Philippians 1:22 "But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not."
But if I must go on in this flesh body and if I sit down and meditate on the difference between the two, I don't know which I would rather do. Keep in mind that Paul had lived a pretty rough life. He was killed once [in reference to his trip to the third heaven after being stoned], beaten, stoned, whipped, shipwrecked, manhandled by a mob, thrown in prison many times, along with all the scorn that he took. The reference to Paul being killed is from II Corinthians 12:1-4; All verses come from a KJV Bible.
Philippians 1:23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
Paul continues describing his dilemma. Living means serving Christ, gaining rewards, and giving Him glory. At the same time, death means an end to suffering and an eternity with God. In heaven with the Lord, there will be no more sin, no pain, and no crying of any kind (Revelation 21—22). This is certainly something believers should desire. It's encouraging, in times of trouble, to know this is our destiny (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
There has always been tension, for believers, between these seemingly opposed desires. On one hand is our desire to please God, and bring others to Christ. On the other hand, there is the rest and victory of heaven. The solution to this problem has always been the same: our lives are meant to serve others (Philippians 1:24), not ourselves. When we put God's will, and the needs of others, before our own will and needs, we can faithfully live focused on God's work. The timing of our heavenly arrival is in God's hands.
II Corinthians 12:1 "It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord." (Paul is telling us of a vision he once had, and the revelation that God gave him during that vision).
II Corinthians 12:2 "I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven." (Paul [himself] is the man he is referring to here in the third person).
II Corinthians 12:3 "And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)"
II Corinthians 12:4 "Who that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter."
Paul had a taste of what the third heaven age was like (the eternity), where our Lord and Savior is, and this is why we can see his indifference to both life and death. While in the body, Paul knew the need to preach the gospel to lost souls, and when it was over he knew where the soul would go instantly. It is obvious to me that Paul's love for his people far outweighed his thoughts of personal gain of welfare and comfort. No matter what happened to Paul here on earth in the flesh, that vision of going to the third heaven gave him insight for much of his writings.