Paul in Rome
Open Your Bible
Acts 28:11-31, Isaiah 6:9-10, 2 Timothy 4:6-8
Text: Acts 28:11-31, Isaiah 6:9-10, 2 Timothy 4:6-8
I recently came across a picture from my dad’s final months. He is wearing his hospital gown, sitting in the chair in his hospital room, and my three small children are sitting next to him, perched in a row on the window sil. Dad is grinning at them, eyes bright, and the kids are all carefree smiles and laughter, no idea the end was so near.
We visited him as often as we could back then, in the hospital and at home, stealing every moment with him we could get. And he was always glad to see us, drinking up our presence even on his hardest days.
It never occurred to me that he didn’t have to welcome us in. I never considered that the vulnerability of those final days was not just thrust upon him, but something he chose to embrace. We saw each day as an opportunity to be with him, and despite having every reason to opt out, he chose to see it as the same.
This last chapter of Acts does not tell us about Paul’s death, but we know he was eventually martyred in Rome. And we know this is how he spent his final years:
“He welcomed all who visited him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with full boldness and without hindrance.”
– Acts 28:30
If it were me, I think I would need a minute. All those years of faithfully preaching the gospel, traveling from city to city, raising up young churches and mentoring new pastors, not to mention being falsely accused and imprisoned time and time again for speaking the truth—after all that, I would view house arrest as an overdue opportunity for a long, well-deserved nap. Not Paul. Paul didn’t need a minute.
Paul knew what awaited him.
Could he see his martyrdom coming? Possibly. But he could definitely see beyond it. Paul wasn’t living for this vapor of a life here on earth. He was living for something bigger. Paul was living for the gospel. And here’s how he did it: he lived for the eternal by making the most of the temporary.
The apostle didn’t while away his time on earth just to get to the next chapter. He did something radical—he believed the good news was true and he lived like it.
“From dawn to dusk he expounded and witnessed about the kingdom of God.”
– Acts 28:23
The book of Acts reminds us that, like Paul, we are part of the biggest picture—we, the Church, are part of God’s story. This is our story, and Paul is our brother. But the call of this book is not to be like Paul. The call of this book is to be like Christ.
Jesus, too, looked beyond the present while embracing it. Jesus, too, poured Himself out “as a drink offering” to His final day (2 Timothy 4:6). But He did so much more.
The Christ who was the hope of the Apostle Paul is also our hope, having taken upon Himself all of our sin—past, present, and future—and suffered separation from the Father so that we might be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Then, having endured the punishment of death that was due us, He was resurrected, making us alive in Him (1 Corinthians 15:20, 22). And now—right now—He sits at the right hand of the Father, actively advocating on our behalf (Romans 8:34).
This Christ is our hope.
You and I are vulnerable like Paul. We, too, will have last days. But we can live those and all our days fully, joyfully pouring out every last drop, knowing that our hope in Jesus will never, ever end. Thanks be to God.