Paul explains the reason for his imprisonment. The first is that he was a prisoner on behalf of the Gentiles. This refers not only to the fact that his arrest had come about because he was preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, but also to the fact that it benefited the Gentiles. Don’t forget that the reason the Jews had charged Paul with sedition against the Emperor was that the Jews were so angry that he would carry any message from God to the Gentiles. Jewish scruples and prejudices were terribly offended by the fact that Paul had the nerve to say to the Jews that the Gentiles were received by God equally as they, that the Gentiles could have equal standing before him.
When Paul spoke to the Jewish mob in his defense, after he was arrested in the temple courts, the thing which triggered their renewed anger was the word Gentile in his message. They had been listening carefully to him as he described his conversion, of how he had been called by God, all of the exciting details. Until that is, he stated that he had been sent out to minister to the Gentiles. Then all hell broke loose again. They mobbed him and would have lynched him on the spot had it not been for the intervention of the Roman guard. So it was because of this great message that he was a prisoner.
Not only that, he wants them to know that they were benefiting by his arrest. Yeah, it seems odd to hear, but I think this is a hint that he recognized that if it wasn’t for the fact he had been made a prisoner, he would never have had time to write these letters which have changed the course of history. His concern for these people was that he would have gone to them if he had been free. He would have preached to them and taught them directly from the Word, but he would never have had the time to write it down. So maybe, just maybe, the reason Jesus kept him a prisoner was so he could have time to write.
Look at my infirmity right now. Could I have ever had the opportunity to write these studies? Do you really think I would have had the time to study, to pray, to seek my Master’s wisdom and insight so I could send out these messages and the respond to the many emails I receive?
No, I do not for a moment blame the Lord for causing this condition. Frankly, I abused my body with my lifestyle and diet, and well, I am having to accept the reality of the choices I made. As a matter of fact, the Spirit of God had been teaching many things I had to take care of and to change . . . but, to be very candid, I ignored them. So no, He didn’t cause my illness, but I sure do credit His Spirit in helping me make use of the time I have.
He may have to do that with some of you, too. Some of you have learned truth you should be writing down and passing along. I hope each of us can learn from Paul’s experience, in this respect. Writing these letters is the greatest thing he ever did, because these have changed our lives. And he recognizes that they were written on behalf of the Gentiles.
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.