After three months we set sail in a ship that had wintered in the island, a ship of Alexandria, with the twin gods as a figurehead. Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. And from there we made a circuit and arrived at Rhegium. And after one day a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. There we found brothers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. And the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage. And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him. (Acts 28:11-16)
Final Stages of the Journey to Rome
There had been believers at Rome for some years, and Paul had written a long letter to them to teach and encourage them in their faith. When they heard of his arrival in Italy, two parties of the believers there made journeys of 69km and 53km respectively along the Appian Highway to welcome him.
God has watched over Paul throughout, and his purpose for him to visit Rome has at last been fulfilled. The authorities continue to treat Paul with noteworthy respect.
Next time we shall read the last part of the story told by Dr Luke, how he spent the next two years. Beyond that we know nothing except that Paul was finally executed.
Please be thinking what Scriptures you would like us to post for you to read after The New Year (lo gsar).
In the next and last post on The Acts of the Apostles, we shall be asking you for suggestions. Maybe you would like to read another of the Gospels, for example the gospel written by the Apostle John, or perhaps one of Paul’s letters, like the Letter to the Galatians?
Now three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. And the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews laid out their case against Paul, and they urged him, asking as a favor against Paul[a] that he summon him to Jerusalem—because they were planning an ambush to kill him on the way. Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea and that he himself intended to go there shortly. “So,” said he, “let the men of authority among you go down with me, and if there is anything wrong about the man, let them bring charges against him.”
After he stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought. When he had arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him that they could not prove. Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.” But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?” But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.” Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.” (Acts 25:1-12)
The new governor of Syria Province having arrived, the Jews repeated their plan of finding a means to assassinate Paul. When that failed, they came to repeat their charges against him. These also failed.
However Governor Festus wanting like Felix to please the Jews did not release him, suggesting yet another trial. So Paul very boldly declared his right to be fairly judged in Caesar’s High Court. And Festus was persuaded.
We shall continue to read how God fulfilled his purpose by bringing Paul finally (Chapter 28) to the very centre of the Empire in Rome.
But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.” Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs.
After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison. (Acts 24:22-27)
Felix was disturbed by Paul’s preaching because it reminded him of the coming day when God would judge the sins of all men, his own included, and because he knew through his wife the Jewish prophecies of the Messiah. He knew that he needed to hear more clear teaching from Paul, and he also hoped for a bribe, so he did not set him free.
From this point on Paul will be passed without decision – like a ball in the hands of a juggler – from one authority to another; from governor to governor, from governor to petty king, from king to Rome. And in this way God’s will for him would come about.