Advance the Gospel

Paul was waiting for his trial in Rome. He had appealed to Caesar from Caesarea Philippi and then had a long journey to reach Rome. Once there, he was placed in what we might call “house arrest”, although while he was in a house that he had rented, he was neither at his “home”, nor was he just under arrest. He was in chains. He was being held against his will and may have, with some debate about what actually happened next, been killed soon thereafter.

Yet people came to them and he taught them. He spoke freely and preached openly from his house there in Rome. Christ was known all the more there in Rome because of what he had done. And not only that, others began to speak out boldly as well:

Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 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

It seems that the Christians there in Rome had been scared, and they would have had reason to be scared. They had been driven out. They had been killed. They had been persecuted in many ways. Having the government begin to hunt and kill the people around you would cause anyone to rethink what they are doing! And yet, they already had Paul in prison. The only thing that they could do to him yet is to kill him.

So this emboldened the other Christians. They saw that Paul was speaking boldly about Christ, even despite his situation, and so they began to take more and more courage from Paul’s situation that they too could speak about Jesus.

So Paul says that the chains that he was in actually served to help advance the Gospel. The Gospel moved forward and was heard by more people precisely because he was in chains. Perhaps if he hadn’t been, the circumstances would not have been the same. Perhaps others wouldn’t have been nearly as emboldened, or even would have tried to silence Paul from speaking about Christ. Instead, because he was in chains, people came to him. Because he was in chains, people were more emboldened, and so they began to speak as well.

God will use every situation, even the situations that look hopeless in our eyes, for his glory. There is nothing that Satan can do that God will not be able to turn around for his glory. Yet he continues to try and we continue to despair at difficult situations. We need to remember, instead, these stories. We need to remember that God is using both what we would call a good situation as well as what we would call a bad situation for his good and his glory. And as our heavenly father, while we may not call everything good because it doesn’t seem good to us in the moment, there will come a point that we understand what God was doing and how he used our difficulty and our challenging situations so that the Gospel, the good news of his coming to earth will be advanced.

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