The Spread of the Gospel in Rome
And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear. It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me.
But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice.Phil 1:12-18
We will now focus on:
in chains because of Christ
Paul was in prison and in chains because he believed the Gospel of Christ and that salvation was found in no one else but Jesus Christ. He was a prisoner for two reasons:
- He believed the Gospel and the teachings of Christ and he wanted to tell others the Good News
- He therefore went about gossiping the Gospel at every opportunity he had.
It was those two responses together which landed Paul in prison.
- Believing the Good News
- Living as though he believed the Good News. i.e. doing something about it.
If you were in court on trial for being a Christian, a follower of God’s way to salvation, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
Living as though he believed the Gospel of Christ was what led to Paul being in prison. As a result he came up against the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman authorities everywhere he went. He could have believed it in his mind and heart but not preached it and he would not have been in prison. If he didn’t live as though he believed it by daring to tell others he would not have been in prison. It was the same dilemma Peter and John faced in Acts 4 when they were brought before the Sanhedrin. See Gem 1410 to 1415. I believe in the not-too-distant-future we will face the same dilemma. Just saying.
Paul’s captivity was viewed as being part of his Christian belief and he didn’t pull back from it. He didn’t stop believing it and he didn’t stop talking the talk. He talked the talk and he walked the walk.
because of my imprisonment
It was because of his imprisonment that Paul had the success he did. How was that possible? I made the connection for you in the Gems before this. Remember what happened in Philippi and the reaction of those who knew about it. Paul has done this before and God had answered with confirming signs. Paul and Silas’ experience in Philippi was remarkable. They simply praised God for all they were worth and God did the rest. The Philippians knew the story well. Paul’s imprisonment in Philippi and his imprisonment in Rome is linked. In both cases there are remarkable responses. The first time God did miracles. The second time the report of what was happening was being gossiped, talked about, discussed, taught and preached everywhere. The word spread throughout the Roman Empire it seems on the basis of what happened last time. The testimony which came from the first event was being talked about everywhere. The Philippians understand why; do you?
It was the fact that Paul was back in prison that was fuelling the response. When an innocent person is in prison and behaves in such a way as Paul did it is a major talking point. Ponder again Paul and Silas’ response in prison in Philippi. Now meditate on the fact that Paul was in prison in Rome for the same reason and he was given such freedom as a result of the attitude of the authorities toward him. See the Gems I wrote on Paul’s imprisonment based on what Luke gave us in the end of Acts: Bible Gem 1884 to 1886.
The way I imagine it to be is that Paul was initially thrown into the inner cells of the prison but due to his reaction to his captors he earned their respect and was given the freedom we read about in the last chapter of Luke’s document in his second volume, Acts. The reaction of Paul and Silas in Philippi was highly impactful on those who observed their peace and what the LORD did to free them. Their fellow prisoners had seen how these two conducted themselves in the midst of their imprisonment. Why would that be any different in Rome? Those who observed Paul’s reaction first-hand would have been convinced of his boldness to follow Christ and to speak boldly about life in Him to those who were within earshot.
result among the believers
Paul was convinced that he would soon be cleared by the court because he had done nothing wrong. He was convinced as he said in verse 6 of the opening chapter of the Philippian letter, that he was confident God held his life in His hands and he would not let Paul go until He had completed the work that He had started. Paul was bold because of his testimony of what God had already done in the past, e.g his escape from the Philippian jail. He knew that God was true to his personal Rhema Word to Paul directly.
The direct words to Paul’s heart:
And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.Acts 9:16
And the Lord told me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told everything you are to do.Acts 22:10
But the Lord said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles!’Acts 22;21
Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. Tell people that you have seen me, and tell them what I will show you in the future. And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles.Acts 26:16-17
Paul knew he was to go to Rome and to anywhere the Gospel was not known. Rome was the centre of the Roman world. It was clear that the message needed to be taken to the centre of the Roman Empire. It was God who arranged free travel there and who opened the doors to preach this Gospel in the heart of Rome; in prison.
My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else. I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says, “Those who have never been told about him will see, and those who have never heard of him will understand.” In fact, my visit to you has been delayed so long because I have been preaching in these places. But now I have finished my work in these regions, and after all these long years of waiting, I am eager to visit you. I am planning to go to Spain, and when I do, I will stop off in Rome. And after I have enjoyed your fellowship for a little while, you can provide for my journey.Romans 15:20-24
Knowing what God had done in the past, sensing that the desire within him was God-given and having the Words of Jesus ringing in his ears, Paul was clear in what he had to do. This single-mindedness was upper most in Paul’s mind in every situation he found himself. Having had his Damascus Road experience and had Jesus talk to him directly, Paul could not be side-tracked from what he had to do. As a result of that he influenced the Praetorium and all the believers who saw what was happening.
But sometimes fellow believers have interesting reactions to our success as we will see in the next Gem.
You can’t win an argument with a person who has had a supernatural experience.Rick Renner
Jesus gave Stephen a standing ovation for his stand against the Sanhedrin resulting in his death.Ian Vail
The best use anyone can make of any day is to enjoy it – and then spread that joy to others.John Kremer
A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others have thrown at them.Anon