Saturday, September 15, 2018
30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!
These are the closing words to Luke’s book of the Acts of the Apostles. It is a book filled with adventures like shipwrecks and travels around the known world of the Roman Empire. Peter and John and Paul and Barnabas and Timothy and others encounter resistance to faith along with the many Jews and Gentiles who choose to embrace faith in the Lord Jesus. It’s a historical book, to be sure, yet there has been much to inspire us along the way.
At this point Paul is in Rome, where we leave him in his rented house, welcoming visitors and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is being guarded yet he has been given a great deal of freedom as well. He was there for at least two years as Luke tells us.
To find the end of Paul’s life, we go to historical sources that suggest Paul died sometime after the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64, while the Emperor Nero was ruling (the end of Nero’s reign was AD 68). A historical writing from around 30 years later, by I Clement, implies that both Paul and the apostle Peter were martyred for their faith. Several sources later write that Paul was beheaded.
Paul was one of the most important people in the early days of the church. He founded a number of churches and was a prolific writer. He was bold in preaching and used his status as a Pharisaic Jew and a Roman citizen to good advantage, reaching out to both Jews and Gentiles. So as we close this book to begin tomorrow the book of Romans, of which he is the author, we praise God for the example of such a committed and intelligent apostle as him. May we, like him, use our God-given talents and resources to further Christ’s kingdom.
Gracious Father, in whatever I do today, let me do it well because you are right beside me. Let me use whatever gifts you have given me to make a difference in some way – in my commitments to work and family, through my faith and by my desire to serve you. Thank you, Lord, for your faith in me through your Holy Spirit, guiding me each step of my day. I love you, Lord! Amen.