“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’” (Matthew 25:37-40).
There are good brethren who have “prison ministries” where they go in and try to have Bible studies and actually get to preach the word. There are definitely people in there that could use it. Sometimes brethren point to a scripture like the one above and believe it to mean that we are commanded to go and visit folks at prison, randomly. If you read the verse above, the Lord was speaking of God’s people in prison. Part of chapter 25, we see the Lord had divided the world into two kinds of people, just as they will be divided on Judgment Day. We are commanded to visit our brethren while they are in prison. It is one of the charitable acts included in those mentioned above. We should always be helpful to our brethren. That doesn’t mean that we can’t help the world also, but God’s people come first. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. There is nothing wrong with taking God’s word into prisons if able and be able to preach it in its entirety. Often, some of those places won’t allow specific doctrine to be taught. The point I’m trying to get to is that we can’t bind that ministry on others because of scripture. We are to visit brethren in prison, but even then, when the bible talks of visiting folks in prison, often they didn’t get enough or any food to eat. People had to go, at times and take them food or extra clothes. Those prisons are nothing like the ones today. There are some third world countries, to this day, a person would starve to death if no one brings them food. The bible doesn’t teach that we are commanded to go and have a “visit” with random prisoners.
I commend those that do teaching in prison, at large. I’ve seen some good results. Let’s just make sure that we understand that some things are noble, but not commanded. “Let us not grow weary in doing good.”
Clarendon church of Christ