And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard…
I. IN THE FACT OF HIS BEING AT ROME, A DESIRE AND PURPOSE LONG CHERISHED WAS ACCOMPLISHED.
1. That desire was to preach the gospel there, and was in accordance with a general plan. The Saviour commanded His apostles to begin at Jerusalem (Luke 24:46, 47), the place in which was concentrated more of learning, wealth, and power than in all Palestine. Then, as now, great cities were centres of influence, and as that influence was mostly evil, it was important that they should be made centres of light. There was a tendency, therefore, always towards Rome. Before Paul went there the gospel had been carried there, and a church had been founded. The closing chapter of Romans contains numerous salutations to its members, and it is remarkable that a large number consisted of those who had been in some way connected with Paul (Romans 16:3-15). Paul, too, had sent to that church one of the most important of all his epistles.
2. The accomplishment of this desire was brought about in a manner which he did not anticipate. He had hoped to take Rome on his way in the carrying out of another purpose (Romans 15:24); but still he was in Rome, and he had the opportunity which he had desired. In like manner, often, our wishes are accomplished, and our prayers heard, in a manner altogether different from what we should have chosen, and in a way which leads us through many trials; but still the prayer is heard, and the desire is granted.
II. THE NATURE OF PAUL'S EMPLOYMENTS IN ROME. Many good men, in such circumstances would have felt that there was nothing for them but patiently to await and prepare for their trial. What could Paul now do in regard to the great purpose of his life? The field of usefulness which he saw open to him pertained to —
1. The Church. With not a few members of that church he had been elsewhere acquainted, and they would regard him with an interest which they would feel for no other man, and it was the natural prompting of affection which led them to go out to meet him (ver. 15), and to show him the highest honour. Paul found himself at home in their midst; and could cooperate with them in diffusing the gospel (Philippians 1:14).
2. His own countrymen. His conduct in seeking the earliest opportunity to lay his case before them, and his frank statement that he had nothing to accuse his own nation of (ver. 19), their honest avowal that they had not been prejudiced against him, and their willingness to learn his views, evince a high degree of sincerity on both sides, and might have promised the most happy results from the interview. But the result was as elsewhere — a part believed, a part blasphemed, a few were converted. To them, therefore, Paul uttered language such he had elsewhere used (ver. 28, cf. Acts 13:40).
3. The Roman people as such. His advantages for acting on such a population were indeed few. He could not occupy the Forum as he had Mars' hill; he had no direct access to Caesar's palace. He could only preach to those who came to his own hired house (Acts 28:30, 31). Yet his influence was felt more or less in the very place where he would most desire that it should be felt (Philippians 1:12, 13; Philippians 4:22).
4. The Churches. Four of his letters — that to Philemon, that to the Colossians, that to the Ephesians, and that to the Philippians — were written while he was awaiting his trial.
III. THE SPIRIT WHICH HE MANIFESTED. Note —
1. His forbearance towards those who had wronged him (ver. 19). We may advert here, also, to his kind feelings towards those who had perverted his doctrines, and had sought to propagate their own views, taking advantage of the fact that, being a prisoner, he could not openly counteract their statements (Philippians 1:16-18).
2. The manner in which he turned all that had occurred to good account. He saw the hand of God in it all, and felt assured that events, apparently most disastrous, had been overruled to the promotion of Christianity.
(A. Barnes, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.