Ambassadors in Chains
Dec 12, 2021 957
Where does the idea of “ambassadors in chains” come from? Tradition tells us that the apostle Paul wrote his letter to the church at Ephesus while he was a prisoner in Rome. Within the letter, he describes himself as being “in chains”; in fact, as an “ambassador in chains”:
Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should (Eph. 6:19–20).
The strange thing about his letter to the Ephesian church is that Paul doesn’t sound like a prisoner at all; in fact, he sounds as if he’s freest he’s ever been. Consider the following snippets:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ… In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ… 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us (Eph. 1:3–8.)
And what about this next passage?
…because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4–7.)
Paul certainly doesn’t sound as if he’s in chains at all, does he? Chains are meant to deprive you of your freedom, yet the apostle is talking about living in absolute freedom! Chains are meant to suppress people’s actions, yet they cannot suppress Paul being an ambassador for Christ. Ambassadors in chains can make the best ambassadors!
An ambassador is a person who is sent by a head of state as its representative in a foreign country. Paul considers himself as an ambassador of Christ and of his kingdom, to the world. He brings Christ’s offer to the world, and it is an incredibly good offer! It is such an amazing offer that you can’t shut the ambassador up, not even with chains!
Like Paul, we are all ambassadors in chains.
Even more than this, Paul tells us that it isn’t just himself, but that every one of us is an ambassador of Christ.
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:20–21.)
Paul clearly tells us here for whom we are ambassadors and the reason why we are ambassadors. We are ambassadors for Christ. An ambassador bears a message. We are ambassadors with the message of the Gospel; that Christ has been made sin for us, although he has no sin, so that now he gives us the righteousness of God. Our proper response to this message is to be reconciled with God, for if we accept his offer, there is no longer anything that could stand between us.
Furthermore, like Paul, we are all ambassadors in chains. There are many different ways of being in chains. We will all experience limitations and suffering in this life. To be an ambassador in chains is to be a living witness to the truth of the message we bear from the King of Heaven. Why? Because no matter how much we may be viewed by others as victims, through the Gospel of Christ, we are always victors. In Jesus, our chains are not the instrument of our bondage, but a reminder of that from which we have been freed through Christ.