Since Paul would go to the grave at death, why did he say he would be with Christ?
Notice that Paul did not say where he would go or when he would be with Christ. There is not one word mentioning heaven here, nor is there one word saying that he would be with Christ immediately. Then why the hurry for departure?
To understand what is meant here, turn to another scripture where Paul was ready to depart. In II Timothy 4:6-8 Paul wrote: "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day. and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
In these verses Paul explains what he meant by being with Christ. He does not receive his reward immediately at death. But there is laid up a crown of righteousness which the Lord shall give him at that day. What day? At Christ's appearing - His second coming! In Isaiah 40:10 we notice this same day mentioned: "Behold, the Lord God will come . . . behold, his reward is with him. . . ." Check Revelation 22:12 also.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).
This is when the dead "that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake" (Daniel 12:2). The dead have not been with the Lord these thousands of years; but they are awaiting the time when they will in the future awaken from the dust of the earth to meet the Lord in the air!
This is the time when, according to I Corinthians 15:52, the dead shall be raised incorruptible by the power of the Spirit of God. This is the first resurrection.
Now Paul's enigmatic statement in Philippians is clear. He was willing to remain alive for the sake of the Philippians who needed him as a teacher and apostle, even though he sometimes desired personally to be delivered from troubles by death to await the resurrection and be with Christ. To die is gain! There is no knowledge of passing time (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, 10; Psalms 146:4). The next moment is the resurrection!