Philippians 1:12-14 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.  As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.  Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

The Apostle Paul was concerned that the Church he had planted in Philippi was feeling very discouraged by what was happening to him in Rome.  We can perhaps identify with the feelings of the Philippian Christians when we see what someone like Andrew Thorburn has recently had to endure for the ‘advance of the Gospel’.

Paul encourages them, however, to make a more positive and optimistic evaluation of the situation.  Strong opposition to God’s revealed truth expressed in his Word should never take us by surprise – it is what Jesus predicted (Matthew 24:9; Luke 6:22; 21:7; John 15:18-19; 16:33), it is what the disciples Peter (1 Peter 4:12-14) and John (1 John 3:13) reiterated to believers in the First Century, and it is what all the OT prophets suffered and were rejected for!

The positive thing is that this is all in God’s sovereign hand and is part of the outworking of HIS plan for the spread of the Gospel.  In Paul’s case, his persecution had led to his captors being confronted with the claims of Christ, presumably with many of them coming to saving faith (as had happened when he had earlier been imprisoned in Philippi itself! – Acts 16:29-34).

Let us all, therefore, be encouraged by the things that are currently happening in our culture!  And let us be ‘encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly’, and let us experience the Holy Spirit doing his miraculous and powerful work in bringing many people to saving faith in Christ and building up and strengthening his Church throughout the whole world.
– Bruce Christian