Acts: Saint Paul….the Disciple to the Gentiles

In this third look at Acts of the Apostles, Luke places Saint Paul at center stage for the second half of the book. Between the detailed accounts in Acts of Paul’s three missionary journeys and Paul’s Letters, we are somewhat familiar with his missionary travels in what is present day Turkey and Greece. Less is known about Paul’s fourth journey to Rome. Today, we will examine this trip.
All of Paul’s missionary journeys covered hundreds of mile on both land and sea. On land the Romans had developed a vast network of roads throughout the Roman Empire. Not only did the Romans develop this system of roads, but also provided the Roman military presence to make this road system safe for travel.
Prior to the Romans, the Greek Empire brought shipbuilding to a new high. Although these ships were primarily designed to wage war, in Paul’s time, travel by ship throughout the Mediterranean was common. Thus the Greek and Roman Empires ironically played key roles in the early spread of Christianity.
As Paul was completing his third missionary journey (ca A.D. 58), he was warned to end the journey at Caesarea, which was becoming a new center for the Jesus movement. Despite the warnings, Paul continued on to Jerusalem where Roman influence was fading and the Jewish political forces were growing stronger.
In Jerusalem, Paul attempts to show his allegiance to his Jewish faith by undergoing ritual purification, but to no avail. After being falsely accused of bringing a Gentile into the Temple, Paul is imprisoned. Knowing there is a plot to kill Paul, the Roman authorities have him secretly transferred to Caesarea where he was imprisoned for two years.
During that time, Paul made impassioned pleas to two different Roman procurators as well as a rising Hebrew ruler, but freedom was denied. When Festus threatened to send Paul to Jerusalem to stand trial, Paul had no choice but to appeal to Caesar, and sets sail for Rome under a Roman guard.
This small party, which may have included Luke, departed from Sidon, hugging the coast of modern day Turkey until they reached Myra where they were transferred to a merchant ship for the long (nine months) to Rome, weathering several storms. Their boat sank near the island of Malta.
Acts tells us that Paul remained in Rome for two years (ca. A.D. 59-61/62) and remained under house arrest without his case going to trial. The Book of Acts quite suddenly ends there. Early Christian tradition tells us Paul was released from prison and continued his missionary work in this area before being executed (ca. A.D. 68). ~ Mike Kleinman,
Adult Faith Formation Team Member

Our Mission is to provide a welcoming, inclusive and loving community by proclaiming and living God’s Word through worship, education, and social justice.