Philippians 1:23—“releasing.” Gr., a·na·lyʹsai; Lat., dis·solʹvi
The verb a·na·lyʹsai is used as a verbal noun here. It occurs only once more in the Christian Greek Scriptures, in Luke 12:36, where it refers to Christ’s return. The related noun a·naʹly·sis occurs once, in 2 Timothy 4:6, where the apostle says: “The due time for my releasing is imminent.” In Luke 12:36 we have rendered the verb “returns” because it refers to the breaking away and departing of the servants’ master from the wedding feast, so dissolving the feast. But here in Philippians 1:23 we have not rendered the verb as “returning” or “departing” but as “releasing.” The reason is that the word may convey two thoughts: the apostle’s own releasing to be with Christ at his return and the Lord’s releasing of himself from heavenly restraints to return as he promised.
In no way is the apostle here saying that immediately at his death he would be changed into a spirit to be with Christ forever. Such getting to be with Christ the Lord will first be possible at Christ’s return, when the dead in Christ will rise first, according to the apostle’s own inspired statement in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. It is to this return of Christ and the apostle’s releasing to be always with the Lord that Paul refers in Philippians 1:23. He says there that two things are immediately possible for him, namely, (1) to live on in the flesh and (2) to die. Because of the circumstances to be considered, he expressed himself as being under pressure from these two things, not making known which thing he would select. Then he presents a third thing, which he really desires. There is no question about his desire for this thing as preferable, namely, “the releasing,” for it means his being with Christ.
Therefore, the expression to a·na·lyʹsai, “the releasing,” cannot be applied to the apostle’s death as a human creature and his departing from this life. It must refer to the events at the time of Christ’s return and presence (see App 3B) and the rising of all those dead in Christ to be with him forever.