Yet to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. (Philippians 1:24)
Paul closes this section by returning to the previous thought – living or dying. He begins this thought in verse 20 and now comes back to bring the conclusion of the matter. He has spoken of some different results and decisions, but now he states that his remaining with them was better for them.
We need to understand that God often wants us to serve others instead of our desires because it is better, and it is his calling and choice. We sometimes get so caught up in our own desires that we lose sight of the blessings that can come as we submit to the needs and desires of others.
So, after discussing the pros and cons of living vs. dying – and then speaking of an even better scenario, Paul acknowledges that his purpose at this time is to fellowship here on earth – meeting the needs of those believers he had had a part in bringing to Christ. He saw that his work of leading people to Jesus did not end when they received Christ; it also called for him to mentor, disciple, and teach them the truths of God. That is the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Make disciples (evangelize), baptize (get them in a group), and teach all things (disciple and mentor). Many today want to go to heaven, but they know that it is more beneficial to stay and serve, as God desires.
More in-depth Insights
Yet to remain in the flesh. Paul uses the Greek term (ἐπιμένω epimenō) meaning ‘to stay, remain,’ which could be used both literally and figuratively. It meant to stay put in a specific place, denoting to continue, keep on, persevere (Ac 12:16; Ro 6:1; 11:22, 23; Col 1:23; 1Ti 4:16; Jn 8:7) Often, the reason for remaining was related to Christian ministry, which is indeed what Paul had in mind here.
Is more necessary for your sake. The sake of the people was precious to the heart of Paul. Paul never saw his life as meaningless, as though it did not matter if he was alive or dead. Paul understood God from the moment Adam was expelled from the Garden of Eden; he began working through human representatives here on earth. The life of one who shared the gospel to the measure that he did at that time had tremendous value to the church and the formation of early Christianity. This does not mean that Paul thought he was special, but that he simply played a role in God’s will and purposes. Think of the amount of knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures that Paul had after studying under Gamaliel. Think of his apologetic evangelistic skills, his influence, his ability to counsel and lead others. Therefore, his desire to live for the sake of them was immense.