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Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 29: The Final Arrest.

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

Though Paul's labors were chiefly among the churches, he could not escape the observation of his enemies. Since Nero's persecution, Christians were everywhere the objects of hatred and suspicion. Any evil-disposed person could easily secure the arrest and imprisonment of one of the [p. 305] proscribed sect. And now the Jews conceived the idea of seeking to fasten upon Paul the crime of instigating the burning of Rome. Not one of them for a moment believed him guilty; but they knew that such a charge, made with the faintest show of plausibility, would seal his doom. An opportunity soon offered to execute their plans. At the house of a disciple in the city of Troas, Paul was again seized, and from this place he was hurried away to his final imprisonment.

The arrest was affected by the efforts of Alexander the coppersmith, who had so unsuccessfully opposed the apostle's work at Ephesus, and who now seized the opportunity to be revenged on one whom he could not defeat. Paul in his second Epistle to Timothy afterward referred to the machinations of this enemy of the faith: "Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil. The Lord reward him according to his works." In his first epistle he spoke in a similar manner of Hymeneus and Alexander as among those who "concerning faith have made shipwreck;" "whom," he says, "I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme." These men had departed from the faith of the gospel, and furthermore had done despite to the Spirit of grace by attributing to the power of Satan the wonderful revelations made to Paul. Having rejected the truth, they were filled with hatred against it, and sought to destroy its faithful advocate.

Reformatory action is always attended with loss, sacrifice, and peril. It always rebukes love of ease, selfish interests, and lustful ambition. Hence, whoever initiates or prosecutes such action must encounter opposition, calumny, and [p. 306] hatred from those who are unwilling to submit to the conditions of reform. It is no easy matter to overcome sinful habits and practices. The work can be accomplished only with the help of divine grace; but many neglect to seek such help, and endeavor to bring down the standard to meet their deficiencies, instead of bringing themselves up to meet the standard of God. Such was the effort of these men who were so severely dealt with for their sins. They were endangering the purity of the believers, and it was necessary that a firm, decided course be pursued to meet the wrong and hurl it from the church. Paul had faithfully reproved their sin, —the vice of licentiousness so prevalent in that age,—but they had refused to be corrected. He had proceeded according to the instructions of Christ regarding such cases, but the offenders had given no token of repentance, and he had therefore excommunicated them. They had then openly apostatized from the faith, and united with its most bitter opponents. When they rejected the words of Paul, and set themselves to hinder his labors, they were warring against Christ; and it was by the inspiration of the Spirit of God, and not as an expression of personal feeling, that Paul pronounced against them that solemn denunciation.

On his second voyage to Rome, Paul was accompanied by several of his former companions; others earnestly desired to share his lot, but he refused to permit them thus to imperil their lives. The prospect before him was far less favorable than at the time of his former imprisonment. The persecution under Nero had greatly lessened the number of Christians in Rome. [p. 307] Thousands had been martyred for their faith, many had left the city, and those who remained were greatly depressed and intimidated. At Paul's first arrival, the Jews of Rome had been willing to listen to his arguments; but through the influence of emissaries from Jerusalem, and also because of the received charges against the Christians, they had become his bitter enemies.

No warm-hearted disciples now met Paul and his companions at Appii Forum and Three Taverns as before, when he was constrained to thank God and take courage. There was now no one like the courteous and kindly Julius, to say a word in his favor, no statement from Festus or Agrippa to attest his innocence. The change which had taken place in the city and its inhabitants—the city still scarred and blackened from the terrible conflagration, and the people, by tens of thousands, reduced to the most squalid poverty—seemed to harmonize with the change in his own condition and prospects. Through the surging crowds that still thronged the streets of Rome, and that looked upon him and his fellow-Christians as the authors of all their misery, Paul passed, not now to his own hired house, but to a gloomy dungeon, there to remain, chained night and day, until he should finish his course.

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

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