This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. ~ 2 Timothy 2:8b-9
There Paul sat. He was in a dungeon in Rome. His execution was near. And as he wrote his last letter, he also had to deal with something we don’t always consider. He had to deal with the reality of wearing a chain.
In the 1st Century, chains for prisoners were made of rough iron. They weighed an average of 15 pounds. How the authorities placed the chain on you could vary. They might place your chain on one of your legs or both of your legs, on one of your wrists or both of your wrists. Or they might decide to place it around your neck. They might chain you to another prisoner, or they might chain you to all the other prisoners who are there.
The chain you wore could be painful. The rough iron would easily rust from your perspiration. The sheer weight of your chain could be debilitating. And the noisy creaking of your chain would be constant.
In the darkness of that dungeon, therefore, Paul understood the limitations he faced as a Christian proclaimer of the gospel. All he had to do was see, and feel, and hear the chain on his body.
But he knew something else. He also knew that God’s Word was not chained.
As we walk through this life, the Lord calls upon us to share the gospel with others. As we work to do that, however, you and I are painfully aware of our limitations. We know how lazy we can get. We know how fearful we can be. And no one has to tell us how often our sinful behavior has threatened to drown out the very message the Lord wants to proclaim through us.
The chains of our sinful limitations can be many. But God’s Word is not chained. The Good News of full forgiveness through faith alone in Jesus Christ—this Good News has a power and a vigor all its own. It is the gospel that pierces stone-cold hearts. It is the gospel that makes alive. It is the gospel that changes destinies—one soul at a time.
With all that in mind, Paul continued to share the unchained gospel, chains and all. You and I can too.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, never let the chains of my own limitations discourage me from sharing your gospel. I may be chained, but your Word is not. Amen.