The Apostle Paul wrote of dying daily for Christ. But how is that possible? What did he mean?
1 Corinthians 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
He was speaking figuratively, that daily we must die to ourselves as we put self last and Christ first, to serve Him. The context is clear from,
1 Corinthians 15:21-22 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Because of Adam’s sin, since we are all the offspring of Adam, literally, we all will eventually die. That is a certainty unless you are one of the ones alive when Christ returns and takes those believers into the clouds with Him. The rest of us look forward to the literal resurrection of our bodies at His return.
As a side note, it is clear that the Apostle Paul believed in the literal historicity of Genesis, Adam and Eve and the Garden in Eden. He did not take it a an allegory.
But the dying in the flesh would seem to be the easiest of “dying”; the more difficult death is to die daily for Christ, in service to His Kingdom. Quoting from Psalm 44:22 Paul wrote to the Roman Christians,
Romans 8:36 As it is written: “For Your [Christ’s] sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
This is daily dying in Christ service. Paul was an apostle chosen, among other purposes, to take the gospel message to the Gentile (non-Jewish) world. We as believers are also apostle also. The word “apostle” means “one sent with a message.” I am not claiming the same status as Paul and the other eleven, which Jesus Christ Himself chose, but as believers, we are all chosen as “apostles” (lower case ‘a’).
1 Corinthians 4:9 For I think that God has set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men.
And the Apostles were made a spectacle, all dying literally for Christ. Can you say like Paul….?
1 Corinthians 4:10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are honorable, but we are despised.
In relation to dying daily for Christ, Luke the evangelist wrote:
Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
The message is the same, to put Christ service first. Obviously Luke is not suggesting we build giant wooden crosses and haul them around everywhere we go, or that on Easter we have ourselves crucified to literal crosses. No, it seems he is saying the same thing as Paul did. But from the verses following (Luke 9:24-27) this it is clear Luke is describing salvation.
Luke 9:24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it.
Dean John William Burgon, a staunch defender of the Traditional Text, in his book “The Causes of Corruption of the Traditional Text” (p.174-178) says that the Greek words, translated in Luke 9:23 as “daily” is a gloss, an insertion taken from Paul. It does not appear in many ancient versions, manuscripts, and was not recognised by some early Church fathers. Nine out of ten manuscripts do not contain it. He suggests it was imported into the text of Luke very early from 1 Corinthians 15:31. Erasmus introduced the Greek words for “daily” into the Received Text. It was not in the manuscripts he used at the time.
So though we are to “die daily” in service to our King, we are to also obey God’s command He gave through Luke, “… deny himself, and take up his cross …, and follow Me.” This has the force and meaning of repent, change our minds, and follow Christ permanently and for the rest of our lives. It describes the change in us from the moment of the new birth. Once saved, not daily saved, but daily dying in His Service.
Here’s David, a man, who was transformed by Christ, preaching in Adelaide city. I am not saying this is a method for us all, but he is dying daily, unashamed of the Words of Christ.