“Number 10,” Photo by Steve Marvell, © 2011
For a slide show lesson on these scriptures and chains, click here.
“I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.” – Colossians 4:18
“These Chains, These Chains won't break but they will Sl-i-i-i-i-i-de” – Kenna
“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.” – Philippians 1:12-18
During Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, Paul writes to the church in Colosse and asks them to remember his chains. What does it mean to remember someone’s chains? What were Paul’s chains? Paul was imprisoned and chained for preaching the gospel. In Philippians 1:13, Paul describes his chains as in Christ. Paul was not held captive by Rome; His Lord held him captive. According to the Bible Knowledge Commentary, “In an effort to silence the truth, the authorities had incarcerated the one who spoke it, but their plan did not work.”
Two very different outcomes were the result of Paul’s chains according to Philippians 1:12-18. First, those who had sought to imprison Paul meant to hinder the truth of the gospel from being spread. This failed. The opposite effect occurred. People were more emboldened to speak the truth of the gospel because of Paul’s chains. Paul’s chains gave courage and liberated people. Second, Paul stated that some were seeking to harm him by “adding to the affliction of his chains.” This also failed. The gospel spread despite the destructive motives of the Romans chaining Paul to a different guard every six hours, twenty-four-seven. The gospel also spread despite people with mixed motives in their preaching, despite their agendas, and despite their adding to the difficulty of Paul’s chains by “adding affliction to his chains.” In other words, despite their adding a few more “links” to his “chains.”
We all have chains, do we not? Oftentimes in our lives, we face difficulties of all kinds. We face “metaphorical chains.” Our chains come in various shapes and sizes. For some of us, our chains are useful. For others of us, our chains weigh us down and sink us like a boat anchor. Some of us have chains that are thrown upon us against our wills. Others of us have self-imposed chains. We choose these chains. For some of us, our chains propel us toward God, into life, towards our goals, and into the future. We have chains that we like and we have chains that we do not like. For most of us, our chains communicate something about us. For some of us, our chains are burdensome and weigh us down? Our chains can be repulsive to some people. Sometimes our chains can propel others toward Jesus. Our chains weigh some of us down as others add to our afflictions. Some of us weigh others down by adding our chains to their afflictions. Most of us desperately need help with our chains.
What types of chains do you have? Are your chains bringing glory to God? Do you like your chains?
This is a profound thought, to “remember Paul’s chains.” Paul is saying that his chains are actually bringing God glory. There are benefits of his chains for God’s kingdom. Paul takes delight in his chains. The gospel is being spread because of Paul’s imprisonment. The manner in which Paul is bearing his chains in Christ is compelling to the on looking world.
In 2 Timothy 2:8-10, Paul says, “I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” Paul’s purpose is to see Christ magnified, and Christ is indeed magnified in Paul’s chains. The word of God is free. While Paul is chained, God’s Word cannot be chained. It is in the Word of God that we will be free; chains or no chains.
Sometimes God uses chains. They are His idea. Other times God desires our chains to be broken. May we be free of our chains, if it is within His will. Would it be true that our chains are in Christ Jesus and in Him alone. Moreover, if we find ourselves still chained, may we wear them well to His Glory. To quote Kenna, “These Chains, These Chains won't break but they will Sl-i-i-i-i-i-de.” May we break the chains that bind us through His strength, and if our chains are not to be broken, may we let them “Sl-i-i-i-i-i-de” to the glory of God and find ourselves free as we are chained in Him.
For a full length sermon on "Chains," click below:
The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Php 1:12-18
Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 2:651