Chains, Paul’s Badge As Ambassador

“…to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Ephesians 6:19-20)

This verse continues to sober me, especially when I am surrounded by such a posh culture here in Fort Worth. In this text, Paul reveals his position as a representative of Jesus Christ. With regard to the gospel, he calls himself an “ambassador.” Ambassador was a title normally attached to places of honor, such as an accredited representative. Paul reveals what this position of his consisted of in Ephesians 3:2-9.  He was entrusted with the stewardship of God’s grace to declare the mystery of Christ to the Gentiles. Along with Paul the other apostles were ambassadors, the spokesmen through whom God would declare the glory of Christ and the salvation that comes through Him (2Cor 5:20).

What strikes me most in this text, however, is that Paul describes his position as an ambassador as one that is “in chains” (Remember, this is one of his ‘prison letters’). By God’s grace, Paul is the authoritative representative of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet he describes this ambassadorship as one being “in chains.” Surely, the readers would have thought of this phrase as an oxymoron. Ambassadors do not wear chains. They are not imprisoned. They hold honored positions in society. Why is Paul writing this way?

The reason Paul writes this way is because as a prisoner in the Lord Jesus Christ, the chains he wears in prison are the marks of his position as ambassador. Paul understands that ambassadors of Jesus Christ wear chains in prison. In the midst of what seems for most to be a depressing point for the apostle’s ministry, Paul saw it as part of his mission as ambassador. This is why he can write words like those of 2 Timothy 2:8-10, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. For this reason I endure all things for the sake of the elect, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, and with it eternal glory.” Without doubt, chains are the Apostle’s badge.

May we all remember our brothers and sisters who are wearing chains now. May we pray for them and be a means of encouragement to them. May they find their hope and strength in the Lord, whose gospel cannot be bound. 


2 Responses to “Chains, Paul’s Badge As Ambassador”

  1. zbowden Says:

    Wow. Your reflections brought to mind 2 Corinthians 4:17 – “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…” All that suffering to Paul as but a slight momentary affliction. What a Godward view of life. I pray it would be so of us all my friend. Thanks for your thoughts. Much Love.

  2. Jason Snider Says:

    An exceptional example of living a life in step with the gospel. God help us as we strive to live a life that reflects the gospel we preach. How blessed Paul was to know the Savior the way he did, especially through his chains. Thank you for giving us something to muse upon. Love ya brother.

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