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Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 25: Arrival at Rome.

Contents  Preface.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  ...

With the opening of navigation, the centurion and his prisoners again set out on their journey. An Alexandrian ship, the Castor and Pollux, had wintered at Melita, on her way to Rome, and in this the travelers embarked. Though somewhat delayed by contrary winds, the voyage was safely accomplished, and the ship cast anchor in the beautiful harbor of Puteoli, on the coast of Italy.

There were a few Christians in this place, who entreated the apostle to remain with them seven days, and the privilege was kindly granted by the centurion. Since receiving Paul's Epistle to the Romans, the Christians of Italy had eagerly looked forward to a visit from the apostle. They had little expected to see him in chains as a prisoner, but his sufferings only endeared him to them the more. The distance from Puteoli to Rome being but a hundred and forty miles, and the seaport being in constant communication with the metropolis, the Roman Christians were informed of Paul's approach, and some of them started to meet and welcome him.

On the eighth day after landing, the centurion and his prisoners set out for Rome. Julius willingly granted the apostle every favor which it was in his power to bestow; but he could not change his condition as a prisoner, or release him from the chain that bound him to his soldier guard. It was with a heavy heart that Paul went forward to his long-expected visit to the world's metropolis. How different the [p. 273] circumstances from what he had anticipated! How was he, fettered and stigmatized as a criminal, to proclaim the gospel? His hopes of winning many souls to the truth at Rome, seemed destined to be disappointed.

The travelers reach Appii Forum, forty miles from Rome. As they make their way through the crowds that throng the great thoroughfare, the gray-haired old man, chained with a group of hardened-looking criminals, receives many a glance of scorn, and is made the subject of many a rude, mocking jest. Not one of all he meets bestows upon him a look of pity or sympathy. He meekly wears his chain, and silently, slowly pursues his way.

Suddenly a cry of joy is heard, and a man springs out from the passing throng and falls upon the prisoner's neck, embracing him with tears and rejoicing, as a son would welcome a long-absent father. Again and again is the scene repeated. With eyes made keen by loving expectation, many discern in the chained captive the one who spoke to them the words of life at Corinth, at Philippi, or at Ephesus.

The whole company is brought to a stand-still, as warm-hearted disciples eagerly flock around their father in the gospel. The soldiers are impatient of delay, yet they have not the heart to interrupt this happy meeting; for they too have learned to respect and esteem their prisoner. In that worn, pain-stricken face, the disciples see the image of Christ reflected. They assure Paul that they have not forgotten him or ceased to love him; that they are indebted to him for the joyful hope which animates their lives, and gives them peace toward God. In the ardor of their [p. 274] love they would bear him upon their shoulders the whole way to the city, could they but have the privilege.

Few realize the significance of those words of Luke, that when Paul saw his brethren, "he thanked God, and took courage." The apostle praised God aloud in the midst of that weeping, sympathizing throng, who were not ashamed of his bonds. The cloud of sadness that had rested upon his spirit had been swept away. He felt that his labors had not been in vain. Although his Christian life had been a succession of trials, sufferings, and disappointments, he felt in that hour abundantly repaid. He rejoiced that he had been permitted to preach Christ, to bring the light of eternal life and peace to so many souls who had been in the grossest darkness, without hope, and without God in the world. His step is firm, his heart joyful in hope. He will not complain of the past, or fear for the future. He knows that bonds and afflictions await him; but he knows too that it has been his life-work to deliver souls from a bondage infinitely more terrible, and he rejoices in his sufferings for Christ's sake.

At Rome the charge of the centurion Julius ended. Here he delivered up his prisoners to the captain of the emperor's guard. The good account which he gave of Paul, however, together with the letter of Festus, the procurator of Judea, caused the apostle to be favorably regarded by the chief captain, and instead of being thrown into prison, he was permitted to live in his own hired house. The trial of having constantly to be chained to a soldier was continued; but he was at liberty to receive his friends, and to labor for the advancement of the cause of Christ. [p. 275]

The Jews who had been banished from Rome some years previous, had been tacitly permitted to return, so that large numbers were now to be found there. To these, first of all, Paul determined to present the facts concerning himself and his work, before his enemies should have opportunity to embitter them against him. Three days after his arrival at Rome, therefore, he called together their leading men, and in a simple, direct manner stated the reasons why he had come to Rome as a prisoner.

"Men and brethren," he said, "though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans, who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had aught to accuse my nation of. For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you and to speak with you; because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain."

He said nothing of the abuse which he had suffered at the hands of the Jews, or of their repeated plots to assassinate him. His words were marked with caution and kindness. He was not seeking to win personal attention or sympathy, but to defend the truth and to maintain the honor of the gospel.

In reply, his hearers stated that they had received no charges against him by letters public or private, and that none of the Jews who had come to Rome had accused him of any crime. They also expressed a strong desire to hear for themselves the reasons of his faith in Christ. [p. 276] "For as concerning this sect," they said, "we know that everywhere it is spoken against." It was supplanting the religion of their fathers, and causing disputations and dissensions which they considered injurious to the people.

Contents  Preface.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  ...

The above page was found at https://www.TruthOrFables.net/books/sketches-from-the-life-of-paul-25-a.htm on May 21, 2024.

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