For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.
Was Paul the prisoner of Nero? Not in Paul’s thinking. Paul believed that “the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel” (Phil 1:12). He firmly believed nothing could happen to him without divine permission. Paul knew God had a plan for his life, and that it was no accident that he was in jail. He was able to say, and did quite regularly, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know the One who holds the future.” No, Paul did not believe he was a prisoner of the Gentiles, but rather a prisoner of Jesus Christ for the sake of the Gentiles.
When I was a young mother with three children under school age, I came to a similar conclusion about my situation! I lived in a small house kept prisoner by my responsibilities to my family. But because of those confining duties I began to know the little old ladies who lived around me. I was able to say, “I am not a prisoner of my circumstances but rather a prisoner of Jesus Christ for these little old ladies!”
Paul was more attuned to his calling than to his circumstances, and cared more about the people whom he served than about the personal consequences of his service.
What circumstances imprison you? Are you a prisoner of Christ for the sake of someone else? Once you recognize this, your attitude will change and so will your actions. Just whose prisoner are you?