He had a passion to persecute the disciples who followed Christ and the idea of this persecution was the seizure of the disciples who professed Jesus after the episode on the day of Pentecost, backed up with legal authority. He was however, apprehended by God on his way to Damascus – separate unto me Paul and Barnabas for the work I want to send them (to the Gentiles), was the voice from Heaven that enabled the other disciples come to the cognizance of the fact that God had also engrafted this man to be a messenger for him.
It was this same man who sat under Gamaliel and went to Arabia for three years before he came back to join the other disciples as the Church was going to be instituted. He had to go to Jerusalem because he had to deliver some money, which he brought from the other Gentile Churches to the Church at Jerusalem because they were in need.
Agabus had warned Paul that in Jerusalem, he would be taken as a prisoner by the Jews and handed over to the Gentiles. His response to the prophecy, although true, was that he was not only ready to be bound by the Jews, but was also ready to die for the Gospel committed unto him by the Almighty God and for the name of the Lord. He went to the temple but didn’t know that there were some Jewish worshippers from Asia who would identify him amongst the crowd of people present; they falsely accused him of defying the temple and causing turmoil amongst the people. All this was as a result of a small misunderstanding, which was simply born out of their hatred for him. Agrippa didn’t find him guilty, but due to the pressure from the Jewish leaders, he was imprisoned and locked up for two years in Roman custody.
Two years on and still in custody, he decided to exercise his rights as a Roman citizen during his first trial before Felix, then before Festus and then before Agrippa II. Each of these leaders did not think he was worthy of death after they heard his case. During his trial before Festus, he appealed directly to Caesar. This was the reason why he had to be sent out on the trip to Rome; the Roman procurator made arrangements for the long trip to Rome. Agrippa privately told Festus that he would have been released had he not appealed to Caesar (not sure he meant that, but then who knows). It was already predetermined by God that, he must head for Rome.
He had established the different Churches from Corinth to Ephesus, to Thessalonica et al; he had raised disciples such as Timothy, Philemon, Titus and many who were mentioned in the scriptures. He had also laid down the Gospel of Grace and set the many doctrines that would guide and guard the New Creation Christian. If any Church was formed during his time, it had to be founded on these doctrines and Gospel. He also vehemently opposed any doctrine that was opposed to the ones he laid down.
He reminded us in all of his thirteen Epistles that he is our Apostle and leader in the Church. I wouldn’t have known about condemnation, reconciliation, adoption, righteousness, election, sanctification and many more if I hadn’t read from the Epistles of this great man and the best theologian that ever lived. Take all of his Epistles away from the Bible and we would all be lost in this dispensation of Grace. Jesus couldn’t have taught about Grace because He had to die first for Grace to be initiated. Jesus taught about how difficult it was keeping the Law. For example, He said if any man looked at any woman lustfully, automatically the person becomes an adulterer, and many more. He had to come and die for humanity who would not be able to keep the Law to the letter. His death, burial and resurrection, coupled with His ascension would end the dispensation of the Law and the commencement of the dispensation of the Grace of God.
Apostle Peter had no choice but to allude to the writings of this great theologian and Apostle; and so should every Church leader of today as we are still under the dispensation of Grace.
His transport to Rome was being prepared with other prisoners going in the same ship. So he travelled as a prisoner and consequently he becomes the last person anyone would want to listen to; more so when there were qualified people on board to steer the ship. He had no authority, no responsibility and no right as a prisoner; he was not to be reckoned with.
The choice of what ship to travel in wasn’t his choice but the choice of the Roman officials; he was also placed in the company of Julius – a centurion of the Augustan Regiment. To describe Julius in today’s world, he was like the secret service or a navy seal. As a Centurion and the highest-ranking officer in the Roman army, Julius would have a hundred men under his command and such men were specially assigned to work for Caesar. I can categorically assume that Julius was on that ship because of the Apostle.
Finally they set out to Rome and just after twenty-four hours, Julius allowed Paul to visit his friends who were on the same ship (Luke and Aristarchus) so that they could treat him of the ailment he had, and in turn he would have been able to minister to their spiritual needs.
The journey was a difficult one for them because according to Luke who said, “we sailed north under the protection of the northeast shore of Cyprus because winds out of the west were against us, and then along the coast westward to the port of Myra. There the centurion found an Egyptian ship headed for Italy and transferred us on board. We ran into bad weather and found it impossible to stay on course. After much difficulty, we finally made it to the southern coast of the island of Crete and docked at Good Harbor. By this time we had lost a lot of time. We had passed the autumn equinox, so it would be stormy weather from now on through the winter, too dangerous for sailing.”
The Apostle turned to the Centurion and said, “Men, I perceive that the voyage will certainly be with damage and great loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives, if we put out now.” According to Luke’s account, the Centurion was more persuaded by the pilot and the captain of the ship than what an ordinary prisoner like Paul had to say. Paul had been involved in shipwrecks (three) and knew so well when the time wasn’t good to sail and advised accordingly, but they didn’t listen.
This is the present state of the Church, we would rather believe in the sweet talk and motivational speeches concocted by men who are in authority and reject the teachings of this Apostle. We would rather listen to the Worldview and reject Biblical counsel from the best theologian ever to live. As he drew a close and concluded his letter to the Church at Rome, he warned his readers saying “mark them, which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine, which you have learned; and avoid them.”
He told Timothy that the time was soon to come when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on the truth and chase mirages. But you keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.
In other words, there is no other way to SALVATION and GROWTH as a Christian except we follow what Paul has spelt out in the good Book. When our pedigree of teaching does not or cannot be traced back to the teachings of Paul, we are headed for great trouble.
C.S. Lewis was spot on when he said, “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.”