Romans Chapter 15

 

CONTINUING TO LOVE

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.   Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. Romans15:1-2  

Paul is still continuing his discussion of the strong and the weak from the previous chapter.  The whole discussion must sound strange to the “me generation” of the last few decades.  As a result of some of our errant postmodern philosophy many people think that they should look out only for number 1. The apostle is here saying that something to the reverse of this is true.  He is saying that the strong (dynatoi) ought to put up with the failings of the weak.  They should overlook them for the sake of unity and for the edification or the building up of the church.

We have so many folks today looking everywhere for happiness but Paul is giving us the real key to it.  I remember a little chorus we used to sing that went something like this:

The time to be happy is now
And the place to be happy is here.
And the way to be happy is to make others happy
And we’ll have a little Heaven right here!

When we do an act of loving-kindness to another person and especially when we get involved in the sad plight of so many, it makes our burdens seem lighter.  Then there is an indescribable feeling of warmth and blessing somewhere down deep in our soul.  It is a feeling very much akin to genuine happiness.

The Greek work for “ought” used in the above verse is opheilō.  It has the meaning “to be a debtor, to be under obligation” or to be “bound by duty.”1 To bear with others and to seek their good is not just some voluntary and occasional whim we might have.  It is a sacred and ongoing responsibility (cf. Gal. 6:2).  Also the “agape” love necessary for this is something more than mere tolerance and it is also certainly not condescension. Paul describes this “agape” love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 as being “patient,” “kind,” and not “self seeking.”  Such love “always perseveres” and “never fails.”

We should point out that Paul is not talking about our just being men-pleasers.  In Galatians 1:10 he puts this idea to rest.  He says: “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”  When we bear with our neighbor or please our neighbor we should do it “for his own good, always leaving something there to challenge his thinking, or make him reach out a bit…”2 The end result should be that of edification or building up of our neighbor and of the church.

For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me” (15:3).  Paul is here quoting the messianic Psalm 69:9.  As we remember from Christ’s passion, there were many insults and reproaches that fell upon him. To name a few, he was arrested (Mt. 26:50), falsely condemned (v.65), spat upon and slapped (v.67), rejected (27:22), flogged (v. 26), mocked (v. 29), insulted (v. 39), and at last crucified (v. 35).  The scripture is abundantly clear that he did all this for us and for our good that we might be saved.  As the scripture says in Isaiah 53:5-6, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

We will never know how far the Lord came and how low he stooped to redeem us fallen creatures.  In Philippians 2:6-8 Paul tries to give us some idea.  He describes Jesus, Who, being in very nature God… made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to deatheven death on a cross!”  What a glorious example the Lord has given us of self-giving for the sake of others.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (15:4).  Paul cannot help but comment on the blessings of Holy Scripture.  No doubt he has in mind the great messianic passages like the ones in Psalms and Isaiah.  It is the Scripture that brings us hope.  We live in such a hopeless age, as we have remarked before.  There is no hope because the Bible has largely been cast aside by this age.  Thus there is no foundation, no anchor for the soul.  It is only in God’s word that we have that anchor that brings us hope.

We cannot overlook the idea of “endurance” in this passage.  The word is hypomonēs and it has the meaning of steadfast endurance, or perseverance.  That endurance would generally be displayed in the face of adversity.  There is something about enduring in adversity that brings hope (cf. Rom. 5:3-4). Barclay gives the illustration of the painter, G.W. Watts who pictured “hope” as a battered and bowed figure with only one string left on her lyre.  He remarks: “Christian hope has seen everything and endured everything, and still has not despaired, because it believes in God.”3

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ(15:5-6)  Calvin remarks about this passage: “for the unity of his servants is so much esteemed by God, that he will not have his glory sounded forth amidst discords and contentions.”4  Our praise as a people will always sound hollow if there is strife and division in our midst.

We learn in this passage that it is God who ultimately gives us endurance, encouragement and unity.  After all, the unity we have is called the “unity of the Spirit” as we see in Ephesians 4:3. It is a unity that comes from outside ourselves. We cannot manufacture this unity but we are commanded to keep the unity. It is not that we always have to agree with each other on everything but rather that we keep ourselves always bound together with love.  We must always realize that this unity is not from ourselves. 5

GENTILES CAN NOW PRAISE HIM

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:7  

As we truly accept one another this brings praise to God.  Clearly we are to accept one another as we are “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 6:1 NKJ).  Osborne remarks that this command is a primary theme of Romans.  He says of this passage: “The command to accept one another is at the heart of the New Testament doctrine of the fellowship of believers, as seen in Acts 2:44.”6  This is not something we do just once in a while but it is something we keep on doing.  This unity becomes especially precious when it is found between Jews and Gentiles. With such things God is well-pleased and much glory is brought to his name.

For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: ‘Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name.’”(15:8-9). Christ is presented here as “Servant” of the Jews with the purpose of confirming God’s promises to them.  As we will learn this greatly affects
the Gentiles.

Beginning with Isaiah 40 we see one of the most interesting sections in the whole Bible.  This passage begins with a blaze of messianic glory; with God comforting his people; with the glory of the Lord being shown; with the Good Shepherd being revealed, the one who carries the lambs in his arms.  We all know this is a picture of Jesus.

In Isaiah 41:8 we see that God originally chose Israel to be his servant.  However, on numerous occasions Israel grew discouraged and failed at this task (cf. Isa. 41:28; 42:22; 43:22-28; 44:9; 48:8-10).  Because of Israel’s failure, God sent his Son (the heavenly Servant) to rescue Israel and to help Israel perform her messianic mission to the world.

In this interesting section of scripture, which may extend through Isaiah 63, we are presented with the four Servant Songs of 42:1-9; 49:1-13; 50:4-11 and 52:1353:12.  We are surely all familiar with the Suffering Servant pictured for us in Isaiah 53.  However, we may not be familiar with the song of Isaiah 49:1-13.  In this incredible song we see that the Servant (Jesus) was sent with two assignments.  The first was to rescue Israel and gather the nation back to God.  But we see in 49:6 that this was too small a task for the Servant Messiah.  His second job was to be a “light to the Gentiles” and bring God’s salvation to the ends of the earth.  This is what Paul is talking about here and what astounding news it must be to the Gentile church.  We always thought that we Gentiles were God’s
main concern.

We picture Jesus in many roles today; however, in the Gentile church we seldom picture him in the role of “servant” to Israel.  This was his first assignment and when he returns he will not appear somewhere in the Gentile world but he will appear in Israel.  We Gentiles are not his primary task but the Jews have that spot.  His second job was to bring light to us Gentiles so we could join Israel in praising God.

Again, it says, ‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.’ And again, ‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples’” (15:10-11).  Because of what the Servant has done we Gentiles can now rejoice together with Israel.  What a day it will be when both peoples of God fully comprehend this truth and express it with universal joy!

In this passage Paul first quotes Deuteronomy 32:43 and then Psalm 117:1.  This Psalm makes up what is surely one of the shortest chapters in the Bible.  While it has only two verses it is filled with overflowing joy.  Let us quote it all: Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples.  For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD” (Psa. 117:1-2).

And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.’” (15:12). Paul is quoting here from another beautiful messianic passage found in Isaiah 11:1 ff.  The “Root of Jesse” is pictured as being from the line of David.  The Spirit of God will rest upon him and he will judge in righteousness.  He will stand as a banner for the peoples and the nations will rally to him.  His rest will be glorious for those who find him.  In his day the remnant of Israel will be gathered home to their land.  It is interesting that in the book of Revelation we see a picture of this triumphant and glorious one.  He himself proclaims: “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star” (Rev. 22:16).  

Here Paul gives us what sounds like a benediction for the end of the epistle.  He says: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (15:13).  We can see from the beautiful messianic passages that have been mentioned how our hope springs from the consolation of the scriptures.  Our hope is not something that we store up and hoard but something that overflows and spills out all over the place for all people.  This is really the result of the Holy Spirit living in us and becoming within us a spring of living water
to others. 

PAUL, MINISTER TO THE GENTILES

I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. Romans 15:14  

With this verse Paul begins what we might call the Epilogue to his epistle.  From now on he is mostly dealing with personal matters that he feels important. 7  He begins almost with an apology to the Roman church.  After all, he was writing to the capital city of the vast Roman Empire and surely the people felt some pride in that. Perhaps they would sense that he considered them immature or unlearned in the finer points of scripture.  He wants to make plain that such is not the case.  Paul obviously had a high opinion of the Roman Christians, considering them spiritually mature and well-informed.8

Paul says: “I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (15:15-16).  Paul’s purpose in writing was not to inform the Roman church but to remind them of things they already knew.  In 2 Peter 1:12 we see this apostle doing a similar thing.  He says: “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.”  Paul and Peter were not teaching the believers because they didn’t know but because they did know.  Unfortunately, we are all a little like leaky buckets and even the things we have slowly leak out.  We occasionally need a refilling and refreshing.

The apostle here describes himself as a minister of Christ to the Gentiles.  He is claiming here a “priestly duty” of proclaiming the gospel to them.  As a priest and minister to the nations he no doubt hopes to present the Gentiles as a “living sacrifice” to God.   He uses the word  leitourgos (priest or minister) which often refers to a priest in the Bible (cf. Neh. 10:39; Isa. 61:6). 9  Paul could not be considered a priest in the literal sense because he hailed from the tribe of Benjamin and not from the tribe of Levi.  He thus felt it necessary to connect his calling with God’s grace (cf. 12:3).  His ministry in “offering up” the Gentiles was likely to be seen in light of passages like Isaiah 61:6 and Isaiah 66:18-24. 10

Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God” (15:17).  Paul was not bashful or ashamed of his ministry to the Gentiles.  We remember how he stated in Romans 11:13:  “…Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry.”  We could probably say with a good deal of certainty that since the ministry of Jesus, the work of the Apostle Paul to Gentile nations has probably been the most astounding and far-reaching work in the history of the Christian church.

Paul goes on: I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— (15:18).  Stedman describes the wonder of Paul’s work: “No church existed where he went, but after he had been there a while, and had begun to preach these tremendous themes, light began to spring up in the darkness. People were changed; they began to live for the first time. They discovered why they were made, and excitement appeared in their lives. So Paul just spent his life rejoicing over what was happening.”11  How was Paul able to do such astounding things?  He gives us the answer.

SUPERNATURAL CONFIRMATION OF PAUL’S WORK

by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.” Romans15:19 

We only have to read of Paul’s journeys in Acts to see that almost every encounter was a power encounter.  The power of the Holy Spirit was confronting and overcoming the powers of darkness, using Paul to accomplish this.  He was careful to always give the glory to Christ.  In 2 Corinthians 12:12, we see that it is precisely the mark of a real apostle that all the signs, wonders and miracles follow him.

Some of this section of Romans reads almost like a travelogue.  Paul mentions that he has proclaimed the gospel from Jerusalem all the way to Illyricum.  This was a sizeable feat in a day before jet planes.  The area of Illyricum was on the extreme northwestern boundary of Greece.  Today it is in the areas of modern Yugoslavia, Albania and Croatia.  In early times this region was also known as Dalmatia. It was a journey of about 1400 miles (2252 km.). We have no record of Paul actually going to these areas; however, his work was apparently successful there because we see that Titus was later dispatched to Dalmatia (2 Tim. 4:10).

“It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation” (15:20).  Paul was a little like the early pioneers in the American west.  When some of them saw the smoke of another chimney rising they felt it was time to move on.  Paul had a burning desire within his soul to preach the gospel to every creature (Mk.16:15). He was a master-builder.  He was the man who laid the foundation and his foundation was always in Christ.  Other ministers were welcome to come along and build, providing they built on his foundation (1 Cor. 3:10-11).  Master-builders usually are not willing to construct things on top of other
peoples’ work.

“Rather, as it is written: ‘Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand’” (15:21).  Here Paul quotes from the Fourth Servant Song of Isaiah 52:15.  This song pictures the gospel reaching out to kings, nations and peoples the world over.  Those who were not told or learned in the scriptures, as the Jews were, would see.  Those who had not heard the word of God taught all their lives, as the Jews had, would somehow understand.  When we realize that the nations had to receive and understand the gospel with essentially no “salvation infrastructure” to support it, we must realize that it was and continues to be a great miracle of God.  Only God could pull off a thing like that.

PAUL’S TRAVEL PLANS

This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.  Romans 15:22

Paul has been busy, busy with his mission to the very ends of the ancient world. Now he has run out of a place to do his pioneering work.  His eyes are focused on Spain, a Roman colony at the very western end of the civilized world, but he would like to go to Rome first.  There are probably many reasons for this.  As we have mentioned previously, Rome was the center of the Gentile world.  It was the capital of the empire.  As they said in those days, “all roads lead to Rome.”

“But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to see you, (15:23).  As we said in the first chapter, Paul was almost compelled to go to the great Gentile center of Rome since he was the apostle to the Gentiles.  But it is likely that a primary motivation here is to find a base for his future work in Spain, just as Antioch had been the center for his work in early years. 12

Paul continues to lay out his travel program.  “I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to visit you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while” (15:24).  His visit to Rome was to be a short one because there was work to be done in the far west.  To do such work he needed help from the Roman church.

The mission to Spain would be a large one since ancient Spain encompassed both Spain and Portugal of today, or the whole of the Iberian Peninsula.  This area was opened up for settlement in ancient times by the seafaring Phoenicians who sailed from Tyre and Sidon.  We hear of the “Ships of Tarshish” several places in scripture (cf. Psa. 48:7; Isa. 60:9).  We can suspect that some Jews already lived there since it later became a great haven and hub of Jewish settlement. Of course, from Spain Paul would be able to cross the Pyrenees to Gaul and thus reach much of Western Europe.

For such extensive travel plans Paul needed help from the church at Rome.  Giving help to Christian workers was apparently a customary thing in the early church.  We see evidence of this in several scriptures (cf. 1 Cor. 16:6; 3 Jn. 1:6).  Such help for the journey would likely consist of food, money, means of travel and even traveling companions. 13

“Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there” (15:25). It is almost amazing how extensive were the travel plans of ancient people in this era.  It is also amazing how nonchalant Paul appears as he makes his plans.  His travels from Corinth to Jerusalem alone would be at least 800 miles (1287 km). If we add up the rest of his proposed journey from Jerusalem to Rome and from Rome to Spain we are looking at a total journey of some 3000 miles (4827 km). 14  Of course, the world was enjoying the so-called Pax Romana or the Roman peace in this era of history.  The roads and seaways were comparatively safe, but in the ancient world there were always the dangers of shipwreck, storms, pirates, unfriendly natives and the like.

The proposed visit to Jerusalem was an urgent one for Paul.  He was carrying with him a large offering from the churches in Macedonia and Achaia.  This was a joint project to ease the suffering of the poor saints in Jerusalem.  It was always a custom of Jewish people to send money to Jerusalem for benevolence and for the temple tax.  Now Christians were taking part in this endeavor.  It is truly interesting that the first general offering of the Christian church was taken to relieve poor Jewish people in Israel.  Many centuries would pass before the Gentile church would do such a thing again.  We should be aware that it was Paul’s purpose to connect the Gentile church with the mother church in Jerusalem and Judea. We see him saying in 1 Thessalonians 2:14, For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus…” This offering was important to cement people together in the church. Even the word for “offering” used in the next verse (v. 26) is the word koinōnia, the word used elsewhere for “fellowship”
among Christians. 15           

Paul goes on to give the details of his mission to Jerusalem: “For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem” (15:26).  We see much about this offering in 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9.  Paul was very zealous to take the offering and deliver it to Israel.  We might wonder if Paul was fulfilling a charge given to him by the leaders in Jerusalem.  Long before they had granted him the title to be the apostle to the Gentiles, they charged him that he should “remember the poor” (Gal. 2:10) and Paul was eager to do this very thing. 16

Once again we must not overlook the logistics of this enterprise.  This was a day before  worldwide banking systems, travelers checks, credit cards and the many conveniences we have today.  A man small of stature carrying an extremely large treasure would be a target for pirates and other evil schemers. It appears that the news of his treasure had already leaked out to Felix the Procurator of Judea.  Apparently Felix was hoping that Paul would give him some sort of bribe (Acts 24:26).  Paul was a very brave man to travel the ancient world with a large amount of cash on his person.  No doubt he breathed a sigh of relief when he finally delivered the treasure to the elders in Jerusalem.

Paul speaks further about the offering: “They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings” (15:27).  In 1989 the Lord led my wife and me back to Jerusalem after having been away for some five years.  It was my burning desire to give some help to Israel and to get Christians everywhere involved in helping Israel as the nation was being reestablished.  At the time the little evangelical organization we had joined was very poor but we didn’t let that stop us.  We soon heard that hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews were being released and were coming home to Israel since the walls of communism were crumbling.  They actually began to arrive at Ben Gurion Airport at the rate of about 30,000 per month.  We were determined to help them.

We began to make up some little welcome kitchen baskets and we gave them out to the newly arriving immigrants.  Our organization was so poor that I had to borrow a few dollars to finish making up the first dozen or so baskets.  We gave out what we had and were amazed to see a line of hopeful immigrants still standing outside the door.  Somehow we continued to give and they continued to come.  Shortly we began to be assisted by Christians from all over the world that heard and wanted to participate.  Soon the dollars of relief grew into hundreds, then into thousands and then into millions.  So far as I know, this organization is still giving out help on a daily basis to newly arriving immigrants in Israel.

I remember that it was this verse that motivated us.  It apparently motivated a lot of other people too.  Paul says that we Gentile believers have received spiritual blessings from the Jews. We surely have, since we have received from them our Bible, our gospel, our apostles and our Messiah.  Since we have received these things we “owe” it to the Jews to share with them our natural blessings.  It is just that simple but somehow the church has largely missed it.  How could we go for so many centuries missing out on one of the Bible’s greatest blessings for Gentile Christians?  May the Lord help us to open our eyes at last to see Israel and her importance in the life of the church!

“So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way” (15:28)  The upcoming visit to Jerusalem was obviously weighing heavily on Paul’s mind.  In addition to his concern for safe delivery of the large offering, he was no doubt concerned about the brewing tension in Israel over his ministry.  Several Jewish groups known as Judaizers had dogged his trail.  There was serious opposition to him in Israel and especially among the Jews of Jerusalem.  It was no doubt a similar tension that Jesus himself had felt in Jerusalem toward the close of his ministry (Mt. 20:18).  As Paul continued his journey his suspicions were confirmed.  Time and again he was warned by prophetic voices that there was trouble awaiting him in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 20:22-23; 21:10-14).  As Barclay says of Paul, “the highest courage is to know that some great danger awaits us and still go on.”17

“I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ” (15:29).  Things didn’t work out exactly like Paul planned.  After Jerusalem he came to Rome all right, and was blessed with a very warm welcome (Acts. 28:15), but he came as a prisoner.  He would first be arrested in Jerusalem and then spend the next two years in prison at Caesarea before ever seeing Rome.

Thus Paul pleads for the prayers of the Roman Christians: “I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me” (15:30). There was much facing Paul.  He actually had no idea that his offering would be accepted by the believing Jews in Jerusalem. There were many tensions related to Paul and his ministry as we have said.  Some believers probably felt he was a betrayer of the law that they valued so dearly.  There was also a chance that the devout Jews would reject an offering from the hands of Gentiles. 18

He asks that the Roman believers join him in his “struggle” of prayer.  The word used here is sunagonizomai which means to “agonize together” or “strive together” in prayer.  It is the same root word used of Jesus as he agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane. 19   Later we learn that his prayer was granted and that he and his team were received warmly. The people even praised God for his ministry (Acts 21:17, 20).

“Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there” (15:31). The situation in Jerusalem was not only tense regarding Paul but it had become explosive.  In Acts 21:27 ff. we see that when Paul’s arrived there his very presence in the temple area provoked a riot.  Certain Jews from the province of Asia recognized him and cried out for the crowd to seize him. It seemed that the whole city of Jerusalem was aroused and people came running from everywhere.  After seizing Paul, they dragged and beat him and would likely have killed him had not the Roman troops intervened to rescue him.  He was then imprisoned in Jerusalem and later held in Caesarea.

Paul continues: “so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed” (15:32).  We know that after Paul’s imprisonment in Caesarea, he was sent to Rome in order to appeal his case before Caesar.  He didn’t get to Rome exactly as he had planned, but he did get there, chains and all.  We can be assured that he had great joy together with the brethren because they came quite a distance, to the Forum of Appius, to meet him.  When Paul finally saw these Roman Christians he “thanked God and was encouraged” (Acts 28:15).

After this Paul gives us his benediction: “The God of peace be with you all. Amen” (15:33). Dunn remarks concerning this benediction: “Paul the Jew, who is also apostle to the Gentiles, says the Jewish benediction over his Gentile readers.” 20  Because of Paul’s placing a benediction here some scholars have speculated that this is the actual end of the epistle and the later listing of names must therefore belong somewhere else, but the manuscripts as well as a good number of scholars are against it.  Because of increased travel and communication under the Romans it was not unusual that Paul would finish up the epistle with greetings.  He had surely met these numerous friends in his many travels and now many of them were apparently residing in Rome.

We may ask the question, “Did Paul ever make it to Spain?”  We have no proof that he did but there are certainly some traditions that he arrived there after his first imprisonment in Rome and before his final imprisonment and martyrdom there.  The first century non-canonical epistle of First Clement written by Clement the Bishop of Rome says that Paul “taught righteousness to all the world and gave his testimony when he had reached the limits of the west.” 21

There is considerable evidence that Paul was re-arrested, imprisoned once more in Rome and at last beheaded during the persecution of Nero. Edwards calls it a “unanimous” opinion of scholars that Paul died in Rome during the latter years of Nero, or sometime around AD 64-68. 22

Perhaps it would be good to close this section with a very appropriate tribute to Paul made by Ray Stedman:

Did you ever stop to ask yourself what influence the Apostle Paul has had in your own life? He lived two thousand years ago, and yet there is not a man or woman, boy or girl among us, who has not had their life drastically affected by this man. The whole course of history has been changed by the truths he taught. In fact, for the most part, history itself has been built around the letters and teachings and doctrine and ministry of the
Apostle Paul. 23

 

Continue Reading – Chapter 16