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A Ministry Calling: Paul's Journey to Rome

Updated: Feb 4

July 10, 2022- Sometime between 54-57 AD, a group of middle-aged men were traveling throughout the Mediterranean Basin with a particular mission and a calling. They traveled to preach the Gospel and provide testimony of a Messiah that was to come, and that did in fact come just a few years earlier. The Messiah brought salvation to His people, and His name was and is Jesus Christ of Nazareth. These men became disciples of Jesus Christ and the one disciple that this article focuses on is the apostle Paul (though his birth name was Saul (see Acts 9 and Acts 13:9)).

Saul the Persecutor

Saul of Tarsus was a Pharisee (an ancient Jewish sect that believed in observance of traditional and written law) that was well versed in Scripture. However, he was part of the early Christian persecution movement that occurred after Jesus Christ was crucified, resurrected, and ascended to heaven. Saul would bring people back bounded to be imprisoned for their beliefs of Jesus Christ. Rumors of his reputation spread, and early Christians began fleeing Jerusalem for they feared him.

One day, Saul was on the road with other men, and he was intending to seek letters from a high priest in the synagogues of Damascus. These letters would give him permission to bring Christians bounded back to Jerusalem. When Saul journeyed from Jerusalem to Damascus, a light shone around him and caused him to be blind. At that point Jesus Christ called to him, “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4).

Blinded, Saul could not see anyone there and neither could the men that were with him. Saul asked who was calling to him.

I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” Jesus also tells Saul to “Arise and go into the city and you will be told what to do.” (Acts 9: 5-6).

Paul the Disciple

Saul went to Damascus where he remained blind for three days. During that time, Saul was also fasting from food and drink and was praying to God. At the end of the three days, a vision came to a disciple by the name of Ananias who was in the city. The vision was from Jesus Christ, and He told Ananias to go Saul. Ananias was skeptical because he knew that Saul was persecuting Christians. However, Jesus encouraged him, and he went to Saul. Once there, Ananias said to Saul, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 9”17).

In that instant, the scales from Saul’s eyes were removed and he could see again. He was given food and he was strengthened. Saul would spend “some days” (Acts 9:19) with the disciples at Damascus, and afterwards began his ministry where he preached about Jesus Christ.

Being led by the Holy Spirit, Saul went on three missionary trips, and it was during his first missionary trip that we Saul being referred to as Paul (Acts 13:9). Paul and other disciples that were with him travelled throughout the Mediterranean Basin by foot and boat. After these three trips, Paul would travel to Rome. His ministry lasted sometime between 46-60 A.D. His trips are briefly summarized in the table below:

A table regarding the disciple Paul's missionary trips.

Paul and the disciples he traveled with became the voice to the Gentiles (non-Jews) to bring them the Word of salvation and Jesus Christ to them (Acts 13:42-52). Jesus Christ knew that many Jews would not receive Paul’s testimony and at one point Jesus warned Paul not to travel to Jerusalem (Acts 21). However, he went anyways, because Paul said that he was ready to be bound and to die for the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 21:13).

Sailing, boat, still, still boat, ocean
Photo Credit: Wix Media

Paul is Arrested

In Jerusalem, Paul was praying in the temple, and Jesus Christ told Paul, “Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.” Paul countered with Jesus feeling guilty for what he had done when he was persecuting Christians, but Jesus Christ continued on, “Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.” (Acts 22: 18-21).

While in Jerusalem, Paul provided his testimony concerning Jesus Christ, but the crowd wanted Paul not only arrested, but killed. The commander bonded him in chains and ordered him to be brought into the barracks to be examined. Paul said that he was born as a Roman citizen. The men that arrested him became afraid, and the commander wanted to understand why the Jews were upset with Paul. The commander released Paul from his bonds and commanded the chief priests and their council to appear. The commander brought Paul to the chief priests (Acts 22:30).

The council was made of Pharisees (those that believe that there is a resurrection and a spirit) and Sadducees (those that did not believe that there is a resurrection and a spirit). When Paul provided his testimony about Jesus Christ, the council became divided. Paul explained that he was the son of a Pharisee and knows the law. Outraged, a dissention occurred among the council. The Romans took Paul from there and placed him in the barracks.

While in the barracks, Jesus Christ called to Paul and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem so you must also bear witness at Rome.”

When in Rome

Paul, while bounded as a prisoner from Jerusalem, went to Rome via a ship from Sidon, Phoenicia. Prisoners, disciples, and Roman soldiers were on the boat with Paul. The season was winter, and the winds stirred up. The boat became shipwrecked on the island of Malta (south of Sicily, Italy). Paul spent three months on Malta and started a ministry there, praying and healing the sick. The people of Malta provided a boat for Paul and those that were with him to get to Rome. When Paul and the disciples left Malta, they sailed in an Alexandrian ship to Syracuse, Italia and onto Rome.

After three days in Rome had passed, Paul called the leaders of the Jews and provided testimony to them. Paul explained that he came to Rome bounded from Jerusalem as a prisoner, but the Romans wanted to let him go because they found no reason that Paul deserved death. The leaders said that they had received no letter from Judea, nor have they heard anything against Paul. They wanted to hear what Paul had to say and he was given a day. Renting a place to live, many came to him, and he provided his testimony of the kingdom of God and how Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. Some were persuaded, others were not. Paul spoke to them and said:

The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, saying,

‘Go to this people and say: “Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; And seeing you will see, and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” ’

Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!”

(Acts 28: 25-28)

This caused dispute among the Jews, but Paul remained in Rome for two years. He received all that came to him, “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.” (Acts 28:31).

Why this Matters

According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law and the Prophets, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24: 44). The book of Isaiah (one of the prophets) speaks to Jesus Christ:

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

His delight is in the fear of the Lord, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist.

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea.

“And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious.”

After Jesus was crucified, resurrected, and ascended into Heaven, He called to Paul to be a disciple despite the fact that he was persecuting Christians. Shortly afterwards, Paul began his ministry and countless people heard the Word and were saved. Isaiah 11:10 says, “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious.” While this verse is speaking to Jesus Christ, we saw the miraculous things Jesus performed through Paul and the Gentiles did receive the Word.

Earlier in this article, you read that the Gentiles would receive the Word concerning Jesus Christ who came as the Messiah to save our souls. Paul stated this in Acts 28:28, which was cited in “When in Rome” above. Here is that passage again, “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” This happened because some of the Jews refused to listen and by opening up the Gospel and the Word to the Gentiles, it caused jealousy in some of the Jews to repent, and eventually accept Jesus Christ as their savior.

In addition, if God brought Paul to salvation, and then brought him throughout the Mediterranean Basin on his ministry, imagine what He can do for you, and where He can bring you? For nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37).

Accepting Jesus

Are you ready to accept salvation in Jesus Christ? Say this prayer:

God, I confess that Jesus came in the flesh and blood, paid the price for my sins, died on the cross, rose on the third day, ascended to the heavens, and sent the Holy Spirit to help me understand Your ways. For that, I accept Jesus Christ as my savior and Lord, and I welcome the Holy Spirit in my life. In Jesus’s name I pray, amen!

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