Paul's Perspective - Part I
Tim Temple


Our text is Philippians, chapter 1, beginning with verse 12. We will read it together, then we will go back and discuss it later.

Philippians 1

12But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;
13So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;
14And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:
16The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:
17But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the Gospel.
18What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
19For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
20According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
22But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
23For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
24Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
25And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;
26That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

We will stop our reading there with verse 26, and notice again the first words of verse 12:

Philippians 1

12But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel;

I'm sure that as the Philippians thought about the Apostle Paul being in prison there in Rome and being charged with what in the Roman system was a capital offense and therefore facing the real possibility of being executed, it must have gone through their minds, “Is this the way God treats his choice servant? Why is it that God would allow a man like Paul to go through what he is having to go through?”

Very probably those were the thoughts and the questions that were on the minds of the Philippians because of the way Paul words this section of the chapter. The Apostle, knowing how men think, being a great pastor, understanding the flock, must have known that those were the kinds of things that would be on the minds of the Philippians, and so he writes to them to straighten that out.

Paul's Perspective of His Suffering

It is interesting to note that Paul's tone is totally different from that tone of questioning that he must have sensed on the part his followers. He writes to them to give them his perspective of things.

Notice he says in verse 12:

Philippians 1

12But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me…

Paul summarizes all of the troubles of the past three years in one simple phrase, “the things that have happened unto me.” To us nearly 2000 years later and not greatly familiar with Church history of that first century, that may not seem like such an understatement, but if we were to take the time to look in any detail at what had happened to Paul in those three years, we would discover that he was greatly minimizing the problems he had had in the last three years.

Circumstances of Paul's Suffering

We won't take time to turn to these references because it would take too long to look at all of the details, but when you have the time, you might go back to Acts, chapter 21. There we find Paul being arrested in Jerusalem for preaching the Gospel some three years before the writing of this letter to the Philippians. He was charged with sedition–trying to overthrow the Roman state is what it boiled down to–and he was placed in prison there in Jerusalem.

Later in the last part of Acts, chapter 22, and first part of Acts, chapter 23, we read that there were a number of men who took an oath that they would not eat or drink until they had killed the Apostle Paul. They were infuriated by his preaching of the Gospel; and even though he was in prison, they weren't satisfied with that. They bound themselves with an oath that they would not eat or drink until they had killed him.

The Roman government, of course, had a stake in Paul's future. Being a Roman citizen, Paul, like any Roman citizen, enjoyed the protection of the government, and so the Roman government moved Paul to Caesarea under guard. The moving to Caesarea is described in Acts, chapter 23. Even though that was a move for the protection of Paul's life, it still must have been a very harrowing experience. You can just imagine what it would be like to have to move around with an armed guard as he had to do.

Then when he got into Caesarea, we read that there was a governor there by the name of Felix. Felix is the man to whom Paul preached and gave the Gospel so clearly that Felix said, “Almost you have persuaded me to be a Christian, but I will hear you again on this matter.” Paul stayed there in prison in Caesarea for another two years, because one of the reasons that Felix liked to talk to him was that he hoped Paul would make him a bribe. Part of the system of Roman justice in that day involved the man who could pay the biggest bribe to the governor and could get his sentence commuted or at least shortened. So Felix kept Paul in prison there because he enjoyed talking to him, but also because he thought if he just left him there long enough that Paul would pay him a bribe, and he would be the richer and Paul would be free.

But, of course, Paul wasn't going to do that. So he had to stay there in prison in Caesarea for two years. Finally after those two years, when a new governor came into office after Felix was transferred to another place, Paul appealed to Caesar. He asked to be taken to Rome to be tried.

So the party started out to Rome. It was Paul's right as a citizen to get to go to Rome for the appeal of his case. We might think that surely God is going to begin to work in Paul's behalf and things are going to go a little more smoothly, but you remember it was on that trip to Rome that Paul and his traveling companions suffered a great shipwreck. Paul was almost killed and the people thought that they were going to be killed, so it was just another in a long list of troubles. Finally they were able to make their way to Rome. Paul is now sitting in prison, and with all of that as background, it is amazing that he writes, in verse 12:

Philippians 1

12But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me…

What a summary sentence for all of what we would consider to be tragic things in the life of the Apostle Paul!

Paul's Reaction to the Trials

Notice that the overall tone of this passage, if you were thinking as we read through it, is a tone of happiness. Paul is sitting in prison, and he is writing a letter to these Christians which are out in the free world, and he is saying, “Cheer up, I want you to understand that the things that have happened to me are not so bad. In fact, there are some real advantages in the things that have happened to me.”

Now, if you think about that, it really is backwards, isn't it? Wouldn't it seem that some of the more spiritual Christians in Philippi should be writing to Paul and saying, “Cheer up, Paul. I want you to understand that the things that have happened to you have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel. Get a grip on yourself. Don't be so down-hearted.” But of course, it is exactly the other way around. He is writing a letter and he is saying, “Friends, don't get too worried about me. I want you to understand that the things that have happened, have happened unto the furtherance of the Gospel.”

A Greater Distribution of the Gospel

We want to think, first of all, about the source of his pleasure. Why was it that Paul was able to write such a cheerful letter? Well, he lists several things in verses 12-18 that bring about his pleasure, even though he is in such a tragic situation. The first of these is mentioned in verses 12 and 13–“a greater distribution of the Gospel.”

Philippians 1

12But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel;
13[In this verse he explains what he means by this] So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;

Notice particularly the word “palace.” The word “palace” is a translation of the Greek word praitorion . This word is not a reference so much to the palace, although it is used in the New Testament in that context, but the word praitorion , specifically is a reference to the elite imperial Roman guard. It is somewhat the equivalent to the Secret Service that surround our president. So what Paul is saying in verse 13 is that because of his imprisonment, an area had been evangelized that otherwise would never have been reached. That was the palace, and even more specifically than that, the Royal guards within the palace. Certainly it would have been almost impossible from a human standpoint to ever hope to evangelize Caesar's own guards. Yet that is exactly what had happened. So Paul says, “This is something wonderful, and we should thank God for this. The fact that I am in prison has resulted in my being able to reach people that we would never have reached before.”

Fulfillment of Prophecy

Let me mention here that this is a fulfillment of prophecy. You remember back in Acts, chapter 9, when Paul first met the Lord on the road to Damascus, the Lord told him what he was supposed to do. Paul said, “Lord, what would you have me do?” The Lord said, “Paul, I want you to get up and go to the Arabian desert first, and there I am going to train you for three years, and then I want you to go and write two-thirds of the books in the New Testament. I want you to be in prison three times, and beaten with stripes and three times within one stripe of death.” Is that what He did? No. The Lord said, “Paul, I want you to get up and go to the next town and there you will find a man who will tell you what to do.” This is a very good example, and we have mentioned it before, of how God leads one step at a time.

Remember, Paul was sent to the home of Ananias; and in Acts, chapter 9, verse 15, we find the Lord speaking to Ananias:

Acts 9

15But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
16For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.

The situation is that God not only sent Paul to Ananias, but He also had to prepare Ananias for that job because Ananias' first reaction was, “Here is this man coming who has been persecuting the church.” He had been putting Christians to death. Now God is saying, “Ananias, I am going to send this Christian killer to you, and I want you to minister to him.” God had to explain to Ananias just a little bit. What he said to him, in verse 15, was, “I am going to greatly use this man.” God said in the very beginning, years and years before it actually came to pass, “He will bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” Now, the Gentiles and the children of Israel we can understand. It is very obvious, and it doesn't take much thought to realize that Paul spoke to the Gentiles. He was the Apostle for the Gentiles, but he is also the one who said that his message was to the Jew first and then to the Gentiles. Notice tucked away between those two here in Acts, chapter 9, verse 15:

Acts 9

15But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings…

You see, God had this as part of His plan for Paul from the very beginning, and Paul understood that. As we go back to Philippians, chapter 1, he says, “If I had not been bound, if I had not been in prison, if it were not for my bonds, I would never have been able to reach the palace. But because of my bonds, the Gospel is preached throughout the whole palace.”

Opportunity to Witness

Acts, chapter 28, gives us the details. We are not going to turn there, but you might want to make a note of this and look at it carefully at another time. Chapter 28, verses 17-29, tells us how Paul first got to Rome. He was taken there by the guards, transferred from Caesarea. As soon as he got to Rome, he was placed under house arrest; and Acts, chapter 28, says that the first thing that he did when he got there was to call the leading Jews of the day. He called those men in and he explained his own background, how he had been one of them, was a Pharisee of the Pharisees. He had all kinds of background and training. He had met the Lord. He went right through and gave his testimony. Those verses tell us how the Jews listened to him, and as was sometimes the case, some of them liked what they heard and wanted to hear more. Others were not interested at all. Finally one by one, they filed out of the house. Paul said, “All right, very well, I have come to the Jew first, but now I am going to go to the Gentiles.”

The last verses of the book of Acts tell us that Paul was in his own hired house in Rome for two years receiving all that would come unto him. Verses 30 and 31 tell how he gave the Gospel and taught the Word of God to anybody that would come to him. He was free under house arrest to do that.

Evidently, even though the Scripture doesn't say it specifically, it was during that time that what he describes in Philippians, chapter 1, verse 13, happened:

Philippians 1

13So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace…

We can conjecture that it was while these Roman guards who were standing watch over Paul while he was under house arrest that they heard him explain the Gospel to people. They heard him teach the Word as people came to visit with him there and to hear him teach. And knowing the nature of the Apostle Paul, we can assume that he didn't just wait while those guards overheard the Gospel. I'm sure that every time he wanted to go outside and take a walk and one of those guards had to go along with him, he would begin by pointing to the beauties of nature around and he would work his way into the Gospel from that. I'm sure that every time that Paul wanted to do anything that required a guard to go along with him, that guard got an earful of the Gospel. Little by little those guards began to see the truth and accept Jesus Christ, As we have said already, and as Paul is saying here, an area was evangelized that would never have been reached before. It was something God had said would be done.

Perhaps there is no need to pause to underline this, but I want to do it anyway. That is the fact that many times God's plans, which are stated in a very general way and in a very long range way, have unexpected ways of being fulfilled. You see, it was God's plan from the very beginning that Paul would stand before kings. But I am sure that as Ananias heard the prophecy, he may have thought, “Surely this man is so eloquent, he is so well educated, he has such a good background, I am sure that before it is all over with he is going to be invited to Rome to have dinner with Caesar and present the Gospel to Caesar.” I'm sure that Ananias would never have dreamed that the way that Paul was going to stand before kings was as a prisoner.

This is something that is very important for us to keep in mind as we think about our situation in life–that God can use the most adverse of circumstances for His own purposes, for His own honor and glory. This certainly is an example of that. Paul rejoices that his imprisonment has accomplished this.

A Greater Daring for the Gospel

Now in verse 14-16, he mentions that his imprisonment has accomplished something else and that is a great daring for the Gospel. You will notice in verse 14, he says:

Philippians 1

14And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

So the second result of his being in prison was a greater daring for the Gospel. Evidently there were some believers in Philippi and Caesarea and in Rome and in all of the Christian world of that day who were very very similar to the believers in Abilene and Wichita Falls and Dallas and other parts of the Christian world today. They were believers; they loved the Lord; they loved to study the Word, but they were pretty content to let Paul do the witnessing. They were content to sit back and let the other fellow be the spokesman. Probably the situation Paul was describing here in verses 14-16 is that when they realized that Paul wasn't around to do it, it began to dawn on them, “Hey, somebody has got to carry on the ministry. Somebody has got to give the Gospel. Paul is out of the way; he can't do it, and we will have to get our courage up. No matter how hard it is on us, we are the ones who have to take the responsibility.”

Paul said, “As I look around and as I see people being willing to give the Gospel, who were afraid to do it before, or too lazy to do it before, as I see this greater daring for the Gospel on the part of many of the brethren, I thank God for my imprisonment. My imprisonment has fallen out rather to a greater daring for the Gospel.”

This is something these men should have been doing all along. It is something you and I should be doing all along. II Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 20, says:

II Corinthians 5

20Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

We are all representatives of Christ, not just Paul, not just the full-time pastors. The thing that we have said over and over again, one of the things I believe personally is one of the basic principles of the Christian life is that we are all in the ministry. For the Christian there is no difference between the secular and the sacred. All of us are in the Lord's work. Some of you minister in the office, some on the campus, some on the airbase, some in your neighborhood. Some of us stand in a pulpit, but we all are in the ministry. Paul looked around and saw some of these who were content to stand back and let Paul do the work of the ministry, and now suddenly it dawned on them that with Paul gone, it was up to them. Paul said, “That's a wonderful advantage of my imprisonment.”

The Effect of Paul's Reaction

I want to suggest something further about these verses. I think that the context of this passage would suggest that it was not just Paul's imprisonment that emboldened those men, but I think woven between the lines here is the fact that really it was Paul's reaction to his imprisonment that may have had a bearing on their greater daring for the Gospel.

You see, those brethren were a little more reserved, a little more shy, who had been letting Paul do the work of the ministry. Notice that even though the Apostle Paul was in prison, it didn't really phase him. He wasn't completely cast down by that; he wasn't shattered and destroyed by that, and it began to dawn on them, “You know, the Lord warned us that we might suffer for His sake; but even if we get persecuted, it won't be the end of the world. Look at the Apostle Paul. There he is being persecuted, but praising the Lord and going on with his ministry. Let's get on with it. There is not anything they can really do to us anyway.” And this is certainly something to keep in mind as we minister, the fact that Jesus has already warned us. In the New Testament and other places, we are told that those who are going to stand for the Lord, all of those who will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution. But it nowhere says that that persecution will bring an end to our happiness in life. It nowhere says that persecution will bring an end to our lives. The Apostle Paul just moved right on with his life and ministry, and because of that the brethren became much more bold in their witness for the Lord.

I think that probably if Paul had sat there in prison all dejected and defeated and thinking, “Why would the Lord do this to me?”, those brethren would not have been so bold for the Lord. So it was a combination of his imprisonment and his reaction to his imprisonment that caused their greater daring for the Gospel.

Proper Motivation for Preaching

Notice Paul says, “Some of these people who are made more bold for the Gospel, are doing it out of wrong motives.”

Philippians 1

15Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:

Now what does that mean? Sometimes we hear someone use this verse to defend someone who is compromising. We hear of someone who is not making the Gospel clear or who is cooperating with those who are not making the Gospel clear, or we hear someone else say, “Well that is not really so bad because remember what the Apostle Paul said about those who are preaching for the wrong motives.” Let's think about that for just a minute:

Philippians 1

15Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife…

Evidently, what Paul meant by that was that there were some men envious of his position, his authority, his following; and now that he was in prison they thought, “Here's our chance. Now we can be like Paul was; now we can have the followers that used to follow Paul.” Those men who for various reasons had not been preaching before began to preach so that they could have the benefits of the ministry that Paul had enjoyed. They had no concept of the idea of sharing the ministry. Paul wrote in I Corinthians, chapter 3, when the Corinthians were so mixed up about following individual men instead of following the Lord, when they were mixed up about exalting their teachers instead of exalting the One that the teachers were speaking of, and straightened them out in the first three chapters of I Corinthians.

A Shared Ministry

Among the things that he said to the Corinthians was:

I Corinthians 3

6I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

The ministry is a sharing of things. One person may give the Gospel, another person may come along and reinforce it, but regardless of who is standing there when a person accepts Christ, God is behind it all. This is one of the reasons that one of my pet peeves is to hear someone count how many people they have led to the Lord, how many feathers they have in their headband, notches on their gun or something. There are people who do that, and that is just as unscriptural as it can be, because the Scripture tells us very clearly that one plants, another waters; but regardless of how many people are involved, it is really God's work anyway.

Yes, you may be present when someone bows their head and prays to accept Christ, and that is a great thrill. If you have ever had that experience, you know that it is a wonderful thing, but you need to remember that no matter how many times you have been there when that has happened that you did not bring that person to Christ alone. You may have added to something that was already said, but down through the years there have been many influences that have brought that person to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. God is the one who has ordered the whole thing, and therefore, in my opinion, it borders on blasphemy to give a number of how many people we have led to Christ. We didn't lead them to Christ. We may have shared with a number of people to lead them to Christ, but God brought them to Christ. We may have happened to be there when that final decision was made, but we did not bring them to Christ, and we should not take the credit for that.

These men that were preaching out of envy and strife didn't understand that concept, so they were preaching for the wrong motive. Paul goes on to say an interesting thing, though, down in verse 18. What is Paul's reaction to that?

Philippians 1

18What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

Now that is an interesting reaction, isn't it? Paul said clearly, “Some, not all, who are preaching as a result of my bonds are preaching out of a false motive. They are preaching for the wrong reason. They are preaching really to enhance their own position, to make themselves a better situation in life out of ego and really even out of strife.” He goes on to say, in fact, that these men are supposing by that, in the last part of verse 16, “to add affliction to my bonds.” I suppose that means that those men thought that Paul would react the same way they would and that Paul would become all upset while he was there in prison, that someone was stealing his audience and stealing his thunder. They all worried about that. Of course, that is the way that those men would have reacted if they had been in prison and somebody started stealing their audience. But again remember those men had no concept of the real sharing of the ministry.

Paul said, “I don't mind if they steal my audience; I don't mind if they have some of the privileges that I used to have and some of the followers that I used to have. I rejoice in that, because Christ is preached.”

No Justification for Compromise

Now this comes back to the situation that I mentioned earlier. Sometimes we hear verse 18 used as a justification for compromise. We hear it used as a justification for the old idea that the end justifies the means and that it is worth doing whatever you have to do to preach the Gospel.

Let's think very carefully about that because that is not at all what Paul is saying. Notice what Paul says about these men. Back in verse 15:

Philippians 1

15Some indeed preach [what] Christ…

Now they are preaching Christ for the wrong reasons, but they are preaching Christ.

Then again in verses 16 and 17:

Philippians 1

16The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely…
17But the other of love…

There are some, he says, who are preaching sincerely.

The thing that I want us to notice for now is that Paul makes it very clear that these men are not teaching any falsehood. They are preaching Christ. It is their motives that are wrong, but their message is right. That is not to justify their motives, and it is not to say that we are to imitate their motives, but it is to say that as long as Christ is being preached, we do not need to worry about the message.

I want to take that a step further and make an application here that I think is extremely important as we come closer and closer to the end of the age and as we are probably going to see more and more falsehood and compromise. Paul is not in any way saying that he rejoices at the preaching of a watered-down Gospel. Paul is not in any way saying that he approves of compromise. Be very careful that you do not, and you do not allow anybody else to, apply Philippians, chapter 1, verse 18, to the preaching of untruth. Paul is very clear in other places that if a person comes bringing another Gospel, have nothing to do with him. Let him be accursed.

Importance of the Message and the Messenger

Paul is talking in this passage about the preaching of the Gospel. Be very careful as you make a judgment of someone that your judgment is based on what he is preaching, not on his motives. Will you remember that? It is important from two standpoints. First, be sure that he is preaching the Gospel. As long as he is preaching the Gospel, as long as he is teaching the Word of God, God can bless it regardless of the man's motives, because God blesses His Word. We just have to trust God to deal with the messenger. If the messenger is doing it for the wrong reason, God has interesting ways of sooner or later straightening them out, putting them under the rock. But God's Word will be blessed.

The other aspect of that is, don't get overly concerned if someone is preaching the Gospel or teaching the Word of God and you know that his life is not what it ought to be. Don't make the mistake of saying, “Well, it must be all right for him to do that because look how God is blessing his ministry.” Or you may hear him say, “All of these things must not be true of me; my life must not be so bad because look how God is blessing my ministry.” Or take that a step further. Maybe there is in your life something that the Word of God says is sin, and you will not give it up. Maybe you mean to; maybe you confess it, and you plan to give it up, then it crops up again. You struggle with it for a while, you give it up for awhile, then it comes back again, and you are not really willing to put it away, to put it to death. As a thing like that goes on, you begin to say, “Well maybe it is all right for me to do this, because look at my ministry go. God is still blessing my ministry. I still lead someone to the Lord now and then. I still teach my Sunday School class and get good response to that, so maybe God doesn't really disapprove of this thing. Even though the Bible says it's sin, and even though I'm continuing to practice it, maybe it is all right.”

Will you think carefully about what is being said in Philippians, chapter 1? It is the message God approves of. It is the message God blesses. God will deal with the life sooner or later in His own perfect time, in His own perfect way. Don't fool yourself into thinking that you can get away with sin just because you are carrying out your ministry and God is blessing the ministry. God does not tolerate sin, and sooner or later if we do not judge ourselves, we will be judged of God. When we are judged of the Lord, we are chastened of the Lord; and God will deal with that sin in your life. Don't fool yourself into thinking that just because your ministry is approved that your life is too. And by the same token, don't fool yourself into thinking that someone else's life must be all right just because their ministry is.

As I have said before, the other side of that coin is, don't try to say that someone's ministry is all right if their message is not right. Do not think that you are imitating Paul when you say, “I praise God that Christ is preached no matter what.”

Maybe an illustration would help at this point. While I was still living in Wichita Falls, there was a movie made that had one of my favorite comedians in it, George Burns. The movie was called “Oh, God.” I am not a stand-taker; I'm not one who gets up and screams, spits and kicks the pulpit and denounces sin, as I hope you have seen by now, but because of all of the interest there seemed to be in that movie, I felt compelled to make a statement about it in the course of a message one day. You cannot imagine the flack that I caught from that. Or maybe you can imagine it. Maybe I am going to catch some flack after this, but do you know the thing that some well-meaning Christian said to me? “We should praise God. That movie puts people's attention on God. That movie has opened up many opportunities to talk about the Lord.” And some even went so far, the more well-taught among them, as to say, “Paul rejoiced that the Gospel was preached, whether in pretense or in truth.”

You know what my answer was to that? “Yes, Paul rejoiced that the Gospel was preached. If you can find the Gospel in the movie ”Oh, God,“ from the lips of George Burns, then I'll rejoice, but I defy you to do it.”

That is the thing that I am talking about. Paul was rejoicing that the Gospel was preached. He wasn't rejoicing that people were talking about God. He wasn't rejoicing that the subject of God was being discussed; he was rejoicing that the Gospel was being presented.

So let's be very careful how we use Paul as an example and use his statement here as an example in a situation like that.

A Greater Defense of the Gospel

Very quickly notice verses 17 and 18. A third reason for his happiness is that imprisonment had provided a greater defense of the Gospel. Notice verses 17 and 18. Those others who are preaching because of his imprisonment are doing it because of love:

Philippians 1

17But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the Gospel.
18What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

You see, as those people looked at the Apostle Paul there in prison, they saw that he was there because of preaching the Gospel. They saw that he had opportunities to defend the Gospel, to present it, to explain it, to defend it, to make an apologetic for it; and the fact that he was ready to defend the Gospel emboldened others to be ready to defend it also.

So he said, “You see, because of the very difficult situation that I am in, the defense of the Gospel is made possible.” And so even those who are preaching for the wrong motives were made more daring and more willing to preach the Gospel, and the overall effect was a more widespread defense of the Gospel, a more widespread giving of the Gospel.

By way of summary, Paul faced the prospect of never getting out of prison. He faced what many of us would consider to be a very tragic situation and yet he said, “I rejoice because of the things that have resulted from my imprisonment.”

The Performance of God's Will

It's interesting to notice, as we have already noticed that imprisonment, that tragedy did not catch God by surprise. God had said in the beginning that it was going to take place. Oh, He didn't tell us how it would take place, but He said that this man is going to stand before kings. You know, God has promised to bless His Word in our lives. God has promised to bless our faithful testimony for Him, but He hasn't said exactly how He is going to do that. It may be in the course of God's plan, some of us, perhaps many of us, will go through some very surprising things. As that takes place, let's be careful that we don't say, “What happened to God's promise?” Let's recognize as Paul did that the things which happen to us can be the very fulfillment of what God has promised to do with our lives. Sometimes God takes the strangest ways of performing His will, and yet in retrospect we can see that in Paul's life things were accomplished in that way that would never have been accomplished any other way.

Can you imagine how Paul would ever have evangelized the Praitorion Guard? Can you imagine how Paul would have ever been able to challenge his fellow-believers to preach the Gospel more effectively? Can you imagine how he would ever have gotten them stirred up to stand and defend the Gospel in the face of persecution? All of those things were only accomplished because of the seemingly tragic thing that had happened to Paul. But Paul said, “They have fallen out rather for the furtherance of the Gospel.”

God help us to look at our lives that way and to have the perspective of life that is centered around Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

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Dr. Daiqing Yuan Tim Temple Dr. Joe Temple
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