12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;
Being imprisoned would cause many people to become bitter or to give up, but Paul saw it as one more opportunity to spread the Good News of Christ. Paul realized that his current circumstances weren't as improtant as what he did with them. Turning a bad situation into a good one, he reached out to the Roman secution. We may not be in prison, but we still have plenty of opportunities to be discouraged - times of indecision, financial burdens, family conflicts, church conflict, or the loss of our jobs. How we act in such situations relects what we believe. Like Paul, look for opportunities to demonstrate your faith even in bad situations. Whether or not the situation improves, your faith will grow stronger.
13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;
How did Paul end up in Roman prison? While he was visiting Jerusalem, some Jews had him arrested for preaching the Gospel, but he appealed to Caesar to hear his case (Acts 21:15-25:12). he was then escorted by soldiers to Rome, where he was placed under house arrest while awaiting trial - not a trial for breaking a civil law, but for proclaiming the Good News of Christ. At that time, the Roman authorities did not consider "proclaiming the Good News" to be a serious charge. A few years later, however, Rome took a different view of Christianity and made every effort to stamp it out of existence. Paul's house arrest allowed him some degree of freedom. He could have visitors, continue to preach, and write letter's such as this one. A brief record of Paul's time in Rome is found in Acts 28:11-31.
14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:
16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:
17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
Paul had an amazingly selfless attitude. He knew that some were preaching to build their own reputations, taking advantage of Paul's imprisonment to try to make a name for themselves. Regardless of the motives of these preachers, Paul rejoiced that the Gospel was being preached. Many Christians serve for the wrong reasons. God doesn't excuse their motives, but, we should be glad if God uses their message, regardless of their motives.
Will continue tomorrow