Paul spoke of “my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal” (2 Timothy 2:8-9). Like his Lord, Paul bore the shame and stigma of an innocent man in being treated like a criminal. As he sat in his cold, dark, damp cell and reflected on his situation, he took heart in the realization that though he was chained, the word of God was not.
Where could Paul have come up with this idea?
He certainly would have found it throughout the Scripture. In Genesis 1, it’s the creative word that is spoken eight times and everything that is comes into being. The Hebrew writer tells us that Christ now sustains “all things by His powerful word” (1:3). Powerful indeed! The truth is, we have no real concept of just how powerful God’s word is in this area. Our brightest minds are constantly writing and rewriting their books explaining to us how they currently think the universe works (read what they have to say about dark matter and dark energy or gravity theory and black holes). The best realize that for every answer they find, a dozen more questions are raised. The word of God brought it all into being and sustains it. (That doesn’t sound like anything that’s chained up, does it?).
Paul would have also been familiar with King Jehoiakim. He chose not to serve God and when he came into possession of words from Jeremiah—he cut them up and threw them in the fire—as though that would somehow mitigate what God had said through the prophet. If you read his story, you won’t be surprised to find out that Jehoiakim soon met his end and what Jeremiah had written came true. Despite the efforts of a king, the word of God couldn’t be chained.
The French philosopher Voltaire took his shot at the Bible during his lifetime through his voluminous writings. Not long after his death, the very printing presses he had employed to spew his unbelief began printing copies of the Scripture. Furthermore, 58 years after his death, Voltaire’s house was being used to store Bibles and Christian literature (Dr. Daniel Merritt). Other groups and people down through the centuries have tried to diminish or destroy God’s word. They’re all gone, but God’s word remains. You can try to put a chain on it, but you will not succeed!