Paul’s Chains Advance the Gospel

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Paul’s Chains Advance the Gospel

Today I would like to share with you a little bit about Paul and his desire to advance the gospel, regardless of his situation. I hope you enjoy the brief look into why Paul desired to share the gospel, and the heart with which he did it. This will be based off of Philippians 1:12-20 and ties into the September Evangelism Series at Peniel Ministries.

Background on Philippians

Philippians was written by Paul to a church that he founded and deeply cared about. Its a short book – only 4 chapters – but it carries a lot of depth to it. Two of the main things that this letter reflect are: Christian Unity and Joy in Service
This letter is used by Paul to share about himself, but also to address a potential issue of Unity within the church. Throughout the letter Paul reflects on a time in which he was imprisoned, and really captures the essence of being joyful while serving God, and united within service itself.

Advancing the Gospel

One of Paul’s main pursuits in life was to advance the Gospel of Christ. He sought to bring the Word of God to those who had not heard – and that included everyone in his path.

Ph. 1:12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[a] that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard[b] and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.


While it was Paul who was in prison, he is using the first verse to address his brothers and sisters in Christ to let them know that what happened was okay. He wasn’t complaining about how he spent so much time in prison, he wasn’t asking them to pray for him, he wasn’t doing anything other than calming them about the situation that he himself had been in. He had a very balanced state of mind that not only looked out for himself and the work he was doing, but also looking out for others and their wellbeing.
As Christians we often find ourselves getting so caught up in the ME of Christianity. The looking out for ourselves, our problems and our circumstances. And while that is fine, we must also – as we have been called by Christ to do – look out for those around us especially in our trials. Paul was going through a pretty difficult situation, but regardless he sang praises in prison and shared the Good News. Not only that, but as we “praise him in this storm”, as the popular song says, we are also SHOWING other Christians (and non-believers) what it means to be confident in Christ. “…most of the brothers and sisters …dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear”. As we share the good news during our suffering, we are leading by example. It’s one of those “if he can do it so can I” type of things.

Clear Vision and Purpose

Paul is secure and confident in what he is doing. He KNOWS beyond a shadow of a doubt that what happened to him “has actually resulted in the advancement of the gospel.” He is so sure that his suffering was not in vain, that he doesn’t even find it in himself to complain. Where do you hear him say “the cell I was in was much too dark and musty” or “the food was terrible!” or “can you believe how we were treated?” Nope. None. He merely explains to the church the purpose and his conviction in the motive for his imprisonment. As pure and simple as the advancement of the gospel. He tells them how so many people learned of Christ through his imprisonment, including the guards and all those around him. Then Paul goes on to say the most important thing of all: “…my imprisonment is for Christ” (Other versions say “my chains are for Christ”).
As believers, it is our job to share the good news of the Gospel with non-believers. Working in the ministry, though, we often lose sight of this purpose and focus on creating new programs, planning games and events, and getting ready for the next program or sermon. When do we take a step back and actually do what we were called by Christ to do?
Paul has a CLEAR vision – he knows EXACTLY what he is supposed to be doing. And he knows EXACTLY why he is doing it. He is advancing, or moving forward, the gospel and, as he later says, “knowing that [he is] put here for the defense of the gospel”. 

Who cares why they do it? I do it for God

15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Wow! Talk about slap in the face to some of us right there. To paraphrase: “Yeah, some people preach because they’re jealous. Some preach for good reasons. Those people do it out of love. The others are selfish and just want to cause trouble for me. But who cares? What really matters is that no matter why they do it, they’re preaching about God. And that is pretty awesome!”

Is it just me or is Paul pretty great? I don’t know how many times I have heard of, or even said myself, things like “they just preach because they like the sound of their own voice” or “their lives are so screwed up – they shouldn’t be preaching” or things like that. But what Paul says is just mind-blowing in how simple it is: “But what does it matter? The important thing is that…Christ is preached.”

Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen.

Worry about you. Don’t get so caught up in what everyone else is doing. Your job is to make sure that your life is on track, because you are a walking talking reflection of God on earth. So please. Put up a good face and walk the talk. But even if your life is screwed up and you aren’t doing things right, it’s still no reason to stop talking about God. As long as Christ is preached.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[c] 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

We must keep supporting each other in prayer. We are but only human, and in much need of provision from one another. It is not only about unity in our fellowship and conversations, but support in prayer and anything else that we may need.

God working through us reaps the biggest reward, but it also comes at a price. Pray for courage, pray for strength and exalt Christ with your body.

Whether in life or death, let us live and die a reflection of the gift God has given to us. Let our chains and our suffering serve as advancements of the Gospel.