When Paul speaks of his ministry life he speaks of the dangers and persecutions he has faced and endured.
Looking on from the outside, it might be easy to assume God was against his ministry.
After all, if God was on his side, wouldn’t God see to it he had some sort of divine protection from all the afflictions of this world?
It would be hard for the church at Ephesus not to notice the letter they were reading had been delivered from a Roman prison. If Paul was who he said he was – how could this be?
Certainly, if his doctrine were true, and the grace of God was all that was necessary for any man to be saved, wouldn’t the grace of God extend to life in this world as well? How could it be such a man saying the things he is saying would wind up in prison if what he was teaching about God’s grace is true?
You can see how the enemy would use this against Paul, can’t you? And he most certainly did, as evidenced by the fact Paul senses the need to address it.
His explanation is two fold: In the first case, he says, “I was arrested for your sakes.” (You Ephesians – you Gentile believers.) “And I was willing to be arrested for your sakes rather than to deny even in the slightest God’s doctrine all are equal at the foot of the cross.” (Here we must stop and recognize Paul could have escaped arrest. He could have denied he had a ministry to the Gentiles, and he could have turned away from them at any time.) He never did.
In the second case, Paul informs them it was worth it all to him. A major concern of his was they might “lose heart” when they faced persecution and affliction, especially if they “lost heart” being aware of his.
What is actually happening is Paul is experiencing this degree of persecution and affliction BECAUSE his doctrine is true – not because it isn’t.
This is what Paul closes the doctrinal portion of the Book of Ephesians by saying. Only doctrine that endures affliction and stands in the face of it is true. What melts away is not. Therefore do not lose heart because the words you are reading come from a man who is presently suffering in prison.
At the conclusion of his presentation of doctrine, and before moving on the teaching of application, Paul prays for them. (This is important because you must learn to sit and listen before you can learn to walk.) His prayer is beautiful, and concludes with a spontaneously encouraging, exhilaratingly wonderful doxology that belies all Paul is presently experiencing in his life.
This is a man who truly knows God – through affliction – and as such he is a man well-worth listening to.