Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.
As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.
Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.
The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.
The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.
But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,
for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!
I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;
but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,
so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel
without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved--and that by God.
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,
since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
"Take up a lament concerning the princes of Israel
and say: " 'What a lioness was your mother among the lions! She lay down among the young lions and reared her cubs.
She brought up one of her cubs, and he became a strong lion. He learned to tear the prey and he devoured men.
The nations heard about him, and he was trapped in their pit. They led him with hooks to the land of Egypt.
" 'When she saw her hope unfulfilled, her expectation gone, she took another of her cubs and made him a strong lion.
He prowled among the lions, for he was now a strong lion. He learned to tear the prey and he devoured men.
He broke down their strongholds and devastated their towns. The land and all who were in it were terrified by his roaring.
Then the nations came against him, those from regions round about. They spread their net for him, and he was trapped in their pit.
With hooks they pulled him into a cage and brought him to the king of Babylon. They put him in prison, so his roar was heard no longer on the mountains of Israel.
" 'Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches because of abundant water.
Its branches were strong, fit for a ruler's scepter. It towered high above the thick foliage, conspicuous for its height and for its many branches.
But it was uprooted in fury and thrown to the ground. The east wind made it shrivel, it was stripped of its fruit; its strong branches withered and fire consumed them.
Now it is planted in the desert, in a dry and thirsty land.
Fire spread from one of its main branches and consumed its fruit. No strong branch is left on it fit for a ruler's scepter.' This is a lament and is to be used as a lament."
"Listen to this, O house of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and come from the line of Judah, you who take oaths in the name of the LORD and invoke the God of Israel-- but not in truth or righteousness--
you who call yourselves citizens of the holy city and rely on the God of Israel-- the LORD Almighty is his name:
I foretold the former things long ago, my mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.
For I knew how stubborn you were; the sinews of your neck were iron, your forehead was bronze.
Therefore I told you these things long ago; before they happened I announced them to you so that you could not say, 'My idols did them; my wooden image and metal god ordained them.'
You have heard these things; look at them all. Will you not admit them? "From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you.
They are created now, and not long ago; you have not heard of them before today. So you cannot say, 'Yes, I knew of them.'
You have neither heard nor understood; from of old your ear has not been open. Well do I know how treacherous you are; you were called a rebel from birth.
For my own name's sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off.
See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.
"Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am he; I am the first and I am the last.
My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together.
"Come together, all of you, and listen: Which of [the idols] has foretold these things? The LORD's chosen ally will carry out his purpose against Babylon; his arm will be against the Babylonians.
I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him. I will bring him, and he will succeed in his mission.
"Come near me and listen to this: "From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret; at the time it happens, I am there." And now the Sovereign LORD has sent me, with his Spirit.
This is what the LORD says-- your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.
If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
Your descendants would have been like the sand, your children like its numberless grains; their name would never be cut off nor destroyed from before me."
Leave Babylon, flee from the Babylonians! Announce this with shouts of joy and proclaim it. Send it out to the ends of the earth; say, "The LORD has redeemed his servant Jacob."
They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split the rock and water gushed out.
"There is no peace," says the LORD, "for the wicked."