Exploring Philippians | Chains | Philippians 1.12-14 | Movementministriesblog.com

by | May 5, 2022

“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[b] that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard[c]and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.” Philippians 1.12-14

I have read the book of Philippians many times, like you, but have never considered where Paul was writing this letter from. I know who he’s writing to, but from what prison cell? This past week I heard Dr. Todd Still, Dean of Truett Seminary, teach on this book and on this point. He gave evidence that Paul wrote from a Roman prison because of verse 13 and v.22 of chapter 4 which reads, ”All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.”

V. 13 tells us that Paul is in chains for Christ and that this fact has ”become clear throughout the whole palace guard.” V. 22 gives reference to his proximity to ”Caesar’s household.” Paul, according to Still, is in Roman either at house arrest in Caesar’s palace or the prison there. Other scholars believe Paul is in a prison in Ephesus, which I have visited, when in southwest Turkey.

Paul’s physical location matters as well as his emotional/spiritual location. For us to relate to Paul, we do not have to be in a physical prison in Rome. Many Christians today are being persecuted, in chains for the sake of the Gospel. I think of those in the underground church in China or North Korea, or those in harms way in Ukraine or Iran. The liberty we enjoy to wake up at our leisure, drive to our multi-million church properties, complain about the sermon going to long, and then beat the baptists to lunch is laughable in light of those truly suffering for the Gospel.

I find it hard to relate to Paul. I have had times in my life when I was persecuted for my theological beliefs from people within my own church, but it was nothing more than words. No one ever came to lock me up for proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. And even on mission trips to the middle east, when I had to be careful about using the name of Jesus, no one ever asked me to stop speaking or to leave the country.

Paul is in physical chains because of speaking truth about Jesus Christ. This, of course, is the work of the evil one. He says, in Ephesians 6, that our ”battle isn’t against flesh and blood.” There are dark forces at work in the spiritual realms which hate Christ and his Church. If people do not have the Spirit of God within them, then any other spirit might come in and inhabit their thoughts, actions and behaviors. These evil spirits run rampant in this world causing people to do violence, promote hate, and persecute the Church of Jesus.

Paul’s imprisonment is not without purpose. Paul being in chains has ”actually served to advance the gospel,” v. 12. Because of him being locked up, “most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear,’ v.14. Because of Paul’s chains, the faithful have become become bold in reaching the gospel ”without fear.”

I wonder why we, who are persecuted much less, resist the sharing of our faith. Perhaps we need a little pressure in order to realie what matters most. The church often grows under times of persecution, trial and tribulation. This comes from both the physical and spiritual realm.

This day I will commit to making Christ known. To inviting my neighbors to church, to sharing Christ’s love, to telling others about a God who loves them and a God who saves them.

“O Lord Jesus, have your way with us. Allow us to know the truth of your message and the power of your cross. Help me find strength in you and love in your arms. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen