[Editor's note: Beyond Sunday is a Monday refresher to carry you through the week.]
Focus Verse of the Week
[Paul] lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him (Acts 28:30, ESV)
Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house. His expense was met during this period by the church in Rome and elsewhere. See Philippians 4:18 where the Philippian contributions are acknowledged. Here he was permitted to see and preach freely to all who came unto him. Here he wrote four of his epistles: the letters to the Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and the short letter to Philemon. Here, from notices in these epistles, we know that Luke, Timothy, Epaphros, Mark, Aristarchus, and Tychius were with him at least part of the time. There is no doubt that these two years produced great results in Rome. It was at a later period, when Nero fell under the influence of the cruel Tigellinus, that he became a persecutor, and Paul had at this time full liberty. A few years after, at the time of the Neronian persecutor, the church embraced vast numbers in the city of Rome. The Roman historian, Tacitus says: "An immense multitude" was converted and put to death.
Acts comes to an end with these two years and was almost certainly completed during this time. Why it paused here is unknown. We wish that it was continued to the end of the career of its great missionary hero. His subsequent life and work can only be learned from incidental allusions in his later epistles and from tradition. The testimony of the early church affirms that he was acquitted when his appeal, after long delay, came to trial, probably in A. D. 63; for several years he labored earnestly in other lands, visiting the old scene of his labors in Asia Minor once more. Prior to this visit he is supposed to have gone west to Spain and crossed from there into North Africa, then one of the most flourishing parts of the empire.
Somewhere about A.D. 65-67 he visited once more the Greek and Asiatic churches he had founded, and from Macedonia wrote the First Epistle to Timothy, then at Ephesus, and also to Titus at Crete. The incidental allusions in these epistles confirm the view that he had been acquitted and was at work for Christ. At Nicopolis, in Epirus, he was again arrested and taken to Rome (see Titus 3:12). While in prison awaiting trial, he wrote 2 Timothy, his last words, solemn with the shadow of death. Afterwards he was sent to the scaffold by Nero in A.D. 67 or 68, and entered his eternal rest. While we cannot be certain of the facts of this extra-biblical history, the events are so probable that they may be reasonably accepted as the outline of the last years of the greatest hero of the faith that ever fought the good fight and won the crown.
(Adapted from the people's new testament, acts 28.)
A Thought to Keep
In many ways, the sudden end of Acts reminds us that the story of the church has only just begun. How are you living an "Acts" life where you are right now?