23. SECOND IMPRISONMENT AT ROME, AND DEATH

The Scripture narrative is silent concerning the events that led to Paul’s final arrest. It may well be that the occasion for it came in connection with Nero’s cruel persecutions of the Christians at that time.

Paul was a prominent leader among them, and therefore a natural target for the sadistic ferocity of the emperor. Nicopolis, Ephesus, and Troas have been suggested as possible places where Paul was seized, with Troas being the most likely (2 Ti 4:13).

2Ti 4:13  Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the books, especially the parchments.

He was taken to Rome, where he received none of the favors granted him during his former imprisonment.

According to tradition he was confined in the Mamertine prison, on the Roman Forum, and was chained (ch 2:9) like a common criminal .

2 Ti 2:9  for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained.

He was forsaken by practically everyone (ch 4:16; cf. vs 11, 20).

Ti 4:16  At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.

2Ti 4:11  Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.

2Ti 4:20  Erastus stayed in Corinth, but Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick.

Paul’s last extant epistle, that of 2 Timothy, was written at this time. When it was penned Paul had doubtless already been brought to trial once and had defended himself (vs 16, 17).

Ti 4:16  At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.

2Ti 4:17  But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.

He seemingly expected a 2d trial shortly and he evidently expected to be sentenced to death (v 6).

2Ti 4:6  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.

However, he urged Timothy to put forward every effort to visit him before his death (2 Ti 4:9, 21).

2Ti 4:9  Be diligent to come to me quickly;

2Ti 4:21  Do your utmost to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, as well as Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brethren.

Early Christian authors are unanimous in declaring that Paul died under Nero at Rome. His execution, then, which tradition says was by decapitation somewhere on the Ostian Way, must have taken place at least by a.d. 68, for Nero himself died that year.

He was executed probably sometime between a.d. 66 and 68. The apostle’s own words in 2 Ti 4:7, 8 offer a fitting epitaph of his life and the purpose of his life: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

Thus died a man of truly pre-eminent abilities and virtues. As a theologian he ranks as perhaps the greatest of all time, having laid much of the foundation upon which Christian dogmatics is built.

His elevated concept of Christ has dominated Christianity. He was an able orator (Acts 17:22–31), and a writer of vigorous prose that could sometimes be poetic (1 Cor 13).

He was also a great evangelist and organizer. Yet in spite of his many gifts and his high calling, he was a man of great humility (1 Cor 15:9; Eph 3:8), anxious that he should be a burden to none (Acts 20:34; 2 Cor 11:9; 1 Th 2:9; 2 Th 3:8).

He was a preacher with a strong sense of duty and destiny (Rom 1:14; 1 Cor 9:16, 17; Gal 1:15, 16).

He was versatile (1 Cor 9:19–22; 10:33), optimistic (1 Cor 1:4; 2 Cor 4:16–18; Php 1:3–6; Col 1:3; 1 Th 1:2), courageous (Acts 9:22–29; 13:45, 46; 20:22–24; etc.); he possessed singleness of purpose (1 Cor 2:2; Php 3:13), composure of mind (Php 4:11, 12; 1 Ti 6:6–8), zeal (Acts 22:3; Gal 1:14; Php 3:6), and unfailing faith (Rom 8:28, 38, 39; Gal 2:20; 2 Ti 1:12).