And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard…
I. WHY DID PAUL VISIT ROME?
1. Because God willed it (Acts 9:15; Acts 23:11).
2. But Providence is always correlated with individual choice.
(1) Paul was anxious for his fellow Christians exposed to the dangers of that proud centre of paganism (Romans 1:11).
(2) Paul knew the value of Rome as a strategic point, in the work of bringing the world to Christ. Jerusalem and Rome were the centres from which went out the world's transforming forces — the one the home of Divine government; in the other, the god of this world was enthroned. Resting his two hands upon them, he would sway the whole world to the foot of the cross. It is also interesting and instructive to notice how the strong arm of paganism, in its stability and justice, was Paul's refuge from the murderous intent of the Jews. As God raised up Cyrus, so he raised up the Caesars; and in Paul appealing to Caesar we have an instance of the service rendered by the enemies of the gospel to its thorough establishment.
II. WHEN WAS PAUL AT ROME? He arrived in the spring of A.D. 61, and he "dwelt two whole years in his own hired house." Evidently when those two years had been completed Paul was still in active labours, or his beheading would have been mentioned. In this abrupt ending of the inspired account we have conclusive proof that the Church is to live, not mainly by the light of her history, however privileged, but in the presence and strength of Him who said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
III. HOW WAS PAUL EMPLOYED WHEN AT ROME? What could he do, a prisoner constantly chained by the hand to a Roman soldier (Ephesians 6:20)?
1. Despite the weariness of his journey by sea and by land, he allowed only three days to pass before he called the chief brethren of the Jews together, explained his position, reaffirmed his loyalty to the hope of Israel, and held a further meeting with a somewhat disappointing result.
2. As "the care of all the churches" still pressed upon him, letters were written to Philippi, Colossae, Ephesus, and to Philemon.
3. Then came the long-looked-for trial, and as Roman justice was not yet dead, the imperial verdict brought an acquittal.
4. Thus released, in the spring of A.D. 63, for five years to come, his hands, freed from fetters, were eager in the work of his Master.
5. In the spring of A.D. 68, he is again a prisoner at Rome, from which he wrote one more epistle (the second) to Timothy, whom he summons, bidding him use all "diligence to come before winter." He needs the cloke and parchments. What a suggestion of prison damps! Yet bodily weakness did not enfeeble the pure flame of his intellect and soul. The parchments were probably copies of the Old Testament, and possibly some of his own inspired epistles.
6. On a summer day — May or June A.D. 68 — a sword glistens for a moment in the sunlight, and then that form, worn by weary marches, by frequent stoning, by cruel stripes, by shipwreck, by fastings, by repeated incarceration, is at rest.
(S. L. B. Spears.)
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.