Paul’s Journey to Rome
(Acts 22 & 23 and 27 & 28)
Paul was chosen, and captured by the Lord, (Eph. 4:1), to be His carrier of the Gospel to the Gentiles. He was not alone in such a calling. As an example, we understand that Thomas, one of the twelve, went to India. We know well of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. As we read the book of Acts, we see Paul’s progression, and notice how many times he tells his story which is a testimony of Jesus Christ. I learned early in my walk with the Lord to do just that. The content and extent of my story will change depending on my audience. I encourage you to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and alert to your hearer’s spiritual location. We learn to have our words seasoned with grace.
Paul had been warned by the Lord (Acts 22:18) that those in Jerusalem would not receive his testimony, and that the Lord would send him to the Gentiles, to non-Jewish people. We read in Acts 21:10-14 that Paul was nevertheless constrained in his heart to go back to Jerusalem. A prophet, Agabus, displayed what would happen and the people were distressed but Paul was not to be dissuaded. The words, “The will of the Lord be done,” resound clearly. Paul, Luke, and others went to Jerusalem and we find Paul in the center of another uproar. The Lord prepared him to remain steadfast and composed in such situations. Paul saw the stormy scene as an opportunity for his story. He seized it. May we be ready in season and out of season. The Lord is our rock also. Not many among us speak to crowds but each of us is a vessel to be filled and poured out as the Spirit directs.
So Paul spoke and when the crowd reacted, the Roman authorities took him aside and questioned him. It is interesting how Paul used his wits and was spared a scourging when he declared his Roman citizenship. A place exists for us to use our heads to avoid trouble, even pain. As the clamor rose and Paul was threatened, the Roman guards pulled Paul to safety. The message had been delivered. The Lord gave those in Jerusalem another opportunity to repent and turn to the Lord. Perhaps they did later but at that moment the Roman guards (they were equivalent to today’s police) saw the danger and pulled him aside. Paul was placed in jail for safety. My focus of this writing is Acts 23:11. As Paul has been saved from a band of false Jews (Rev. 2:9, 3:9) led by Ananias, the high priest, Jesus comes to him. The Lord tells him to be of good cheer and that he will tell his story and bear witness for the Lord in Rome.
The rest of the story is quite amazing as the Lord protects Paul through his nephew hearing of a plot against him. Read in Acts 23:23, what level of earthly protection was afforded Paul. His Roman citizenship was a means used by the Lord to bring him to Rome. Bear in mind all the opposition and physical trouble Paul has already been through. But the Lord stood by him, coming to him at night. Many are the afflictions, the troubles, of those who are bond-servants of the Lord, but the Lord will come to you, stand by you, and speak to you. Paul does not wait to land in Rome, he takes opportunity before regional, Roman appointed leaders to speak of Jesus Christ. In the middle of it, he appeals to Caesar, and the earthly rulers declare it, “To Caesar you shall go!” Yet that was the very purpose of the Lord in Paul’s life. Paul knew he was in the right place because the Lord was directing his life, and the Lord had spoken directly to him.
I was impressed to write this as I thought about Paul’s shipwreck. On the way to Rome, at the expense of the Roman treasury (all expenses paid, the Lord will provide), Paul endured another severe hardship. He had warned the ship’s leaders not to sail as he had wisdom concerning the time of year and weather. They did not listen to him and he later reminded them of the warning. It seems that we, as disciples of the Lord, think that every storm will see us stand, rebuke the storm, and we will be at our destination. To be sure, the Lord does do that. But not in every situation. In this case, the Lord was giving a lesson to all concerned. On the ship, in the middle of a horrendous storm, Paul prayed for himself that God’s purpose in his life would be done. The Lord, by an angel, had assured Paul that he would speak before Caesar. And all were with Paul were spared and saw the goodness of God in their lives. As we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, it will be the same for each of us. He will fulfill His purpose in our lives. No purpose of His can be thwarted.