Commentary on Philippians, 1:12-13 (Identifying With Christ)

Philippians 1:12-13


“12 Now I would have you know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the advancement of the gospel,”


I’m sure that Paul’s imprisonment would have been a real concern to the Philippian Christians, and so he is trying to comfort them about his circumstances.


All the events that led to Paul’s imprisonment, and the imprisonment itself, resulted in the “advancement of the gospel” message. Though it must have been a very difficult experience, his being there actually served as a further opportunity to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. His situation may have limited his body, but it didn’t limit his tongue. He took full advantage of the opportunity and continued to tell others about Jesus, as he had always done wherever he went.


This is a great lesson for each of us. Whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, we should be praying for, and looking for, opportunities to share the gospel message with those around us, whoever they may be. It may be a new city, a new neighborhood, a new job, a new school – whatever the case may be – we need to be praying for open doors to share our faith with those whom God has brought into our lives.


Wherever we find ourselves, and whatever the situation may be, it should result in the “advancement of the gospel,” being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. We must be aware of the fact that God wants to use us in other people’s lives. We must realize that it’s through us that the gospel message is spread. Therefore, we must recognize that God has us where we’re at for the purpose of making a difference in the lives of those around us, within “the area of influence that God has assigned to us” (2 Cor 10:13-16).


“13 so that it has become known throughout the whole praetorian guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ,”


“praetorian guard”


Vincent:


Quote:
“The Praetorians, forming the imperial guard, were picked men, ten thousand in number, and all of Italian birth. The body was instituted by Augustus and was called by him “praetoriae cohortes, praetorian cohorts,” in imitation of the select troop which attended the person of the praetor or Roman general. Augustus originally stationed only 3000 of them, 3 cohorts, at Rome, and dispersed the remainder in the adjacent Italian towns. Under Tiberius they were all assembled at Rome in a fortified camp. They were distinguished by double pay and special privileges. Their term of service was originally 12 years, afterward increased to 16 years. Upon completing his term, each soldier received a little over $800 (value circa 1880’s). They all seem to have had the same rank as centurions in the regular legions. They became the most powerful body in the state; the emperors were obliged to court their favor, and each emperor on his accession was expected to bestow on them a liberal donative. After the death of Pertinax (A.D. 193) they put up the empire at public sale, and knocked it down to Didius Julianus. They were disbanded the same year on the accession of Severus, and were banished; but were restored by that emperor on a new plan, and increased to four times their original number. They were finally suppressed by Constantine. The apostle (Paul) was under the charge of these troops, the soldiers relieving each other in mounting guard over the prisoner, who was attached to his guard’s hand by a chain. In the allusion to his bonds, (Eph 6:20note “an ambassador in chains“) he uses the specific word for “the coupling-chain.” His contact with the different members of the corps in succession, explains the statement that his bonds had become manifest throughout the praetorian guard.” (Vincent)
Unquote


Barnes:


Quote:
“Rev., throughout the whole praetorian guard. So Lightfoot, Dwight, Farrar. This appears to be the correct rendering. The other explanations are, the imperial residence on the Palatine, so A.V.; the praetorian barracks attached to the palace, so Eadie, Ellicott, Lumby, and Alford; the praetortan camp on the east of the city, so Meyer.


The first explanation leaves the place of Paul’s confinement uncertain. It may have been in the camp of the Praetorians, which was large enough to contain within its precincts lodgings for prisoners under military custody, so that Paul could dwell “in his own hired house,” Acts 28:30. This would be difficult to explain on the assumption that Paul was confined in the barracks or within the palace precincts.


The Praetorians, forming the imperial guard, were picked men, ten thousand in number, and all of Italian birth. The body was instituted by Augustus and was called by him praetoriae cohortes, praetorian cohorts, in imitation of the select troop which attended the person of the praetor or Roman general. Augustus originally stationed only three thousand of them, three cohorts, at Rome, and dispersed the remainder in the adjacent Italian towns. Under Tiberius they were all assembled at Rome in a fortified camp. They were distinguished by double pay and special privileges. Their term of service was originally twelve years, afterward increased to sixteen. On completing his term, each soldier received a little over eight hundred dollars. They all seem to have had the same rank as centurions in the regular legions. They became the most powerful body in the state; the emperors were obliged to court their favor, and each emperor on his accession was expected to bestow on them a liberal donative. After the death of Pertinax (a.d. 193) they put up the empire at public sale, and knocked it down to Didius Julianus. They were disbanded the same year on the accession of Severus, and were banished; but were restored by that emperor on a new plan, and increased to four times their original number. They were finally suppressed by Constantine.


The apostle was under the charge of these troops, the soldiers relieving each other in mounting guard over the prisoner, who was attached to his guard’s hand by a chain. In the allusion to his bonds, Ephesians 6:20, he uses the specific word for the coupling-chain. His contact with the different members of the corps in succession, explains the statement that his bonds had become manifest throughout the praetorian guard.
Unquote


“and to all the rest”


To everyone else besides the Praetorians. Widely or generally known by everyone else.


“that my chains are in Christ”


It was widely known that Paul’s imprisonment was “in Christ,” which speaks of Paul’s relationship with Christ. He was thus in prison because of his relationship with Christ, and because of his service to Christ, and that this was generally known by all.


As Paul was known for his relationship with Christ, so all of us as Christians should be known for our relationship with Christ. There’s always a risk involved of some sort when we identify ourselves with Christ, but it’s something that every believer is called to do (Mt 10:32-33; Lu 12:9-9; 1 Jn 4:15; 2 Ti 2:11-13; Tit 1:16; Ju 1:4).

We identify with Christ both through our verbal witness, and through the way we live our lives. Obviously if someone denies Christ verbally, that’s a clear denial…but it’s also a denial of Christ when we are not walking in obedience to Christ. If we confess Christ with our mouths, but are not living a distinctly Christian life, but living as those who do not profess Him, then that’s still a denial. The way we live must be in harmony with what we say. Our life must confess Christ just as loudly as our tongue – even more so.