Skip Heitzig - Acts 28:17-31
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Father, we want to thank you for this incredible journey we've been able to take in this first historical book of the early church, one that has been rendered for us in holy scripture. So we're able to see the devotion and the dedication of these men and women that comprise the first believers. And especially since the latter portion of the book highlights Paul, we've been able to consider him to marvel at his commitment to getting the gospel to places that have never heard it. So Lord, I pray, Lord, that as we bring this book to a close, that as our thoughts focus on this man fulfilling the dream of his lifetime, we would consider those things that you placed on our hearts for us to accomplish that are no less valid, because this is a story that goes on and on. Show us what those things are, Lord, and fulfill those desires that you put on our hearts, for your glory in Jesus' name, Amen.
Back in 2006, there was in Jerusalem a very famous rabbi named Yitzhak Kaduri. And he was well known, but he died in January of 2006. Yitzhak Kaduri lived to the ripe old age of 108. Before he died, he claimed that he knew who the Messiah was, but he wouldn't tell anybody. He wrote it down on a small note, but he gave it to someone and said, make sure you don't open this till after I die.
He died in April of 2007, a little over a year later. His beloved disciples, by the way, at his funeral, 200,000 people showed up, just to show you how widely he was followed, 200,000 at Yitzhak Kaduri's funeral. But in April of 2007, they opened the note. And to the surprise of so many Jews in Israel who esteemed this rabbi so highly, it said, Yahshua, Yeshua, Jesus is the messiah.
The note went on to say, many have known His name, but have not believed that it was Him. Now, that shook people up. There was a whole lot of shaking going on in Jerusalem. And I begin with that story, because you just got to know that when another rabbi of 2000 years ago named Saul Sha'ul of Tarsus, well known, because he studied under the famed Gamaliel in Jerusalem. When he came to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, it shook things up.
Three times the conversion of Saul is mentioned in the book of Acts. That's how important it is to the narrative. We have followed him in this book. We have seen him in the synagogues of Jerusalem. We watched him as he consented to the death of Stephen. And we followed him up the Damascus road when he had that incredible conversion by that vision, seeing Jesus and hearing Him. We followed him into the city of Damascus, where he was blinded. But after he could see, he started preaching it up till they persecuted him, they drove him out. He went down to Arabia for three years studying the Old Testament scriptures, going over the things he had heard and known in his yeshiva training, as well as his rabbinical training.
He then went back to Damascus. They had to lower him over the wall in a basket. He went down to Jerusalem, stirred things up in Jerusalem. The disciples had to ask him to leave. They shipped him back to Tarsus. Years later, Barnabas gets him from Tarsus, brings him to Antioch. And from Antioch, Paul makes three consecutive journeys around the known Roman world at the time, spreading the gospel message. Until finally, we get now to Chapter 28.
I've told you last time and I said that we always marvel at this man named Saul of Tarsus, AKA Paul the Apostle. We marvel at his unrelenting drive. And in Romans 15, the very next book after the book of Acts, Paul said, for this reason also, I have been much hindered from coming to you, that is to you in Rome. But now, no longer having, I'm reading Romans 15 verse 23, but now, no longer having a place in these parts and having a great desire these many years to come to you. I just want that to settle in. For years, I've had a desire to come to Rome.
Whenever I journey to Spain, I'm setting it up for later, I shall come to you, for I hope to see you on my journey and be helped on my way there by you. Yet first, I may enjoy your company for a while. Now, why does this man have the pressing desire to go from Lystra to Derby, from Antioch to Ephesus, Corinth, Athens, and now Rome? And why has it always been on his heart to make it to Rome? Well, a few verses before that, he tells us why.
So, this is Romans 15 verse 20. So I have made it my aim to preach the gospel not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man's foundation. So the theme of the book of Luke written by Doctor Luke was from Galilee to Jerusalem, how the message of the gospel in the person of the Messiah, Jesus, went from Galilee to Jerusalem. That's the theme of Luke book 1. Luke book 2, or the Book of Acts, since he wrote book 2, the book of Acts, is from Jerusalem to Rome, how the gospel through his messengers, primarily Paul, gets the message of the gospel from Jerusalem, where Jesus took it, the center of Judaism, to Rome, the center of the world. So Paul makes it to Rome.
Rome has been dominant on his horizon for a long time. Now, in Acts 28, beginning in verse 17, it came to pass after three days. So Paul has been in Rome three days. And you learn something about this man, he doesn't wait a week or two weeks, grass does not grow under his feet. He's busy. Three days, enough, I'm done resting, let's get the show on the road. So he wants to present the gospel.
So after three days, Paul called together the leaders of the Jews. And so, when they had come together, he said to them, men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. He's recounting now what you already know from Acts chapter 22. Who, when they had examined me, wanting to let me go, because there was no cause for putting me to death.
Now, you remember, he has been under several examinations so far by the Jewish people and the Roman government. This now is the sixth defense that Paul gives since he has been arrested in Jerusalem. So you remember the first one was to the mob when he was standing on the steps of the Antonia Fortress overlooking the Temple Mount, he gave his first defense. And it went well, as he was recounting his conversion, until he got to the last sentence. He said, and so Jesus sent me to the Gentiles. They had a hissy fit, threw dust in the air and they said, away with this man, kill him, he is not fit to live.
The second defense that he gives is before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council. That doesn't go well, until Paul perceives one part is Pharisee, the other part is Sadducee. So he says, I'm here because I believe in the resurrection of the dead. The Pharisees who believed in the resurrection said, nothing wrong with this guy. The Sadducees who didn't believe the resurrection, started arguing with the Pharisees. Instead of trying to get mad at Paul, they got mad at each other, and Paul got out of there.
The third defense was while he was in Caesarea. After he was arrested and taken Caesarea, he stood before, is that rain? Awesome, thank you, Jesus. So the third defense was in Caesarea before Antonius Felix, the third before Porcius Festus, both of them procurators of Judea. And the fifth was in front of Herod Agrippa the II. This now is the sixth defense since he was arrested in Jerusalem. He's speaking now to Jewish men and brethren.
So he said, they examined me, they didn't find any cause for putting me to death, but, verse 19, but when the Jews spoke against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar. Not that I had anything of which to accuse my nation. In other words I wasn't attacking them, they were attacking me. And though they were attacking me, I'm not here to retaliate, I'm not here to attack my nation, just giving you the facts. For this reason, therefore, I have called for you to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel, I am bound with this chain.
Now, I can just picture Paul sort of lifting up his chains, he was bound in chains, and just sort of lifting them up and rattling them around a little bit. For the hope of Israel, I'm bound in this chain. Paul, when he wrote to the Ephesians, by the way, from Rome, he called himself an ambassador in chains, God's ambassador in chains.
Now, he writes about his imprisonment or his chain frequently. And what's interesting is that he never believed that his chains confined him or bound him. He believed that he was a free man even though he was chained. He believed that he was chained in a prison by the will of God. But did you notice what he said? He said, because for the hope of Israel, I am bound with this chain. Now frequently, Paul spoke about the hope of Israel. What did he mean when he spoke of the hope of Israel? Messiah Jesus. For 3,500 years, the Jewish people have anticipated a deliver, a coming one, a mashiach, a Messiah. Like Yitzhak Kaduri said, we've been waiting for the Messiah, it's Yeshua.
The Jewish prayer that had been uttered and is still uttered is this, I believe in the coming of Messiah. And even though he tarry, I will wait for him every coming day. For 3,500 years, Jews have prayed that and anticipated that. It's been one of the cardinal beliefs in the belief system of Judaism. So what Paul is showing them is, I'm not a dissonant, I mainstream, baby. I'm as Jew as you can get, I'm true blue Jew, because I believe in the Jewish Messiah that our fathers have believed in. It's the hope of Israel.
Now, we have noticed this phrase, or we at least have read this phrase, perhaps we haven't noticed it. But if you don't mind, I'd like you to just notice a couple of times Paul uses that. So I'm going to go back to chapter 23 for a moment and show you what he says. Verse 6, Romans 23, this is his second trial between the Pharisees and Sadducees. When Paul perceived that one part was Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, men and brethren, I am a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee. Concerning the hope, the hope and the resurrection of the dead, I am being judged. Now, to Paul, the hope of Israel, the Messiah, and the resurrection of the Messiah went hand in hand. Because he believed that the Old Testament predicted not only the Messiah's coming, but predicted also his death and his resurrection, that was the hope.
I believe in the hope and the resurrection. In the very next chapter, chapter 24, in verse 14, he says, but this I confess to you that according to the way, which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers believing all things, which are written in the law and in the prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. He speaks about his hope. His hope is the hope. The hope is the hope of the father's. It's all synonymous.
And then over in chapter 26, in verse 6, and now, I stand and am judged for that the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. See how frequently he speaks of the hope of Israel, his hope, the hope of our fathers. The promise made by God to our fathers, to this promise, our 12 tribes earnestly serving God day and night hope to attain. For this hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. What is that hope? Not only the Messiah, but look at the very next verse, why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?
So the hope is Messiah's coming, death and resurrection. And Paul says, I mainstream man, I believe what the fathers have always believed, it's the hope of Israel. He was a man who knew the scripture and he's recounting that the Messiah would come, that He would die, be buried and be risen from the dead. Now, I say it's mainstream Judaism to believe in the Messiah.
Over the years, if you were to examine Judaism now, there are branches of Judaism, I don't have the time to go through them all, because we don't have much time in the remaining of tonight. But if you were to examine and ask the question of a modern Jew, do you believe in the coming of the Messiah? You'd find an awful lot of them saying, no, not really. It's really not their hope. But traditionally, in mainstream Judaism, before all the different breakups and the bifurcation of beliefs, that has been mainstream Judaism.
In the Talmud, there's even a passage that says this, all of the prophets prophesied only of the days of Messiah. They saw the singular hope of Israel. And there's an interesting passage in the Talmudic writers among them, in the Talmud. It seems that they spoke of a goat that they would affix a red wool band to. And they would let him go into the wilderness on Yom Kippur. You've read that in the scriptures, you know the story. So the tradition was to tie a red wool marked tag on that goat and let it go into the wilderness. And the idea is is that it would turn white. And when it turned white, it was a symbol to them that God had heard their prayer and forgiven their sins.
Well, in the Talmud, 40 years before the destruction of the temple, there is a story that on Yom Kippur when the goat went into the wilderness with that red woolen tag, it did not turn white, it remained red. And during that era, that the gates of the temple opened by themselves. And in the Talmud, the sages believed that it was a sign from God that their temple would be destroyed and that God had not forgiven their sins any longer.
What's interesting is that is around the time of Messiah's coming to the Israel, dying for their sins, rending the veil in two in the temple, because God was making the statement that the blood of goats and bulls will no longer take away sin, but the Messiah has come. The hope of Israel was that Messiah. So he stands and he tells them. This ambassador in chains tells them that I am here in chains for the hope of Israel.
Then they said to him, verse 21, we neither receive letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren who have reported or spoken any evil of you. So we don't think you're a bad guy. We haven't really heard about this controversy in particular. Though they had definitely heard of Christianity and no doubt knew about Paul. But, verse 22, we desire to hear from you what you think, for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere.
Of course they would know, wouldn't they? As we've already told you before in our studies in the book of Acts, years before this, the Emperor Claudius expelled all of the Jews from Rome over a certain controversy about a man by the name of Chrestus. C-H-R-E-S-T-U-S, Chrestus. Now, we don't know who Chrestus was, but some scholars believe it is a reference, a Latin reference to Christas, the Christ. That among the Jews, because of the church in Rome, that there was a controversy over Jesus Christ and it began to split Judaism and that Claudius had had enough and he just expelled all of the Jews out of Rome.
Now, during that time when they were expelled, that's when Aquilla and Priscilla left Rome and they met Paul on one of his missionary journeys. So this controversy had been around. Christianity had been around. It had been seen as divisive. And they wanted to know about that, they wanted to hear Paul's opinion about that. We desire to hear from you, what you think, for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken of against everywhere.
So when they appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the Kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the law of Moses and the prophets, from morning until evening. They came to visit Paul. They visited him where he lived. He lived in some house, he was under house arrest. Remember back in verse 16, would you look at it again? Now, when we came to Rome, the Centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard, but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him.
So now he is in chains, he has his own house. This chapter will end in verse 31, says that he lived in his own rented house. By the way, the population of Rome at that time was about two million people, half of which were slaves, half of which were Roman citizens. Even the Roman citizens lived in relative squalor and poverty. So the homes were not like fancy Roman homes, it was pretty dismal. He lived in one of those homes among the population.
He could not leave that house. People could come and visit him. He was chained to a soldier. The soldiers that attended Paul worked in shifts. They were chained to him for six hours, and then they would swap with another soldier, six hours, then six hours. So four times a day, they would switch the sentry or the soldier who would watch Paul. So Paul's in Rome, people are visiting him, Jewish people are visiting him. But also, many leaders in Rome were getting around Paul at this time.
Now when Paul is in Rome, he writes four letters. He writes a letter to the Ephesians that you have in your Bible, the letter to the Philippians, also in your Bible, a letter to the Colossians, also in your Bible, and a letter to Philemon, also in your Bible. Those four letters are on record. He wrote from Rome. So there were leaders in the early church that were around him. Some of those leaders we know by name.
In Colossians chapter 4, and I'm trying to tie a lot of these loose ends so you go, oh, that's what that's about. So he says this in Colossians chapter 4, it'll make more sense now, continue, he says, Colossians 4, verse 2, continue earnestly in prayer. Be vigilant with thanksgiving, meanwhile, praying also for us that God would open to us a door for the Word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains. I'm here in Rome, I'm chained to a guard, pray that God will open up a door for the Word to get out, that I may also make manifest as I ought to speak.
Now, down in verse 7 of Colossians 4, Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister and fellow servant of the Lord will tell you the news about me. He's one of the leaders with him there in Rome. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know the circumstances and comfort your hearts. With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brethren who is one of you. So he is one of the Colossians living with Paul in Rome. They will make known to you the things which are happening here.
Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner greets you with Mark the cousin of Barnabas about whom you received instructions. If he comes to you, welcome him. And Jesus, who is called Justice, these are my only fellow workers for the Kingdom of God who are of the circumcision, that is, they are Jewish and they have proved to be of comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you, a bond servant of Christ also greets you, et cetera.
So there are leaders of the Christian church. There are leaders from the synagogues in Rome, who are coming to Paul. When I say synagogues, history tells us there were between 7 and 12 Jewish synagogues at the time Paul was imprisoned in Rome. So imagine leaders from all of those synagogues coming to hear Paul.
Now, it says, while they were there, back in Acts 28, verse 23, when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the Kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the law of the prophets, from, noticed this, morning until evening. This is an incredibly exciting Bible study, but it's not an hour. It's not an hour with coffee in Solomon's porch and food trucks afterwards, it's all day long, according to the Jewish tradition, about a 10 to 12 hour learning day, where Paul could expound, they could pepper him with questions, he could answer the questions, they could ask, and it was this back and forth dialogue. And you present arguments and conclusions. So Paul did that.
Incredible Bible study, don't you wish you were a fly on that wall. As Paul explained to them and persuaded them about this Jesus. Finally gets his wish, he's in Rome. Man, he's talking to the Jewish leaders in Rome. What was the result? And some were persuaded, hallelujah, by the things which were spoken and some disbelieved.
First off, I want you to consider something. You have a home. You're not chained to it, although some of you might feel you are. Your chained to that mortgage, man. You're chained to raising those kids in that home. But have you ever thought that your home could become a base of operations to spread the Kingdom of God? Your home could be. Your connect group in your home could be. In your neighborhood could be.
James Stocker, who wrote comments on the book of Acts said, Paul's prison became the fulcrum from which he moved the World. He couldn't move freely so he moved freely in the hearts of the men and women who heard his dialogue and his explanation. And some believed. And some did not. Some were persuaded by the things which were spoken and some disbelieved. Now, don't expect much more than that. In fact, expect that. Some will reject. Some will respond. Your attitude is to rejoice. Rejoice in those who respond. Because not all respond to you, this is Paul the Apostle, man, 8 to 10 to 12 hours with Paul, you think everybody's going to believe. No, they won't. Some will. Some won't, in fact, most won't.
Jesus gave a parable that you could even see as a model for evangelism. He talked about a sower who went out to sow seed. He said 25% of the people who hear the word of God, in that little parable, 25%, a full one fourth reject it out of hand immediately. I'm not going to listen to, that's stupid, that's nonsense, that's religion, you can't ever know that stuff for certain. They just reject it immediately. They fall on the hard soil, birds of the air snatch it up.
50% respond, but only temporarily. The respond, because they feel good, it's an emotional high, but they don't last very long. Others respond, but the trials and cares of this life kind of move all that away. And according to Jesus, only 25% really hear and believe and are converted. And of that 25%, they don't all bear fruit incredibly. Some 30, some 60, some 100 fold.
So given that and given what Paul experienced, some will just reject immediately, others will respond eventually, make sure that you rejoice certainly for all that God has done. Don't worry about those who reject, just rejoice in those who receive and respond. So that was Paul's experience in Rome, as it was everywhere else.
So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word, and you'll understand why they left after this. This was the close. He said, the Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, the Jewish fathers, saying, go to this people. And he meant the people of Israel, go to this people and say, hearing, you will hear and not understand, seeing, you will see and not perceive, for the hearts of this people have grown dull and their ears are hard of hearing. And their eyes, they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn so that I should heal them. Therefore, let it be known to you that salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles and they will hear it.
And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves. Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house and received all who came to him. Paul was chained to a guard as I said, but that's really not the best way to look at. The guards were chained to Paul. Yeah, see, just imagine, you can't escape, man. This is my duty. I've got six hours with this dude and he won't shut up. And he keeps talking about this Christ dude all the time. So they're stuck next to him. Now, the guards that guarded him were the Praetorian Guards, the palace guards, the elite bodyguards of the emperor himself. Because when he writes to the church at Philippi, this is Philippians chapter 1, he says this.
I want you to know, brethren, he's writing from Rome to the church at Philippi. I want you to know, brethren, that the things which have happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel. You see they're in Philippi going, oh man, our best player on the field, Paul, is in the dugout. He's incarcerated, he's in jail. The guy who saw the most fruit is bound. What a bummer. He goes, well, I want you to know something, things that have happened to me have actually furthered the gospel, they have not been hindered the gospel. So that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, the Praetorian Guard is the translation. And to all the rest that my chains are in Christ. What could he mean by that?
Well, when we get to the last chapter of Philippians, Philippians chapter 4, and I'm flipping to Philippians chapter 4, he closes the book by saying, now, to our God and Father be glory forever and ever, amen, greet every Saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you and the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household. Did you get that? The saints greet you, but especially those, those who? Those saints, those believers who are of Caesar's household, which means, they are listening to Paul the Apostle chained to him and many of those guards were praying to receive Christ.
That's why Paul said, the word of God is not changed, it's not bound, he said to the Colossians when he wrote from Rome. I might be bound, but the word of God isn't bound. And I want you to know, the things that have happened to me, Philippians, have furthered the gospel. How? Well, these guys that are chained next to me are praying to receive Christ. Now, I'm imagining a guard who gets really interested in the things of Paul and what he's preaching about. And now, his six hour shift is over, so the next guy comes in, he says, hey, do you mind, can I take your shift for you. He's just getting into something really cool and I don't want to miss what he's going to say next, so I'll take your shift. No problem, I just love to, go home with your family.
FB Meyer, somebody I've greatly admired for many years, and I have a number of his books, says this, at times, the hired room where Paul was would be thronged with people to whom the apostle spoke the words of life. But after they withdrew, the sentry, the guard, would sit beside him filled with many questions as to the meaning of the words which this strange prisoner spoke. At other times, especially at night, soldiers and the apostle would be left to talk. And in those dark lonely hours, the apostle would tell soldier after soldier of his own proud career and early life, of his opposition to Christ, and of his ultimate conversion, and would make it clear that he was there as a prisoner, not for any crime, not because he raised a rebellion or revolt, but because he believed that he whom the Roman soldiers had crucified under pilot was the Son of God and was the Savior of men.
So the result, Caesar's household, those guys, those fellows chained to Paul were coming to know Christ. So Paul, verse 30, almost done with the book, verse 30, then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house and received all those who came to him. So Paul is in prison in Rome for two years. He had been in Caesarea in prison for two years, the last four years of his life, it's all jail time. But here's what I want you to go away with. The longest period of Paul's incarceration, listen, was the greatest period of Paul's impact. The longest period of Paul's incarceration was the greatest period of Paul's impact.
God's assignment was his confinement. That's what got assigned for Paul. Paul, my will is for you to go to jail. You say, well, how could that be God's will? I'll answer that by four words, Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon. Those four books of the Bible are given to us while he was in prison. Roman guards came to know Christ. Strengthening of leaders came because Paul was there. The prison became the pulpit from which he shared the truth that transformed the world. Two years in his own rented house.
Now, the last letter that Paul ever wrote before his death was 2 Timothy. And I'm just going to read a verse, I have one verse to read in Acts, we're almost done. But he said in 2 Timothy something that I just mentioned to you. This is chapter 2 of 2 Timothy, verse 9, he speaks of the gospel for which I suffer trouble as an evil doer, even to the point of chains, there he mentions it again, he likes to talk about those chains. But the word of God is not changed. Therefore, I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation, which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
Here's what I want you to see, Paul saw every thing in his life as an opportunity, even jail. I mentioned some of you feel like you're incarcerated, jailed to your own home. You go, man, I got all these kids at home and I'm a housewife and I have to raise kids and pick up kids and take them to soccer and it's all, I'm chained to this. You feel chained to your job, chained to a career. Do you think Susanna Wesley, a woman who had 19 children, felt incarcerated, jailed? I'm sure she felt that way.
But because of her imprisonment, raising 19 children, 2 of them she raised were John Wesley and Charles Wesley. And they rocked the British Isles with the gospel. Great incarceration, great impact. Martin Luther, sort of incarcerated, he was kept sequestered for about a year or so in the Wartburg castle, from which he translated the New Testament into German. Great impact.
John Bunyan, incarcerated in the Bedford jail. He wrote Pilgrim's Progress. Great impact. So don't think that the word of God has is chained no matter how confined you feel. Now, we close the book. Verse 31, preaching the Kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.
Now, that's weird. The book ends weird. It's not a normal, it's an abrupt ending. It's so abrupt that some scholars think the last paragraph may be missing. I don't believe so. Others have thought, maybe there's another chapter somewhere, because that's just a weird way to end it. And here's why, it's the book that has no ending. God is still acting. The book of Acts is not ended. There's chapter 29 and 30 and 31 and 32 and we're part of the Acts of the Holy Spirit in this generation. It's a book that has no ending and you're part of the story.
And I love, I think it's by design of the Holy Spirit that we end and we go, huh? That's it? Well, that's it for now. You know what happened after the two years? It doesn't say, the book ends, what happens? Two scholars, Clement, who wrote in the '80s, not the 1980s, I mean, the '80s, and Eusebius from Caesarea, both church fathers, both historians, both said that Paul was released after two years of imprisonment in Rome by Caesar Nero. He was released for a year.
We don't know what happened to him, but I'm going to give you quickly a sketch of what I think happened to Paul. I think, first of all, he went to Colossae and he met with Philemon to just reconcile he and the slave Onesimus that had run away, he wrote about in his book to Philemon. Because when he writes Philemon from the prison in Rome, he says, prepare a guestroom for me when I come. I think he went there. And then, after Colossae, he went down to Crete, where he had told Titus, make sure that you raise up elders in every city, Church leadership, probably to shore that up. Then he probably headed to Ephesus to meet with Timothy one final time.
Because from there, he would have it up the coast not far to the area of Troas. Troas was the place where he got the vision of the man from Macedonia saying, come over to Macedonia and help us. And it's in Troas, history tells us, that he was re-arrested and taken back to Rome to stand as second trial before Caesar Nero. And the last words we have of the Apostle Paul are these, they're familiar, let me just read a portion to you. I know it's over time by five minutes. I'm sorry, but I'm almost done. He said this, I'm already being poured out as a drink offering. The time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me, the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will give me on that day. And not only to me, but all those who have loved his appearing.
Those are among the last words penned by the Apostle Paul. What happened to him? He was taken, history records, from the Mamertine Prison. Now, when you go to Rome, make sure you go to the Mamertine Prison. It's funny, the Mamertine Prison is where Paul spent his final days. His second incarceration, it's a hole in the ground from which he was fed food, he saw no light. It's a cold, dark place. What's funny is, there are lines of people that want to see the Vatican and almost nobody goes to the Mamertine.
For me, the Mamertine is far more exciting than the Vatican, because Paul spent his last days there. He was taken from the Mamertine, taken just a few yards away in the forum to the Basilica Julia, built by Julius Caesar. Standing before Nero, he heard the death sentence read. Then he was taken out on the Appian Way and they severed his head from his body. He went in that instant from the imperial city to the eternal city. And a crown that was laid up for him, a crown of righteousness, was given to the Apostle Paul.
So Paul had quite a life, didn't he? Never a dull moment. Chased to Jerusalem, chased out of Damascus, stoned at Lystra, scoffed at in Athens, mocked in Caesarea and Jerusalem, and then taken to Rome. Paul spoke about his chains. Paul spoke about his trials, he spoke about his scars. Now let me leave you with this.
Amy Carmichael was a missionary from Ireland to India, saw a lot of suffering and she suffered a lot herself. And she wrote a poem, I want you just to consider this. It's called Hast Thou No Scar? Hast thou no scar? No hidden scar on foot or side or hand? I hear thee sung as mighty in the land. I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star. Hast thou no scar? Hast thou no wound? Yet I was wounded by the archers, spent. Leaned me against a tree to die, and rent. By ravenous wolves encompass me I swooned, hast thou no wound? No wound? No scar? Yet as the Master shall the servant be and pierced are the feet that follow me, but thine are whole. Can he have followed far who has no wound or scar?
You see the longer you walk with Jesus, you go through trials, scars, pain, suffering, all to shape you and mold you and prove that you belong to the scarred one, the one who himself went through trials and buffeting and sorrows. So none of this weird theology, if you're a child of the King, you'll never suffer. If you're a child of the King, you will suffer, like your King suffered. In fact, Paul said, I fill up the sufferings of Christ in my own body. And I look back on some of my scars and some of my trials and I have to tell you, I hated it then, but it look back and go, thank you, Jesus. Man, I learned a lot from that one. I chalk that up to, yes. Finally, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, our righteous judge will give to me on that day. Well, I'm 10 minutes over time.
Lord, thank you for this study, thank you for our time together, thank you for these people who have endured and hopefully have been blessed by 30 weeks of the book of Acts, in Jesus' name. Amen.