15 Encouraging Quotes from Paul’s Prison Letters

Updated on July 9, 2019
MsDora profile image

MsDora, former teacher and Christian counselor, is an avid Bible student and loves to compile user-friendly Bible quotes by topic.

Imagine a prisoner beaming forth encouragement to others instead of settling into a mood of discouragement! Around 59-62 A.D., that prisoner was the Apostle Paul, unjustly sentenced to house arrest in Rome, following some religious disputes. Four of his thirteen letters included in the New Testament were written during those years, causing believers then and now to be encouraged by his devotion to his calling, his courage and his selfless interest in his fellow believers.

Rembrandt's Apostle Paul in Prison
Rembrandt's Apostle Paul in Prison | Source

Paul's Letters from Prison

Letter Recipient
Primary Purpose
Delivered By
Church at Ephesus
Exposition of the nature of the universal church, the body of Christ.
Tychichus (Ephesians 6:21)
Church at Phillipi
Expression of gratitude for support from the church.
Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25)
Church at Colosse
Establishing the pre-eminence of Christ as the Head of the Church.
Tychichus and Onesimus (Colossians 4:7-9)
Individual named Philemon
Pleading forgiveness and restoration for Onesimus, Philemon’s runaway, now converted, slave.
Onesimus (Philemon 1:10)
References (1) Christian Inconnect, Historical Background Information to Paul's Prison Letters; (2) Taylor, Gene: The Prison Epistles of the Apostle Paul (1999).

Included here are 15 quotes from Paul’s letters (New Living Translation) to the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians and Philemon which can uplift those who are still imprisoned literally or otherwise.

Praise and Gratitude

Paul, the prisoner, had not lost his faith, and in all four of these letters, he assured the recipients that he gave thanks to God for their faith in Him. He taught them by his example to praise Him in all circumstances, and to intercede for one another. Even in his absence, he set the mood for the worship service by giving them reasons to be grateful and joyful.

The Christian church still includes a praise session in the worship service. The praise is influenced by the truth in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, that no matter the circumstances, Christ is the authoritative Head of the Church and He “makes everything work out according to his plan.” (1:11)

1. All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. . . I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly. (Ephesians 1:3, 16)

2. Every time I think of you [church at Philippi] I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy (Philippians 1: 3, 4)

3. We always pray for you [church at Colosse], and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Colossians 1:3)

4. I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. (Philemon 1: 4, 5)

Courage and Joy

Photo by PaulCornec. Text added.
Photo by PaulCornec. Text added. | Source

Paul asked for prayer, not for his release, but for courage to continue preaching. He welcomed the opportunity to minister encouragement to other believers and to reach some prisoners who needed to hear his message. He had not lost his joy either, and he encouraged the letter recipients to remain joyful.

5. I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should. (Ephesians 6:20)

6. Because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear. (Philippians 1:14)

7. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy. (Philippians 2: 17, 18)

8. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. (Colossians 1: 11,12)

Togetherness and Love

Paul presented the church as one body with Christ as the Head. Togetherness was imperative, because opposition among members could only result in a weak body. On the other hand, love would keep them united and strong. Strengthened by love, the church is better equipped to withstand opposition from outside forces.

9. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups [Jews and Gentiles] to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. (Ephesians 2:16)

10. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. (Ephesians 2:21)

Photo by Pixalotte. Text added.
Photo by Pixalotte. Text added. | Source

11. Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. (Philippians 2: 1, 2)

12. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. (Colossians 3: 14, 15)

Faith and Hope

Paul expected to be released. Still, he seemed more interested in being faithful than in being free. He had not lost his hope—hope that His life would inspire joy in the lives of fellow believers and influence an increase to God's Kingdom. His life is still an inspiration to Christians today.

13. I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. (Philippians 1:20)

14. For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. (Colossians 2:5)

15. One more thing—please prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that God will answer your prayers and let me return to you soon. (Philemon 1:22)

Questions & Answers

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      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 days ago from The Caribbean

        Lawrence, thanks for your contribution. I appreciate your pointing out the letter written from the dungeon. Yes, encouraging!

      • lawrence01 profile image

        Lawrence Hebb 

        10 days ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

        MsDora

        There was another letter Paul wrote as he literally awaited execution. 2 Timothy was written from that dungeon, yet its an amazing letter, just as these are.

        Thank you for encouraging us with these quotes.

        Lawrence

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Eric, thanks for your interest. No wonder Paul is admired so much. He really was Spirit-filled, sold out to God.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        3 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        I came back to look at this again with an eye toward the recipients.

        Colossae - huge commerce, Philippi - Pagan worshipers, Ephesus - very much flourishing and so on.

        Wow that Paul really was some kind of "all things to all people" 1 Cor 9

        Thanks again

      • profile image

        Antonio50S 

        4 weeks ago

        "Lori Colbo" also wrote about Paul. Really good as well.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Nell. The power of words is truly a phenomenon, especially when they are powered by love, faith and all the other positive traits that Paul's Christianity produced in him. True, it's like he's speaking here and now.

      • Nell Rose profile image

        Nell Rose 

        4 weeks ago from England

        I always feel when reading peoples words that they are there in front of us. Its amazing how someones thoughts and prayers last 2,000 years. It keeps it alive, I never knew about this before. Fascinating.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Yves. HP did test my patience with this one, but if Paul can rejoice in prison, I can be content when an article is flagged. I appreciate your supportive comment.

      • savvydating profile image

        Yves 

        4 weeks ago

        When I think of what it means to have courage and to be joyful in the face of physical suffering and tribulation, I think of Saint Paul. His devotion was strong and true. I have always admired him greatly.

        Thank you for writing this lovely article which reminds us to be brave and to praise God in all matters. This hub is worth reading over and over again. I am so happy that HP finally published it.

      • profile image

        Antonio50S 

        4 weeks ago

        P.s. dora.

        I am learning a lot from you females and how you look at things.

        Grateful for that :)

      • profile image

        Antonio50S 

        4 weeks ago

        No matter how Paul treated the early christians. It's not how you start out, it's how we finish that matters. ( 2 Timothy 4:7-8 ) "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I HAVE KEPT THE FAITH" and Vs8 Paul awaits his reward as well as for others.

        We may not have done the things he did, but in the end, none of us are either better or worse in God's eye's, Yet God did use paul because of how he treated the christians. ( Acts 9:16 ) & ( Philippians 1:14 ) as you mentioned.

        "Hint of sadness" because paul knew his fate, but if we can finish like he did, we can boast like he did as well.

        Who knows ? Maybe he was a saint, depending how we understand the word :) but no doubt, "God moves in mysterious ways" for the benefit of all.

      • profile image

        Antonio50S 

        4 weeks ago

        I was thinking.

        If we was sitting next to paul in a church meeting knowing his backround of what he used to do to others including women & children in the name of his former beliefs, would we Sit next to him ? Would we think he was a saint ? Or would we be amazed how God can change absolutely anybody ?

        Paul basically committed serious crimes agains't humanity, yet have this image in our minds of what a good man he was.

        Paul did change in the end and became THE BEST example to follow, Yet he was constantly aware of his own guilt.

        The purpose of pauls life isn't to show how good he was, but to show God's power in being able to change even the worst of people like him. Paul knew he was no saint, yet did become the best example to follow. That example includes things like Humility, not thinking more of ourselves that we should, and knowing pauls previous life, he had reasons for saying that as well.

        We can respect paul for his changed life, and the example he became to all of us, but all praise & credit should go to God. Paul knew that and made that known, but we should also follow his example as well.

      • profile image

        Antonio50S 

        4 weeks ago

        Yes dora. Agree.

        We're all "called" to live saintly lives, but none of us are saints yet.

        Even paul never considered himself as one. ( Philipians 3:12 ) "Do not think of yourself more highly that you ought" ( Romans 12:3 ) That came from paul.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Peg. "Joy and love and togetherness despite adversity" is a good attitude for us to develop since this could be an every day occurrence.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Marie. Paul's is truly a good model of the saintly life we are all called to lead.

      • profile image

        Antonio50S 

        5 weeks ago

        Just quoting what you said dora.

        Paul "seemed more interested in being faithful than in being free" Considering what he put the christians through, Jesus appearing to Paul on the road to Damascus asking Saul Saul why are you persecuting me ? It's a little difficult seeing why paul was a "beautiful saint" :) God's response, my grace is sufficient for you. ( 2 Cor 12:9 ) Our limitations is what creates trust in God and builds personal character.

        But then God did use him in the end, God no doubt looked beyond his external actions to the very heart of paul, and knew he was a good candidate for preaching the gospel message to the gentiles.

        I don't think paul had any struggle persecuting the christians, but after his experience with Jesus, and what he witnessed, it's easy to see why he was eager not to lose the faith.

        Difficulties with the right attitude on our behalf can bring us closer to God. We may even be reluctant about seeing the good times again to soon in case we lose faith.

        The lessons we learn in our darkest hours carries us through the good times. Provided we accept the lessons in quietness & humility while trusting in God.

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 

        5 weeks ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

        Beautiful reminder of Paul's lessons for us about joy and love and togetherness despite adversity. Thanks for sharing these incredible quotes.

      • profile image

        Marie Flint 

        5 weeks ago

        He was a beautiful saint, as each of us are in spiritual truth.

        Thank you for sharing these passages.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        5 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Antonio. I appreciate your encouragement, also.

      • profile image

        Antonio50S 

        5 weeks ago

        This is REALLY good dora.

        But just for now, i agree with EVERY WORD Flourish said.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        6 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Flourish. Trying my best. I appreciate the encouragement.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        6 weeks ago from USA

        These quotes will provide encouragement and strength to believers in need. I like what a clear communicator you are in presenting them in the table and organizing them under the headings.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        6 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Liz, I agree. The stars seem brightest when the sky is darkest. In Paul's situation, he makes us forget that the sky is dark.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        6 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Eric, thanks for your input. Imprisonment, literal or otherwise, can be destructive without some form of courage and hope to pull us through. You're right about Paul's encouragement.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        6 weeks ago from UK

        These are encouraging words when they stand alone, but even more so, when we appreciate the context in which they were written.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        6 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Dora, I sometimes ponder what it would be like not having these in my back pocket. I have never been at a loss due to these inspirations. I have seen the bars from both sides. Somehow Paul pulled me through them in both directions. A human contraption is somehow amusing.

        What prisons we create for our selves is far more daunting.

        Thank you for the reminder.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        6 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, John. Paul is an encourager to those of us who feel faint in far less circumstances. I appreciate your quick response.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        6 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Thank you for sharing these encouraging letters MsDora. Paul always stayed positive during his ordeal.

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