by Bobby Bruno 3/27/2014 / Christian Apologetics
In his travels, the apostle Paul was arrested and placed on trial five times during his ministry to the Gentiles. Doctor Luke records these five trials in detail in the Book of Acts 24:1 26:32. What is so important about these trials that Luke spends a great amount of time giving us a detailed accounting of them taking over two hundred verses of scripture to tell us what Paul went through? In his book "The Message of Acts," John Stott tells us that since Luke was there with Paul at all times, he had direct access to all the trials and the information each one brought forth for the Kingdom of God. But this wasn't the only reason Luke wrote as he did about these trials. Luke wanted to show the "major relations between Jewish and Gentiles in the Messianic community" (p. 335). Luke wanted to show his readers the reaction of the Gospel between the two communities: the Jews were hostile to the gospel and the Romans were open to hearing Paul's proclamation of the Gospel. As Stott remarks, "The two themes of Jewish opposition and Roman justice are interwoven in Luke's narrative, with the Christian apostle caught between them, the victim of the one and the beneficiary of the other" (p. 336).
Stott lists three advantages of Paul's imprisonment that helped the apostle continue to proclaim the Gospel even while in chains. First is the advantage that Paul's witness was expanded because more people could come to him where he was. The greatest expansion was that it brought Paul before the highest leaders of Rome, including Caesar and Nero, where Nero may have heard the Gospel from Paul's own mouth. The second advantage of his imprisonment was that Paul's ministry was enriched by the fact that he was stationary and out of the hands of those who would want to do him harm, giving him full reign to write and speak to whomever he wanted to without fear of further persecution, especially from the Jews. The third, and maybe the most important advantage, was the fact that Paul, allowing himself to be imprisoned, was publically showing that he would suffer for Christ in any way that the risen Messiah wanted him to, including taking away his freedom to move around the countryside. These imprisonments made Paul's stature among the believers stronger and respect for him grew. Paul had lived out the life Jesus said that he would, including suffering for Christ without complaint. The Holy Spirit gave Paul the boldness to not only speak the truth in love to certain enemies, but also gave him the strength to endure the trials and confinement that actually gave him more freedom to proclaim the Word of God.
Stott, J. (1990). The message of acts. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.