The Apostle Paul wrote several letters while he was imprisoned. Some historians estimate that Paul was incarcerated as much as a quarter of his missionary life. Roman prisons were nothing like our present prison system in the United States and most of the Western world. Conditions were beyond deplorable. Even before entering, prisoners were stripped and beaten. The prisons were cramped, overcrowded, dark, and cold. Their open wounds were a fertile ground for infection given the squalid conditions. Little clothing, food, or water was available. Many chose to commit suicide rather than endure further punishment and torture.
The Apostle Paul would have been justified to complain about his conditions and treatment in prison. Instead, there is a scant reference of it in his letters although anyone who lived during that time was keenly aware of the wretched conditions he was facing. For the modern reader, it is important to know what it was like to gain a deeper appreciation for the depth of Paul’s faith as he wrote some of his greatest letters. Perhaps the most poignant verse he wrote was at the end of his letter to the Colossians.
…Remember my chains…
Colossians 4:18 (ESV)
If I was in prison, I would definitely be pleading for my life, requesting any family and friends to help me. The more people who knew of my condition, the better. Paul did not call attention to his plight. He used his imprisonment as efficiently as he could, writing letters to the various churches, encouraging other believers. Ironically, he needed encouragement as much, if not more, than other Christians who were undergoing persecution from the Roman empire. Yet, his perseverance, his fortitude, was squarely centered upon Jesus Christ, and the prize of salvation and eternal fellowship with His Lord and Savior.
There are so many times when I wallow in self-pity and want to rally any and all to support me. How selfish and egotistical am I when so many other Christian believers have truly suffered for their faith. Yes. I will remember the chains that the Apostle Paul endured. I will remember the chains of thousands of Christian believers, imprisoned throughout the world because of their faith. And I will remember the chains that bound our Lord Jesus Christ before He was crucified. It was my chain of sing that bound Him. He broke these chains and was resurrected from the dead. Through His faithfulness to God, we have full assurance that by confessing and repenting of our sins and acknowledging Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we can be freed!
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.