Philippians 1:12
Now I want you to know, brothers, that my circumstances have actually served to advance the gospel.
A Prisoner's TriumphAlexander MaclarenPhilippians 1:12
Christianity Promoted by Being PersecutedW.F. Adeney Philippians 1:12-14
Furtherance of the Gospel Through the Apostle's ImprisonmentT. Croskery Philippians 1:12-14
The Benefits Conferred Upon Men by the Steadfast Confession of Our FaithV. Hutton Philippians 1:12-14
A Grand Principle and a Splendid ExampleD. Thomas Philippians 1:12-18
Bonds in ChristJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 1:12-20
Character of St. Paul's CaptivityBishop Lightfoot., Conybeare and Howson.Philippians 1:12-20
Christian BoldnessG. G. Ballard.Philippians 1:12-20
Expectations Unexpectedly FulfilledT. C. Finlayson.Philippians 1:12-20
Good Out of EvilJ. Daille.Philippians 1:12-20
Hindrances as HelpsJ. F. B. Tinling, B. A.Philippians 1:12-20
Irresistible Moral InfluenceG. G. Ballard.Philippians 1:12-20
Ministerial LifeG. G. Ballard.Philippians 1:12-20
Paul's Bonds in Christ ExhibitedG. G. Ballard.Philippians 1:12-20
Paul's CaptivityJ. Hutchinson, D. D.Philippians 1:12-20
Paul's Sorrows and JoysJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 1:12-20
The Advantage of DisadvantageJohn Bunyan, in Bedford Jail.Philippians 1:12-20
The Furtherance of the GospelJ. Hutchinson, D. D.Philippians 1:12-20
The Gospel Furthered by OppositionJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 1:12-20
The Gospel in RomeJ. J. Goadby.Philippians 1:12-20
The Gospel in RomeR. Johnstone, LL. B.Philippians 1:12-20
The Gospel Promoted by PersecutionR.M. Edgar Philippians 1:12-20
The Ministry of Paul the PrisonerG. G. Ballard.Philippians 1:12-20
The Powerlessness of PersecutionH. Airay, D. D.Philippians 1:12-20
The Things that have Happened unto Me have Fallen Out Rather unto the Furtherance of the GospelJ. Parker, D. D.Philippians 1:12-20
The Triumphs of the GospelJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 1:12-20
Things Concerning HimselfW. B. Pope, D. D.Philippians 1:12-20
Unfavourable Circumstance, May be Turned to AdvantageC. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 1:12-20
Thoughts Suggested by His CaptivityR. Finlayson Philippians 1:12-30

He now proceeds to inform his converts of his condition at Rome, with his hopes and his fears for the future. His imprisonment had in two important respects signally promoted the growth of Christianity in the great metropolis of the world.

I. HIS SUFFERINGS FOR CHRIST HAD BECOME KNOWN TO THE SOLDIERS OF THE PRAETORIAN GUARD AND TO OTHERS. "My bonds have become manifest in Christ throughout the Praetorian Guard, and to all the rest." This was important for two reasons.

1. Because thee soldiers were connected with "Caesar's household. We may well suppose that the saints in that household referred to afterwards (Philippians 4:22) owed their conversion to the apostle's ministry.

2. Because Christianity would thus be brought under the eye of the world. These soldiers were part of an army which then covered the world with its conquests.

3. But the special importance lay in the fact that he was recognized as a prisoner, not for that, or murder, or ill-doing, but for his profession of the gospel.

II. HIS SUFFERINGS FOR CHRIST HAD THE EFFECT OF INSPIRING MINISTERS WITH GREATER COURAGE IN PREACHING THE GOSPEL. And the greater part of the brethren, having in the Lord confidence in my bonds, are more abundantly bold to preach the gospel without fear." This implies:

1. That the ministry was then a dangerous servia, for it exposed preachers to violence and death.

2. That the example of triumphant faith and joyful endurance cannot be without its effect. The courage of the apostle, a fearfully critical time, breathed new strength into "the brethren." - T.C.

I would ye should understand, brethren
Its aim, pursuit, and success, ought to be —

I. TRANSPARENT. This a true minister's —

1. Duty.

2. Desire.

3. Privilege.


1. Demanded by their community of interest.

2. Necessary to the growth of their mutual sympathy.

3. His vindication against false rumours and slander.

4. Should ever bring glory to God.

5. Ought to be cultivated, intelligent, and loving.

(G. G. Ballard.)


1. His imprisonment gave notoriety to the cause for which he was imprisoned.

2. His own soldier guards heard him talk to his visitors, and themselves became the means of extending the cause. As one man relieved another day after day, the whole of the imperial guard was brought under Christian teaching.

3. These guards would make this strange prisoner the theme of many homes in the city.

4. The apostle's calmness and consistency began to tell on the Christians themselves.(1) The Gentile Christians in sympathy with the liberal views of the apostle plucked up heart of grace.(2) The Jewish Christians envious of the apostle's influence doubled their zeal.


1. His perfect self-forgetfulness. Neither his imprisonment nor the preaching of envy and strife could disturb his confidence in Christ.

2. His large and hopeful charity. Even the Judaizers preached Christ.

3. His spirit of humble and trustful dependence —

(1)On the prayer of the Philippians.

(2)On the supply of the Spirit through Jesus Christ.

4. His thorough and absorbing devotedness to his work. Conclusion:Note —

1. The power of personal influence.

2. That this influence can, only be sustained by personal union with Christ.

(J. J. Goadby.)

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.)

I. PAUL'S SORROWS. Persecuted — imprisoned — insulted.

II. PAUL'S JOYS. The progress of the gospel — the love, courage, and confidence of the brethren — the proclamation of Christ.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. THE FIRST RESULT WAS THAT IT HAD BEEN SERVICEABLE FOR THE DIFFUSION OF THE TRUTH AMONG THOSE WHO OTHERWISE MIGHT NOT HAVE HEARD OF IT. Man may be bound but not the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:9). We may almost trace his rejoicing in his chain (Acts 28:20; 2 Timothy 1:16). They were to him as links of spiritual pearls; his garb of affliction as a robe of beauty because they were manifest in Christ. He was soon seen not to be a political offender or a law breaker, but a humble patient, contented witness for Christ.

II. THE SECOND RESULT WAS THAT IT MADE THOSE WHO WERE ALREADY RELIEVERS INCREASINGLY BOLD OF SPEECH. If he could preach in fetters much more should they preach in freedom. But there is a dark shadow on the picture, Christ was preached from varying motives. Yet the apostle will rejoice that He is preached at all. In the Epistle to the Galatians the preachers of Christ of envy and strife were unsparingly denounced; but here he is not comparing party with party, but Christianity with heathenism. Even an imperfect gospel was precious in view of the nameless corruptions of Rome. The same experience is seen still in mission fields, all minor differences of Church organization and creed dwindle into nothingness in the presence of the hideous corruption of the pagan world. So ought it to be in Christian lands in view of home heathenism.

(J. Hutchinson, D. D.)

I. THE EXPERIENCE OF PAUL. He was brought into notoriety — into contact with persons of influence — to Rome the centre human power — had leisure to write his Epistles.

II. THE EXPERIENCE OF ALL BELIEVERS. Nothing happens by chance — all things are overruled by Christ — we should therefore gladly toil and suffer in His cause.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

Knowing the deep solicitude of the Philippians, but not to what extent they may have been misinformed as to his imprisonment, he makes haste to set their minds at rest. But if we expect that he will dilate upon the details of his external fortunes, or open the secrets of his prison house, we shall be disappointed. What little may be recovered of these must be gathered from other sources.

I. There can be no doubt that St. Paul here REFERS TO THAT IMPRISONMENT WITH WHICH THE BOOK OF THE ACTS CLOSES. Regard this event —

1. Under the purely human aspect. Three times in his life was St. Paul, as he gloried in saying, "a prisoner of Jesus Christ," besides "bonds oft." The first was at Caesarea, when he pleaded his own and his Master's cause, and claimed the right of a Roman citizen to appeal unto Caesar. In this he gratified one of the deepest desires of his heart. "I must see Rome." It was his holy ambition to carry the gospel to the centre of the world. The Lord ratified the desire of his heart. "As thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so shalt thou bear witness in Rome." But His Master had not indicated that He was to go bound. Apostles, like ourselves, must wait for the unfoldings of providence. He reached Rome and was subjected to mild restraint. During two years he was kept in suspense: then he seems to have been dismissed, but returned again after a few years' mission to the West, to the same place, and was beheaded. All this is what he meant by the "things that concern me." As to those details we should have been so glad to receive, about himself and the Roman Church, he is silent, perhaps because his letters were closely watched.

2. When he lays the stress on "have fallen out rather," he gives us a hint of another side of the matter. The hand of God had been leading him in a way he knew not. It was not Paul alone who had appealed unto Caesar, but Christ in him and Christ's cause. It was part of the manifold wisdom of God that he should consolidate the Church in Rome. St. Paul's special revelation of truth — "my gospel" — was necessary to the perfection of evangelical teaching, and therefore was he, not Peter, sent to Rome.

II. RATHER UNTO THE FURTHERENCE OF THE GOSPEL. The apostle's imprisonment had positively tended to promote the kingdom of Christ.

1. Generally this had been the case. Paul was still the centre of the European gospel, and had time and opportunity now for a calm survey of the whole estate of Christ's Church. His spirit was surrendered to the undisturbed influence of meditation and prayer. What the three great Epistles — Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians — owe to this seclusion, those who study them may conjecture. Certain it is they have tended greatly to the furtherence of the gospel.

2. More particularly his bonds have promoted the gospel —(1) By being made known through Rome in their connection with the Redeemer. He was known, marked, inquired about as the most eminent representative of Christianity to the army and to great numbers who assembled in his own hired house.(2) By their effect in stimulating others to preach Christ.(a) The first class of these preachers are described as feeling the good influence of the apostle's bonds in two ways: first they were inspired with boldness by his Christian endurance; secondly, their love to the cause of Christ was increased by their sympathy with his devotion as set for the defence of the gospel.(b) But these bonds stirred up a different class of preachers; the weak brethren of whom he speaks as exerting so much influence in Rome (Romans 14). Weak in faith and scrupulosity, but strong in prejudice and bitterness, who thought that by preaching a more contracted gospel, they would add bitterness to his bonds. As a confederate company they were actuated by "strife" and "faction"; being only in a minority, they sought to increase their numbers and raise a party that would neutralize this Gentile gospel.

3. By a remarkable expression St. Paul declares his self-forgetting concentration of heart on the furtherance of Christ's gospel (ver. 18).(1) The exclamation, "What then," shows that he has something to say which demands, as it were, an apology to himself and others; but he boldly goes on to give the ground of his rejoicing and his condemnation of every impure motive in the preaching of Christ.(2) This rejoicing is —(a) His pure and loyal exultation that by all means the name of Christ was more widely proclaimed.(b) His gladness that what was mingled with so much private disquietude would issue in the furtherance of his own salvation. Fidelity to public duty must go hand in hand with trembling solicity for individual fidelity.(c) To what did he look for personal assurance and establishment in grace? Not to any guaranteed apostolical prerogative; not to the long-disciplined, strength of his moral nature; but to the common heritage of all Christians — "the supply of Christ's Spirit" through the prayers of his fellow saints united with his own.

(W. B. Pope, D. D.)

I.CONTINUE in spite of oppression.

II.ARE SECURED by opposite agencies.

III.ARE A SOURCE of joy to its adherents.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

The Philippians looked upon the imprisonment as a calamity; Paul assures them that it was an element of prosperity. This shows how much our estimate of men and things depends upon the angle from which we conduct the examination. Circumstances are often the only lexicons which can determine the meaning of words. "Ruin" at Philippi meant "coronation" at Rome. Much depends on the plane of vision as well as upon optical power. There is a germ of prophecy here. By and by we shall see life from higher standpoints. It is better for the student to study his dark problems at Rome than at Philippi. Circumstances the most untoward may in reality be advancing the Divine kingdom. Every purpose of God may be thwarted, but the outcome of the ages will show that God's great plan has been realized.


II. THE MORAL IS HIGHER THAN THE PERSONAL. Paul is in prison; the gospel is free.




(J. Parker, D. D.)




1. They are worn in the service of the King of kings.

2. Worn in royal spirit.

3. Made the means of confirming others.

4. Overruled for the extension of the kingdom.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)



III. HIS REAL DIGNITY. The omen of civil degradation was the sign of his relationship with the Lord of the universe.


(G. G. Ballard.)

I. THE THINGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED UNTO ME (see history of Paul as the prisoner of Jesus Christ, Acts 21; Acts 28)

1. Popular tumult in Jerusalem.

2. Apprehension by Lysias, bound and ordered to be examined by scourging.

3. Placed at the bar of the Sanhedrim and ordered to be smitten on the mouth by the High Priest.

4. Conspiracy against his life, exposed, defeated.

5. Taken prisoner to Caesarea. Tried before Felix. Then before Festus, afterwards before Agrippa and Berenice.

6. Appeals to Caesar, shipwrecked, arrives at Rome.

7. In Rome delivered to the captain of the guard, permitted to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him (Acts 28:30-31) for two years.

II. HAVE FALLEN OUT RATHER UNTO THE FURTHERANCE OF THE GOSPEL. The development of events in a consecrated life —

1. Is the work of an overruling Providence.

2. Produces startling results, disappointing alike to the hopes of enemies and the fears of friends.

3. Whatever may be its starting point, attains its end in the advancement of the gospel.

4. Illustrates how moral principles when tried in suffering become mighty forces in the world's evangelization.

5. A pledge that suffering with Christ shall be followed by a fellowship of glory.

(G. G. Ballard.)

I. PERSECUTIONS FURTHER RATHER THAN HINDER THE GOSPEL. In all ages the Church has been increased rather than diminished by them (Exodus 1; Daniel 3:1). When Christ was crucified they thought they had rooted out His name and doctrine forever; but by the Cross the kingdom was established.

II. HOW COMES THIS TO PASS? Not by the intentions of enemies, nor the virtue of the saints' sufferings.

1. By the power of Christ (Psalm 2:1).

2. When men see the saints' undauntedness, their patience, the power of God strengthening them, and their triumph over death, their very example brings many into the Church.

3. The Word of God is not bound, though the preacher may be (2 Timothy 2:9).


1. To be comforted in all our troubles which the wicked raise up against us, if the gospel is advanced thereby.

2. To condemn the faintness and backsliding of many in troubles (Luke 14:26-27).

3. Not to doubt of the truth or dislike professors when they are persecuted.

(H. Airay, D. D.)

I. THE RESULT of a firm confidence in the Lord.

II. INCREASES upon the approach of persecution.

III. NECESSARY to true witness bearing.

(G. G. Ballard.)

Paul was in Rome. His earnest wish was gratified, but how differently from what he had expected. But he did not murmur. All had happened for the furtherance of the gospel. Let us look at the circumstances by which, notwithstanding his imprisonment, his original expectations were now unexpectedly realized. Consider —

I. THE AMOUNT OF LIBERTY GRANTED HIM. For some unknown reason, instead of being shut up within the Praetorian barracks, he was permitted to dwell in a hired lodging of his own, and "receive all who might come to him." He was not forbidden to preach to his visitors, and many would go away deeply impressed.

II. THE ADDITIONAL EFFICACY GIVEN TO HIS PREACHING BY HIS BONDS. He was kept under strict guard, being chained to a Roman soldier. It might have been thought that had he been allowed to go unfettered he might have accomplished more. But the fact of his bondage drew multitudes who might otherwise not have heard him, and his chains were a token of his sincerity. It became manifest that his bonds were in Christ and that he was not afraid of imprisonment or death. Onesimus was but one of many begotten by his bonds.

III. INTO WHAT UNEXPECTED QUARTERS HIS INFLUENCE PENETRATED. Had a Roman Christian previous to Paul's coming been asked what section of the population would be the last to feel the power of the gospel he would probably have pointed to the rude, hardened soldiers who were in attendance on Nero. But Paul comes and lo! the praetorium is one of the first places to feel his influence.

IV. HOW HIS IMPRISONMENT INFLUENCED MANY OF THOSE WHO WERE ALREADY PREACHING THE GOSPEL. We might have thought that the sight of Paul's chains would depress. Instead of this it quickened their zeal. Let us learn a lesson of hope in God.

1. For the progress of His kingdom.

2. For our own welfare.

(T. C. Finlayson.)

Moral influence springing from and devoted to Christ resists all mere physical and local restrictions. Paul's moral influence exerted a mighty power.



III. UPON A CLASS OF MIND AND HEART NOT EASILY IMPRESSED, viz., the guard which had charge of him, a prisoner.

IV. THROUGHOUT THE CITY — notwithstanding the restraints of "his own hired house."

V. REACHING THE FURTHER FIELD, by first fully cultivating the one at hand.

(G. G. Ballard.)

Progress — the figure is perhaps military. As the progress of armies is facilitated by the cutting down of obstructing trees, so trials were but the means of cutting down all hindrances to the onward march of the truth.

(J. Hutchinson, D. D.)

The Boers' determined opposition to Livingstone's purpose to evangelize by native teachers occasioned his continued efforts to penetrate westward until he crossed the continent, and committed himself fully to his great life work as a missionary explorer.

(J. F. B. Tinling, B. A.)

In one place near the Hospice of St. Bernard, I met with a curious natural conservatory. The under surface of the snow having been melted by the warmth of the soil, which in Alpine regions is always markedly higher than that of the air, was not in contact with it. A snowy vault was thus formed, glazed on the top with thin plates of transparent ice; and here grew a most lovely cushion of the Aretia Helvetica, covered with hundreds of its delicate rosy flowers, like a miniature hydrangea blossom. The dark colour of the soil favoured the absorption of heat; and, prisoned in its crystal cave, this little fairy grew and blossomed securely from the very heart of winter, the unfavourable circumstances around all seeming so many ministers of good, increasing its strength, and enhancing its loveliness.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I never had in all my life so great an inlet into the Word of God as now. Those Scriptures that I saw nothing in before are made in this place and state to shine upon me. I have seen that here which I am persuaded I shall never in this world be able to express.

(John Bunyan, in Bedford Jail.)

The degree of restraint put upon a person labouring under a criminal charge was determined by various circumstances: by the nature of the charge itself, by the rank and reputation of the accused, by the degree of guilt presumed to attach to him. Those most leniently dealt with were handed over to their friends, who thus became sureties for their appearance; the worst offenders were thrown into prison and loaded with chains. The captivity of St. Paul was neither the severest nor the lightest possible. By his appeal to Caesar he had placed himself at the emperor's disposal. Accordingly on his arrival at Rome he is delivered over to the prefect of the praetorians under whose charge he remained throughout his captivity. He represents himself as strictly a prisoner; he speaks again and again of his bonds. At times he mentions his coupling chain. According to Roman custom he was bound by the hand to the soldier who guarded him, and was never left alone day or night. As the soldiers would relieve guard in constant succession, the praetorians one by one were brought into communication with the prisoner of Jesus Christ, and thus he was able to affirm that his bonds had borne witness to the gospel "throughout the imperial regiment." On the other hand his confinement was not so severe as this, standing alone, might seem to imply. It is certain that all had free access to him, and that he was allowed to converse and write without restraint. He was not thrown into prison, but lived in rooms of his own. When he first arrived he was taken to temporary lodgings: either to a house of public entertainment, or to the abode of some friend. But afterwards he rented a dwelling of his own, and there he remained apparently till his release.

(Bishop Lightfoot.)Who could see without emotion that venerable form subjected by iron links to the coarse control of the soldier who stood beside him? How often must the tears of the assembly have been called forth by the upraising of that fettered hand, and the clanking of the chain which checked its energetic action.

(Conybeare and Howson.)

The cloud, while it obscures the sun, sends down the fertilizing shower. This theatre was prepared for his punishment, and it became the scene of his triumph. This persecution, which was intended to cover him with shame, overwhelmed him with honour; it was to blacken and wither his name, and it rendered it illustrious in the first city and in the most superb court in the universe. Oh the vanity of the thoughts of the wicked! Oh the admirable wisdom of the providence of God! He causes the Jew to open the apostle's mouth, when he thinks that he is closing it, and makes him spread his voice throughout the world, in desiring to banish him from Judea. He had formerly conducted Joseph to the highest pitch of glory in the same way, through the fury of his unnatural brethren. Persecution, slavery, and imprisonment had also been as it were the ladders to his prosperity. Since then He has always in the same way used them in the conduct of His people, overthrowing the designs of His enemies, and turning the artifices of their malice, and the excess of their fury, directly contrary to their intentions; multiplying His Church by the deaths and massacres which seemed likely to destroy it; lighting His gospel by those very means which appeared likely to extinguish it; and drawing the brightest glory of His servants from their deepest disgrace.

(J. Daille.)

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