Philippians 1:13

Saturday, 10 December 2016

…so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; Philippians 1:13

The reading of this verse is disputed, but the overall sense is still available. Several translations will help us to see this –

  • As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. NIV
  • For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. NLT
  • So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; KJV
  • so that my bonds have become manifest in Christ in the whole praetorium, and to the other places — all, YLT

As you can see, the KJV says “bonds in Christ.” The YLT says “bonds have become manifest in Christ.” The latter is correct. The spacing in the Greek is too far apart to tie “bonds” in with “Christ.” It undermines the intent of what Paul is saying. The NIV takes those same words and paraphrases them for the sake of clarity. As far as “the whole palace guard,” the words are translated by the KJV as “palace” and “praetorium” by the YLT. “Palace” is not correct. “Praetorium” is a literal rendering of the Greek, but it doesn’t explain what is the case for us to understand. The term “palace guard” does.

Vincent’s Word Studies gives a long and detailed explanation of the meaning, but for brevity’s sake, the Pulpit Commentary gives a shorter, but less detailed explanation –

“…literally, in the whole praetorium, The word elsewhere means a governor’s house: Pilate’s house in the Gospels, Herod’s palace in Acts 23:35. But at Rome the name so used would give unnecessary offense, and there is no proof that it was ever used for the palatium there. St. Paul must have heard it constantly as the name of the Praetorian regiment; he was kept chained to a soldier of that corps (Acts 28:16); and as his guard was continually relieved, his name and sufferings for Christ would become gradually known throughout the force.”

The substance of this verse can be summed up with the thought that Paul was handed over to the palace guard along with many other prisoners, as was (and still is today) a common thing. When he arrived, he was just another offender along with all the others. But afterwards, the palace guard began to realize that he was different, and his imprisonment was not for an offense against Rome, but it was because of His witness for Christ. Eventually, as the guards rotated their assigned duties of taking charge of Paul, they all came to know and understand his position.

From there, the word had spread “to all the rest.” The talk of this particular prisoner went beyond the guards, and the gospel message spread because of Paul’s imprisonment. His chains had thus “been made manifest” in Christ, or as the NKJV reads, the fact “has become evident.” Good news had spread from dire circumstances.

Life application: Reading a single version of the Bible is fine, but to understand what is actually the true rendering of any given passage takes hard work, studying Hebrew and Greek scholar’s writings, and knowing the Bible more than just superficially. The more one reads, the more various accounts will tie together to form a picture of what is being transmitted in any given passage.

Lord God, many have gone before us proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, and having suffered for that proclamation. And yet, in many instances, it has been their trials, imprisonments, and even deaths which have made the message grow and flourish. Should we face such evil times in our generation, help us to be strong and steadfast in our willingness to proclaim this beautiful message. Why should we be silent about the most wonderful thing that has ever happened? May we tell of our precious Lord and what He has done for us – bravely and boldly! Amen.



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