Boasting in a Supplying Member of the Body
Phil. 1:24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. (25) And being confident of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of the faith, (26) That your boast may abound in Christ Jesus in me through my coming again to you.
What does boasting [v. 26] refer to? The Greek word has a threefold meaning: boasting, rejoicing, and glorying. When we boast, we are glorying, and when we are glorying, we are rejoicing. Here Paul says that the saints’ “boast may abound in Christ Jesus in me.” In this difficult verse lies a deep secret concerning the experience of Christ. If we would experience Christ, we, the believers, must be able to boast, rejoice, and glory not only in Christ Himself, but also in someone in Christ. This boasting is related to the crucial fact that what we receive of Christ is not received directly in Christ, but is received from the Head through other members of the Body. Hence, we receive spiritual blessing from the Head through another member. No doubt, Paul was a very important member of the Body. If he had been lost to the Body, the Body would have been deprived of a very important means of spiritual blessing.
Our physical body illustrates how members can be a means of supply to the Body. The arm, for example, is such a means of supply for the fingers. Apart from the arm as a means, the fingers cannot receive any supply from the head. As an important member of the Body of Christ, Paul was such a means of supply between us and the Head. If we did not have him, we would lack an important channel of supply.
During the time of Paul’s imprisonment, Gentile believers, like those in Philippi, were boasting in Paul. They could boast in Paul because he magnified Christ and lived Christ to the uttermost. Because Paul lived Christ and magnified Him in this way, he could transfuse Christ into the saints and minister Christ to all the churches. Therefore, the saints had reason to boast in such an apostle. If Paul had died prematurely, their boasting in him would have been cut short. But as long as Paul continued to live, they were able to boast in him in Christ. The same should be true of every one of us. It should matter to the church whether we live or die. But this depends on our living Christ, magnifying Christ, ministering Christ, and transfusing Christ from the depths of our being into that of the saints. If we experience Christ and enjoy Him in this way, it will make a difference to the church whether we remain or go to be with the Lord.