I still remember that gut-wrenching feeling As I looked down the manhole in the floor beneath me. I was on a study expedition to Rome with Southern Seminary, and our group was visiting Mamertine Prison, the place where the Apostle Paul more than likely spent his last days before being executed.
The hole lead straight down into a tiny dungeon cell that was dark, damp, and cold. A cell where Paul probably penned his last letter to his disciple Timothy, just moments before his death.
And here we were, some 2,000 years later, gathered around Dr. Moore as he began to read some of those words Paul wrote to Timothy all those years ago.
He read (2 Timothy 2:9),
“for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!”
In that moment those words came alive like never before. I was standing above the hole they threw Paul down, and I was now gazing into the place those words first spoke, and where they were speaking again.
Paul’s point was simple, Rome may have him bound in chains, but the word of God is not bound!
And here we were some 2,000 years later, and outside those walls laid heaps of stone and rubble, a mere distant memory of a glorious Empire that had long since died.
And as we read that scripture together the truth confirmed itself. In Paul’s day it might have seemed like Paul was on the wrong side of history and that Rome would triumph forever. But as history unfolded the opposite was true, because Caesar is long dead and Jesus is still Lord.
Today, we face a similar age that screams in our ears the same devilish lie that we are losing right now, and will lose in the end. But take a lesson from that prison cell in Rome, things are not always as the appear right now.
Yes, it may be true that in days ahead we may also find ourselves behind bars for the gospel we preach. But if we are, those bars will no more contain our message than they did Paul’s.
Because even if we are bound, the word of God is not bound. And at the very end of age we shall see that those who follow Jesus have always been, and always will be on the right side of history.
For His is the kingdom, and glory, and dominion forever more. And no jail cell or execution block can stop that.