2 Timothy 2:9
Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even to bonds; but the word of God is not bound.
Under the Church of Santa Maria via Lata, on the Corse, in Rome, is an ancient house which is said to have been St. Paul's "hired house," where be dwelt daring the two years of his abode in the Imperial City; and where, as tradition says, he converted his keeper, a soldier named Marcellus. In this house is to be seen an antique marble pillar and a rusty chain, hundreds of years old, riveted into it, bearing the inscription: "Sed verbum Dei non est alligatum" — "The Word of God is not bound." Our Divine Master Himself was bound to the accursed tree, but His gracious words are heard throughout the world. St. Paul's bonds turned out to the furtherance of the gospel; and God's Word is set free by the endurance and sufferings of its preachers. The apostle's manacled hand still pointed to the cross of his Divine Lord. When Admiral Ver Huce, a Protestant of whom Buonaparte entertained the highest opinion, went over to London, a few years after the battle of Waterloo, to represent the Bible Society of France, at the annual meeting of the British and Foreign Bible Society, he and Admiral Gambler met on the platform. The last time they had met was in deadly combat on the ocean; met as enemies, amidst the roar of cannon and all the accompaniments of a bloody conflict. Now they met, not simply as friends, but as brethren in the faith of a common Saviour, to advocate and help forward His glorious reign of righteousness and peace. As the two brave old men rushed into each other's arms, and wept aloud, the immense assembly arose with one accord, profoundly moved by a spectacle so unlooked for and so touching. Although the Bible is the best book in the world, it has always had enemies who have tried to do away with its teachings, if they could not succeed in destroying it. For three hundred years after our Saviour lived upon earth, the emperors of Rome did their utmost to hinder the advance of the gospel, by shutting up its ministers in prison, or by putting them to death. They stirred up dreadful persecutions against Christians, some of which lasted ten years; and during one of these, more than a hundred and fifty thousand followers of Jesus were slain. Diocletian was so confident that he had accomplished his purpose that he caused a medal to be struck, bearing this inscription: "The Christian religion is destroyed; and the worship of the gods restored." After the overthrow of the Roman empire, and the rise of the Papacy, stringent measures were inaugurated against the circulation of the Holy Scriptures. Fulgentio once preached in Venice from the text, "Have ye not read?" "If Christ were now to ask you this question," said the bold friar, "all the answer you could make would be, 'No, Lord, we are not suffered to do so.'" On another occasion, when preaching on Pilate's question, "What is truth?" he told his hearers that he had been long searching for it, and had at last found it. Holding up the New Testament, he said, "Here it is in my hand!" Then, returning it to his pocket, he observed, with an arch look, "The Book is prohibited!" He was a little too venturesome in his zeal for the truth, and was burned alive. In 1553, when Pope Julius
III. asked some of his counsellors as to the best mode of strengthening the Church, several bishops gave him this advice — the original document being still in existence — "We advise that as little as possible of the gospel be read in the countries subject to your jurisdiction. The little which is usually read at Mass is sufficient, and beyond that no one whatever must be permitted to read. While men were contented with that little, your interests prospered; but when they read more, they began to decay." A company of bigoted priests once met in Earl Street, Blackfriars, London, to consult together concerning an edition of the Bible which Wyclif had just published in the English tongue. As might be expected, they not only condemned this excellent clergyman as a bad man, but they passed this resolution: "The Bible is a dangerous book. It shall not be circulated." These instances of the efforts made to suppress the Holy Scriptures might be indefinitely multiplied; but, instead of dwelling on so painful a subject, let us rather ask, how have such attempts succeeded? It is certainly a wonderful ordering of Providence, that on the very spot where those misguided priests met to destroy the Bible, the building erected for "The British and Foreign Bible Society" now rears its head. Aye, more than this, millions of copies of the Word of God are scattered abroad, every year, in all the languages of the earth. In Rome herself, where the Bible was so long a sealed book, it is now openly sold and distributed by colporteurs; and within a stone's throw of the place where St. Paul was imprisoned, a large apartment has been fitted up, where multitudes of soldiers gather every night to listen to the reading of the Bible, and to learn to read it for themselves. These men come from every part of Italy, and are generally from the better classes of the peasantry. After staying in Rome for three years, they will be removed to other parts of the kingdom, or go back to their homes, carrying the Bible with them. M. Guizot, the famous French scholar and historian, on taking his seat as president of "The French Bible Society," in Paris, truthfully and forcibly remarked, "The more the Bible is contested, the greater the number of devoted defenders who arise to affirm it and to send it forth. The Bible renews itself through trials, and its battles lead only to new conquests." "The Word of God is not bound" to any person who preaches it. The weak and the unlearned often confound the wise and the mighty. In 1821, some wretched slaves were crowded into a Portuguese ship, on the coast of Guinea, and among them a boy of eleven, who, when the slaver was captured by a British cruiser, was carried to England. The boy manifested such excellent qualities of mind and heart that he was placed at school, where he occupied a high position in his class, and became a tutor, and then a clergyman. He returned as a missionary to his native land, and one of the first who heard the glad tidings of the gospel from his lips was his widowed mother. Converts multiplied, and a bishop was needed to govern and instruct this new community of Christians. All eyes were turned on Samuel Crowther; and on St. Peter's day, 1864, in the grand old cathedral of Canterbury, the slave-boy was consecrated to the high office which St. Paul himself had filled.
2. "The Word of God is not bound" to any form in which it is preached.
3. "The Word of God is not bound" to any time, place, or circumstance.
(J. N. Norton.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.