What did Paul mean by his desire to depart and be with Christ" in Philippians 1: 23?

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What did Paul mean by his desire to depart and be with Christ" in Philippians 1

23?

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In Philippians 1:21-24 Philippians 1:21-24 [21] For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. [22] But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor: yet what I shall choose I know not. [23] For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: [24] Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
American King James Version×
Paul wrote, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you."

Sobered by the possibility of dying, and weary of the stresses of life, Paul acknowledged that he would welcome the rest death brings in some ways. Since all conscious thought ceases upon death (Ecclesiastes 9:5 Ecclesiastes 9:5For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
American King James Version×
), and the righteous remain in the grave until their resurrection at the return of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:16 1 Thessalonians 4:16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
American King James Version×
), he would "be with Christ" in his next waking moment. However, recognizing the need for his continued service to the church at Philippi, Paul believed that he would not die before seeing the members there again.

Some try to contort this scripture to say that Paul expected to go to heaven to "be with Christ" the instant that he died. But it says nothing of going to heaven. Further, interpreting Paul's words this way would conflict with the rest of Scripture, which reveals that Christians do not go to heaven upon death. Our booklet What Happens After Death? clearly explains this truth, examining in depth what the Bible teaches about the subject of death and the afterlife.

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