Galatians 248/A>, 49 AD:
The early date of Galatians, addressed to these churches of Pisidia and Lycaonia before the Conference in Jerusalem does not allow time for a second visit there (Galatians 4:13), and requires that the Judaizers from Jerusalem followed close upon the heels of Paul and Barnabas (Galatians 1:6; 3:1) in South Galatia. Besides, there is the less likelihood that the matter would have been taken a second time to Jerusalem (Acts 15:2) if already the question had been settled in Paul's favor (Acts 11:30). It is strange also that no reference to this previous conference on the same subject is made in Acts 15, since Peter does refer to his experience at Caesarea (15:9) and since James in Acts 21:25 specifically ("we wrote") mentions the letter of Acts 15 in which full liberty was granted to the Gentiles. Once more, the attack on the position of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15:1 is given as a new experience, and hence the sharp dissension and tense feeling. The occasion for the sudden outbreak at Antioch on the part of the self-appointed (Acts 15:24) regulators of Paul and Barnabas lay in the reports that came to Jerusalem about the results of this campaign on a large scale among the Gentiles. There was peril to the supremacy of the Jewish element. They had assumed at first, as even Peter did who was not a Judaizer (Acts 10), that the Gentiles who became disciples would also become Jews. The party of the circumcision had made protest against the conduct of Peter at Caesarea (11:1 f) and had reluctantly acquiesced in the plain work of God (11:18). They had likewise yielded in the matter of the Greeks at Antioch (11:19) by the help of the contribution (11:29 f). But they had not agreed to a campaign to Hellenize Christianity. The matter had to stop. So the Judaizers came up to Antioch and laid down the law to Paul and Barnabas. They did not wait for them to come to Jerusalem. They might not come till it was too late (compare Barnabas in Acts 11). Paul and Barnabas had not sought the controversy. They had both received specific instructions from the Holy Spirit to make this great campaign among the Gentiles. They would not stultify themselves and destroy the liberty of the Gentiles in Christ by going back and having the Mosaic Law imposed on them by the ceremony of circumcision. They saw at once the gravity of the issue. The very essence of the gospel of grace was involved. Paul had turned away from this yoke of bondage. He would not go back to it nor would he impose it on his converts. The church at Antioch stood by Paul and Barnabas. Paul (Galatians 2:2) says that he had a revelation to go to Jerusalem with the problem. Luke (Acts 15:3) says that the church sent them. Surely there is no inconsistency here. It is not difficult to combine the personal narrative in Galatians 2 with the public meetings recorded in Acts 15. We have first the general report by Paul and Barnabas to the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:4) to which instant exception was made by the Judaizing element. There seems to have come an adjournment to prepare for the conflict, since in 15:6 Luke says again that "the apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider of this matter." Between these two public meetings we may place the private conference of Paul and Barnabas with Peter, John and James and other teachers (Galatians 2:1-10). In this private conference some of the timid brethren wished to persuade Paul to have Titus, a Greek Christian whom Paul had brought down from Antioch (a live specimen!), offered as a sacrifice to the Judaizers ("false brethren") and circumcised. But Paul stood his ground for the truth of the gospel and was supported by Peter, John and James. They agreed all around for Paul and Barnabas to go on with their work to the Gentiles, and Peter, John and James would push the work among the Jews (a division in sphere of work, like home and foreign missions, not a denominational cleavage). Here, then, for the first time, Paul has had an opportunity to talk the matter over with the apostolic teachers, and they agree. The Judaizers will have no support from the apostles. The battle was really won in their private conference. In the second public meeting (Acts 15:6-29) all goes smoothly enough. Ample opportunity for free discussion is offered. Then Peter shows how God had used him to preach to the Romans, and how the Jews themselves had to believe on Christ in order to be saved. He opposed putting a yoke on the Gentiles that the Jews could not bear. There was a pause, and then Barnabas and Paul (note the order here:
courtesy to Barnabas) spoke again. After another pause, James, the president of the conference, the brother of the Lord Jesus, and a stedfast Jew, spoke. He cited Amos 9:11 f to show that God had long ago promised a blessing to the Gentiles. He suggests liberty to the Gentiles with the prohibition of pollution of idols, of fornication, things strangled, and blood. His ideas are embodied in an unanimous decree which strongly commends "our beloved Barnabas and Paul" and disclaims responsibility for the visit of the Judaizers to Antioch. The Western text omits "things strangled" from the decree. If this is correct, the decree prohibits idolatry, fornication and murder (Wilson, Origin and Aim of the Ac of the Apostles, 1912, 55). At any rate, the decision is a tremendous victory for Paul and Barnabas. If the other reading is correct, Jewish feelings about things strangled and blood are to be respected. The decision was received with great joy in Antioch (Acts 15:30-35). Some time later Peter appears at Antioch in the fullest fellowship with Paul and Barnabas in their work, and joins them in free social intercourse with the Gentiles, as he had timidly done in the home of Cornelius, till "certain came from James" (Galatians 2:11), and probably threatened to have Peter up before the church again (Acts 11:2) on this matter, claiming that James agreed with them on the subject. This I do not believe was true in the light of Acts 15:24, where a similar false claim is discredited, since James had agreed with Paul in Jerusalem (Acts 15:19; Galatians 2:9). The new ground for complaint was that they had not settled the question of social relations with the Gentiles in the Jerusalem conference and that Peter had exceeded the agreement there reached. Peter quailed before the accusation, "fearing them that were of the circumcision" Galatians 2:12) To make it worse, "even Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation" (Galatians 2:13). Under this specious plea Paul was about to lose the fruit of the victory already won, and charged Peter to his face with Judaizing hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-14). It was a serious crisis. Peter had not changed his convictions, but had once more cowered in an hour of peril. Paul won both Barnabas and Peter to his side and took occasion to show how useless the death of Christ was if men could be saved by mere legalism (Galatians 2:21). But the Judaizers had renewed the war, and they would keep it up and harry the work of Paul all over the world. Paul had the fight of his life upon his hands.
7. The Second Mission Campaign:
Acts 15:36-18:22; 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 49-51 (or 52) AD:
The impulse to go out again came from Paul. Despite the difference in Galatians 2:13, he wished to go again with Barnabas (Acts 15:36), but Barnabas insisted on taking along John Mark, which Paul was not willing to do because of his failure to stick to the work at Perga. So they agreed to disagree after "sharp contention" (Acts 15:39). Barnabas went with Mark to Cyprus, while Paul took Silas, "being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord." Luke follows the career of Paul, and so Barnabas drops out of view (compare later 1 Corinthians 9:6). Paul and Silas go "through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches" (Acts 15:41). They pass through the Cilician gates to Derbe, the end of the first tour, and go to Lystra. Here they pick up Timothy, who more than takes Mark's place in Paul's life. Timothy's mother was a Jewess and his father a Greek. Paul decided therefore to have him circumcised since, as a half-Jew, he would be especially obnoxious to the Jews. This case differed wholly from that of Titus, a Greek, where principle was involved. Here it was a matter merely of expediency. Paul had taken the precaution to bring along the decrees of the Conference at Jerusalem in case there was need of them. He delivered them to the churches. It has to be noted that in 1 Corinthians 8-10 and in Romans 14 and 15, when discussing the question of eating meats offered to idols, Paul does not refer to these decrees, but argues the matter purely from the standpoint of the principles involved. The Judaizers anyhow had not lived up to the agreement, but Paul is here doing his part by the decision. The result of the work was good for the churches (Acts 16:4).
When we come to Acts 16:6, we touch a crucial passage in the South-Galatian controversy. Ramsay (Christianity in the Roman Empire, chapters iii through vi; History and Geography of Asia Minor; Paul the Traveler, chapters v, vi, viii, ix; The Expositor, IV, viii, ix, "replies to Chase"; "Galatia," HDB; Commentary on Gal; The Cities of Paul; The Expositor T, 1912, 1913) has become by his able advocacy the chief champion of the view that Paul never went to Galatia proper or North Galatia, and that he addressed his epistle to South Galatia, the churches visited in the first tour. For a careful history of the whole controversy in detail, see Moffatt, Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, 90-106, who strongly supports the view of Lightfoot, H.J. Holtzmann, Blass, Schurer, Denney, Chase, Mommsen, Steinmann, etc. There are powerful names with Ramsay, like Hausrath, Zahn, Barrlet, Garvie, Weizsacker, etc. The arguments are too varied and minute for complete presentation here. The present writer sees some very attractive features in the South-Galatian hypothesis, but as a student of language finds himself unable to overcome the syntax of Acts 16:6. The minor difficulty is the dropping of kai, between "Phrygia" and "Galatic region" by Ramsay. It is by no means certain that this is the idea of Luke. It is more natural to take the terms as distinct and coordinated by kai. In Paul the Traveler, 212, Ramsay pleads for the aorist of subsequent time, but Moulton (Prolegomena, 133) will have none of it. With that I agree. The aorist participle must give something synchronous with or antecedent to the principal verb. In Expository Times for February, 1913, 220, Ramsay comes back to the "construction of Acts 16:6." He admits that the weight of authority is against the Textus Receptus of the New Testament and in favor of dielthon .... koluthentes. He now interprets the language thus:
"Paul, having in mind at Lystra his plan of going on to Asia from Galatia, was ordered by the Spirit not to preach in Asia. He therefore made a tour through the Phrygio-Galatic region, which he had already influenced so profoundly from end to end (13:49)." But there is grave difficulty in accepting this interpretation as a solution of the problem. Ramsay here makes the narrative in 16:6 resumptive and takes us back to the standpoint of 16:1 at Lystra. The proper place for such a forecast was in 16:1, or at most before 16:4, which already seems to mark an advance beyond Lystra to Iconium and Antioch in Pisidia: "and as they went on their way through the cities."
Besides, "the Phrygio-Galatic region" lay between Lystra and Asia, and, according to Ramsay, after the prohibition in Lystra, he went straight on toward Asia. This is certainly very artificial and unlike the usual procedure. According to the other view, Paul had already visited the churches in Lycaonia and Pisidia on his former visit. He wished to go on west into Asia, probably to Ephesus, but was forbidden by the Holy Spirit, and as a result turned northward through Phrygia and the regions of Galatia, using both terms in the ethnographic sense. Paul was already in the province of Galatia at Derbe and Lystra. The matter has many "ins and outs" and cannot be argued further here. It is still in debate, but the present interpretation is in harmony with the narrative in Acts.
See also GALATIA; GALATIANS, EPISTLE TO THE.
By this view Paul had not meant to stop in Galatia proper and did so only because of an attack of illness (Galatians 4:13). It is possible that Luke may have come to his rescue here. At any rate, he finally pushes on opposite Mysia and Bithynia in the extreme north and was forbidden by the Spirit from going on into Bithynia. So they came down to Troas (Acts 16:7) when Luke ("we," Acts 16:10) appears on the scene and the Macedonian call comes to Paul. Thus Paul is led out of Asia into Europe and carries the gospel successively to Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth. The gospel is finally planted in the great provinces of Macedonia and Achaia. In Philippi, a Roman colony and military outpost, Paul finds few Jews and has to go out to a prayer-place to find a few Jewish women to whom he can tell the story of Jesus. But he gains a start with Lydia and her household, and soon arouses the hostility of a company of men who were making money out of a poor girl's powers of divination. But before Paul and Silas leave the jail, the jailer is himself converted, and a good church is established. At Thessalonica Paul has great success and arouses the jealousy of the Jews who gather a rabble and raise a disturbance and charge it up to Paul. At Philippi appeal was made to prejudice against Jews. At Thessalonica the charge is made that Paul preaches Jesus as a rival king to Caesar. In Berea Paul and Silas have even more success till the Jews come from Thessalonica and drive Paul out again. Timothy, who has come out from Philippi where Luke has remained, and Silas stay in Berea while Paul hurries on to Athens with some of the brethren, who return with the request for Timothy and Silas "to come to him with all speed." Apparently Timothy did come (1 Thessalonians 3:1), but Paul soon sent him back to Thessalonica because of his anxiety about conditions there. Left alone in Athens, Paul's spirit was stirred over the idolatry before his eyes. He preaches in the synagogues and argues with the Stoics and Epicureans in the Agora who make light of his pretensions to philosophy as a "babbler" (Acts 17:18). But curiosity leads them to invite him to speak on the Areopagus. This notable address, all alive to his surroundings, was rather rudely cut short by their indifference and mockery, and Paul left Athens with small results for his work. He goes over to Corinth, the great commercial city of the province, rich and with bizarre notions of culture. Paul determined (1 Corinthians 2:1-5) to be true to the cross, even after his experience in Athens. He gave them, not the flashy philosophy of the sophists, but the true Wisdom of God in simple words, the philosophy of the cross of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:17-3:4). In Corinth Paul found fellow-helpers in Aquila and Priscilla, just expelled from Rome by Claudius. They have the same trade of tentmakers and live together (Acts 18:1-4), and Paul preached in the synagogues. Paul is cheered by the coming of Timothy and Silas from Thessalonica (Acts 18:5) with supplies from Philippi, as they had done while in Thessalonica (Philippians 4:15). This very success led to opposition, and Paul has to preach in the house of Titus Justus. But the work goes on till Gallio comes and a renewed effort is made to have it stopped, but Gallio declines to interfere and thus practically makes Christianity a religio licita, since he treats it as a variety of Judaism. While here, after the arrival of Timothy and Silas, Paul writes the two letters to Thessalonica, the first of his 13 epistles. They are probably not very far apart in time, and deal chiefly with a grievous misunderstanding on their part concerning the emphasis placed by him on the Man of Sin and the Second Coming. Paul had felt the power of the empire, and his attention is sharply drawn to the coming conflict between the Roman empire and the kingdom of God. He treats it in terms of apocalyptic eschatology. When he leaves Corinth, it is to go by Ephesus, with Aquila and Priscilla whom he leaves there with the promise to return. He goes down to Caesarea and "went up and saluted the church" (Acts 18:22), probably at Jetus (fourth visit), and "went down to Antioch." If he went to Jerusalem, it was probably incidental, and nothing of importance happened. He is back once again in Antioch after an absence of some 3 or 4 years.
8. The Third Mission Campaign:
Acts 18:23-21:14; 1 and 2 Corinthians; Galatians; Romans, 52 (or 53)-57 (or 58) AD:
The stay of Paul at Antioch is described as "sometime" (Acts 18:23). Denney (Standard Bible Dictionary) conjectures that Paul's brief stay at Jerusalem (see above) was due to the fact that he found that the Judaizers had organized opposition there against him in the absence of the apostles, and it was so unpleasant that he did not stay. He Suggests also that the Judaizers had secured letters of commendation from the church for their emissaries (2 Corinthians 3:1) to Corinth and Galatia, who were preaching "another Jesus" of nationalism and narrowness, whom Paul did not preach (Galatians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 11:4). Both Denney and Findlay follow Neander, Wieseler, and Sabatier in placing here, before Paul starts out again from Antioch, the visit of certain "from James" (Galatians 2:12), who overpowered Peter for the moment. But I have put this incident as more probably before the disagreement with Barnabas over Mark, and as probably contributing to that breach at the beginning of the second tour. It is not necessary to suppose that the Judaizers remained acquiescent so long.
Paul seems to have set out on the third tour alone--unless Timothy came back with him, of which there is no evidence save that he is with Paul again in Ephesus (Acts 19:22). What became of Silas? Paul "went through the region of Galatia, and Phrygia, in order, establishing all the disciples" (Acts 18:23), the opposite order to Acts 16:6, "through the region of Phrygia and Galatia." According to the North-Galatian view, here followed, he went through the northern part of the province, passing through Galatia proper and Phrygia on his way west to Ephesus. Luke adds, "Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus" (Acts 19:1). The ministry of Apollos in Ephesus (Acts 18:24-28) had taken place before Paul arrived, though Aquila and Priscilla were still on hand. Apollos passed over to Corinth and innocently became the occasion of such strife there (1 Corinthians 1-4) that he left and refused to return at Paul's request (1 Corinthians 16:12). Paul has a ministry of 3 years, in round numbers, in Ephesus, which is full of excitement and anxiety from the work there and in Corinth. He finds on his arrival some ill-informed disciples of John the Baptist who are ignorant of the chief elements of John's teaching about repentance, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2-7), matters of which Apollos had knowledge, though he learned more from Priscilla and Aquila, but there is no evidence that he was rebaptized as was true of the 12 disciples of John (Robertson, John the Loyal, 290-303). The boldness of Paul in Ephesus led in 3 months to his departure from the synagogue to the schoolhouse of Tyrannus, where he preached for 2 years (Acts 19:8-10) with such power that "all they that dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord." It is not strange later to find churches at Colosse and Hierapolis in the Lycus Valley (compare also Revelation 1:11). Paul has a sharp collision with the strolling Jewish exorcists that led to the burning of books of magic by the wholesale (Acts 19:11-20), another proof of the hold that magic and the mysteries had upon the Orient. Ephesus was the seat of the worship of Diana whose wonderful temple was their pride. A great business in the manufacture of shrines of Diana was carried on here by Demetrius, and "this Paul" had hurt his trade so much that he raised an insurrection under the guise of piety and patriotism and might have killed Paul with the mob, if he could have got hold of him (Acts 19:23-41). It was with great difficulty that Paul was kept from going to the amphitheater, as it was. But here, as at Corinth, the Roman officer (the town clerk) defended Paul from the rage of his enemies (there the jealous Jews, here the tradesmen whose business suffered). He was apparently very ill anyhow, and came near death (2 Corinthians 1:9). All this seems to have hastened his departure from Ephesus sooner than Pentecost, as he had written to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 16:8). His heart was in Corinth because of the discussions there over him and Apollos and Peter, by reason of the agitation of the Judaizers (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). The household of Chloe had brought word of this situation to Paul. He had written the church a letter now lost (1 Corinthians 5:9). They had written him a letter (1 Corinthians 7:1). They sent messengers to Paul (1 Corinthians 16:17). He had sent Timothy to them (1 Corinthians 4:17; 16:10), who seems not to have succeeded in quieting the trouble. Paul wrote 1Co (spring of 56), and then sent Titus, who was to meet him at Troas and report results (2 Corinthians 2:12). He may also have written another letter and sent it by Titus (2 Corinthians 2:3). The sudden departure from Corinth brought Paul to Troas ahead of time, but he could not wait for Titus, and so pushed on with a heavy heart into Macedonia, where he met him, and he had good and bad news to tell (2 Corinthians 2:12; 7:5-13). The effect on Paul was instantaneous. He rebounded to hope and joy (2 Corinthians 2:14) in a glorious defense of the ministry of Jesus (compare Robertson, The Glory of the Ministry; Paul's Exultation in Preaching), with a message of cheer to the majority. of the church that had sustained Paul and with instructions (948/A>) about the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem, which must be pushed to a completion by Titus and two other brethren (possibly also Luke, brother of Titus, and Erastus). Timothy and Erastus had been sent on ahead to Macedonia from Ephesus (Acts 19:22), and Timothy sends greetings with Paul to the Corinthians in a letter (2 Corinthians) which Paul now forwards, possibly by Titus. The latter part of the epistle (1 Corinthians 10-13) deals with the stubborn minority who still resist the authority of Paul as an apostle. On the proposed treatment of these chapters as a separate epistle see the earlier part of this article. Paul seems to wait a while before going on to Corinth. He wishes the opposition to have time to repent. During this period he probably went round about to Illyricum (Romans 15:19). He spent three months in Greece (Acts 20:2), probably the winter of 56 and 57.
We have placed Galatians in the early part of this stay in Corinth, though it could have been written while at Ephesus. Romans was certainly written while here, and they both treat the same general theme of justification by faith. Ramsay (Expos, February, 1913, 127-45) has at last come to the conclusion that Ga belongs to the date of Acts 15:1 f. He bases this conclusion chiefly on the "absolute independence" of his apostleship claimed in Galatians 1 and 2, which, he holds, he would not have done after the conference in Acts 15, which was "a sacrifice of complete independence." This is a curious interpretation, for in Galatians 2:1-10 Paul himself tells of his recognition on terms of equality by Peter, John and James, and of his going to Jerusalem by "revelation," which was just as much "a sacrifice of complete independence" as we find in Acts 15. Besides, in 2 Corinthians 11:5 and 12:11 Paul expressly asserts his equality (with all humility) with the very chiefest apostles, and in 1 Corinthians 15:10 he claims in so many words to have wrought more than all the apostles. Perhaps messengers from Galatia with the contributions from that region report the havoc wrought there by the Judaizers. Ga is a tremendous plea for the spiritual nature of Christianity as opposed to Jewish ceremonial legalism.
Paul had long had it in mind to go to Rome. It was his plan to do so while at Ephesus (Acts 19:21) after he had gone to Jerusalem with the great collection from the churches of Asia, Galatia, Achaia, and Macedonia. He hoped that this collection would have a mollifying effect on the Jerusalem saints as that from Antioch had (Acts 11:29). He had changed some details in his plans, but not the purpose to go to Jerusalem and then to Rome. Meanwhile, he writes the longest and most important letter of all to the Romans, in which he gives a fuller statement of his gospel, because they had not heard him preach, save his various personal friends who had gone there from the east (Acts 16). But already the shadow of Jerusalem is on his heart, and he asks their prayers in his behalf, as he faces his enemies in Jerusalem (Romans 15:30-32). He hopes also to go on to Spain (Romans 15:24), so as to carry the gospel to the farther west also. The statesmanship of Paul comes out now in great clearness. He has in his heart always anxiety for the churches that consumes him (2 Corinthians 11:28). He was careful to have a committee of the churches go with him to report the collection (2 Corinthians 8:19). Paul had planned to sail direct for Syria, but a plot on his life in Corinth led him to go by land via Macedonia with his companions (Acts 20:2-4). He tarried at Philippi while the rest went on to Troas. At Philippi Paul is joined again by Luke, who stays with him till Rome is reached. They celebrate the Passover (probably the spring of 57) in Philippi (Acts 20:6). We cannot follow the details in Ac at Troas, the voyage through the beautiful Archipelago, to Miletus. There Paul took advantage of the stop to send for the elders of Ephesus to whom he gave a wonderful address (Acts 20:17-38). They change ships at Patara for Phoenicia and pass to the right of Cyprus with its memories of Barnabas and Sergius Paulus and stop at Tyre, where Paul is warned not to go on to Jerusalem. The hostility of the Judaizers to Paul is now common talk everywhere. There is grave peril of a schism in Christianity over the question of Gentile liberty, once settled in Jerusalem, but unsettled by the Judaizers. At Caesarea Paul is greeted by Philip the evangelist and his four daughters (prophetesses). At Caesarea Paul is warned in dramatic fashion by Agabus (compare Acts 11:28) not to go on to Jerusalem (Acts 21:9), but Paul is more determined than ever to go, even if he die (Acts 20:13). He had had three premonitions for long (Acts 20:22), but he will finish his course, cost what it may. He finds a friend at Caesarea in Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, who was to be the host of Paul in Jerusalem (Acts 21:16).
9. Five Years a Prisoner:
Acts 21:17-28:31; Philippians; Philemon; Colossians; Ephesians, 57-62 (or 63) AD:
Paul had hoped to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost (Acts 20:16). He seems to have done so. Luke gives the story of Paul in Jerusalem, Caesarea, and the voyage to Rome in much detail. He was with him and considered this period of his ministry very important. The welcome from the brethren in Jerusalem was surprisingly cordial (Acts 21:17). On the very next day Paul and his party made a formal call on James and all the elders (Acts 21:18), who gave a sympathetic hearing to the narrative of God's dealings with Paul and the Gentiles. He presented the alms (collection) in due form (Acts 24:17), though some critics have actually suggested that Paul used it to defray the expenses of the appeal to Caesar. Ramsay's notion that he may have fallen heir by now to his portion of his father's estate is quite probable. But the brethren wish to help Paul set himself right before the rank and file of the church in Jerusalem, who have been imposed upon by the Judaizers who have misrepresented Paul's real position by saying that he urged the Jewish Christians to give up the Mosaic customs (Acts 21:21). The elders understand Paul and recall the decision of the conference at which freedom was guaranteed to the Gentiles, and they have no wish to disturb that (Acts 21:25). They only wish Paul to show that he does not object to the Jewish Christians keeping up the Mosaic regulations. They propose that Paul offer sacrifice publicly in the temple and pay the vows of four men, and then all will know the truth (Acts 21:23). Paul does not hesitate to do that (Acts 21:26). He had kept the Jewish feasts (compare Acts 20:6) as Jesus had done, and the early disciples in Jerusalem. He was a Jew. He may have had a vow at Corinth (Acts 18:18). He saw no inconsistency in a Jew doing thus after becoming a Christian, provided he did not make it obligatory on Gentiles. The real efficacy of the sacrifices lay in the death of Jesus for sin. Garvie (Life and Teaching of Paul, 173) calls this act of Paul "scarcely, worthy of his courage as a man or his faith in God." I cannot see it in that light. It is a matter of practical wisdom, not of principle. To have refused would have been to say that the charge was true, and it was not. So far as the record goes, this act of Paul accomplished its purpose in setting Paul in a right light before the church in Jerusalem. It took away this argument from the Judaizers. The trouble that now comes to Paul does not come from the Judaizers, but from "the Jews from Asia" (Acts 21:27). If it be objected that the Jerusalem Christians seem to have done nothing to help Paul during his years of imprisonment, it can be said that there was little to be done in a legal way, as the matter was before the Roman courts very soon. The attack on Paul in the temple was while he was doing honor to the temple, engaged in actual worship offering sacrifices. But then Jews from Ephesus hated him so that they imagined that he had Greeks with him in the Jewish court, because they had seen him one day with Trophimus in the city (Acts 21:27). It is a splendid illustration of the blindness of prejudice and hate. It was absolutely untrue, and the men who raised the hue and cry in the temple against Paul as the desecrator of the holy place and the Law and the people disappear, and are never heard of more (Acts 24:18). But it will take Paul five years or more of the prime of his life to get himself out of the tangled web that will be woven about his head. Peril follows peril. He was almost mobbed, as often before, by the crowd that dragged him out of the temple (Acts 21:30). It would remind Paul of Stephen's fate. When the Roman captain rescued him and had him bound with two chains as a dangerous bandit, and had him carried by the soldiers to save his life, the mob yelled "Away with him" (Acts 21:36), as they had done to Jesus. After the captain, astonished that "Paul the Egyptian assassin" can speak Greek, grants him permission to stand on the steps of the tower of Antonia to speak to the mob that clamored for his blood, he held their rapt attention by an address in Aramaic (Acts 22:2) in which he gave a defense of his whole career. This they heard eagerly till he spoke the word "Gentiles," at which they raged more violently than ever (Acts 22:21). At this the captain has Paul tied with thongs, not understanding his Aramaic speech, and is about to scourge him when Paul pleads his Roman citizenship, to the amazement of the centurion (Acts 22:24). Almost in despair, the captain, wishing to know the charge of the Jews against Paul, brings him before the Sanhedrin. It is a familiar scene to Paul, and it is now their chance for settling old scores. Paul makes a sharp retort in anger to the high priest Ananias, for which he apologizes as if he was so angry that he had not noticed, but he soon divides the Sanhedrin hopelessly on the subject of the resurrection (compare the immunity of the disciples on that issue when Gamaliel scored the Sadducees in Ac 5). This was turning the tables on his enemies, and was justifiable as war. He claimed to be a Pharisee on this point, as he was still, as opposed to the Sadducees. The result was that Paul had to be rescued from the contending factions, and the captain knew no more than he did before (Acts 23:1-10). That night "the Lord stood by him" and promised that he would go to Rome (Acts 23:11). That was a blessed hope. But the troubles of Paul are by no means over. By the skill of his nephew he escaped the murderous plot of 40 Jews who had taken a vow not to eat till they had killed Paul (Acts 23:12-24). They almost succeeded, but Claudius Lysias sent Paul in haste with a band of soldiers to Caesarea to Felix, the procurator, with a letter in which he claimed to have rescued Paul from the mob, "having learned that he was a Roman" (Acts 23:26-30). At any rate he was no longer in the clutches of the Jews. Would Roman provincial justice be any better? Felix follows a perfunctory course with Paul and shows some curiosity about Christianity, till Paul makes him tremble with terror, a complete reversal of situations (compare Pilate's meanness before Jesus). But love of money from Paul or the Jews leads Felix to keep Paul a prisoner for two years, though convinced of his innocence, and to hand him over to Festus, his successor, because the Jews might make things worse for him if he released him (Acts 24). The case of the Sanhedrin, who have now made it their own (or at least the Sadducean section), though pleaded by the Roman orator Tertullus, had fallen through as Paul calmly riddied their charges. Festus is at first at a loss how to proceed, but he soon follows the steps of Felix by offering to play into the hands of the Jewish leaders by sending Paul back to Jerusalem, whereupon Paul abruptly exercises his right of Roman citizenship by appealing to Caesar (Acts 25:1-12). This way, though a long one, offered the only ray of hope. The appearance of Paul before Agrippa and Bernice was simply by way of entertainment arranged by Festus to relieve his guests of ennui, but Paul seized the opportunity to make a powerful appeal to Agrippa that put him in a corner logically, though he wriggled out and declined to endorse Christianity, though confirming Paul's innocence, which Festus also had admitted (Acts 25:13-26:32). Paul was fortunate in the centurion Julius who took him to Rome, for he was kindly disposed to him at the start, and so it was all the way through the most remarkable voyage on record. Luke has surpassed his own record in Acts 27, in which he traces the voyage, stage by stage, with change of ship at Myra, delay at Fair Havens, Crete, and shipwreck on the island of Malta. More is learned about ancient seafaring from this chapter than from any other source (see the article PHOENIX, and Smith, Voyage and Shipwreck of Paul, 1866). In it all Paul is the hero, both on the ships and in Malta. In the early spring of 60 another ship takes Paul and the other prisoners to Puteoli. Thence they go on to Rome, and enter by the Appian Way. News of Paul's coming had gone on before (his epistle had come 3 years ago), and he had a hearty welcome. But he is now an imperial prisoner in the hands of Nero. He has more liberty in his own hired house (Acts 28:16,30), but he is chained always to a Roman soldier, though granted freedom to see his friends and to preach to the soldiers. Paul is anxious to remove any misapprehensions that the Jews in Rome may have about him, and tries to win them to Christ, and with partial success (Acts 28:17-28). And here Luke leaves him a prisoner for 2 years more, probably because at this point he finishes the Book of Acts. But, as we have seen, during these years in Rome, Paul wrote Philippians, Philemon, Colossians, and Ephesians. He still has the churches on his heart. They send messengers to him, and he writes back to them. The incipient Gnosticism of the East has pressed upon the churches at Colosse and Laodicea, and a new peril confronts Christianity. The Judaizing controversy has died away with these years (compare Philippians 3:1 for an echo of it), but the dignity and glory of Jesus are challenged. In the presence of the power of Rome Paul rises to a higher conception than even that of the person of Christ and the glory of the church universal. In due time Paul's case was disposed of and he was once more set free. The Romans were proverbially dilatory. It is doubtful if his enemies ever appeared against him with formal charges.
10. Further Travels:
The genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles is here assumed. But for them we should know nothing further, save from a few fragments in the early Christian writings. As it is, some few who accept the Pastoral Epistles seek to place them before 64 AD, so as to allow for Paul's death in that year from the Neronian persecution. In that case, he was not released. There is no space here to argue the question in detail. We can piece together the probable course of events. He had expected when in Corinth last to go on to Spain (Romans 15:28), but now in Rome his heart turns back to the east again. He longs to see the Philippians (1:23) and hopes to see Philemon in Colosse (Philemon 1:22). But he may have gone to Spain also, as Clement of Rome seems to imply (Clement ad Cor 5), and as is stated in the Canon of Muratori. He may have been in Spain when Rome was burned July 19, 64 AD. There is no evidence that Paul went as far as Britain. On his return east he left Titus in Crete (Titus 1:5). He touched at Miletus when he left Trophimus sick (2 Timothy 4:20) and when he may have met Timothy, if he did not go on to Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3). He stopped at Troas and apparently expected to come back here, as he left his cloak and books with Carpus (2 Timothy 4:13). He was on his way to Macedonia (1 Timothy 1:3), whence he writes Timothy in 65-67 a letter full of love and counsel for the future. Paul is apprehensive of the grave perils now confronting Christianity. Besides the Judaizers, the Gnostics, the Jews and the Romans, he may have had dim visions of the conflict with the mystery-religions. It was a syncretistic age, and men had itching ears. But Paul is full of sympathy and tender solicitude for Timothy, who must push on the work and get ready for it. Paul expects to spend the winter in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12), but is apparently still in Macedonia when he writes to Titus a letter on lines similar to those in 1 Timothy, only the note is sharper against Judaism of a certain type. We catch another glimpse of Apollos in Titus 3:13. Paul hits off the Cretans in 1:10 with a quotation from Epimenides, one of their own poetic prophets.
11. Last Imprisonment and Death:
68 (or 67) AD:
When Paul writes again to Timothy he has had a winter in prison, and has suffered greatly from the cold and does not wish to spend another winter in the Mamertine (probably) prison (2 Timothy 4:13,21). We do not know what the charges now are. They may have been connected with the burning of Rome. There were plenty of informers eager to win favor with Nero. Proof was not now necessary. Christianity is no longer a religio licita under the shelter of Judaism. It is now a crime to be a Christian. It is dangerous to be seen with Paul now, and he feels the desertion keenly (2 Timothy 1:15; 4:10). Only Luke, the beloved physician, is with Paul (2 Timothy 4:11), and such faithful ones as live in Rome still in hiding (2 Timothy 4:21). Paul hopes that Timothy may come and bring Mark also (2 Timothy 4:11). Apparently Timothy did come and was put into prison (Hebrews 13:23). Paul is not afraid. He knows that he will die. He has escaped the mouth of the lion (2 Timothy 4:17), but he will die (2 Timothy 4:18). The Lord Jesus stood by him, perhaps in visible presence (2 Timothy 4:17). The tradition is, for now Paul fails us, that Paul, as a Roman citizen, was beheaded on the Ostian Road just outside of Rome. Nero died June, 68 AD, so that Paul was executed before that date, perhaps in the late spring of that year (or 67). Perhaps Luke and Timothy were with him. It is fitting, as Findlay suggests, to let Paul's words in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 serve for his own epitaph. He was ready to go to be with Jesus, as he had long wished to be (Philippians 1:23).