In the first part of “Paul’s Predicament” we saw that Paul was in prison in Jerusalem, and that a number of devout Jews had pledged to end Paul’s life. His nephew, Nathan, had overheard the threat, and brought the message to Paul in his jail cell. Paul had insisted that the guards take the boy to the officials to report the threat. Would Nathan’s message be enough to save Paul from certain death? Would his praise and prayers from his prison cell be heard and honored by God?
Nathan told the commander about the plot that he and his mother had overheard at the synagogue. The commander immediately realized the danger to Paul, a Roman citizen, whom he was required to protect. He organized a group of seventy horsemen and four hundred foot soldiers. As night fell, Paul was led from his cell into the darkened courtyard where he was boosted onto a horse and strapped into the saddle. With two horsemen carrying torches leading the group, they slowly made their way through narrow, easily-defended back streets until they reached the city outskirts where they were joined by the foot soldiers. The cavalry of seventy horses guarding Paul took off at a gallop into the darkness leaving the four hundred foot soldiers to insure that they were not followed. Before morning, Paul found himself chained to a guard in the palace of the governor in the town of Caesarea. The governor, himself, assured Paul, that while he must remain a political prisoner, he would be kept safe.
Paul was given a room with a comfortable bed, table, and chair, and a nourishing meal. As he ate, the soldier who had been assigned to guard him asked Paul why the crowds had been so eager to put him to death. The soldier listened attentively as Paul shared his testimony and the good news that eternal life can be had through faith in Jesus Christ. Much to Paul’s delight, the soldier placed his faith in Christ, then began to share with other soldiers In his regiment.
Paul, though imprisoned, had opportunities to share his faith with governors and kings, as well as the Roman guards. Eventually he was placed on a ship bound for Rome. He made the most of this situation and testified repeatedly to the ship’s crew and his fellow prisoners. They were shipwrecked on an island, and that gave Paul additional opportunities to heal and to preach to the island residents. When he finally reached Rome, he was once again given comfortable accommodations in his own rented house that allowed him to focus on writing most of the New Testament while receiving any and all who wanted to hear his message.
The Lord God had supplied everything that Paul needed: food, a safe place to write and to sleep, and freedom to share the gospel! God’s plan for Paul had included his imprisonment in Jerusalem. In fact, it was the way that Paul eventually reached Rome with all his all travel expenses paid and opportunities to witness and preach along the way. Being cast into prison in Jerusalem, bad as it looked at the time, worked for Paul’s ultimate good and the good of the gospel just as Paul had written in Romans 8:28. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”