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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

What Happened to Paul? with David Roper

What Happened to Paul?

"I want you to know, brothers, that what happened to me has served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ (Philippians 1:12,13).

Paul was held for two years in the Praetorium in Rome, the headquarters of Caesar’s personal bodyguard. Though Paul had freedom to move about the building and receive visitors, he was guarded night and day by one of the emperor's guards.

These men were not ordinary grunts, but the choice young men of the Empire, the best and the brightest, many of whom, after serving in the military, rose to the Roman Senate and other positions of prominence and power.

One by one, these young men were being dragged out of their comfortable surroundings and assigned to guard the Apostle Paul, listening as he dictated letters and chatted with his friends. They must have talked with him at length through dull days and dreary nights, conversations in which Paul reasoned with them about his faith and theirs. (Military men and women, no matter how rough around the edges, tend to think deeply about spiritual things.) 

One by one these young men took his thoughts with them to the barracks to the other praetoria. Thus the gospel become known “throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest.” (Note Paul’s pregnant reference in the closing words of this letter: ”All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household" (Philippians 4:22).

Paul's original plan was to travel to Rome and evangelize the city, a strategic center from which the gospel would spread through the empire. His plan was frustrated for several years as he endured imprisonment and delay. 

But the word of God was not bound. It was making its way into the heart of the empire in the hearts of these fine, young men. Thus, what happened to Paul (his imprisonment) “served to advance the gospel.” God’s love was being proclaimed throughout Rome and the Roman world.

How often have I become discouraged because my best-laid plans have gone awry. I must learn from Paul the art of seeing God accomplish his purposes, despite my frustrations and limitations. That’s the sort of thing, you know, for which he’s duly famous.  

So… What’s happening to you these days? Wait and see what God will do.

David Roper

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