But if I live in the flesh
To be in the flesh sometimes signifies to be in a state of nature and unregeneracy, and to live in and after the flesh, to live according to the dictates of corrupt nature; but here it signifies living in the body, or the life which is in the flesh, as the Syriac version renders the phrase here, and as the apostle expresses it in ( Galatians 2:20 ) , and the sense is, if I should live any longer in the body, and be continued for some time in this world:
this [is] the fruit of my labour;
or "I have fruit in my works", as the above version renders it:
yet what I shall choose I wot not,
or "know not"; whether life or death; since my life will be for the honour and glory of Christ, and though a toilsome and laborious one, yet useful and fruitful: by his "labour", he means his ministerial work and service; the ministry is a work, a good and honourable work, and a laborious one. Christ's faithful ministers are labourers; they labour in the word and doctrine, both in studying and preaching it; and such a labourer was the apostle, who by the grace of God laboured more abundantly than others; the "fruit" of which was the conversion of many sinners, the edification, comfort, and establishment of the saints, their fruitfulness in grace and works, the spread of the Gospel far and near, the enlargement of the kingdom of Christ, and the weakening of Satan's kingdom, and the glorifying of Christ in his person, offices, and great salvation; all which was a strong and swaying argument with him, to desire to live longer in the body, and made it on the one hand so difficult with him what to choose: for as a certain Jew F2 says,
``the righteous man desires to live to do the will of God while he lives;''but not with that view, he adds,
``to increase the reward of the soul in the world to come.''
F2 Kimchi in Psal. vi. 5.