Paul spent two years quarantined as a Roman prisoner. What a horrible experience that must have been! He must have been miserable and maybe even started to question God. Right? Wrong! Just the opposite! Paul was anything but miserable! In fact, although he was a prisoner, he still found a way to enjoy fellowship with his brethren. The text states that he kept on (the tense indicates continual action) “welcoming all who came to him” (Acts 28:30). While he was shut up, he was not shut off from his brethren! It was during this time that Paul wrote a letter to his Christian friends in Philippi expounding the many joys of being a Christian.
While in quarantine, Paul focused on the amazing joy of fellowship with his brethren. He was separated from them by hundreds of miles and yet he still felt a closeness with them. “I thank my God…for your fellowship in the gospel…you all are partakers with me of grace” (Phil. 1:3-7). The word “fellowship” involved a joint participation and partnership together—in this case, it was a sharing in the blessings and the purpose of being fellow Christians. There was a “togetherness” that they enjoyed, even though they were not “together.” A quarantine could not separate them.
While in quarantine, Paul focused on the selfless joy of serving each other. Service is really easy to see, sometimes, in certain brethren, isn’t it? Some brethren seem to be natural at “doing good unto others, especially those in the household of faith” (cf. Gal. 6:10). Paul commended Timothy as one who would “sincerely care for your state” (2:20). He praised Ephaphroditus, who “came close to death” in bringing the latest “gift” of “care” and “service toward” Paul while he was in prison (2:30; 4:10, 18). In fact, what the Philippian brethren were doing for Paul was merely a reflection of what they saw Paul doing for them, for he was literally “being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of [their] faith” (2:17). A quarantine would not stop them from serving each other.
While in quarantine, Paul focused on the anticipatory joy of being together again. He referred to his Christian friends as “my beloved and longed-for brethren” (4:1). While Paul could have been pessimistic, focusing on the present circumstances and thinking he would never see them again, he lived with confidence that he would “continue with” them (1:24-26) and that he himself “shall also come shortly” to them (2:24). A quarantine was not only going to not get him down, it seemed to drive him even more to want to be with his brethren.
Although Paul was separated from his brethren, he was constantly thinking of them and of the joys of Christianity.