Philippians 1:12-13 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.
From the moment the Roman tribune intervened to save Paul from the hate-filled crowd in Jerusalem, a series of events unfolded around Paul which would have been unlike anything else the soldier had experienced.
Consider the fact that after the Apostle Paul was taken into custody, he would have had Roman soldiers around him at all times. This means that members of the Roman military would have heard his personal salvation testimony on multiple occasions. They would have witnessed Paul’s humble response to his unjust treatment by the Jewish leaders. For years, they would have heard Paul’s conversation and watched his interaction with fellow believers as they visited him while under house arrest. They would have heard his conversations with Felix as he taught about righteousness, self-control and the coming judgment (Acts 24:25). They would have watched him carry on his ministry while bound in chains.
On the treacherous journey to Rome, the Roman soldiers would have watched Paul’s prophecies come true (Acts 27:10); they would have witnessed Paul’s divine insight (Acts 27:23-26); they would have been recipients of Paul’s authoritative care (Acts 27:33-36); they would have seen God’s protective care over Paul (Acts 28:3); they would have witnessed Paul’s apostolic miracle working (Acts 28:8-9); they would have seen and benefited from the loving interaction between Paul and his fellow believers (Acts 28:14-15).
Once in Rome, soldiers would have been constant companions of Paul (Acts 28:16). They would hear him as he expounded the law and the prophets, convincing many that Jesus was the Messiah. For two whole years, the Roman guards would hear Paul proclaim the kingdom, teaching about Christ with boldness. Over time, it became obvious to the guards around Paul that he was unjustly imprisoned and that he was suffering for Christ’s sake (Php 1:13).
Perhaps most powerfully of all, these pagan Romans would have heard the Apostle Paul, the former devout Jew, proclaim to his Jewish brethren that the salvation which he preached and which they had rejected – was now available to Gentiles (Acts 28:28). It appears that many within the imperial guard seized upon the opportunity to be saved – even those within Caesar’s household (Php 4:22)!
Unwittingly, the hateful Jews and the pagan Romans smuggled the most powerful of weapons into Rome. When they brought Paul to the city, they also brought the gospel. By permitting Paul to teach and preach while under house arrest, the Romans allowed the gospel to spread, not only through the city but through the elite imperial guard. Paul may have been bound, but the gospel was not. He may have been in chains, but the soldiers were the captive audience.
The above is an excerpt from Pastor Rick’s study through the book of Philippians