But I would you should understand, brothers…
It might naturally have been thought that the arrest of the missionary journeys of St. Paul, and the shock of his imprisonment, would have seriously checked the spread of the gospel. The apostle is anxious that his readers should understand that these apparently untoward events have had the very opposite effect, and this in two ways.
I. THE WORK OF ST. PAUL WAS RENDERED MORE EFFECTIVE BY THE VERY PERSECUTIONS HE SUFFERED.
1. The area of his influence was extended. He had long wished to preach the gospel in Rome (e.g. Romans 1:8-15). Persecution sent him there, The particular circumstances of his residence in Rome further gave him an opportunity of reaching classes of people who would have been almost inaccessible to him if he had gone there as a free visitor. Living among Praetorian soldiers, if not in the Praetorian camp itself, St. Paul was able to preach Christ to the cream of the Roman army. The prisoner became a missionary to his guard, and was successful in winning converts among those stern soldiers.
2. The force of his influence was intensified. He always preached Christ by his life, but never more eloquently than when in bonds for the sake of his great Master. The sight of the brave old man awaiting trial on a capital charge, not only possessing his soul in patience, but rejoicing in tribulation, and earnestly preaching the gospel beneath the very shadow of Nero's palace, was enough to strike the attention of the most thoughtless.
II. OTHER CHRISTIANS WERE INSPIRED WITH GREATER CONFIDENCE AND ENERGY BY THE SIGHT OF THE PERSECUTED APOSTLE. They were made confident through his bonds.
1. The example of St. Paul inspired them. Courage rouses courage. Noble self-devotion calls forth responsive echoes in the hearts of others. We feel ashamed of standing idle while our brother is toiling in the midst of danger and suffering.
2. The success of St. Paul encouraged them. Half-heartedness in missionary efforts comes of unbelief in the real utility of them. When we see the fruitfulness of these efforts we are urged to extend them.
3. The independent action of St. Paul excited the jealousy of some. In Rome, which was a stronghold of Judaic Christianity, the great apostle of the Gentiles preached his more liberal gospel. This greatly disturbed some of the prevailing school. But, unlike their brothers in Corinth, they did not directly oppose the work of St. Paul. They rather proclaimed their own version of the gospel more zealously. In so doing they, being true followers of Christ as well as the apostle they suspected, preached Christ. Thus sectarian rivalry may be overruled for the extension of the gospel. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;