We found some believers there who asked us to stay with them a week. And so we came to Rome. The believers in Rome heard about us and came as far as the towns of Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and was greatly encouraged. When we arrived in Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself with a soldier guarding him. (Acts 28:14-16 GNB)
Have you ever purposed in your spirit that you were going to get involved in doing something somewhere? Maybe you got a word from the Lord that you can go ahead and move in a particular direction; be it marriage, or career, or job, etc. One thing we must notice is that most times, things are not as easy as they seem when we were planning, or praying about them, or receiving the instructions from the Lord. It was quite many years while Paul was still at Ephesus, that he purposed in his spirit that he must see Rome. “After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” (Acts 19:21 KJV) Even while he was imprisoned in Jerusalem, the Lord Jesus had appeared unto Paul and said unto him, “Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” (Acts 23:11 KJV)
However, it was going to be roughly 4 years (A.D. 59 – 63) before that desire in Paul’s heart could be achieved; and that was not without hardship. In fact, when he nursed the thought in his spirit, he was a free man. However, by the time he arrived Rome, he had already moved from prison to prison, till he arrived Rome as a prisoner.
Having left Malta (where they had spent 3 months), Paul sailed in a new Alexandrian ship till he got to Rome. Notice a few things that happened to Paul as he arrived Rome:
- He met with some of the brethren in Rome. Even before Paul arrived, God had already begun something, and several brethren were already believers in Christ Jesus in Rome. Their presence greatly encouraged Paul. Sometimes, we think that great Apostles do not atimes need encouragement; but indeed they do need it. By seeing this brethren and meeting with them, Paul’s heart was encouraged in spite of his chains and his present predicament.
- He was placed under house arrest. Though Paul may had desired to come to Rome as a free man to preach the Gospel, he arrived there a prisoner. However, the Lord showed him some kindness in that instead of being put in a regular prison, he was placed under house arrest. He could not go out and walk about Rome, but he could stay inside his room and receive visitors.
- He seized his little opportunity. Unlike many of us today, nothing deters Paul from doing the Lord’s work. Despite his present status as a prisoner, Paul still tried to seize every opportunity to preach to men. If he was not allowed to go out and preach, at least he could invite people to visit him. If people were not allowed to visit him, he would write letters through his colleagues. If he was not permitted to write letters, he would bow his head and pray for men night and day. Such was the level of Paul’s commitment to the work of the Lord. No matter where he was, there was no excuse to prevent him from doing the Lord’s work. I pray that our “excuses-filled generation” will learn from Paul to serve the Lord in spirit and truth.
- Paul assembled the Jewish elders in Rome- both to inform them of the reasons for his coming to Rome, and also to witness about Jesus to them. It was going to be strange how Paul (a Jew) would appeal to be heard by Caesar over a matter that concerned him and his fellow Jews (especially in Jerusalem). Since Paul did not want to be misunderstood as someone who was against his own people; he summoned the Jewish elders in Rome to explain why he came to Rome for the trial. The elders replied Paul, “We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee. But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” (Acts 28:21-22 KJV). That was how Paul secured a hearing with the Jewish elders, and a day was fixed when the hearing would take place in Paul’s house.
- Hence, though a prisoner under house arrest in Rome, the work of the Lord continued.
AND SO? Have the Lord called you to take a journey into a destination? Do not be afraid to take a step. There may be many challenges on the way, and the journey may be longer than you ever imagined. Nevertheless, keep God’s word and His promises before you, and rest assured that because He lives, you will make it.
Also, never allow anything stop you from doing God’s word. Remember that God takes no pleasure in him that turns back. So, no matter where you are, keep on with God’s work, and be certain of this: God never fails.