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The Spirit at Work, Then and Now

by David Jordan


All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household (Philippians 4:2).

When these words of scripture were first recorded, probably around the early 60’s A.D., Paul was a prisoner in Rome. Paul had been arrested in Jerusalem,[1]transferred to Caesarea on the coast, appealed for hearing before Caesar in Rome, and, as a Roman citizen, was granted his entitled request.[2]

Roman policy required Paul to rent, at his own expense, a small apartment in that famous, imperial city.[3]It likely stood adjacent to the Palatine Hill, close to the headquarters of the Praetorian Guard, which consisted of the best trained and most trusted of Caesar’s private army. They protected the emperor, provided crowd control, and watched over important prisoners.

Apparently, the prisoner policy that applied to Paul was to have a guard in his private apartment watching over him at all times, and perhaps, some say, even chained to him.[4]With each shift, a new soldier would enter the apartment, change places with the former guard, and take their position next to Paul. It was not that Paul was considered dangerous; in fact, he was allowed numerous visitors, though all conversations were probably monitored by the guard.[5]This made for wise Roman policy because it served as implicit censorship of potentially seditious conversations while still demonstrating a measure of benevolence toward the prisoner and his friends.

It also made for a glad paradox. While Paul spoke to friends and foes alike about Jesus, soldiers connected to the Praetorian Guard perhaps overheard his testimony.  For, according to scripture, his “imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the entire Praetorian Guard and everyone else.”[6]Further, the new faith even infiltrated the confines of Palatine Hill and the residence of Nero, himself. Whether carried by these soldiers or by others newly converted to the faith, we still hear the far-reaching implications of these fascinating words: “All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.”

What a great story it is. And what a privilege to live out this grand faith today, even as the Sprit continues to move, challenge and inspire. Let us be ready, willing and full participants!



PRAYER FOR THE MONTH: Lord, allow us to claim glad kinship with those who have gone before. And let us see ourselves equal to the task that lies before us. We are no different than they were. You have saved us equally well, graced us with the same good news, joined us to the same grand company of saints, and strengthened us with the same faith that fortified their lives. Now, Lord, we pray for your power this August to instill in us the same blessed courage to live for your glory and to testify for

[1]Acts 22:22-25

[2]Acts 25:11-12

[3]Acts 28:30

[4]Acts 28:16; and as for his being chained, see Acts 28:20.

[5]Acts 28:30-31

[6]Philippians 1:12-13

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