There isn’t a twenty-nineth chapter of Acts. Sorry. Only twenty-eight. Luke’s account of Paul’s missionary journey ended abruptly with his first Roman imprisonment.
I contend, as do many historians, that Paul was released, and that he lived another five or six years, continuing his efforts to plant Gospel-preaching churches throughout the Roman Empire. Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus were probably written during those days.
After his release, Paul probably returned to Ephesus, the place where he had invested three years of his life (Acts 21:31). He had good friends there, and ample reason to return. Paul must have also revisited the churches in Berea, Thessalonica, and Philippi. These Macedonian churches, established on Paul’s second missionary journey, were, no doubt, strengthened and encouraged by the aging Apostle’s visit. I’m guessing that Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy while he was with his faithful friends at Philippi.
Where’s the Biblical evidence? Read the opening lines of First Timothy. “I urged you when I went to Macedonia, remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach false doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3). Paul left Timothy to pastor the people at Ephesus, and then travelled to Macedonia, hoping to return at the opportune time (1 Timothy 3:14).
In this post-imprisonment period, Paul also visited the Mediterranean Island of Crete, where he commissioned Titus as the pastor (Titus 1:5). “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 1:5).
Paul’s letter to Titus was penned from Nicopolis, on the western coast of Greece, north of Corinth and Athens and south of Macedonia (Titus 3:12). From there, it would have been an easy trip across the Adriatic Sea to Italy and other western mission fields, maybe even Spain.
Paul’s travels included visits to Troas, north of Ephesus in Asia Minor (2 Timothy 4:13). He also visited his old friends in Corinth (2 Timothy 4:20), just south of Nicopolis where he wrote the Epistle to Titus. And he visited Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20), near Ephesus.
Most historian conclude that Paul, after crisscrossing the Roman Empire, was arrested and taken to Roman to await execution.
In his final words, likely penned from the dungeon of the Mamertine Prison, Paul wrote, “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6–8).
Paul used every minute to God’s glory! He was faithful and fruitful to the end... until he finished his race! How about us? Are we just limping along, or are we sprinting to the finish-line? The victor’s crown awaits...