Imprisoned in Rome
NOVEMBER 29 - Nº 333 Acts 28:15-31
Some of the believers in Rome heard that Paul was on his way, so they traveled almost 50 miles to a place called The Three Taverns to meet him. Then they walked with him back to the city. They were a great encouragement to Paul. When all the prisoners from Caesarea finally arrived in Rome, Julius (the centurion who had treated them so kindly) delivered them to the captain of the Roman guard. Paul was taken to a house where he lived by himself with a soldier to guard him. Most of the time he was chained to that guard, but his friends were allowed to visit him. Paul had to pay rent for his private housing, but it was far better than being stuck in a Roman prison cell. Whenever he arrived in a new city, the first thing Paul always did was visit the local Jewish synagogue. But this was impossible in Rome since he was a prisoner. So, three days after his arrival, he sent notice to the Jewish leaders that he was in town. He invited them to visit him in the house where he was being held captive. When the Jewish leaders assembled, Paul explained his situation. “My brothers,” he said, “although I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. They examined me and wanted to release me because they did not find me guilty of any crime deserving death. But the Jews objected. So, I was compelled to make a plea to Caesar. It is only because of my belief in Israel’s Messiah that I am bound with this chain.” The Jewish leaders informed Paul that they had not received any information from his accusers. No one from Judea had told them anything about him. “But we do want to hear what you have to say about this sect that believes Jesus is the Messiah,” they said. “We have heard bad things about them.” So, they decided to get together again. The next time they met, even more people showed up at Paul’s house. For a whole day he passionately explained how the Law of Moses and the prophesies of the Old Testament had been fulfilled—Jesus was their Messiah! Some of the Jews believed Paul’s message, but others rejected it. As they began to discuss what Paul had said, the discussion turned into a disagreement. They were about to leave when Paul turned to the unbelievers and said, “The prophet Isaiah was right when he said that ‘you would listen but not hear; you would look but not see.’ The stubbornness in your hearts has closed your ears and covered your eyes. But God’s salvation is now being offered to the Gentiles. They will see and hear, and God will forgive their sins.” Paul stayed in that house chained to a guard for two years while he waited for his trial. During that time many people came to see him. He boldly taught everyone who visited about the kingdom of God and explained how Jesus truly was the Messiah. No one tried to stop him. The message of the gospel transformed the lives of many of Paul’s Roman guards. They in turn shared the gospel message wherever they were reassigned. Even as a prisoner in Rome, Paul was able to impact the world.
Paul’s circumstances changed and so did his audience. But his purpose and his message always remained the same. Everywhere he went he shared the message of Jesus Christ. Do you look for opportunities wherever you are—and regardless of your circumstances—to share the gospel message?