"19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
21 So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.
23 Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible."
Paul's reference here, to his being 'an ambassador in bonds' is highly significant. He was, of course, literally a prisoner of the Roman government when he wrote these words, but in a metaphorical and symbolic sense, and indeed in a spiritual sense also, he was in bonds, for he was the bondslave of Jesus Christ, a captive at Christ's chariot wheels, captive to His love and to the Word of God, as he makes clear in 2 Corinthians 2:14ff, and led in triumph by the Mighty Victor of Calvary. James Denney, commenting on Paul's wonderful metaphor in that passage, says,
'Wherever Christ is leading a single soul in triumph, the fragrance of the gospel should go forth; rather, it does go forth, in proportion as His triumph is complete. There is sure to be that in the life which will reveal the graciousness as well as the omnipotence of the Saviour. And it is this virtue which God uses as His main witness, as His chief instrument to evangelise the world. In every relation of life it shall tell. Nothing is so insuppressible, nothing so pervasive, as a fragrance. The lowliest life which Christ is really leading in triumph will speak infallibly and persuasively for Him...'.
Ambassador in bonds, indeed! Who would want it otherwise, when captivity to Christ is hallowed in such a way? Paul's bonds indicate that he was in the truest sense of the term sharing in the sufferings and afflictions of the thorn-crowned Christ, and was utterly identified with Him in His costly mission in the world. It is this alone that enables a man to be a true ambassador for Christ, and to say, 'as though God did beseech you by us'. God speaking through a man, Christ acting in and through him - how could this be, except he were one in mind and spirit, and identified, with Him in His redemptive work in the world?