Epistles From “The Prisoner of The Lord”
I therefore, the prisoner of the lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. EPHESIANS 4:1
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles [nations]. EPHESIANS 3:1
Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God. II TIMOTHY 1:8
Paul was boldly teaching the truths of the new covenant from God. In Jerusalem he was targeted and attacked by Judean leaders who were committed to adhering to the old covenant teachings of the law. Nearly killed by the angry mob they had stirred up, Paul was rescued by a Roman official and became incarcerated.
Paul had broken no law and committed no crime, yet he became a prisoner in the legal system of the Roman Empire. His "wrongdoing” was speaking the message of the new covenant: forgiveness and justification by God’s grace and not by man’s works. This is what those Judean leaders opposed. It almost cost Paul his life that day in Jerusalem. Now Paul was in bonds, “the prisoner of the lord”.
The word “prisoner” is translated from the Greek adjective desmios. Desmios is the adjective form of the verb deō, “to bind”, from which also is derived the noun desmos, “bonds”. Both the noun and verb are found in II Timothy 2:9.
Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds (desmos ); but the Word of God is not bound (deō ). II TIMOTHY 2:9
Even though Paul was bound (deō) with bonds (desmos) as a prisoner (desmios), the Word of God was not bound and he continued to speak God’s Word and to write God’s Word. Since desmios is an adjective, it would be better translated “bound one”. Paul was Jesus Christ’s “bound one”. Not in the sense that the bonds were “from” or desired by the lord, but rather because Paul remained steadfastly “in” the lord despite his being a “bound one”!
Paul was sent from Jerusalem as a “bound one” in Rome’s legal system unto Caesarea. He was brought to Felix, the procurator (governor) of Judea for the Roman Empire.
I will hear thee, said he [Felix], when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod's judgment hall [the praetorium of Herod]. ACTS 23:35
A praetorium was a Roman military or governmental residence. It was in the praetorium at Jerusalem that Jesus Christ stood trial before Pilate and was later beaten by the soldiers.
In his Epistle to the Philippians, Paul mentions the praetorium that was in the city from which he wrote the Epistle.
But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds (desmos ) in Christ are manifest in all the palace (the praetorium), and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds (desmos ), are much more bold to speak the word without fear. PHILIPPIANS 1:12-14
In the city from which Paul wrote this Epistle to the Philippians, he says that there were “brethren”, believers, in that city who were much more bold now to speak God’s Word fearlessly. These saints were inspired by Paul who was “bound”, and bound not because of a crime he’d committed, but only because he fearlessly spoke the truth in love.
Paul became a “bound one”—desmios— in Jerusalem and after a few days was taken to Felix. In Caesarea a legal hearing was held to determine his guilt or innocence.
Then Paul, after that the governor [Felix] had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself: Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship. And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city: Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me. But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets. ACTS 24:10-14
The accusations made at the hearing were false and could not be proved. The only thing that Paul admitted he was “guilty” of was believing that which is written in the Word of God!
After a few days, Felix and his Judean wife called for Paul to hear God’s Word from him.
And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess [Judean], he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith [believing] in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room [Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus]: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure (a favor), left Paul bound. ACTS 24:24-27
In Acts 23:35 it said that when Paul first arrived in Caesarea, Felix commanded Paul to be kept in “Herod's judgment hall”— the praetorium of Herod. Because Felix desired to show a favor to the Judeans, Paul was held as a prisoner, a “bound one”, for two years in the praetorium in Caesarea.
In three Church Epistles—Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians—Paul makes reference to his being a “bound one”. It is more likely that these Epistles were written in and sent from Caesarea rather than from the one other city Paul was sent “in bonds”, which is Rome. In Rome Paul was allowed to live “in his own hired house”.
And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him. ACTS 28:30-31