Pastor David B. Curtis


Advancement Through Adversity

Philippians 1:12-14

Delivered 06/28/1998

Put yourself in the sandals of the Philippians for a few minutes. It had been at least four years since they had seen Paul. They were hearing rumors, and they were concerned. They loved Paul very much as we saw in verse 7, "They had him in their heart." They would be asking serious questions; was Paul still in prison? Was he sick? Had he already come to trial? Perhaps he had already been martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ. What of the gospel

At last news arrives from Rome and they begin to read the letter. The first eleven verses are only about them. Then in verses 12-14, Paul shares his condition. He is still in chains, the future is uncertain to him, yet the gospel is being advanced.

The things which had happened to Paul were quite different from the things which Paul had planned for himself. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles and for years he had carried the gospel to various parts of the world. He traveled through Syria and Crete and through most of what is now Turkey and Greece.

Paul planned to take the gospel to the far west, to Spain, after returning once more to Jerusalem and stopping for a visit in Rome. Instead of this, he found himself a prisoner on trial for his life, at Rome.

Romans 1:10 (NKJV) making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.

His plans were to go to Rome, as a preacher not a prisoner.

The circumstances through which Paul came to be imprisoned are recorded for us by Luke in Acts.

Acts 21:17 (NKJV) And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.

Paul arrives in Jerusalem forewarned by the Holy Spirit that bonds and imprisonment awaited him.

Acts 21:26-28 (NKJV) Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them. 27 Now when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, "Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place."

Paul was being falsely accused by his own people.

Acts 21:30-31 (NKJV) And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut. 31 Now as they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.

He was nearly killed by the religious mob.

Acts 22:24-25 (NKJV) the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging, so that he might know why they shouted so against him. 25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, "Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?"

Arrested and put in prison, he narrowly escapes flogging by declaring his Roman citizenship. It was against the law to flog a Roman citizen. Paul spends two years in prison at Cereria. Then a deadly plot was designed to kill him:

Acts 23:12-13 (NKJV) And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13 Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy.

I guess that these men didn't eat for a long time. If they honored their oath, they all died of starvation. Paul appeals to Caesar and is sent to Rome. On his way to Rome, he was shipwrecked, and has to swim to shore. Once on the shore he is bit by a snake. Talk about having a bad day! He is having a difficult time. Finally, he ends up in Rome:

Acts 28:16 (NKJV) Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him.

Look at Acts 19:21, it tells us what Paul's desire was.

Acts 19:21 (NKJV) When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome."

Paul planned to go to Rome, but not as a prisoner. Paul's imprisonment at Rome was much different than his imprisonment at Philippi. In Philippi he was in the inner prison in stocks. Paul's circumstances in prison at Rome were quite different.

Acts 28:16 (NKJV) Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him.

He wasn't a criminal, so he was kept by himself under Roman guard.

Acts 28:20 (NKJV) "For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain."

Paul was a prisoner in a private dwelling bound by a chain to a Roman guard. He was a prisoner in a private house, and he could have visitors.

Acts 28:30 (NKJV) Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him,

Paul is a prisoner in a house. For two full years he was able to teach all who came to see him. He was allowed to have visitors. We know that Epaphroditus visited him.

Now, compared to Philippi, this was a great imprisonment. But think about it for a minute. How would you like to be confined to your house for two years? Not only confined, but chained to a Roman guard. Paul had no privacy at all. What ever he did, what ever he said, there was a Roman guard to see and hear it all. Eating, sleeping, going to the bathroom, someone was always with him. I was in the intensive care unit for several days and while I was there a person sat at the foot of my bed watching everything I did and writing it all down. I had no privacy. Well for two years Paul had no privacy.

When Paul sat down to write, or talk to his friends, he was always chained. When he prayed, he was chained to the Roman guard.

Think about it. All the delay, all the frustration, all of the physical suffering. What was his response? How would you respond under that type of confinement? We see how Paul responded in verse 18. This is a key verse and we'll look at it in more detail next week.

Philippians 1:18 (NKJV) What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.

In circumstances that none of us would like to be in, Paul rejoices. The measure of a person's maturity is what it takes to steal his joy. What does it take to steal your joy?

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, but we are also commanded to rejoice:

Philippians 4:4 (NKJV) Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

There is only one thing that should ever affect our joy. Do you know what it is? Sin! Nothing but sin should ever affect our joy. David said:

Psalms 51:12 (NKJV) Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

David was living in sin and had lost his joy.

Circumstances shouldn't rob our joy. Yet typically, trials, persecutions, and troubles will ruin our joy every time. We seem to do fine until we face the unexpected, unplanned for, or unwanted. When things don't go the way we want them to we loose our joy very quickly. I think the main reason for this is that we want comfort more than godliness. Our minds have not been transformed and we think wrongly.

Romans 12:2 (NKJV) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

We should expect trials and problems, we will have them as long as we live. Jesus told his disciples to expect tribulation.

John 16:33 (NKJV) "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

As long as we live in this world, as long as we live in the flesh, we will have trouble.

Why do Christians suffer?

1. We suffer because we fail to judge sin in our lives.

1 Corinthians 11:31-32 (NKJV) For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

This is discipline because of sin. I think that one of the greatest sins in Christianity today is neglect. We neglect to read God's word, we neglect to pray. We neglect spending time with God. We neglect the God we say we love.

2. We suffer as a means of Spiritual growth.

Romans 5:3-5 (NKJV) And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Trials and trouble help us grow because they cause us to turn to God, to trust in Him. All of our problems help us to learn to trust in God. Just as an athlete strengthens his muscles by pushing them to their limits, so God strengthens our faith by pushing its limits. Only trials can do this.

2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (NKJV) For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead,

3. God brings trials in our life as a preventive to sin. Some trials keep us from sin. That was why Paul had his thorn in the flesh.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (NKJV) And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

To keep Paul from pride, which is a sin, God gave him the thorn in his flesh.

4. Suffering increases the effectiveness of a Christian's testimony.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NKJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

This seems to be the best explanation of why Paul was in prison. The purpose of trouble is not to rob our joy, but to glorify God. And God is glorified when we go through difficult circumstance and trust in Him. Search Paul's life, he never lost his joy even in the worst circumstances.

The key to Paul's attitude of joy was his proper perspective in life. Paul looked upon all adversities as being divinely sent with a God directed purpose. God is in control and he gives you your circumstance to help you grow closer to Him.

Joy does not come from God giving me what I want, but rather it is my attitude in accepting what God sends. Paul had different plans, but he always accepted what God had planned. Paul, in effect, says to the Philippians, "Don't worry about me, I'm experiencing joy."

Philippians 1:18 I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.
Philippians 2:17 I am glad and rejoice with you all.
Philippians 3:1 rejoice in the Lord.
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Paul's joy was tied to God's glory and not his circumstances, his pleasures in life, or possessions, or freedom in life, or he wouldn't have joy. Too often that is where our joy is tied, to our circumstances. If we have pleasures in life, we have joy. If we have possessions, we have joy. If we have freedom, we have joy. Paul didn't have any of these and yet he had joy.

In verses 12-14, Paul answers some of their questions and tries to deal with their concerns.

Philippians 1:12 (NKJV) But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,

The gospel was being advanced through Paul's adversity, and he wanted them to understand that. The word "want" is the Greek word boulomai, it means to wish, to want, to desire. Paul is saying, "I desire you should understand." The word "know" is ginosko, it mean to comprehend, to acquire knowledge by experience. Paul wanted them to learn something from his experience.

If you have the KJV or the NKJV you will notice that the words, "which happened" are italicized which means they were added by the translators. We need to understand that nothing ever "just happens" to the saint. God is providentially controlling all things. Nothing ever "just happens." Paul says, "My adverse circumstances have 'turned out'" --this is the Greek word erchomai which means, bring, come enter, to turn out. The word "for" or "rather" is the Greek word mallon which means to a greater degree, for a better reason. Paul is saying, "My circumstances have turned out for a better reason." They have turned out for a greater advancement of the gospel. God had a better plan than Paul had. Paul planned to go to Rome as a preacher but he was doing well as a prisoner. The gospel was being advanced through his imprisonment.

The progress of the gospel was a driving passion of Paul. The thing he wanted in life was for the gospel to be advanced for God's glory. In Acts 20, we get the heartbeat of Paul. He wasn't concerned about himself, he was on a mission.

Acts 20:22-24 (NKJV) "And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 "except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

The only thing that mattered to him was that he would finish the work that God called him to do. He didn't care what happened to him as long as he was doing what God called him to do.

1 Corinthians 9:16 (KJV) For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

Paul was driven, he was compelled to preach the gospel.

What is your driving force in life? What motivates you? What is you mission? What keeps you going? Is it God's glory? Or is it your own comfort, wealth, or prestige? Too often our goals are self-centered and not Christ centered.

Paul tells the Philippians that his experiences have turned out to the "furtherance" of the gospel. The word "furtherance" is the Greek word prokope. It was used in extra-biblical Greek of the progress of an army or an expedition. It has the idea of something moving along in spite of opposition. The verb form prokoptain means to cut down in advance. It pictures those who would go ahead of an army cutting down trees and underbrush to make a path for an army to follow. It pictures progress against opposition. Paul says, "The gospel is still progressing against all opposition." Opposition never stopped Paul. Does it stop you? How little opposition does it take to discourage you?

1 Corinthians 16:9 (NKJV) For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
1 Thessalonians 2:2 (NKJV) But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict.

Paul was beaten and imprisoned at Philippi. Nothing stopped Paul. He continued on with his mission despite any opposition or trial. Do you know that kind of passion?

John Bunyan was a powerful preacher. He was put in jail in Bedford to silence him. From jail he would preach at the top of his voice and people would gather outside the jail walls to hear him though they couldn't see him. They finally silenced him by putting him down inside the jail where no one could hear him preach. That gave him the freedom to write "Pilgrim's Progress." They didn't silence him. They advanced his ministry through adversity. Many Christians have been helped and encouraged by John's book, "Pilgrim's Progress."

2 Timothy 2:9 (NKJV) for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained.

They can't imprison the Word of God. It continues to go forth and change lives.

In verse 12, there is a principle that we need to understand. Paul uses a positive approach in Philippians, but he often used the negative, I don't want you to be ignorant. Paul is saying here, "I desire that you understand this." Those circumstances, which from a human perspective, seem to be obstacles of defeat are by divine providence instruments of victory. This is the principle of verse 12. We need to stop looking at everything in life from a human viewpoint. Often from a human viewpoint, things don't look good. But remember God is in control.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV) "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. 9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

This established the idea of two viewpoints of life. Our thoughts-- human viewpoint. And God's thoughts-- divine viewpoint. The only place you are going to get the divine viewpoint is from the Word of God. The world bombards us with human viewpoint. We need to have our minds renewed by the Word of God. Look at:

Isaiah 6:1 (NKJV) In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.

Uzziah had been king for 52 years. He was a good king, a great military man. Five years before Uzziah's death, Tiglath-Pileser, the Assyrian general, was on their northern boarder. He was cause for concern but Uzziah was there and they had confidence in him. But when Uzziah died, it caused great fear. Now what? Well Isaiah goes into the temple and sees the Lord. In effect, he is saying, "In the day the human king died, I saw the King of Kings." He sees God on the throne, he is still in control. No matter how bad things look, God is still on the throne. We often act as if God had been dethroned.

Psalms 103:19 (NKJV) The LORD has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all.

His kingdom rules over ALL. Don't let circumstances scare you, God is in control. If we look at life from the human viewpoint, we will have nothing but sorrow and worry. But if you look at life from the divine viewpoint, you can rest in God's sovereign care.

In Philippians 1:12, Paul gives us the equivalent of Genesis 50:20. Joseph says,

Genesis 50:20 (NKJV) "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

Do you understand that principle? Paul is saying, "My adverse circumstances have turned out for the advancement of the gospel."

Let's look for a moment at the life of Joseph. He is a type of Christ. There is no sin mentioned in the Bible of Joseph.

Genesis 37:1-5 (NKJV) Now Jacob dwelt in the land where his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan. 2 This is the history of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers. And the lad was with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors. 4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him. 5 Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more.

This 17 year old Joseph has a dream that someday he will be ruling over his parents and his brethren. He shares this dream with his brothers who already didn't like him. Where did he get this dream from? God gave it to him, it was prophetic.

Genesis 37:20 (NKJV) "Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, 'Some wild beast has devoured him.' We shall see what will become of his dreams!"

They planned on shutting up the dreamer. They hated him and meant evil against him. They wanted to kill him, but God had other plans.

Genesis 37:28 (NKJV) Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.

They sold their brother into slavery.

Genesis 39:1 (NKJV) Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there.

So now he is a slave in Potiphar's house. Then things get worse. Potiphar's wife wanted to seduce Joseph.

Genesis 39:12 (NKJV) that she caught him by his garment, saying, "Lie with me." But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.

Joseph does what is right and ends up in prison.

Genesis 39:20 (NKJV) Then Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison.

He does what is right and things keep getting worse for him. He spends a couple of years in prison until he interprets a dream for Pharaoh. Pharaoh makes him the number two man in the most powerful nation at that time. He is ruling for seven years of plenty, then famine hits. All the world is coming to Joseph to get food. One day his brothers show up asking for food. How do you think he must have felt? Look at how he responded to them.

Genesis 45:4-5 (NKJV) And Joseph said to his brothers, "Please come near to me." So they came near. Then he said: "I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 "But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.

They hated him and meant evil toward him, but he knew that God was in control. He viewed their evil actions as the work of God.

Genesis 45:7-8 (NKJV) "And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 "So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

Three times he stresses this idea, "God sent me here." Joseph had the divine viewpoint, he saw things from God's perspective. He saw his brothers as instruments in God's providence to get him into Egypt. Having this view kept him from having any bitterness toward his brothers.

Genesis 50:20 (NKJV) "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

He knew they meant him evil. For 13 years Joseph had been in slavery, separated from his family. From the divine viewpoint he says, "God sent me here to save you." Their evil toward him turned out to be what saved their lives. The hurts in your life are controlled by God for your good.

We see this same thing in the story of Israel at the Red Sea. God's purpose was advanced through their adversity. Things looked bad from a human perspective, but God worked a miracle and delivered them. Through adversity God brings advancement.

The Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ must have looked like a total defeat to the disciples. Their Lord was crucified, he was dead, now what? The death of Christ that seemed so devastating to those disciples became the victory over death, sin, and Satan, redeeming all of God's elect. Through adversity the gospel was advanced.

We see this same principle in the persecution of the early church in Acts 8.

Acts 8:1-4 (NKJV) Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. 4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.

Their persecution caused the gospel to move out of Jerusalem and go to all the world. The persecution of the church seemed bad, but it was a good thing.

Paul is telling these Philippians, "I want you to have the divine viewpoint." He wants them to understand:

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

All things-- sickness, trials, persecution, suffering and even death-- all things.

You become effective for God not by changing your circumstances but by changing your perspective. Understand that God is in control. There are no accidents with God. Paul wanted the Philippians to learn this important truth.

What appears to the human viewpoint to be a great tragedy ( the apostle of the Gentiles is rendered immobile for years) turns out to be an effective platform of personal evangelism in Rome.

How can Paul say what he does in verse 12? Does he have any proof of what he is saying? Yes, he gives us two proofs. Verse 13, it is evangelizing the lost. And in verse 14, he tells us that it is encouraging the believers. Both of these things were being affected by his imprisonment.

Philippians 1:13 (NKJV) so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ;

The word "chains" is the Greek word desmos, which means imprisonment or restriction. Notice that his chains are "in Christ." This means because of Christ, for my Christian belief. He wasn't a criminal. He was the prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 3:1 (KJV) For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

Paul didn't consider himself a prisoner of Rome but of Christ.

Acts 28:20 (NKJV) ..."because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain."
Ephesians 6:20 (NKJV) for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

The normal word for chains is desmos but in these two places the Greek word is halusis. Halusis means a short chain, 18 inches long, like a long set of handcuffs. These are the "chains" that Paul was in. He was chained to a Roman guard for two years. Think about what that would be like. What was the result of this? Paul says, "It has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest."

The Greek word for "evident" is phaneros. It means well known. How did it get well known? Paul was not only chained to a soldier but a soldier was chained to him. Talk about a captive audience! The guard would change every six hours. This means Paul got to preach to four guards a day.

The Lord made the whole Praetorian guard captive to Paul. What do you think the topic of conversation was?

Acts 28:23-24 (NKJV) So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening. 24 And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved.

The topic of conversation was the Lord Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. Paul's message became well known and those of the praetorian guard were being converted.

Philippians 4:22 (NKJV) All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household.

Especially the Praetorian Guard. Paul said, "It has become evident to the whole palace guard." The Praetorian Guard were the Imperial Guard of Rome. They had been instituted by Augustus and were a body of ten thousand picked troops. Augustus had kept them dispersed throughout Rome and the neighboring towns. Tiberius had concentrated them in Rome in a specially built and fortified camp. Vitellius had increased their number to sixteen thousand. They served for twelve, and later for sixteen years. At the close of their term they received the citizenship and a grant of more than 250 pounds. Latter they became very nearly the Emperor's private bodyguard; and in the end they became very much a problem. They were concentrated in Rome, and there came a time when the Praetorian Guard became nothing less than king-makers; for inevitably it was their nominee who was made Emperor every time, since they could impose their will by force, if need be, upon the populace. They literally became the "king-makers." History tells us that there were emperors that paid up to one-hundred thousand dollars per member of the Praetorian Guard for their vote. They were a very wealthy, very influential group. To these high ranking individuals, Paul was chained. It was to the Perfect of the Praetorian Guard, their commanding officer, that Paul was handed over when he arrived in Rome.

"And to all the rest."-- this means and to all the rest of Rome. How did it spread to all of Rome? These guards were probably married. They went home and told their wives what Paul had shared with them-- the gospel. And the wives would tell their friends. They didn't have telephone or telegraph, but they had tele-a-woman. This was headline news. Ted Kopel would have had some of the Praetorian Guard on Nightline. All of Rome heard why Paul was in prison.

They took note of his patience, gentleness, courage, and unswerving loyalty to inner conviction. They listened to him as he talked to friends who came to visit him, or to his secretary, to whom he dictated letters. They were chained to him and watched him pray. What an impact he must have made on their lives. A joyful prisoner waiting for a decision on his life.

Would you like to be chained night and day to a living witness of all that you did? Someone to witness your every movement, to hear all you said, and to watch your every reaction?

The slightest deviation, impatience, or irritations would disqualify his testimony and any lack of consistency in life would soon be communicated to others. Paul was all he prayed that the Philippians would be in verses 9-11.

There is no greater or more powerful witness for Christ than that which comes through our sufferings. We don't particularly like to hear that, we like the easy road.

What are you chained to? You may be chained to a desk when you would like to be out in more direct Christian service. Or maybe you're chained to a car, or an assembly line, or a class room. Moms, maybe you feel like you're chained to a toddler or home school books. Your circumstances have been given to you by God and can be used by Him.

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NKJV) Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

If you are willing to share the gospel, you will have plenty of opportunities no matter what you are chained to.

So, in verse 13, he tells us the gospel was being spread. Paul's adversity was advancing the gospel.

Philippians 1:14 (NKJV) and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

The conjunction "and" is kai in the Greek. It is in the emphatic use and is better translated "in fact." In fact, the majority of the brethren have become confident because of my bonds. What is happening to me is causing other Christians to become bold in their faith. Has that ever happened to you? You saw some Christian take a bold stand for the Lord and it gave you boldness.

Believers may have been thinking, "If I witness, I may get put in jail which would stop my ministry." Now they see that being in jail doesn't hurt the testimony of the gospel, but was in fact helping it spread. So, they began to preach with boldness knowing that if they were put in jail, they could also witness to the Praetorian Guard.

Maybe God has placed you in your circumstances so you can give others boldness. As David faced Goliath and defeated him, it gave all Israel boldness. When you see someone take a bold stand for the Lord, it really encourages you to boldness.

Advancement comes through adversity. Principle-- Those circumstances which from a human perspective seem to be obstacles of defeat, are by God's providence instruments of victory.

Paul is telling the Philippians, "I want you to know that God is still in control, He is on the throne and ruling!" Do you understand this truth? Does it show up in your life?

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