Jean Daillé, the somewhat controversial French Huguenot minister, takes a hard-nosed look at Philippians 1:12-14. Where some may find inspiration in Paul’s courage and faithfulness in prison, Daillé sees a counterexample to those of little faith:
Dear brethren, among the many things which offend people in the gospel of Jesus Christ, there is not one which more violently annoys them than the cross imposed on those who embrace its profession. Many, even of those who have heard and received the Word with joy, have basely abandoned it as soon as oppression or persecution has arisen. And the generality of these wretched people do not even wait till the evil is come on themselves. They withdraw from the fellowship of the Lord as soon as they see it threatened with any storm. They listen to its ministers while they teach them in peace. But if the preaching draw persecution on them (as it often happens), from that time they give up hearing them, and all connection with them, fearful lest having anything to do with them should involve them in their disgrace.
Though such sufferings are not able to overthrow true believers, nevertheless, at first they may be offended and staggered by them; Satan cunningly managing these opportunities to disgust them with the faith as an odious doctrine, and persecuted by all who are highest in the world. Paul, fearing that his chain might produce some one of these bad effects in the minds of the Philippians, his dear disciples, anticipates this objection and represents to them in the text we have read, the glorious consequences which God had drawn from his prison; showing them that it ought rather to strengthen than to trouble them, being such by the grace of the Lord that he and they had more cause to rejoice than to be afflicted for it, and to glory in it rather than be ashamed of it.
A Five-Part Series on Victory over Suffering and Death
Martin Luther, Adam’s Sleep and the Awakening after Death (Genesis 2)
Johann Baumgart, The Disciples Did Not Understand That Life Would Come through Death (Luke 18)
Menno Simons, No Greater Love (John 3)
Rudolph Gwalther, Stephen’s Death Teaches Us Faith in Cruel Times (Acts 7)