Philippians 1:12-15 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.
Most of the brothers who heard of Paul’s troubles were not discouraged by them, but rather encouraged to preach the gospel with an even greater boldness. They understood that Paul was imprisoned for the defense of the gospel and were ready to come alongside and defend it as well (v16).
Christianity is unique in that it thrives and spreads under persecution. There is something about watching God’s people suffer graciously for the sake of Christ which emboldens other believers to stand more firmly for the faith. This may be in part because watching others go through difficulties, allows us to see the faith tested and tried in ways which we have not personally experienced. By watching others suffer graciously we are assured that our faith can withstand trouble and that God will care for us through suffering.
Watching Paul’s loyal commitment to Christ, even in the midst of trouble, emboldened those who were free to carry the torch of the gospel. If Paul would proclaim Christ while bound, they would gladly use their freedom to do the same – and to do so with greater boldness.
The fact that believers were emboldened through Paul’s suffering reminds us that we never suffer without an audience. Fellow believers will either be encouraged or discouraged through our handling of struggles.
For some, it may not seem necessary or even fair to be told that we must be concerned about others while we are suffering, yet this is the very example of Jesus Christ. Paul uses the entirety of Philippians 2 to make this point (consider 2:4 and the example of Christ which follows).
Paul did far more than teach this point however. He lived it. He chose his words wisely and encouraged the Philippians even while he sat chained to a Roman soldier. He wanted to ensure that his handling of trouble helped to embolden his fellow believers.
The above is an excerpt from Pastor Rick’s study through the book of Philippians