When Paul wrote “I die daily” what did he mean? (All bold are my emphases added. Square brackets [ ] indicate meanings of words. King James Version Easy-Reading Bible (KJVER) used.)
1 Corinthians 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
Paul was discussing the sacrifices we as Christ’s disciples must make in serving Him. In the verses before this Paul is discussing that ultimately Christ will put His enemies under His feet (1 Corinthians 15:25, quoting Psalms 110:1). This cannot be finally fulfilled until the resurrection at Christ’s Second Coming, because Christ sits with the Father, on His right hand until all His enemies are put under His feet. Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-31.
1 Corinthians 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
In the meantime, we labour for God, with the hope of the resurrection, else our labours are in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?
This is not teaching baptism for those who are dead yet unsaved, like some pagan Roman Catholic doctrine, but Paul is saying if those who are dead now, who were saved in life, but died in service to God, are not raised from the dead in the resurrection, then life is futile. So it would seem some people were baptized on their behalf, possibly because they died in the Lord before they could be baptised (by water) while alive. Death is extinguished in them because they were baptised into Christ. So in baptism (the outward sign of salvation) those dead have a remedy against death itself because baptism is symbolic of the resurrection to come. Their salvation was assured without the water though, like the thief on the cross (Luke 23:43).
1 Corinthians 15:30 And why stand we in jeopardy [danger] every hour?
He means because of the sure knowledge of the resurrection the disciples are not fearful of the dangers of serving Christ, and in that sense he said “I die daily” because he was willing to give his life for the Saviour every day.
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
In that dying daily Paul expresses the idea of being crucified yet he lives (in the flesh) to continue God’s work. Likewise all disciples put their own life’s desires last and crucify, not by penance, but by serving Christ, preaching the gospel as the Apostle did in his earthly life.
Galatians 5:24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
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 cross is your service to God. The most difficult part of that for most people is to get out of yourself and reach out to the unsaved. Get out of your safe zone and do not worry about the hardships for God rewards those who obey Him.
Mark 8:35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
Make sure that what we do is for the Lord’s sake and not our own.
Romans 6:1-23 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion [royal control] over Him. 10 For in that He died, He died to sin once: but in that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign [rule] in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts [evil desires] thereof. 13 Neither yield you your members [body parts] as instruments of unrighteousness to sin: but yield yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 16 Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that you were the servants of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine [teaching] which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as you have yielded your members [body parts] servants to uncleanness and to iniquity to [resulting in] iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness to holiness [sanctification]. 20 For when you were the servants of sin, you were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had you then in those things whereof you are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of [payment for] sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
To be a servant and soldier for Christ and of Christ we must subdue our fleshly lusts and serve Him. We have been given the power in the Holy Spirit to do so, now that we are saved. While we were unsaved we had no power to do so. But as we soldier for Christ temptations will be there and the disciple who ‘dies daily’ to self through Christ overcomes these and does not sin.
John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit.
By putting self last, and Christ first, the disciple can bear much fruit of God, meaning souls saved eternally, not accumulation of wealth and good health in this life. In fact, serving Christ may finally cost you your life.
Matthew 10:38 And he that takes not his cross, and follows after Me, is not worthy of Me.
But if the disciple doesn’t eschew evil temptations and doesn’t endure trials in this life for Christ (and he has a choice) then she/he is not worthy of Christ. Some of those challenges may come from your own household.
Matthew 10:36;37 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Writing to the Philippians Paul makes it plain what sacrifices are expected.
Philippians 2:1-8,12,13,17 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels [compassion] and mercies, 2 Fulfill you my joy, that you be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory [empty conceit]; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.
12 Why, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear [respect, reverence] and trembling. 13 For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
17 Yes, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.
Paul uses Christ as the example for us to follow in our service to Him and to others, in love.
1 Peter 2:24 Who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live to righteousness: by whose stripes [wounds from lashes] you were healed.
This is a reference to Isaiah 53:12, where in Christ paid for our salvation through His suffering and death. There is no greater sacrifice therefore that a person lays down his own life for his friends (1 John 3:16).
Colossians 3:3 For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
Born in sin we are dead. Baptised into Christ we die to self and are resurrected in Christ. No credit is to us but all to the glory of God. We now have His righteousness. In service we will be presented with many trials and challenges in this life.
2 Corinthians 4:8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed [puzzled], but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus might be made manifest [known] in our body.
Because Christ has paid it all. We are eternally saved and have nothing to worry about.
Romans 12:1 I beseech [beg] you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present [offer] your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
1 Peter 4:1,2 Forasmuch then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh [body], arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts [evil desires] of men, but to the will of God.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
By living for God instead of self, God changes the disciple into a new creature. All things are become new. That is a continuous tense, an ongoing work of God for the rest of your life.
Ephesians 4:20-24 But you have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that you have heard Him, and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That you put off concerning the former conversation [manner of life] the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
But if you do suffer because you put your desires last and walk according to the new person that Christ makes you rejoice because the Lord said you are blessed.
1 Peter 3:14,15 But and if you suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are you: and be not afraid of their terror [fear], neither be troubled [perplexed, disturbed]; 15 But sanctify [set apart] the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear [respect].
Fear only God! Live only for Him! And always be ready to answer those who truly seek to know the reason why you have such peace and contentment (Isaiah 8:12,13).