“So that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ”
Now we come to the results of God’s sovereignly placing Paul in prison. There were two results, two ways his adversity advanced the cause of Christ:
The impact his imprisonment had on non-Christians, v. 13
The effect his incarceration had upon believers, v. 14
Today we examine the first result.
“so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest”
“So that” is a result clause.
Paul had become a celebrated prisoner. He was renowned not because he had committed a crime; he was notable because of his testimony. He was in jail for Jesus’ sake.
The “palace guard” was the Praetorian Guard. Augustus Caesar instituted this group; it formed the emperor’s private bodyguard—an elite troop. Eventually, its members became the kingmakers; they appointed Caesar. As Rome conquered the nations of the world, these men were appointed to rule over them. Obviously, this band of men was strategic in the Roman Empire.
Paul had become a famous prisoner to the Praetorian Guard. Some of these men came to trust Christ as their Savior. Note the last chapter: “All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household” (4:22). Paul was able to reach a segment of society generally out of reach of most Christians of the time. The conventional arm of the church could not reach these men. No wonder God had a design for Paul’s imprisonment! After these men came to Christ, they went throughout the empire, sharing their faith. Paul had multiplied himself strategically in the Roman Empire.
Evidently, the church at Rome was typically ineffective in reaching these men. Paul came to Rome as a prisoner and was able to evangelize this Praetorian Guard. He had a captive audience. They chained to one guard at a time. Each shift, he had a new opportunity to share Christ. Can you imagine the talk of the barracks? “Have you been chained to that Paul yet? Boy, are you going to get an ear full! All he can talk about is that Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection for our sins.”
Paul was an effective witness to one man at a time. That is where most Christian fail: one-on-one testimony. The most effective way to reach people for Christ is one on one. I doubt that any of the Praetorian Guard attended the stated services of the church in Rome or any evangelistic services. We are the best witness to our relatives, neighbors, and friends. You are the best Christian some people know; it may be that you are the only Christian some people know.
“that my chains are in Christ”
Paul never lost the perspective that it was not the Roman Empire that placed him in jail. He was not a prisoner of Caesar but Jesus Christ. The sovereign hand of God put him there.
We share our faith best one by one.
Each soldier presented to Paul a fresh opportunity to preach Christ to a strategic group of people in the Roman Empire. Because of Paul’s confinement, he was able to multiply himself many times. The gospel spread much faster because of it. Are you sharing your faith one on one?