The Apostle Paul
(1st century A.D.)
This article was included in the 1st edition of "Pentecostal Pioneers Remembered" 2008, but was removed from 2nd edition 2011 due to its length.
First and foremost amongst Pentecostal Pioneers must stand Paul, once a persecutor of Christ, then a proclaimer of Christ. Once he burnt with indignation against the Blood-bought Church but after conversion, commissioning, consecration and crushing he planted it, preached to it and protected it. He planted the very first Pentecostal churches across the Greek, Roman and Gentile world. In him we see an example of the original, the pure and the Scriptural which every generation has since imitated. This is his story.
Saul was born in the Gentile city of Tarsus in the province of Cilicia (Turkey). Although we cannot be exactly sure, it is thought that he was born shortly after the time of Christ’s birth. This capital city of Tarsus was a centre of learning rivalling even that of Athens. Most of the population was of Greek extraction, but with a significant Jewish group in the midst. These Jews preserved their culture, language and religion in the midst of a refined, up to date sophisticated culture.
Saul was born into one of these Jewish homes of the tribe of Benjamin and on the eighth day of life baby Saul was taken to be circumcised and initiated into the faith of his father Abraham. He was a true son of Israel. He was also free-born since his father had Roman citizenship and passed this on to his son.
As he grew his parents nurtured him in the Law of Moses and the traditions of the elders. As a young boy he was familiar with the Holy Scriptures in the Greek translation called the Septuagint. His father had high hopes for his son to be trained as a Pharisee. These were separatists, purists and literalists. They believed the Scriptures to be God’s infallible Word and they aimed to live by it according to the letter.
At the age of 13 he was sent by his parents to Jerusalem to be taught by Gamaliel who was considered to be the greatest teacher of the age. The Jews gave him the name 'beauty of the law.' Saul was attentive and hungry to learn. Old Gamaliel was graceful, faithful, kind, patient and powerful in his expositions of Scripture. He had no time for novelty; he was set on writing the truth of God on these young hearts.
After his arduous training under Gamaliel he returned home to Tarsus and to his proud parents. It was probably at this time that his father taught him and trained him well in his trade of making tents. Meanwhile he took his place at the local synagogue where he would mature with the passing of years. He certainly must have remained there at least 10 years becoming respected in the local synagogue as a true zealot of the law. His life was outwardly blameless according to the law but the law condemned him inwardly. He seemed to lack something for which his soul yearned; perfect righteousness.
News began to reach the synagogue in Tarsus of a man called Jesus of Nazareth who was proclaiming himself the Messiah. It seemed that the crowds were flocking to him; many said mighty miracles were performed by him. Over the next years these reports made Saul's Hebrew blood boil. Was there no one to correct such heresy? Could not the great Gamaliel deal with such lies? Next news reached him of a so-called outpouring of the Spirit at the Feast of Pentecost. They were saying that this was what was prophesied by Joel the prophet. Men were supposedly speaking in the tongues of the gathered nationalities and calling upon them to believe in this Jesus. This sect was spreading and growing in Jerusalem. Saul could take it no more. He must go and do something! He must defend the law. This was the hour for which he was prepared.
When he arrived in Jerusalem it was under very different circumstances than previously - he was now a man of just over 30 years of age. He was no sooner there than he was caught up in the heat of things. A debate started in one of the synagogues with one called Stephen, a disciple of Jesus. A host of older wise men and younger zealous men like Saul stepped up with their Scriptural arguments to condemn this new sect, but Stephen was very able in using the Scriptures to defeat their every argument and dispute. No one not even young Saul could stand against the wisdom and spirit by which he spoke.
Next they dragged Stephen before the council and the high priest, bringing many false accusations against him. When he had the opportunity to speak, his defence was powerful, clear and Scriptural. It was more than a defence, it was a message from God to their hearts. He finally preached with great anointing and conviction laying the guilt and sin at their door. What was Saul seeing and hearing? It was a Spirit-filled preacher with the Sword of the Spirit, God’s written Word as his only weapon. All of them were cut to the heart, even Saul. The crowd rose up as one full of anger and dragged Stephen out of the city in order to stone him.
As Stephen came under a hail of stones he said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And again as he knelt he prayed "Lord lay not this sin to their charge." As Saul stood in full agreement and with much encouragement of this act, he heard for the first time the title ‘Lord’ joined to the name ‘Jesus.’
Through these events Saul came overnight into view in the city as a leader, a zealot and a persecutor. This was the beginning of a great and terrible persecution of the church in that city. Saul was given permission to take the lead in a bloody onslaught in Jerusalem. He entered into homes of believers and dragged men and women away to prison. Then when they were put to death by stoning he stood voicing his full approval. He was driven like a mad man. The breath he lived by was slaughtering threats against the church. The church was scattered fleeing to Judea and Samaria. Saul next asked permission and was granted authority by the high priest and elders to pursue this sect to the city of Damascus, the capital of Syria. He was unrelenting in his destruction yet somehow the memory of Stephen, his words, the faces of those followers of Jesus of Nazareth bothered him. When he entered homes with terrible threats, when he dragged parents from children, when he had them stoned, he never saw fear, anger or revenge. They seemed to have joy, peace and righteousness in facing death and God. This Spirit-filled church that he was assailing was convicting him to the heart and tearing him apart. Their glory-filled faces filled his mind; their words, messages and prayers filled his head.
Conversion and Baptism
And so Saul left Jerusalem accompanied by other men for Damascus in order to do the same there as in Jerusalem. As he neared the city it was noon. Suddenly a light shone from heaven brighter than the very sun. With the light shinning about them they all fell to the ground, they all heard the voice but only Saul heard the message and saw the messenger. "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" The first thing Christ did was confront his sin. That day for the first time this Saul calls Jesus ‘Lord’. In that moment Saul breaks, bends, repents and believes. What education, religion and morality could not do, one visitation of the risen Christ and one word from his mouth accomplished.
Not only was he converted, but also commissioned. Christ revealed His call to Saul that he would go preach to the Gentiles and then He told him to go on into the city where more would be revealed. So the proud, ravenous Saul was led meekly into the city blind and humble. He was led to the house of one called Judas on a street called Straight where he stayed for three days eating and drinking nothing but spent the time in prayer and in blindness. Then came a visitor who reached out his hand and said "brother Saul, the Lord even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me..." and Ananias said "receive thy sight." Immediately his eyes were opened and he beheld his visitor.
Furthermore, Saul was also filled with the Holy Ghost through this dear brother’s ministry. Ananias also delivered a confirmation of his calling, for Christ had said that this Saul was a chosen vessel to carry the gospel to the Gentiles and that He would show him what great things he would have to suffer. Ananias then baptised him in water in the name of the Lord. After this Saul tarried there for a few days with the local disciples. During which time “straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the son of God.” People there were both amazed by his testimony and by his utter proof from Scripture that Christ was the Son of God. Forever afterwards Saul would see that a changed life through conversion, healing, baptism in the Holy Ghost, baptism in water, the fellowship of the saints and public proclamation of Christ as God’s son, were all foundational aspects to a Christians life.
After these few days he went into Arabia to be alone with God, taught of God and to receive revelations which he would spend the rest of his days expounding to the church. The call of Christ was so urgent and so blinding it caused zeal to burn in his heart as a fire, yet he still came aside to be taught of God for the great task ahead. At the end of this time he returned to Damascus to be with the believers there, but things were no longer safe. When it was known that he was back the Jews took counsel to kill him and lay in wait for him. A garrison of soldiers was also deployed to apprehend him. The local disciples took him and let him down the city wall in a basket and so he made his escape. He then made his third visit to Jerusalem but his first since conversion. Three years had passed since his conversion.
He tried to join the local believers in fellowship but they could not believe that he was a true disciple they were naturally afraid of him, but Barnabas took him and brought him to see the apostles pleading his cause and sharing his testimony. During his stay in the city he only saw Peter and James the Lord’s brother. For 15 days he stayed in the home of Peter and went in and out of the city preaching boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed with the Grecians (or Greek speaking Jews). They could and would not receive Saul’s witness and soon rose up with the intention of killing him. While he prayed in the temple he fell into a trance and saw the Lord in which He warned Saul to flee the city quickly. Saul had no desire to do such but the Lord’s word was final. He was not called to Jerusalem but to the Gentiles.
Tarsus and Antioch
When the other disciples heard of the threat to Saul’s life they took him out of the city and brought him down to Caesarea and sent him to his home town, Tarsus. For the next 4-5 years Saul made Tarsus the base of his outreaches into the regions of Cilicia and Syria to preach the faith he once persecuted. There were most certainly those who were converted in these regions through his witness and who formed gatherings of believers. These were quite silent years. Saul was finding his feet in ministry. As to Saul’s family we know very little. We know he had at least one sister. What is amazing is that he never once in any of his letters or testimonies mentions his father or mother. We can only wonder what sort of conflict may have taken place.
Saul never did marry. Later when writing to the Corinthians about virgins he speaks of himself as “one that hath obtained mercy of the lord to be faithful.” When speaking to those who were married he said “For I would that all men were even as I myself.” And again speaking to singles and widows he said “It is good for them if they abide even as I.” (I Cor.7v7-8, 25).
As the disciples from Jerusalem were scattered they began to see others turn to Christ through their witness. One such place was Antioch. When the Church at Jerusalem heard of this they sent Barnabas to investigate. It was glorious, God was at work but Antioch was a Gentile city. His first thought was of a man with a call to the Gentiles; Saul of Tarsus. After finding him he brought him to Antioch. Finally the door to the Gentiles was beginning to open. For the next year they gathered the people and taught them the Word of God thus forming the first Gentile church. The blessing of God was mighty in their midst and it was here that the disciples of Christ were first given the name Christians.
Now in this church there were five gifted ministries in leadership. Some were prophets and others were teachers. It would seem that Barnabas was gifted as a prophet and Saul as a teacher. As this church ministered together unto the Lord in fasting the Holy Ghost said through one of the prophets “separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them” (Acts 13v2). And so the church again fasted and prayed and then laid hands upon them, identifying themselves with these men and sending them forth with the blessing of God taking young John Mark, Barnabas’ nephew, with them to help.
First Missionary Trip
Led by Barnabas, this was to be Saul’s first missionary journey. First they travelled to Cyprus, Barnabas' home country where they had the joy of preaching through the whole isle. Their normal pattern throughout their first trip was to start in the Synagogues but if rejected by the Jews they then gathered believers separately and formed a new assembly.
When they reached the city of Paphos they were called to come to Sergius Paulus, a leader in the country, that he might hear the Word of God, but with Sergius was a false prophet, who was a Jew, a sorcerer called Elymas. He withstood these preachers and did all in his power to prevent Sergius turning to Christ. But Saul, who was filled with the Holy Ghost set his eyes upon him and rebuked him, calling him a child of the devil and prophesied that he would be blind for a season which immediately happened. This astounded Sergius who immediately believed on Christ.
From the beginning of their mission the gospel came in real power and demonstration. By the time they left Cyprus to sail for Perga, Saul had been renamed and would forever after be called Paul which means small. Also Paul came to the fore as leader of this small, first apostolic band.
They travelled on to Perga where John Mark finding it hard-going turned back and returned to Jerusalem leaving them to carry on. The intrepid missionaries pressed on to Antioch in Pisidia, then to the cities of Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. Throughout these towns they experienced revivals, riots and persecutions. As they faithfully preached Christ Jesus and the Word of God mighty signs and wonders followed and confirmed their message. Paul was once stoned and left for dead but God raised him up and he continued preaching. On the return trip they retraced their steps through Lystra, Iconium, Pisidia Antioch and Perga to strengthen and teach the brethren.
They made it clear in their message that it would not be all blessing in the Christian life. They warned them that it was through much tribulation that they would enter the kingdom of God. Amidst seasons of fasting, they ordained or chose elders in each church by the laying on of hands and prayer. This first journey took about two years after which they returned to Antioch and testified what the Lord had done through them in opening up a great and effectual door to the gentiles.
Danger of Judaism
They spent the next two years in Antioch ministering in the church and surrounding region as before. It was then that some preachers came down from Judea who began to teach the believers in Antioch that unless they were circumcised they were not truly or fully saved. Paul and Barnabas arose to defend this flock of God by challenging this teaching as was there responsibility. If this teaching had penetrated into this first Gentile church it would have been devastating for the work of God, so Paul and Barnabas went up to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles, elders and church in order to deal with this problem. Paul says he went up “by revelation”, in other words he was led to take this form of action by the direct leading of the Holy Spirit. This was the first great church conference.
Paul and Barnabas set forth clearly the gospel they were preaching and testified of the great miracles and wonders that God was working among the Gentiles as the gospel was preached. There was a group of converted Pharisees in Jerusalem and in the council who had wanted the Gentiles to keep the law but Peter stood up and related his experience of a real Pentecostal outpouring in the home of the Gentile Cornelius where they were born again, and filled with the Holy Ghost speaking in tongues just as the disciples did on the day of Pentecost. James also rejected such teachings and clarified that the Judaizers that went to Antioch were not sent from him or the other apostles. So they returned to Antioch accompanied by Judas and Silas, and read aloud a letter from the apostles stating clearly the Gentiles’ freedom in Christ.
It was not long before Peter came to visit the church at Antioch and to fellowship with the believers. He gladly sat with the gentiles and ate with them which was traditionally forbidden by the Jews but when the Judaizers came down to Antioch again, Peter changed his ways by only eating with converted Jews. Even Barnabas was carried away by these winds of doctrine. The churches in the region of Galatia, beginning at Antioch, were in grave danger. Paul had to make a public, strong stand in order to preserve the churches. He rebuked Peter publicly and scripturally before them all and called them back to the gospel of grace in Christ Jesus.
These Judaizers were a mixture of Judaism and true Christianity. Although Paul won this victory these Judaizers would be some of his greatest opponents for the rest of his life. They followed after him seeking to bring his converts and the churches he planted into bondage, law and legalism. This was warfare and Paul was never slow to speak, warn, rebuke, challenge, expose and name names where it involved the health and safety of the gospel and the churches. He called them dogs, false brethren and false apostles. Of course these were not the only enemies of the true gospel that Paul stood against. He resisted every influence of the Gnostics, of various heretical teachings, of immoral lifestyles and of devouring wolves.
Second Missionary Trip
Paul spoke to Barnabas about another journey to the churches they had raised up in order to see how they were fairing. Barnabas was set on taking his nephew John Mark with them again, but Paul would have none of it. This young man had let them down the previous time and Paul would not chance it happening again. This caused a sharp short dispute and separation between these two great and godly men. So Barnabas took John Mark and went on his way and Paul chose Silas, who was gifted as a prophet, to accompany him.
Paul and Silas with the blessing and prayers of the Church at Antioch travelled through the regions of Syria and Cilicia encouraging and further strengthening these churches. They travelled on to Derbe and then Lystra where Paul chose young Timothy to accompany them on their further journeys. This young man was raised in a godly family, converted under Paul’s previous ministry and now with a good reputation amongst all the believers in that area showed every sign of the call of God. This is how God trained and prepared young preachers and leaders in the early church.
They continued on through the regions of Phrygia and Galatia and when they desired to enter Asia to preach the Word they were forbidden by the Holy Ghost. When they were come to Mysia they attempted to go into Bithynia but again the Holy Spirit would not allow them. After reaching Troas Paul had a vision in the night of a man from Macedonia standing and asking him to come over and help them so this small band perceived from this that it was indeed the will of God for them to reach into Macedonia which would be the beginning of the spread of the gospel into Europe.
It was also at this point that Luke, the writer of the Gospel of Luke and Book of Acts joined Paul, Silas and Timothy. They began to pioneer in the regions of Macedonia and Achaia by starting at Philippi, where the fist European church was planted beginning with a women's prayer meeting by a river. Then they pressed on to Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Jerusalem and Caesarea. Again Paul and his band were persecuted, imprisoned, experienced revivals and riots, saw the sick healed, the demonised delivered, churches planted and the work of God extended in the Gentile world.
Paul was just as willing to sit with simple women in Philippi as he was to stand on Mars Hill with the city’s wisest philosophers and to proclaim the simple gospel. In Corinth he met Aquila and Priscilla who were believers and who had recently come from Rome. They were also tentmakers so Paul laboured with them in this work with his own hands in order to bring in an income. Again this was his pattern. He never sought money from those amongst whom he pioneered; he preached the gospel freely and was a burden to none. It was only the Church at Philippi that sent him gifts to help as he laboured in the gospel in these regions. When Paul moved on to Ephesus this godly couple went with him and remained there.
Third Missionary Trip
At the end of his journey of about three years in length he returned again to Antioch where he remained for a time before going forth a third time all over Galatia and Phrygia strengthening the disciples. One early description of Paul was given of him being “...a man small of stature, with a bald head and crooked legs, in a good state of body, with eyebrows meeting and a nose somewhat hooked, full of friendliness; for now he appeared like a man, and now he had the face of an angel!”1 He may have looked a weak vessel outwardly but he was the Lords’ Missionary Trailblazer.
When Paul reached Ephesus he met certain disciples who were obviously connected with the eloquent preacher Apollos. His first question to them was "Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?" or when you believed? Paul was clear that it was possible to receive the Holy Ghost almost immediately after conversion just like what happened in Cornelius' house under Peter’s ministry. He was also clear that it was possible to be saved without having received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, for he himself had been saved three days before receiving the Holy Spirit. And at Samaria many were delivered, saved and healed through the ministry of Philip the evangelist but only later received the Holy Ghost through the ministry of Peter and John.
These twelve disciples (a term only used only of believers in Christ in the Book of Acts) at Ephesus had only received John’s baptism, which was one of true repentance, but after further instruction Paul baptised them in the name of the Lord Jesus, something he would never do to those who were unsaved or not truly converted. After being baptised in water he laid hands upon them and the Holy Ghost came upon them and they began to speak in tongues and to prophesy. The ability to speak in tongues was not taught to them; it was the result of being filled with the Holy Spirit. God was still pouring out His Spirit 20 years after the day of Pentecost.
Paul remained in Ephesus for three months preaching in the synagogue, but when certain men were hardened against his messages he separated out those who had truly believed in Christ. For the next two years they met daily in the school of Tyrannus where Paul taught them diligently, constantly and fervently. There was such an awakening among them that all of Asia heard the gospel through those preachers, believers and disciples raised up of God under Paul’s ministry. He also sent young preachers like Timothy, Erasmus and Titus out to visit and minister at various churches. During this time special miracles (not just normal miracles) were wrought through Paul. One such example was that when believers carried handkerchiefs from Paul to the sick and oppressed they were healed and delivered immediately. There was a great revival in the city with many new believers bringing all their books about magic and so on to burn them openly. This was the result of God’s Word proclaimed in the power of the Spirit.
During his stay he not only had blessings, he also suffered. Demetrius a silversmith raised great opposition against Paul and the gospel. This revival had damaged the business of the silversmiths who made idols for the worship of the goddess Diana. This resulted in a great riot and disorder in the city. Demetrius continued to oppose the gospel and to attempt to damage the work of God. Paul prayed that the Lord would reward him accordingly. During his stay of three years he worked with his own hands to support himself and those labouring with him. During that whole time he preached repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ alone. He preached the full council of God in the open-air as well as from home to home. During his whole ministry he gave them warnings night and day with hot tears rolling down his cheeks. Today’s church would not allow a preacher who continually warns and weeps to minister.
Paul then moved on into the region of Macedonia beginning in Troas and continued to minister amongst the various churches in this region which he had previously raised up. Paul certainly had to repeatedly move on in his travels from church to church but he never once willingly deserted them or left them to the mercy of wolves and false teachings. It was at this time he preached as far as Illyricum the full gospel confirmed with signs and wonders. He always desired to press out into new fresh regions where the gospel had never been preached and to not build upon others foundations.
He then moved to Achaia (Greece) where he remained ministering for three months in Corinth. From here he travelled with a band of seven helpers to Troas and then Miletus.
He called the Ephesian elders together and reminded them of his faithful ministry amongst them; his full gospel delivered to them, and prophetically warned them that grievous wolves would enter in amongst them and that some already among them would preach perverse things to draw disciples after themselves. After informing them that they would see his face no more they fell upon his neck weeping and kissing him with much sorrow. During his recent travels prophecies had been given in each church warning him that "bonds and afflictions" were awaiting him in Jerusalem, but he was willing and ready to even die if ‘needs be’.
He travelled onward to Tyre where they stopped for seven days and fellowshipped with local disciples. Here also the Holy Ghost warned him of what was coming at Jerusalem. Next they came to Caesarea where they stayed in the home of Philip the Evangelist who had four virgin daughters who prophesied. Agabus the Prophet turned up on the scene at this home and warned Paul what was coming at Jerusalem when he would be taken and bound and delivered into the hands of the Gentiles.
In Jerusalem he met with James and the elders of the Church and shared with them all the great things the Lord had done among the Gentiles, thus ending his third missionary journey of about 4 years in length.
Imprisonment and Captivity to Rome
It was while he was in the temple in Jerusalem that some who recognised him stirred up a riot. He was dragged from the temple with the people having every intention of killing him but they were only stopped when soldiers intervened, bound him with two chains and took him to their castle. This was the beginning of Paul pleading his cause before the crowds, an army captain, and the Jewish council, using these opportunities to witness for Christ Jesus his Lord.
In the night the Lord stood beside him, and told him to ‘be of good cheer for just as he witnessed at Jerusalem to his captors so he must also at Rome’. When it was found out that he was a Roman citizen and that a band of 40 Jews had taken an oath not to eat until they had killed him, the chief captain led him out of the city under an escort of 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen and 200 spearmen. Next Paul was brought to Caesarea and delivered to Felix the governor. This is where he spent the next two years of his life, but the Word of God was not bound. During this time he witnessed boldly to two Roman governors, Felix and Festus, and to the Jewish king, Agrippa. At times he made them tremble and other times he almost persuaded them.
Typical of the regular accusations against him was the following, “We have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazerenes:” (Acts 24v5). The Jewish authorities were mad against Paul but made many accusations against him that they could not prove.
Finally when it looked like Paul might be sent to Jerusalem to stand trial, as a Roman citizen he exercised his right to appeal his case before Caesar in Rome which was granted. For years Paul had been deeply burdened to preach the gospel in Rome, and finally he was going to have his opportunity. The boat carrying him set sail for Rome stopping at many ports previously visited by Paul. At one point on the journey Paul tried to warn them that they had entered a dangerous time of year and that it was not safe to sail on, but the captain of the guard ignored Paul’s experienced advice and sailed on at the ship master’s advice.
Suddenly a terrible wind called Euroclydon blew up against them almost driving the ship on to the rocks. For many days they were badly buffeted not seeing sun or stars or eating and the crew lost all hope of survival. But Paul stood up in the midst of hopelessness and called them to be of good cheer for the angel of God had appeared unto him promising that all lives would be preserved and that Paul would stand before Caesar.
After some two weeks in the storm Paul experienced at least his forth shipwreck off the island of Melita (Malta). All 276 persons on board made it safely to land by swimming or holding fast to bits of wood from the ship. On this island he miraculously survived a bite from a very poisonous snake after which they were received by the local chief for three days. When Paul prayed for the seriously ill father of the chief with the laying on of hands he was instantly healed. Many other locals also came and were healed of diseases in the name of Jesus. There was no diminishing of Christ’s power to heal throughout Paul’s apostolic journeys. After three months they were able to sail on another boat and were finally walking on dry ground towards Rome.
When Paul reached Rome under armed guard he was allowed to continue in relative freedom. He was placed under house arrest, where he wore chains and was supervised by one guard. After three days he called for the chief Jews to come and meet with him in two separate gatherings at which he showed from the Old Testament Scriptures that Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah and Saviour. Some believed and others rejected his message. He continued in this manner for the next two years in his own hired house preaching and teaching concerning Christ Jesus and his kingdom to all who gathered in to hear. He also wrote letters to Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians and Philippians which I am sure are tokens of his preaching and teachings during his Roman imprisonment. The last recorded word concerning Paul in the Book of Acts, and in fact the last statement of that book is the singular word, ‘akolutos’ meaning freely or “no man forbidding him”. As we look back over his whole life of trials, oppositions and labours we see him still preaching akolutos; in an unhindered manner.
Church History & Last Days
From here on we draw upon the pastoral letters or Epistles and upon church history to fill in the missing pieces of the last days of Paul the Apostle.
Paul did have an expectation that he would be released from prison as he was in 63 A.D. just a year before Nero commenced his horrific and merciless persecution against the Christians. Paul was then able to fulfil one of his long hoped for desires and prayers - to preach in Spain. He travelled and pioneered in the whole of the Roman Empire both to the East and West, even to “the extremity of the west”2. This at the very least included Spain, many have claimed, including some church fathers that he reached into Gaul and then into Britain with the gospel. This of course would have been the true extremity of the western region of the Roman Empire. If accurate it would make Paul the first pioneer of the gospel and Pentecostal fire to the British Isles.
After his visit to Spain he returned to the regions he so loved. He continued to travel and minister with his young preachers in such places as Crete, Macedonia, Ephesus, Achaia, Nicopolis, Miletus, Corinth, Troas and lastly Rome. It was in Rome that he was once more taken prisoner, this time under rigorous discomfort. He now stood mostly alone deserted by some with whom he had once laboured and having heard the reports that ‘all Asia had turned away from him’ under the influence of false teachers. He wrote his last letters to Titus and Timothy his beloved sons in the faith. He made his last request for his cloak, books and parchments. As he stood charged before Nero in the imperial palace he looked joyfully and expectantly for heaven, immortality, glory and his eternal reward. For the previous five years Nero had martyred multitudes of faithful Blood-washed saints by crucifixion, by wild animals in the amphitheatre, and by setting them on fire on poles in order to light up Roman roads and Nero's gardens.
Found guilty, Paul was excused lingering torture due to his Roman citizenship but was nevertheless condemned to death in the year 68 AD. He was led outside the city on the road to Ostia where he was beheaded for his faith in Jesus Christ and for proclaiming His gospel. Instantly he stood in the presence of his beloved Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ in order to receive his eternal reward, rest and resurrection.