Paul imprisoned, but not silenced

Published 8:27 am Friday, March 27, 2020

Many Christians claim they do not have the time to do the work of the Church. Others claim that their current situation in life prevents them from doing the things they would like to do for the cause of Christ.
The truth of the matter is that many people are hindered from giving service to God, however, I refer to those who are physically or mentally unable to perform such tasks. Many act as if they are imprisoned by the situation of their lives, and thus can’t do the things that God would have them do.
However, in the Bible we find Paul, who was physically imprisoned and yet had the determination to use his situation in life to advance the borders of Christ’s kingdom; he even used prison as an opportunity to further the cause of Christ by teaching the plan of salvation to individuals personally and in his writings. While it may be true that prison robs a person of freedom, family and choices, there were certain things that Paul was not robbed of while he was imprisoned.
First, we notice that Paul was not robbed of his pen. The prison epistles, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon were all written while Paul was a prisoner in a Roman jail.
Second, Paul was not robbed of his purpose in life as a Christian. God chose Paul to teach and preach. Of Paul, Jesus said, “… he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” Acts 9:15 KJV. It was Paul’s purpose to preach and he lived his life for Christ (Phil. 1:21).
Third, we notice that Paul was not robbed of his pulpit. Paul was successful in preaching to the elite Praetorian Guard (Phil. 1:14), This task may have been impossible for a free man. However, as he always seemed to do, Paul seized upon every situation and opportunity for the sake of Jesus.
Fourth, we see that Paul was not robbed of his prayer life. While in prison Paul prayed for the brethren. Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Phil. 1:9-11 and Col. 1:9-12 illustrate his prayer life on behalf of the saints. Cf. Rom. 10:1; 1 Thess. 5:17; 1 Tim. 2:1-8.
Fifth, we see that Paul was not robbed of his praise for God. In Acts 16, Paul and Silas sang praises to God at midnight while in the Philippians jail. Even though they were confined to a dark and merciless prison, their hearts were not confined as they were full of joy and thanksgiving and their thanksgiving was manifested in the form of melodious song.
Sixth, we see that Paul was not robbed of his patience. This occurred because Paul was convinced of God’s plan for his life, therefore he endured patiently. He was even patient in leaving this world to be with the Lord (Phil. 1:21-25). Paul realized that there was yet work for him to do on this earth, so he patiently went about his business of teaching and preaching Jesus.
Finally, Paul was not robbed of his peace. Paul found peace in Jesus Christ. He said, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Phil. 4:11). Paul is a great encouragement to all Christians. Though in trials, he was triumphant; though in chains, he was challenged. Paul was confined, but not controlled; restrained, but not restricted; incarcerated, but not incapacitated. Paul was in prison, but prison did not rob him of the most important thing in life; his desire to spread the gospel. Therefore, Paul can be described as the Apostle of the heart set free.
Adapted from an article by Mark N. Posey.
(Tony Hoss is minister of the Centerview Church of Christ, Elizabethton.)

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