Famous Church Planter Arrested
Such was the case in AD 57. Paul the famous apostle (church planter, preacher & writer ) was imprisoned for the last four years of his life. Two of those years were in Caeserea chained night & day to a Roman guard. The last two were spent under house arrest in Rome. His contact with others was limited.visitors were few. Many who had supported him deserted him in time of need.
His ministry as preacher and apostle was truncated. He was aging. He knew that the time of his death was near.
His eyesight was failing. In some of the later letters he wrote all he could do was sign his signature. His words were transcribed by others onto tablets (a precursor of the iPad?) made of papyrus.
He was cold and tired and often alone. In one of the latter letters he pleads: “Come before winter. Bring my cloak and my books”.
I would be tempted to become introspective; questioning God as to why. I would begin to doubt God’s call on my life. Had I missed the mark so badly that He had to remove me? I could easily fall into depression & bitterness.
Not so with Paul.
He knew the call to be an apostle; an authoritative messenger sent forth as an advocate of a new principle or system or way of living.
The call remained firm until the end. Only the vehicle changed.
From prison Paul still
- established churches
- exposed error
- defended truth
- mentored others
- revealed our design and destiny as children of the Father
- demonstrated how to live in relationship with Holy Spirit
- wrote many of fourteen books of the New Testament
Grace and Peace
In prison Paul continued to preach and teach.
Word by word and line by line he wrote. God breathed the words and Paul wrote.
Paul knew isolation.He lived in a virtual world. All he had were his thoughts and his words.
Paul shared his heart, his struggles and his prayers through writing.He encouraged, he exhorted, he challenged. Paul revealed his needs and his longings.
Response from the recipients of his letters was limited and mostly anecdotal.Paul aging and ill had to trust the abilities of others to transcribe his words written on papyrus.
His focus was Jesus .
His longed for others to experience Grace and Peace.
He demonstrated living as a child of God between salvation and destination.
The Bedrock of Faith
His words are the bedrock of the living Christian faith throughout the ages.
His words were preserved with the same care as the writings of the patriarchs, prophets and psalmists.
Paul wrote in utter isolation in pain and even in tears.
You and I are the fruit of his words. Our changed lives are his reward.
Paul never knew the impact that an old man’s letters written from prison have had.
Even now in heaven I suspect he doesn’t focus on the impact but his focus is only on Jesus.
His shame is gone, the regrets and failures are forgotten.He sits with the millions and millions of those who have been changed eternally by his story and his writing.
Over the 31 days of October we will be mining the treasures and truths found in the book of Ephesians. We will explore the themes of grace and peace. We will look at design and destiny.
Maybe you are in a place of isolation coming from illness or aging or family circumstances. Are you a young mother feeling imprisoned by the demands of children? Are you in a season of transition?
We live in fearful times. The threat of war is very real again.
Our faith is under attack.
Prayer is challenging or disappointing.
Will you join me for a not just a head change but a transformation of our hearts as we learn to live in Grace and Peace.
I’ll see you tomorrow.