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16. And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself, with a soldier that kept him.
When Paul wrote to others, " My God shall supply all your need," he spoke according to his own experience. The counsel of God determined that he should be thus brought to Rome. But still he must be provided for. We may conclude that the centurion who had favoured him throughout the voyage, recommended him in such terms to the captain of the guard that he was treated with special indulgence, not mixed amongst others as a prisoner, but suffered to dwell by himself, with a soldier that kept Aim.8
And now there was an opportunity for the Roman Christians to show their fidelity towards their heavenly Lord.
We must suppose that some risk must be run, and some worldly interests sacrificed by those who did countenance the apostle in his present condition. But doubtless there were many, who, like Onesiphorus at a later period, "sought him out very diligently, and found him :" were "not ashamed of the Lord, or of Paul his prisoner." Many, who now remembered how Christ had said, "He that receiveth you, receiveth me; and he who receiveth
2 To whom, as the Roman custom was, he was attached by a chain. Paul alludes to this, Col. iv. 19; Phil. i. 7, 13, 16; 2 Tim. ii. 9; Phil. 10—13.
3 1 Tim. iv. 16.
me, receiveth him who sent me. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in nowise lose his reward."4
PAUL REASONS WITH THE JEWS AT ROME.—
A, d. 63.
Acts xxviii. 17—29.
17. And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
18. Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me.
19. But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Ccesar; not that I had aught to accuse my nation of
20. For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain. 4 Matt. x. 40.
The epistle to the Romans shows that in the Christian church at Rome many Jews and many Gentiles were united. There, as elsewhere, were "many Jews who believed;" still only "a remnant, according to the election of grace :"1 not the greater number; the mass and body of that people. For these Paul was earnestly and painfully anxious. As he had written some years before, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge."2
Thus he had felt at a distance. And now that he was on the spot, his sentiments were the same. Taking, therefore, no more than three days to refresh himself from his journey, he made himself known to the chief of the Jews resident in Rome, and called them together. He had no time to lose. He had "an errand from God." Who could say how soon he might be summoned before the emperor; and who could say what might be the event of that trial?
When they were come together, he explains the circumstances under which he had been brought to Rome. In his usual conciliating spirit, he disclaims the thought of having aught to accuse his nation of. And he asserts, as he had before asserted, that the only charge against him was his maintaining, that the promise which God made
1 Rom. xi. 5. 3 Rom. x. 1, 2, and ix. 1.
unto the fathers, he had now fulfilled ; had realised the hope on which Israel through all its history had been depending. He had said before Agrippa, "Now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto the fathers." So now he repeats, For the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.
When the prophets spoke of the righteous branch which should be raised up ;3 of the " desire of all nations" who should come;4 of the King who should reign in righteousness;5—they expressed the hope of Israel. When Simeon, and Anna, and other devout persons, were "waiting for the consolation," and " looking for redemption :"6 they entertained the hope of Israel. When the Samaritan woman answered the Lord, saying, "I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ ;"7 she alluded to the hope of Israel. When the two disciples on their way to Emmaus lamented their disappointment, for "they trusted that Jesus had been he who should have redeemed Israel :"8 they shew what had been the hope of Israel. Paul's commission was, to declare that this hope had been fulfilled;—fulfilled in the person of Jesus. For this offence he had been accused by his countrymen; for this offence he was constrained to appeal unto Ccesar; and for this offence he had been brought as prisoner to Rome.
3 Jer. xxiii. 5. * Hag. ii. 7.
5 Is. xxxii. 1. 6 Luke ii. 25, 38.
7 John iv. 25. a Luke xxiv. 21.
21. And ttiey said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came showed or spake any harm of thee.
22. But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against.
23. And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.
24. And some believed the things that were spoken, and some believed not.
Thus Paul set before his countrymen at Rome, as he had done elsewhere, the true meaning of the law and the prophets. He expounded to them the kingdom of God. Here was their great error. They would not understand the nature of that kingdom. He showed them the true redemption; not from poverty, but from iniquity; not from the power of earthly rulers, but of Satan; not from their worldly sorrows, but from worldly affections. He persuaded them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets. Showing, doubtless, that he was the true " Paschal Lamb ;"9 the sacrifice typified in all the sin-offerings of the law; the victim on which the offender laid his hands, and confessed that if God were to deal with him according to his deserts it might justly be with him as with the sacrifice that was slain.1 Showing, too, that Jesus was indeed the King who should "rule his people Israel," though not from an earthly throne;
9 I Cor. v. 7. 1 Lev. iii. throughout.