In the final section of the book of Acts, Luke records the last years of Paul’s ministry. Luke leaves us without closure and we do not know what happens to Paul. Either he was executed or Luke’s narration had led up to the present day and even Luke does not know what will happen next. However, Luke gives an extensive account of the works of the Holy Spirit which was the purpose of writing the book.
Return To Jerusalem
Paul wanted to return to Jerusalem after completing the third missionary journey. But through the Spirit, the disciples pleaded with Paul, to not go to Jerusalem as the Jews there were plotting to kill Paul. Even Prophet Agabus came down from Judea to warn and even illustrate what would happen to Paul in Jerusalem. Agabus was a powerful Prophet of God whom people valued, as his prophecies of famine came true (Acts 11:27–30). Despite all the warnings, Paul insisted on going to Jerusalem.
On arriving in Jerusalem Paul was greeted by James and the other disciples. Paul narrated all the great things the Holy Spirit had done on his latest trip and everyone praised God. James and the other disciples warned Paul that his stance on circumcision among the Gentiles has been misconstrued as preaching against the laws of Moses. The disciples conceived a plan that would prove that Paul is not against the laws (Acts 21:22-26) but when the Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul, they stirred up the crowds and captured him.
The Roman commander came up and arrested Paul and kept in confinement till he could understand the reason for the commotion. Paul was arrested even though he followed all the Jewish rules to the letter. The people who had made up their mind regarding the Gospel could not be convinced and wanted to kill Paul. Paul’s message was twisted and presented to the crowds to rile them up and create an uproar similar to the one in Ephesus. However in Jerusalem, since the Jews were in majority this uproar could not have been silenced by a simple city clerk.
The Trials of Paul
And so the progressive trials of Paul began. First among the Jews, then the Centurion and the soldiers, after which before the Sanhedrin, then before the courts of Felix and Festus and finally his testimony before King Agrippa, where Paul appeals to the courts of Caesar. In his defense before the jews, he addresses them in Aramaic to grab the attention of the commoners. In Prison, Paul started a conversation with the captain of the guards regarding Roman citizenship to prolong his trial. Before the Sanhedrin, Paul uses his Jewish upbringing to implant doubt in the minds of the Pharisees and as a result, causes friction between the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Before Festus, Felix and Agrippa, Paul articulated his case immaculately and tweaked his testimony according to the three that they may accept the gospel.
To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law … so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law … so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. – 1 Corinthians 9:20-22
Journey To Rome
When Paul saw that he had preached to everyone he remembered Gods promise of leading Paul to preach before Caesar.
While traveling to Rome, the vessel carrying Paul faced tumultuous weather and had to sail through the toughest conditions. This reminds us of the journey Jonah took to Tarshish or the one which Jesus took with his disciples. In both instances, the treacherous conditions were subdued with the clear intervention of God. But over here, Paul and the sailors had to endure this weather for more than fourteen days. Even after safely landing on the island of Malta, Paul relentlessly spoke to all who would hear and even managed to procure an abandoned ship from the natives to recommence their mission to Rome. Throughout the journey, Paul used every opportunity to preach the Gospel and made many followers along the way to Rome.
In Rome, Paul was placed under house arrest and awaited trial for more than two years. He opened his house to all the believers and preached the Gospel without any hindrance. His various journey’s and trials culminated to his stay in Rome where he could talk about Jesus in peace to those who wanted to know about the kingdom of God.
- Was Paul in his adamance in going to Jerusalem, in fact, going against the Holy Spirit?
- Should Paul have agreed to go with the disciples’ plan of proving that he is for the laws? In the end, he still gets arrested.
- Do we bring the Gospel to the disheartened or do we think this is not the right time?
- How contrasting are the last two years of Paul’s recorded life to the one where he was stuck in Jail awaiting his trial before Festus and Felix?