But I would you should understand, brothers…
The Philippians had expressed through Epaphroditus, no doubt, besides warm sympathy with Paul, anxiety respecting his prospects and those of the gospel. Not merely was there a clog on the great missionary himself, but his persecution was likely to discourage the Roman Christians. He hastens to re assure them.
I. The first result of God's gracious intervention to make the wrath of man praise Him was that THE CAUSE OF PAUL'S IMPRISONMENT BECAME EXTENSIVELY KNOWN.
1. His bonds were "well known as being in connection with Christ." This was no doubt the form in which the cause of his imprisonment would present itself; yet the full and precious force of She "in Christ" is to be held fast here. It was through his union with Christ —
(1) That the bonds were on his limbs — badges, therefore, not of slavery but of freedom.
(2) That he was prompted by the Spirit of Christ to earnest effort.
(3) That he was sustained by grace to bear his bonds with patience and make them instruments for glorifying God.
2. This was known among the Praetorian guards. He had no privacy day or night, and seeing his purity, patience, gentleness, and kindness, they soon saw that he was no criminal, and felt that his bonds were in Christ.
3. In all other places, to all who knew anything about His imprisonment.
II. The second result was that PAUL'S EXAMPLE BECAME STIMULATING.
1. We may infer that in the early Church every member according to his opportunities spoke the word of the Lord. "Most" of the members of the Roman Church were certainly evangelists. The discoverer of a remedy is bound by humanity to make the remedy known: so surely should he who knows of the Divine physician. In heathen countries evangelism is the immediate fruit of conversion; but also many professing Christians never speak a word for Christ.
2. The observation of the apostle's endurance of suffering strengthened the faith of the Church, and spurred them to increased effort. Thus it comes that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. This was the effect of the death of Stephen; of the persecution of the Waldenses and of the Malagasy.
3. The secret of this is told in the little phrase "in the Lord." The man out of Christ can see only the chains and the possibilities of death: the man who is "in Christ" sees also —
(1) The spiritual grandeur of work such as had brought the apostle to bonds.
(2) The grandeur of suffering for Christ.
(3) The sympathy of Christ with the sufferer.
(4) The growth of religious strength and beauty through the affliction.
4. The preachers were under the influence of strangely divergent motives, but the apostle rejoiced that, however, perfectly or imperfectly, Christ was preached by all.
(R. Johnstone, LL. B.)
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;