Devotional Thoughts: Best of Both Worlds

Looking over Philippians 1:19-26 tonight.

For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.

We must remember that the Apostle Paul is under the watchful eye of the palace guards in Rome.

We have a picture in our heads of what a prison is like from the movies and some of them can be very dreadful places. I don't know how dire the conditions of Paul's prison situation was but the photo below would indicate it was probably a pretty cramped place.



Image source: Interior of Mamertine Prison in Rome from Bibleplaces.com.

It is likely that the situation described in Acts 28:11-31 would be what he was experiencing while writing the letter to the Philippians. This web page offered some description of what his circumstances might have been like. Excerpt:
The conditions of Paul's imprisonment were unusual. Acts 28:16 says, "When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him." He was not put in a prison with other criminals--he had not committed any crime against Roman law. The Roman authorities probably realized there was no real criminal charge against Paul, yet because they could not release him before his case was adjudicated, they allowed him to be a private prisoner in his own quarters.

Paul was under constant guard. Verse 20 records his saying to Jewish leaders in Rome, "I requested to see you and to speak with you, for I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel." The Roman government was sufficiently anxious about Paul that he was kept chained to a guard twenty-four hours a day. Roman custom provided for a change in guard every six hours, so Paul would have had four different men chained to him during the course of a day.
For an on-the-go hard charging Paul this would have been difficult for him. Additionally, there was always the possibility that the powers that be might eventually decide he should be executed. Thus, death though perhaps not imminent was a real possibility.



The prison where the Apostle Peter and Paul were believed to have been held in Rome.

Image source: Padfield.com

Yet, despite the circumstances, what do we see from Paul?

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.

What an attitude!

Lord, help me to have this kind of perspective on life. Help me to see that the life I have now is to be lived for you and for the progress of my faith and of others you bring to my life. Amen.

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