15 Encouraging Quotes from Paul’s Prison Letters
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.
Paul's Letters from Prison
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)
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
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)
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)