the fruit of the vine new with Christ (Matthew 26:29).
3. Communion with God (1 Thessalonians 4:17). There will be no cloud on that day.
4. Service and opportunities for glorifying God. We shall be more active in his praise. The instrument will be perfectly in tune. Here we often jar, There will be no spot or blemish (Ephesians 5:27).
5. Comforts of this world. They are of use in our passage, and we must possess as if we possessed not (1 Corinthians 7:31); but there we are free from all needs. No man complains when he is recovered out of a disease, that he needs no more physic.
1. To commend Christ's service to you. If you have dedicated your life to Him, then death will be better (Galatians 6:8).
2. A meditation for the dying.
(T. Manton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.