The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.
St. Paul's occasional references to his bonds are never thrust forward in the spirit of the histrionic martyr and never expressed in a murmuring tone, but they evince the irksome restraints under which he laboured, and they give a certain pathos to his entreaties. To be always chained to a soldier, possibly one of rude and coarse manners, must have been peculiarly distressing to a man of sensitive, refined disposition like St. Paul. Feeling the burden of his bonds, the apostle prays his readers to remember them.
I. REMEMBER THEM IN SYMPATHY. It is something to know that friends are feeling with us, when they can do nothing directly to remove the cause of trouble. The lowliest may help the greatest by his sympathy. An apostle seeks the sympathy of obscure Christians. Christ looked for the support of his disciples' sympathy in the hour of his greatest agony, and had the last drop of his bitter cup in the failing of that sympathy (Matthew 26:40).
II. REMEMBER THEM IN PRAYER. When we cannot work for our brother's release from trouble, we may pray. With all the power of Rome at his back, Nero cannot prevent the feeble Christians from having recourse to the mighty weapon of prayer. Let us beware of a selfish narrowness of sympathy in prayer. There are always many calls for prayers of intercession. Very touching is the ancient prayer that has come down to us from the dark ages of persecution, and is presented in the so-called 'Divine Liturgy of St. James:' "Remember, O Lord, Christians sailing, travelling, sojourning in strange lauds; our fathers and brethren, who are in bonds, prison, captivity, and exile; who are m mines, and under torture, and m bitter slavery.
III. REMEMBER THEM IN GRATITUDE. St. Paul was suffering for the gospel. The real cause of his imprisonment was the persecution of the Jews, who were more bitter to his liberal version of Christianity than to the more Judaistic Christianity of the other apostles. Thus he described himself, "I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus in behalf of you Gentiles" (Ephesians 3:1). Therefore his bonds merit our grateful memory; and the sufferings of the champions of Christian liberty merit similar reverent and grateful recollections. It is well that these memories should be handed down from father to son, that the stories of the heroes of Christendom through whose toils and sufferings we now enjoy so many privileges should be taught to our children.
IV. REMEMBER THEM IN REVERENCE FOR ST. PAUL'S AUTHORITY. His bonds lend weight to his words. They prove his sincerity. They are a reason for listening to his entreaties. By his sufferings he entreats us to walk worthily of our Christian calling. So the greater sufferings of a greater Friend give force to his persuasion when he bids us follow him. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.