Matthew has twenty-eight chapters. Mark has sixteen, Luke twenty-four, and John twenty-one. Acts has twenty-eight chapters, though I desperately wish there were twenty-nine!
Dr. Luke concluded his historical account of the spread of the Gospel into the Roman empire with these words: “Paul stayed two whole years in his own rented house. And he welcomed all who visited him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance” (Acts 28:30–31).
Did Paul stand before Caesar? Was he released? Where did he go first? Did he finally carry the Gospel to Spain? What would Acts twenty-nine report?
I’m not alone in believing that Paul was indeed acquitted of the baseless charges and released after two years. Many historians, theologians, and scholars believe that he was released in about 62 AD, and while continuing his evangelistic work, wrote the letters of Titus and First Timothy. It is suspected by many that Paul was imprisoned again, sometime after 64 AD, the year that Rome burned and Nero arrested many Jews. We believe that during his second Roman imprisonment, he wrote his last epistle, Second Timothy.
So, let’s make a guess…
Upon his release from his first Roman imprisonment, I suspect that he visited the churches in metropolitan Rome. Many of their leaders had visited him in his little apartment, so it makes sense that he would immediately go to them to encourage them further. Maybe they generously assisted him financially as he proceeded in his missionary endeavors.
I hope that our gracious Father allowed Paul to fulfill his desire to evangelize the Spanish people. Maybe Paul caught a ship traveling northwesterly along the Mediterranean coast of Italy, along the southern coast of France, and finally to Spain. Maybe. If that’s true, he probably didn’t spend too long, maybe only a few months.
First Timothy was written from Macedonia, maybe from his beloved Philippi. “To Timothy, my true son in the faith. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. As I urged you when I went to Macedonia, remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct…” (1 Timothy 1:2–4). Paul, ever the mentor, went on to encourage his young mentee. Paul wasn’t ready to settle down, so he told Timothy that he planned to travel to Ephesus in the near term (1 Timothy 3:14).
During this time, Paul also probably wrote “to Titus, my true son in our common faith. Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. The reason I left you in Crete was to set right what was left undone and, as I directed you, to appoint elders in every town” (Titus 1:4–5). Paul had evangelized Crete and was traveling to northwestern Greece. “Make every effort to come to me in Nicopolis, because I have decided to spend the winter there” (Titus 3:12).
Tradition says that Paul was arrested and beheaded in 67 or 68 AD. Before meeting the executioner, he wrote: “the time for my departure is close. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith… The Lord will rescue me from every evil work and will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever! Amen” (2 Timothy 4:6–7, 18).
What a life! Never will there be another quite like Paul. “To (God) be the glory forever and ever! Amen.”