Sketches From The Life of Paul
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 29: The Final Arrest.
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To visit Paul now was not, as during his first
imprisonment, to visit a man against whom no
charge had been sustained, and who had won
favorable opinions from princes and rulers. It
was to visit one who was the object of universal
hatred, who was accused of instigating the
basest and most terrible crime against the city
and the nation. Whoever ventured to show him [p. 308] the slightest attention, thereby made himself
the object of suspicion, and endangered his
own life. Rome was now filled with spies, who
stood ready to bring an accusation against any
one on the slightest occasion. None but a Christian
would visit a Christian; for no other would
incur the odium of a faith which even intelligent
men regarded as not merely contemptible, but
One by one, Paul saw his friends leaving him.
The first to depart were Phygellus and Hermogenes.
Then Demas, dismayed at the thickening
clouds of difficulty and danger, forsook the
persecuted apostle to seek for ease and security in a
worldly life. Crescens was sent on a mission to
the churches of Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia,
Tychicus to Ephesus. Luke, the beloved physician
and faithful friend, was still with him.
This was a great comfort to Paul, who had never
needed the companionship and ministration of
his brethren more than now, enfeebled as he was
by age, toil, and infirmities, and confined in the
damp, dark vaults of a Roman prison. And, as
he was dependent upon the aid of an amanuensis,
the services of Luke were of great value,
enabling him still to communicate with his
brethren and the world without.
An unexpected encouragement was granted
the apostle at this time, by the visit of
Onesiphorus, an Ephesian Christian who came to Rome
not long after Paul's arrival. He knew that
Paul was somewhere in that city as a prisoner,
and he determined to find him. This was no
easy matter in a city crowded with prisoners,
where suspicion was everywhere, and had only
to fasten upon an unfortunate victim to consign [p. 309] him to prison and perhaps to death. But notwithstanding
the difficulties, Onesiphorus searched
for Paul until he found him. Not satisfied with
one visit, he went again and again to his dungeon,
and did all in his power to lighten the burden
of his imprisonment. The fear of scorn,
reproach, or persecution, was powerless to terrify
this true-hearted Ephesian, when he knew that
his beloved teacher was in bonds for the truth's
sake, while he himself, in every respect far less
worthy, walked free.
The visit of Onesiphorus, testifying to his
loving fidelity at a time of loneliness and desertion,
was a bright spot in Paul's prison experience.
In the last letter ever written by him, he thus
speaks of this faithful disciple: "The Lord give
mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he
oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my
chain. But when he was in Rome, he sought
me out very diligently, and found me. The
Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy
of the Lord in that day."
The desire for love and sympathy was
implanted in the heart by God himself. Christ in
his hour of agony in Gethsemane, while bearing
the guilt of sinful men, longed for the sympathy
of his disciples. And Paul, though almost
indifferent to hardship and suffering, yearned for
sympathy and companionship. God would have
his people cherish love and sympathy for one
another. Humanity, elevated, ennobled, and
rendered Godlike, is worthy of respect and esteem.
The sons and daughters of God will be
tender-hearted, pitiful, courteous, to all men, "especially
unto them who are of the household of faith."
But Paul was bound to his fellow-disciples by a [p. 310] stronger tie than even that of Christian brotherhood.
The Lord had revealed himself to Paul
in a special manner, and had made him instrumental
in the salvation of many souls. Many
churches might in truth regard him as their
father in the gospel. Such a man, who had
sacrificed every earthly consideration in the
service of God, had a special claim upon the
love and sympathy of his converts and
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