“According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.”
Verse 20 reveals how Paul established his poise and bearing in hardship.
“according to my earnest expectation and hope”
“According to” means according to the norm. This was the norm by which he lived. This was his spiritual aspiration. “Earnest expectation” is an intense compound term of three words in Greek: away from, head, and look. Literally, it means to stretch the head away from the body to look; the head bent forward to see something or a looking away towards something. It is an intense term for concentration. It means to anticipate by watching very carefully for something.
This word is used for a sentry watching in the dark. He strains to see the enemy. He is waiting to see the slightest movement.
What was Paul intensely concentrating upon? He wanted to magnify Christ in his life. He was ardent when it came to that. This was the focus of his whole bearing. He was attentive to anything that even slightly reflected poorly upon the Lord Jesus.
Very few people can focus and concentrate for long periods. One primary reason why we do poorly in our jobs, school, and other enterprises is lack of concentration. A quality Christian life takes concentration. A football player who does not listen to the play in the huddle will break up the play. A Christian who does not focus upon orienting every aspect of his life to Christ will live with short-term, short-sighted, and limited ends in view.
“Hope” in Greek means more than “wish.” It carries the idea of confidence in the ultimate outcome. Paul was taking a look at his entire life to the very end. At the end of his life, he did not want to be ashamed of how his life reflected upon the Lord Jesus. The apostle did not want to have any regrets at the end of his life. Up to this point, he had no regrets. Now he wanted to finish strongly.
Paul lived his life with an ultimate regulative life principle.
The focus of many Christians is pleasure, sensual indulgence, money, selfishness, power, flattery. People who live like this mark segments of time. They live with no ultimate orientation in view. We need to live with eternal values in view.