A Word from Pastor Stephen – June 1, 2020
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” (Philippians 1:12-14 ESV)
Paul is in jail again. Paul is a repeat offender. Scholars think Paul probably spent about 5 years of his life in jail or under house arrest during his ministry. In fact, he would end up dying in prison. He was beheaded by the Emperor Nero in Rome sometime around 65 AD.
Now for most of us if we found ourselves going in and out of prison, we might be a tad discouraged or very troubled. What will people think of me? How shameful. My life will never recover. Not Paul! He uses his time in prison to spread the gospel message. He sings hymns. He writes letters. He actually is not troubled at all. In our passage he writes, “…that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” The example of Paul’s boldness and nerve in prison has and had the effect of giving fellow Christians courage to proclaim Jesus. “And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”
Paul mentions the imperial guard. Tradition tells us that these imperial guards were given other assignments all over the Roman Empire. They were transferred to different postings just as the military still does today. Paul obviously witnessed to them. As they went, many shared the good news with others that they heard from Paul while they were guarding him in prison.
So no matter where you find yourself today, you have the opportunity to tell people about Jesus. Your faith can give people courage. If Paul can be faithful in prison, you can be faithful where you are right now. Amen.