Paul is a passionate man full of dedication to Jesus and his people. He is full of joy and love (18b). His love for Jesus is evident. His love for others is evident.
Does this mean he never doubted himself and his future? Was he always self-confident as he awaited his fast-approaching trial and possible death? Was he concerned by shifting sands of emotions and feeling, so much to succumb to sinking in the depths of worry, doubt, and despair? Did he contemplate giving up and moving on to the next life?
These verses are Paul’s self-examination of his hearts’ desire and finding the reason not to despair and lose hope. People were evidently working against a favorable outcome for him (17). He knew that. He could be killed (20). This was a real possibility.
Paul looked at his life circumstances and knew he could soon die or live (22). Was this his choice? No. It was the judges. Yet, he could decide to not make a defense during the trial and thus be found guilty and die. So would he give a great defense, win, and live? Or would he remain quiet and die? He asked, “What shall I choose?” He answered, “I do not know! (22b) What did Paul do in the midst of a major life decision?
Paul only looked at the pros of both. He only looked at the positive benefits of going to Jesus in heaven. He looked at the positive reasons for staying in this world. He did not look at the negative perhaps because they were evident. What did he want most?
Since the Holy Spirit dwelt in him (19) he knew that if in his heart and will he turned to the Spirit he would find God’s will. He would be either delivered (saved) from this life or delivered (saved) from death.
When major life decisions come upon me it is good to examine my heart in the Spirit. As others pray for me I can turn to God and find his will. I can let him help me examine the pros of the possible outcomes. Paul finally concluded that he would remain in this world a little longer to help the young congregations and his friends (25,26).