This applied both to Paul and to those who were brought into touch with him.
For the Apostle the settling in to the sovereign ordering
of GOD in his imprisonment issued in increasing
illumination leading to spiritual emancipation.
No one can fail to
recognize the tremendous enrichment of ministry as
contained in what are called "the Prison
If he had been restive, piqued,
rebellious, or bitter, there would have been no open
heaven, and a spirit of controversy with the LORD would
have closed and bolted the door to the fuller Divine
unveilings and clarifyings.
When all was accepted
according to the mind of the LORD, then "the
heavenly places" became the eternal expanses of his
walking about, and earthly bondage gave place to heavenly
So it must be with every instrument set apart in
relation to the higher interests of the LORD'S testimony.
Then the reading of certain passages in his letters and
the record of his imprisonment shows how this applied to
Take the following: 2Ti 1:8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
Act 28:30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,
Act 28:31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
2Ti 1:16 The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:
2Ti 1:17 But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.
2Ti 1:18 The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.
Clearly the effect of
these passages is that there had to be a Divine
apprehension and not merely a human appraisal of Paul's
Human levels of mentality would have produced
an atmosphere of doubt, suspicion, question, and would
have let in elements of false imputation.
merely natural lines, association with the prisoner would
have involved such associates in the suspicion and prejudice.
Doubt of the LORD'S servant was very
widespread, and even many of the LORD'S people were not
sure of him.
But the LORD was shutting up a very vital
revelation to this channel, and for such as were really
in spiritual need, and such as were to stand in a living
relation to fullness of testimony from identification
with Christ in death and resurrection, on to throne-union
with Him, power over "Principalities, Powers"
etc., and on to the ministry "in the ages to
There had to be a putting aside of all human,
personal, and diplomatic considerations and a standing
right in there with the instrument where GOD put it in
For possession of which is to
come through the vessel, there has to be a coming where
the vessel is, without consideration for reputation,
influence, or popularity.
In this way the Lord
sifts His people and finds out who really is wholly for
Himself and His testimony, and who is actuated in any
measure by other considerations and interests.
instrument in this position of popular rejection is thus
the LORD'S means of searching.
~T. Austin Sparks~