Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellow laborer,
The apostle testifieth he was a prisoner for Christ and the gospel, not for his own sins and offences. It is not our suffering barely considered can honour us with the reward of glory and the crown of martyrdom, but the cause in which we die and the quarrel in which we suffer. True it is, afflictions are common to the godly and ungodly, they are imprisoned alike; but albeit the afflictions be one and the same, yet the cause is not one and the same for which they are afflicted. The ungodly are punished for their sins; the godly are afflicted for a good conscience. Abel is murdered of his brother; Cain is cursed and condemned to be a fugitive upon the earth. Both of them are afflicted, but the cause is diverse. Abel is killed for his godliness; Cain is punished for his wickedness. Christ had His feet and His hands nailed on the Cross, so had the two thieves; they suffered all one punishment, but how contrary were the causes of Him and them, seeing He suffered without cause, but they justly had the sentence of death executed upon them, as one of them confessed (Luke 33:5). Let us not, therefore, only fasten our eyes and look upon the bare punishment, but consider what the cause is, and, according to the cause, esteem both of the person and of the punishment. Some are prisoners of men, others are prisoners of the devil, of whom they are holden captive, and both of them for their wickedness; but if we will be martyrs of Christ we must be the prisoners of Christ.
Parallel VersesKJV: Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,