Paul in Caesarea and Rome (Acts 24:10–28:10)
There were plots afoot to have Paul killed, so he was sent away by the Roman authorities to Caesarea, where he stood before Felix, who, in an effort to win favor with the Jewish people, had Paul put in custody. Paul did have some limited freedoms and privileges, but he was left there for two years (Acts 24:22–27).
Two years after Paul';s imprisonment there was a change in Roman leadership, and Paul, himself a Roman citizen, appealed his case to Caesar. He did that because there was a plan afoot to have him taken to Jerusalem so that he could be intercepted and killed on the way. For that reason, Paul was sent to Rome to be tried in a Roman court. It was because Paul was a Roman citizen that his appeal was heard.
It was during Paul';s time as a prisoner in Rome that he wrote his epistles to the Colossians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, and to Philemon. Also, if he is the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews (as many believe he is), it was most likely that he wrote that while in Rome as well.
Paul';s voyage by sea to Rome was a long and perilous one. At one point, they fought through a long and terrible storm, and no one on the ship had eaten in a long time. Paul, however, received assurance from God in a dream that he would eventually arrive safely in Rome and stand trial before Caesar and bear witness to the gospel (Acts 27:19–25). But that would happen only after the ship was torn apart by a storm off the shore of the Mediterranean island of Malta. Miraculously, everyone on the ship was able to make it to shore, where they stayed for three months and where Paul was able to perform some miracles for some of the locals.
Paul finally made it to Rome, where he was put under what could be considered house arrest. He was allowed to have his own private lodging, but he was under constant guard by a Roman soldier (Acts 28:16). Three days after his arrival, Paul met with the local Jewish leaders and pleaded his case with them, telling them, “Brothers, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Roman government, even though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors” (Acts 28:17). He went on to explain how the Romans had tried him and acquitted him of any wrongdoing but that when the Jewish leaders protested the decision, he felt it necessary to appeal to Caesar for his own safety. He finished by telling them that he called them together to tell them that the Messiah had come in the person of Jesus Christ (28:18–20).
From that time on, Paul preached the gospel message, telling everyone who would listen that salvation had come to the Jews and to the Gentiles alike. For the next two years he lived in his own rented home, where he welcomed everyone who came to visit him and told them about Jesus Christ. And no one, the final verse of Acts tells us, did anything to stop him.
Despite a terrible shipwreck, Paul believed God when he was told that he would one day be in Rome. How do you respond when it appears that the promises God has given you might not come to pass because of some circumstance?
Do you believe you would have the courage to preach the gospel of Christ if you were in Paul';s situation?