And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. (ESV)
The church in Philippi had been planted by the Apostle Paul several years before the writing of this letter. Paul writes this letter from prison, and it would have been very possible for the believers in Jesus Christ to become discouraged about preaching the Gospel. Would the possibility of being imprisoned for their faith stop the Gospel from being spread?
Paul tells the believers in Philippi that his imprisonment for the Gospel has actually emboldened people to speak the truth of the Gospel even more boldly. These brothers now viewed the Gospel as something that could not be stopped, not even when it's spokesmen were imprisoned. A person can be imprisoned, but not the Gospel.
Richard Wurmbrand was a preacher in the 1900s. In Communist Romania he was imprisoned for sharing the Gospel. He spent many years being brutally tortured at the hands of Communist prison guards. Yet, he continued to lead many prisoners and even prison guards to faith in Jesus Christ. Listen to his account of how his suffering influenced his commitment to preaching the Gospel:
“It was strictly forbidden to preach to other prisoners. It was understood that whoever was caught doing this received a severe beating. A number of us decided to pay the price for the privilege of preaching, so we accepted their [the communists' ] terms. It was a deal; we preached and they beat us. We were happy preaching. They were happy beating us, so everyone was happy.”
― Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ
We are always going to be persecuted in some way or another for preaching the Gospel. Be encouraged. Nothing, not even prison, can stop the power of the Gospel to change lives.