JohnSWilson3 Blog

Thoughts about Philippians
February 20, 2010, 7:31 pm
Filed under: M Letter to Philippians

I come now to a letter by Paul that he wrote to the Christians at Philippi. I generally agree with John Pollock on his narrative story of Paul titled “The Apostle: A Life of Paul” where the letter to the Philippians was written from Ephesus during Paul’s third church planting journey. In Ephesus Pollock believes Paul was arrested and put in prison during his two year stay as mentioned in Acts chapter 19. It is not without possibility.

While in Ephesus Paul wrote his second letter to the church in Corinth and described how he had ‘worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.” While Paul was mentioned as being arrested on a number of occasions in Acts, surely he had been arrested at other times as well that were not documented by Luke, as inferred from his letter to the church in Corinth. Additionally, I find that while reading Philippians Paul mentions how he hoped to send Timothy to the church soon “as I see how things go with me. And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.” There is no mention of going to Spain as mentioned in his letter to the Roman Christians. And it seems that this imprisonment was for short duration, indicating that this arrest was neither the one in Caesarea or Rome.

I also believe this letter to the Philippians was written before Paul left to Corinth, where he wrote the letter to the Romans. J.B. Lightfoot (1) sees “so close parallels” between the two letters and “most nearly resembles” each other he believes they would certainly have been written “in chronological order” suggesting an earlier date of it’s writing, although Lightfoot contends it was almost certainly at the beginning of Paul’s first Roman imprisonment.

Paul describes himself as being “in chains for Christ” and how “the whole palace guard” knows this. At the end of the letter Paul sends the church greetings “especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.” Most believe this to be the main reason why this letter must have been written during Paul’s first Roman imprisonment. Pollock (2) mentions that historically that wherever there was a large Roman presence there was a “proconsular palace” that included “the Praetorian Guard.” We see this also in Jerusalem and other places from the gospels and Acts. It was even thought, that because Paul was a Roman citizen, he could walk around the city although still chained to a Roman guard. Some have thought for these reasons Paul could have written the letter from Caesarea before he was taken to Rome. I do not take this as being plausible because of the short time Paul felt he was going to stay in prison in his letter to the church in Philippi. In Caesarea he knew that God was using the events to send him to Rome and had to patiently wait on God’s timing for those events to unfold. Paul also knew that Luke was doing his research into Jesus earthly life while in Judea and so realized that his time there was more than just for him but for God and what He was doing. Also Caesar’s household refers normally to any of the household slaves that worked in Roman palaces no matter the location. Because of this I believe Paul was in prison in Ephesus when he wrote this letter.

When Paul journeyed with his companions on his second church planting mission they “traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia.” They met Lydia and her household who became followers of Jesus Christ as a result of “the Lord” opening “her heart to Paul’s message.” Paul and his companions enjoyed fellowship with them in their home. Soon, after Paul and Silas imprisonment in Philippi, their jailer and his household believed “in the Lord Jesus” and were saved! God had formed a living expression of Jesus Christ in Philippi, a body of Christ, through these two households! Paul took Silas with him and left his other companions, we assume Luke and Timothy and perhaps others, to help them to learn to make Jesus as Head in their gatherings and to show them how to live according to the Spirit in each others lives and homes and to be living expressions of Christ to friends and co-workers. It is perhaps possible that towards the end of his second church planting journey that he wrote this letter, maybe from a prison in Corinth. The letter to the Philippians is also quiet about any appeals as the Corinthian letters and the comment in Romans about the collection of support for the poor Christians in Jerusalem. This mean that the letter might have been written some time after his letters to the Thessalonians and before the Corinthian and Roman letters. Of course because of not mentioning the collection could be because it was written early in his Roman imprisonment.

No matter when Paul wrote the letter, Philippi was the place Paul enjoyed the mutual giving and receiving of life with Christ and His people. Paul would always seem to go back and forth through Macedonia to enjoy the mutual love and fellowship in Christ Jesus as well as to send his assistant church planters to visit them and to encourage them. What a wonderful group of Christians whom Paul loved with such affection! May we be a body of believers whom others would long to be with “with the affection of Christ Jesus”!

(1) Lightfoot, J.B., St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, J.B. Lightfoot’s Commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul, 4th Vol. Ed., Hendrickson Publishers, 1995, 42-44.
(2) Pollock, John, The Apostle: A Life of Paul, Chariot Victor Publishing, 1985, 193-202.

“And so we came to Rome.”
February 15, 2010, 1:53 am
Filed under: E Acts

“And so we came to Rome.” What an incredible journey! These few words to Luke probably had some force to them. Finally, they were in Rome, finally they had arrived to the destination that Paul knew that God had been leading him for many years. Again more brothers showed up as they “had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged.” How encouraging to see brothers following the life of Christ in them to offering their “bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God” to go out of their way to travel all the way to the port to meet Paul and his companions. What love the brothers have for one another when living by the life of Jesus!

Luke, Aristarchus, and the rest of his companions arrive with Paul to Rome. “Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him.” In Rome, Paul’s companions perhaps stayed with Phoebe and Priscilla and Aquila, whom Paul had sent to Rome to transplant another living expression of Jesus Christ in the city along with those who had returned from Pentecost when the early church was first formed. Or perhaps they paired up in other homes of the “fellow workers” or the other households that had left Ephesus with Phoebe and Priscilla and Aquila, such as Mary of Rome, the apostles Andronicus and Junias, or Urbanus, and other homes of the brothers and sisters. How they must have encouraged one another and praised God for answering their prayers which they had prayed to God for the rescue of Paul so that he might “come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed.”

Paul was not slow in his habit of first sharing the gospel “first for the Jew” and “three days later he called together the leaders of the Jews.” Paul explained to “the leaders of the Jews” of the circumstances that led to his arrest and examination by the Roman governors concluding with “it is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.” The leaders were unfamiliar with Paul’s case and because they had heard about “this sect” they wanted “to hear what” his “views are.” This curiosity of the Jews led to another meeting which they arranged with Paul. They “came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying.” God was setting the stage for the Jews, His chosen people of old, to hear the good news of the coming of the Messiah, to bring hope and peace and a new life that God had purposed in eternity past and had now brought about through Jesus Christ. “From morning tell evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe.” What an amazing time this must have been! The Holy Spirit was at work using the life of Paul, the spiritual authority that Christ was manifesting through Paul, to share Jesus the Messiah from the Old Testament scriptures, and some believed! But many “disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul” finally ended his message with the message of Isaiah the prophet:

” ‘Go to this people and say,
“You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’ ”

Paul concludes with “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”

Luke concludes his letter with Paul staying “in his own rented house” “for two whole years” “and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” This final part of Luke’s letter sounds similar to Matthew’s gospel of Jesus Christ, which I am sure he must have read while visiting Judea, Galilee, and Samaria as he researched the life of Jesus for his own gospel of Jesus Christ he planned to write, and perhaps had a draft made already. Matthew concluded his gospel with Jesus words: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Perhaps the similarity is that the ending is really a beginning. That the gospel of Jesus Christ only began at the end of Matthew and the multiplying of the expression of the living Christ through bodies of believers only began at the end of Acts. What an incredible journey God has called His people on! That we would be participants of His divine mission of expressing His life, a life of grace, hope, and love, to all that we meet, so that Christ would have a home, a body, in every city and groups of people on this earth! Would to God that the body of Christ would be a living expression of Jesus, where God would organically build His people to be His glorious bride, living a life that has Jesus as the Head, the Leader.

May the Body of Christ truly fulfill the mission of Christ by living by His life, a life of sincere love for one another, where their is devotion to knowing Christ and Him crucified, “to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” where “all the believers were together and had everything in common,” meeting together daily, breaking bread “from house to house” and eating “together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.”

Can churches who focus on organization and traditionalism or fundamentalism learn to focus on Jesus Christ, to guide God’s people to have a sincere devotion to Christ with one another instead of to a program or agenda or themselves?

“The islanders showed us unusual kindness.”
February 15, 2010, 1:50 am
Filed under: E Acts

In Acts chapter 28 we come to the conclusion of the letter that Luke wrote as a sequel to his gospel of the life of Jesus Christ. The end of the letter brings us some 30 years after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ and the birth of His body, the church. It is also roughly been 25 years since Paul’s dramatic conversion when the Lord touched Him on the Damascus road. In that space and time Christ has found living expressions of Himself, His ecclesia, from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the known world. His people when living by His Spirit have been His witnesses, visible expressions of His life on this earth! May we do likewise!

Paul and his companions, after the ship wreck, “found out that the island was called Malta.” God continued to show His people favor as His people expressed His life to those around them. “The islanders showed us unusual kindness” Luke states. Interestingly, Luke describes a story of Paul as he was helping build “a fire” because of the rain and cold weather. As he put a “pile of brushwood” “on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand.” It is reminiscent of the words of Jesus from the gospel according to Mark how “they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all.” In fulfillment of Jesus’ words “Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.”

And then the next story of Paul, that Luke describes, is about “Publius, the chief official of the island” who had “welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably. His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this happened the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured.” Strikingly, Mark also mentions in his gospel, that after Jesus mentioned how picking up snakes would not hurt them that “they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” While the healing of the sick seemed to be consistent throughout Acts as representative of the manifestation of Jesus Christ so that He might be glorified among those observing it, it seems Luke is seeing what is happening as representative of bringing his letter of what God has done in the early church to closure.

Paul and his companions along with the centurion and soldiers finally “put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island.” They travel from seaport to seaport. Finally they reach the mainland, the chief port of Rome. Paul and his companions “found some brothers who invited us to spend a week with them.” What an amazing story or stories Paul and his companions would share with the brothers for the week they spent with them! No doubt everyone was encouraged as they mutually shared the life of Christ with each other! Paul must have been thinking of his letter to the Roman Christians how he had longed “to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”

“So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.”
February 14, 2010, 11:01 pm
Filed under: E Acts

After Paul gave his incredibly riveting testimony to Festus and King Agrippa and those in the audience room it is decided that Paul will be sent to Rome. It is unknown what Festus wrote reference “the charges against” Paul. Whatever he wrote I’m sure Festus would have liked nothing more than to get rid of Paul who was a nuisance to him politically if he stayed in Caesarea. But Paul knows, even from his letter to the Roman Christians that he knows “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” even when those things seem bleak and hopeless at first. Paul saw the moving of God’s hand in the events as they unraveled before him!

So Paul along with his companions, including Luke and “Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica,” “sail for Italy.” Aristarchus, a church planter that Paul trained in Ephesus, has been traveling with Paul for many years now. Aristarchus has lived the life of Christ together with Paul and his companions and has faced persecution with Paul, actually being “seized” by the rioters back in Ephesus. Aristarchus would be identified by Paul later in Rome as a “fellow prisoner” so it may be that Aristarchus was on the ship as a prisoner with Paul or while in Rome with Paul was put in prison with Paul, no doubt because of his witness for Jesus!

Paul is being held as a prisoner along with “some other prisoners” and “were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment.” During the trip Paul is shown kindness by the centurion and after landing “at Sidon” was “allowed to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs.” Paul was encouraged and praised God “if God is for us, who can be against us?!” His friends, I’m sure, were also encouraged by the opportunity to give aid and encouragement to there fellow brother in Christ!

Paul, his companions, the other prisoners, the centurion with his soldiers, and the ship’s sailors “put out to sea” and sail through rough waters. They are able to board another ship, this one sailing directly “for Italy.” Again sailing is difficult and Luke describes in detail their travels. Paul warns the centurion and the sailors about the disaster that is going to befall the ship if they continue, but because Paul is only a prisoner the centurion follows “the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship.” The pilot and owner of the ship make a bad decision to try and “reach Phoenix (a harbor in Crete) and winter there.” But while enroute “a wind of hurricane force” sweeps “down from the island.” The ship gets caught in the storm and for two weeks is “driven across the Adriatic Sea” by the storm.

Paul some how feels the weight of the trials that the ship in the storm is causing for everyone on board. Even Luke describes that through the horrific storm that “we finally gave up all hope of being saved.” Through this crisis Paul comes as a shining light to all who are on the ship, manifesting the gracious life of Jesus Christ. An angel of God visits Paul and encourages Paul saying “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” With this word from God Paul stands “up before them” and encourages them “to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” May God’s people so live, allowing Christ to live through us, that we might have a definite word from God Himself to encourage others in desperate times!

Paul is now regarded as a man of God, a man whose very life has a spiritual authority that no natural man has ever seen before. Paul’s advice is regarded as having a true knowledge that can only come from God. The centurion is now following the advice of Paul instead of the pilot or owner of the ship who are no longer in the picture of this story. I guess when our lives are on the line and the very breath of our life could be taken away at any moment, those who are without Christ can have a tendency to look to the one who is spiritual, or who seems to have spiritual authority, a spiritual knowledge of God Himself to find a way out, instead of seeking God for himself. May we as His people guide people who are seeking after Christ, not to ourselves and our agendas, but to the Lord of glory! That’s what Paul did. He did not boast about himself but Christ alone.

Luke makes a point to mention in this story of how “Paul urged them to eat.” And in so doing expressed the wonderful love of Jesus to everyone on board. “For the last fourteen days…you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food – you haven’t eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” Then Paul “took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat.” Amazing! Paul is calm, he is confident about what God has told him. Paul’s faith is unwavering because he received a sure word from the Lord! As a result of the peace of God in his life in the midst of the storm “they were all encouraged and ate some food themselves” and they ate “as much as they wanted.”

After lightening the ship and waiting until daylight it runs “aground” near “a sandy beach.” Here is another moment of crisis, the ship is about to be “broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf” and the soldiers plan to kill all “the prisoners.” “But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. The rest were to get there on planks or on pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land in safety.”

God was faithful to is word! I can only imagine what Paul thought as he saw God’s deliverance of everyone on board the ship. Surely he reflected on the words that he wrote to the churches God had raised up through the gospel he had preached. Maybe Paul was thinking about when he wrote to the church in Thessalonica: “Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” Perhaps he remembered what he wrote to the Corinthians how “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” and was reminded that Jesus had told him “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” God is faithful! Amen!

“But I have had God’s help to this very day…”
February 6, 2010, 4:22 pm
Filed under: E Acts

Paul’s defense before Festus and King Agrippa must be one of the greatest testimonies written in the Bible! Luke goes to some length to describe what Paul says. Perhaps Luke and his companions are in the “audience room” it is unsure. Perhaps there were some, no doubt, in the audience room who witnessed hearing the incredible story of Jesus saving Paul that some believed and later provided Luke some details of what was said.

Festus is very much the intelligent Roman governor and is one to play favorites for any who are of nobility, who have prestige and power. It just so happened that “King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Casarea to pay their respects to Festus.” Seems God was setting up the very scene which Paul would testify about Jesus Christ and secure his trip to Rome.

Festus explains to Agrippa about the man, Paul, “whom Felix left as a prisoner.” he describes how “the chief priests and elders of the Jews brought charges against him and asked that he be condemned.” Festus then described to Agrippa the results of the court but was “at a loss” about what it all meant as it only involved “some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive.” Of course Festus does not mention how “wishing to do the Jews a favor” he wanted Paul to go to Jerusalem “and stand trial before me there on these charges.” Of course “Paul made his appeal to be held over for the Emperor’s decision.” So Festus has been waiting to “send him to Caesar.” Perhaps because of what happened to Paull with Felix, being left in prison for two years, it was a good thing for Agrippa to show up, or Paul would be in prison for a couple more years! Agrippa is intrigued by what Festus has shared about Paul and says “I would like to hear this man myself.”

“The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the audience room with the high ranking officers and the leading men of the city.” Festus makes a loud introduction presenting Paul to the audience. Sounds almost too good to be true! The risen Lord Jesus will be presented to the highest ranking people of the area and of the country. It sounds very similar to the story of Jesus being presented to the audience by Pilate, before His crucifixion. Then after Festus describes every reason why he shouldn’t even be holding Paul at all as a prisoner, Agrippa asks Paul that he has “permission to speak for yourself.”

Paul very eloquently shows appreciation to King Agrippa for allowing him to “make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews.” He is also appreciative of the fact that Paul knows that Agrippa is “well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies.” Paul describes the facts of how “the Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child” and “have known me for a long time and can testify” how Paul lived before he came to know the Lord Jesus. But Paul describes that what he is on trial for is really what the Jews were “promised” by God Himself. Paul describes it as his “hope in what God has promised our fathers…the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled…it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me.” Paul’s hope has its basis in what was promised in Scripture by God Himself, the fulfillment of those very Scriptures, by the One God raised from the dead!

Paul even points out how he too thought the way the Jews thought and “earnestly” served “God day and night” by opposing “the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Paul “put many of the saints in prison,” “cast my vote against them” “when they were put to death,” “punished” them, and “tried to force them to blaspheme.” Paul was obsessed, a religious fanatic if you will, trying to rid the world of a people who believed that the Messiah had come.

But at the height of his religious persecution against Christians God, in His mercy, came to Paul. Paul describes what happened when he “was going to Damascus.” He and his companions saw the light of God and all were thrown “to the ground” and Paul heard the voice of the Lord. God revealed Himself to Paul as the Lord “Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Paul tells the audience that Jesus told him “Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Wow! Jesus desires that all men might be saved! This wonderful salvation is a revealing of the Jesus Christ as Lord and God, to invite them into an eternal relationship with God Himself who will freely forgive the sins all who have faith in Jesus and to no longer be at odds with God because of the power of Satan. What a wonderful message! You and I free from the bondage of sin and Satan, as Paul told the Roman Christians earlier, by “confessing Jesus is Lord and believing that God raised him from the dead”! Have you placed your faith in the Lord Jesus? Oh how He desires to give you salvation which is His life, life that is eternal, life that is free from condemnation!

Paul placed his faith in the risen Lord Jesus, the Messiah not of the Jews only but also of the Gentiles, anyone who would place their trust in Him! God was restoring His creation before Satan had caused Adam to fall and the rest of mankind with him. Paul was so confident in what the Lord Jesus had told him, he said he “was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.” Paul proclaimed to any who would hear him “that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” When Jesus becomes our life, His life begins to be lived through us to one another. Love becomes the mark of His people. In contrast “the Jews seized (Paul) in the temple courts and tried to kill” him. Paul makes an incredible statement at this point: “But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here to testify to small and great alike.” Jesus has been true to His word to Paul, he has rescued Paul “from your own people and from the Gentiles.” God has miraculously protected Paul for this very moment. God has a moment for His people, for you and me. How is Christ being formed in you? Christ wants to be our all in all, He desires first place in everything. Only in the context of allowing Him to live through us in love will He trust us to give us moments, moments that move heaven and earth and enable the Lord Jesus to be given the glory and His life expressed and multiplied to others. Awesome!

Paul concludes with the final statement: “Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” We, as His followers, are alive with His resurrection life! But that life cannot come about accept through Christ’s suffering, by denying ourselves, taking up our crosses daily, and following Him. People will see Jesus, His hope and eternal life, is salvation, when they see Christians for who they truly are when in the midst of crisis and suffering they see His life and love.

Festus was beyond himself and couldn’t take it any longer! He interrupts Paul, seemingly at the top of his lungs: “You are out of your mind, Paul! Your great learning is driving you insane.” Here Jesus life comes through Paul again as Paul patiently, and without being defensive says: “I am not insane, most excellent Festus. What am saying is true and reasonable.” Festus could not accept this truth and was not willing to accept it as reasonable. His mind was focused not on wanting to trust in Jesus but on his position, prestige, and power. He wanted to get rid of Paul, but wanted to so only for the material and political benefits he could get out of it. It seems it had backfired!

Paul then goes straight for Agrippa and for the rest of the audience. Paul goes and says “the king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.” But Agrippa, himself a king, is not willing to humble himself to someone else as King and Lord and tells Paul “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Agrippa totally ignores the truth and reasonableness of the message that Paul gave. Amazing how people can deny the truth when it is in front of them.

Paul concludes his defense with this statement: “Short time or long – I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.” How many times are we willing to listen to the message and deny it’s truth? How many times as believers are willing to listen to the message of being the body of Christ but deny the truth by our individualism? It is only when Christ is Head of the body, in the context of dieing to one another and loving one another from the heart that it is the only means to truly live the life of Jesus?

Agrippa told Festus that “this man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.” Paul’s chains reflect bondage. While he was in bondage, his time was not his own, he found comfort in the fact that he was no longer in bondage to sin and to Satan, he was in bondage to the Lord Jesus Christ, His slave. In His life Paul found himself free in the midst of the prison experience. Can we realize that while our time may not be our own, we can bask in the freedom of knowing Jesus Christ, so that the glory of Jesus would be expressed to others? Do not complain dear brothers and sisters, complaining shows how immature our faith is in Jesus and gives Satan the opportunity to wreck us spiritually and emotionally. Let Jesus be Master of you life today and as we have opportunity, to meet continually with the brothers and sisters to encourage one another and reveal Jesus, His glorious life, to one another!