The Prisoner of Jesus Christ
Ephesians 3:1
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,…

The apostle often refers to his prison-life, and here presents himself to the Churches as "an ambassador in bonds" (Ephesians 6:20).

I. HE WAS A MOST CELEBRATED PRISONER. Perhaps he was regarded as of no great account by his Roman jailors, who could have known nothing of the secret of his greatness; but viewed in the light of Christian history, Paul is the most distinguished of men. He did more than any other apostle to shape the theology of Western Christendom, which, in its turn, has left the deepest imprint on the civilization of the world. The world would not be today what it is if Paul of Tarsus had not lived. His influence has long survived the empire of Rome, which held him captive. We sympathize with the prison-sorrows of the great. Alas! that the best of men, "of whom the world was not worthy," have spent so many weary days and years in prison!

II. HE WAS NOT A PRISONER FOR CRIME OR FOR THE BREACH OF THE ROMAN LAWS, BUT AS THE EFFECT OF THE UNSLEEPING HATRED OF THE JEWS. It was his ministry to the Gentiles which brought down upon him the vindictive anger of his countrymen, and led them to accuse him before the Roman magistrates. The suspicion that he had taken Trophimus, an Ephesian, into the temple at Jerusalem had, indeed, an immediate connection with his first arrest. "He was at once Christ's prisoner, the Jews' prisoner, the Romans' prisoner, the Gentiles' prisoner: Christ's prisoner, as suffering for his gospel; the Jews' prisoner, as suffering by their accusation; the Romans' prisoner, as suffering by their sentence; the Gentiles' prisoner, as suffering for his labor's unto their salvation." His imprisonment was thus a higher honor than his rapture into the third Heavens.

III. HIS IMPRISONMENT HAD ITS PROVIDENTIAL ADVANTAGES. Just as John Huss had leisure during his imprisonment in the fortress on the Rhine to write words that fired the hearts of his countrymen ages after his martyrdom at Constance, and as Martin Luther's one year's imprisonment in the Wartburg enabled him to give the Scriptures to Germany in the tongue of the people, so the Apostle Paul was enabled in the leisure of his Roman imprisonment to throw off those beautiful Epistles of the captivity - to the Philippians, to the Ephesians, to the Colossians, to Philemon - which have s, largely contributed to the edification and comfort of the Church. He still held the threads of a hundred interests in his hands, and felt in his prison at Rome the throbbing of thousands of Christian hearts in all parts of Asia and Europe.

IV. PRISON-LIFE IS ALMOST NECESSARILY SAD, BECAUSE OF ITS ISOLATION FROM HUMAN RELATIONS, ITS SOLITUDE, ITS SUSPENSION OF ACTIVE AND ACCUSTOMED LABOR, AND ITS USUALLY HARD CONDITIONS. It must have been a sore trial to the apostle to submit to an enforced inactivity, while the world was everywhere, in so sad a sense, "ripe for the harvest." It would seem as if, at a certain point, the sympathy of Asiatic Christians failed him (2 Timothy 1:15); and there was an unaccountable indifference to his wants marking the relations of the Roman Christians themselves, which argued that much was not to be expected from their affection. So his prison-experience must have had its dark moments.

V. MARK THE SPIRIT IN WHICH THE APOSTLE LIVED THROUGH THIS PRISON-EXPERIENCE. The solitude of such a life often breeds a morbid spirit, which throws a darker coloring into the thoughts of the prisoner. Yet the Epistles of the captivity breathe a beautiful spirit of Christian courage and resignation, not to speak of absolute rejoicing. Compare the letters of the apostle with those of Cicero, Seneca, and Ovid in their exile, and we see at a glance the different effects of Christianity and paganism upon the happiness of man. As the prisoner of Jesus Christ, he abounded in the consolations of his Divine Master, while he must have been greatly encouraged by the visits of disciples like Epaphroditus, Epaphras, and others, who carried to him the prayers and benefactions of the Churches.

VI. WE OUGHT TO REMEMBER PRISONERS IN OUR PRAYERS, AS "BOUND WITH THEM." Most prisoners in our day are in jail for crime, but we ought to remember that they are men, that they are our brothers, that they must feel their separation from wife and children and home as keenly as we should. Perhaps, but for restraining grace, we should have been in their position. But we are bound specially to remember in our prayers those suffering for the cause of Christ, and especially those occupied with great service for the Lord. - T.C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

WEB: For this cause I, Paul, am the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles,

The Prisoner of Christ Jesus
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