September 23, 2007
THE PRISONER OF THE LORD
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God...given me toward you: how that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery” (Eph. 3:1-4). This “cause” was special now that believing Jews and Gentiles were no longer “strangers and foreigners, but joint-citizens of the holiest, and of the household of God...built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the chief corner stone; in Whom the whole building...grows unto an holy temple in the Lord...an habitation of God through the Spirit” (2:18-22). Paul had been in and out of prisons more times than we know, yet now his ministry was taking an ominous turn.
He summarized his ministry, “You (Ephesians) know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind...and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you...testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: except that the Holy Ghost witnesses in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, even the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more... I take you to record this day, that... I have...declared unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20).
Warnings were given all along the way, but Paul’s dedication to the Lord and his love for Israel stiffened his resolve to present the offering at Jerusalem. Through a mistaken identity Paul was thought to have defiled the temple and the Jewish uproar required Roman soldiers to rescue him from death at the hand of the Jews. From that moment on Paul was “the prisoner of the Lord for you Gentiles.” His prison ministry was beyond compare!
Ivan L. Burgener