"Remember them that are in bonds,
as bound with them,
and them that suffer adversity,
as being yourselves also in the body."
"Remember the prisoners,
as though in prison with them,
and those who are ill-treated,
since you yourselves
are also in the body."
I don't believe it is necessarily written concerning all prisoners. Some of those heinous ones I'd like to forget, actually. But I believe it refers to persecuted Christians.
We read in the New Testament Saul who became Paul used to go house to house dragging out men and women believers to be hauled off to prison, or worse. How this must have haunted him when he became a Christian. No wonder the Early Church was leery of the man. It could be that Paul, as many believe, is the writer of the book of Hebrews, and he is writing to some he had imprisoned or to those whom he had imprisoned their family. The ones who this epistle was written to were the dispersed Christians who fled persecution in Jerusalem and beyond. Of course, Paul was no stranger to a jail cell. In fact he spent the last years of his life in such. Was he asking to be remembered?
I recently wrote how Catholics burned one of our family at the stake for their faith in England, as documented in Fox's Book of Martyrs. Likewise, we had relatives who were Huguenots, Protestants who fled France to escape persecution from the Catholics who were slaughtering or imprisoning them for their faith. My heritage shows that many in our family trees fled to America to escape religious persecution.
Prisoners of War in Japan
In the same way, Christian brothers and sisters are being today persecuted, imprisoned, and martyred as never before. There's just an ocean between us. Tensions are so high that, that kind of hatred is being unleashed in our own Christian nation. During our Civil War as well as the Revolutionary War, the prisoners of war were kept in unspeakable, deplorable conditions, our very own countrymen. Lord spare us from another civil war. We are told to Remember them.
Adam Clarke writes, "Feel for them as you would wish others to feel for you were you in their circumstances, knowing that, being in the body, you at liable to the same evils, and may be called to suffer in the same way for the same cause."
Civil War Prisoner
John Wesley says, "Remember--In your prayers, and by your help, them that are in bonds, as being bound with them--Seeing ye at members one of another, and them that suffer, as being yourselves in the body--And consequently liable to the same."
One of only two executed for war crimes
in the Civil War, this man for his crimes
against humanity in Andersonville Prison.
There are the persecuted and the persecutors. To these Hebrew Christians, some of their persecutors were other Hebrews. This was the history of Protestant vs Catholics as well, fellow countrymen attacking one another. Many like to say that we all are God's children. However, those who are persecuting Christians have rejected God and all that is good. "'Vengence is mine,' saith the Lord."
Please pray for the Persecuted Church. Remember those, even if strangers, in prayer because we share the Body of Christ.