8 … according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned (2 Timothy 2).
The word “criminal” (literally “evil-doer”) is used only three other times in the New Testament, all of which describe the two men who were crucified with Jesus. Criminals were “imprisoned” (literally“placed in bonds”) awaiting their execution—a fate Paul would indeed eventually suffer.
His consolation in suffering was, though he himself was in bonds, the “word of God,” the gospel, could never be bound. Indeed, history has shown time and time again that the gospel is forged in the fires of persecution, and formed on the anvil of suffering.
Lord, should we ever be branded as evil-doers for the sake of the gospel, help us to remember and believe in the power of that gospel to flourish in the midst of—and even because of—our suffering. Amen.