« Prev Lecture IV Next »


Acts xxviii. 15—Whom when Paul saw, he thanked God and took courage.

The hope expressed by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans that he might, after accomplishing his mission of alms-bearing to Jerusalem, be able shortly to pay a passing visit to the Roman Christians on his way to Spain,192192Rom. xv. 24. was not to be realised in the way that he proposed. The journey to Jerusalem was overshadowed from the first by dark forebodings,193193Acts, xix. 22-24; xxi. 4, 11-14; Rom. xv. 30, 31. and it proved disastrous for a lengthened period to all his plans of active missionary work. It lies outside the scope of these lectures to relate in detail all that hap­pened to St. Paul between his arrival at Jerusalem to keep the Pentecost feast of 57 A.D. and the early spring of 60 A.D.194194These dates can, now that the discovery of an inscription at Delphi makes it practically certain that Gallio was proconsul in Achaia in 52 A.D., be regarded as ascertained results. when at length he entered Rome as a prisoner. It is, however, necessary for a right understanding of the character of St. Paul's captivity in the Imperial Capital to consider with some care what St. Luke has to tell us about his treat­ment by the Roman authorities during his earlier captivity in Caesarea. There are few passages in ancient historical literatures more clearly the work not merely of a contem­porary writer but of an observant eye-witness than is the narrative contained in the last seven chapters of the Acts. These chapters abound in first-hand material for the history of the time, and incidentally are valuable for the side-lights 88that they throw upon many features of the Roman pro­vincial administration and legal procedure, and upon the state of Judaea in the years 57 to 59 A.D.

St. Paul here appears in an historical setting, the truth-fulness of which we can estimate by a comparison with the narrative of the period of Felix and Festus contained in Josephus' writings, and in the less detailed but more pungent references of Tacitus. It was the period when the great revolt was preparing. Probably there was no provincial post that was more difficult and less desirable than that of Procurator of Judaea. The celebrated character-sketch of Felix given by Tacitus,195195Tac. Hist. v. 9: ‘Antonius Felix per omnem saevitiam et libidinem ius regium servili ingenio exercuit'; Ann. xii. 54: ‘Cuncta malefacta sibi impune ratus tanta potentia subnixo.' ‘in the practice of all kinds of lust and cruelty he exercised the power of a king with the temper of a slave,' no less than the fierce accusations brought against this Procurator by Josephus of cruelty, rapacity, and treachery,196196Josephus, Ant. xx. 8; Bell. Jud. ii. 13. are tinted with prejudice and exaggeration. The judgment of Mr. Henderson, the historian of Nero's Principate, is very different.197197Henderson, Life and Principate of the Emperor Nero, pp. 364–5. ‘Alike in Jerusalem and in the country generally Felix found a widespread turmoil and insecurity alikeof person and of property. Bands of robbers were roaming up and down, sweeping in adherents from every class of malcontent debtor and malefactor. The sect of the Zealots, founded years before by one Judas of Galilee, were hardly distinguishable from the Sicarii, those robbers and murderers whose evil deeds load the page of Josephus, and both plagued the unhappy land, as they disturbed the unfortunate Governor's peace. Felix acted vigorously. Robber bands were dispersed yet always reappeared. Daily assassinations in Jerusalem defied the Roman garrison. The mob was always the credulous prey of any fanatic. One Jew from Egypt gathered thousands together on the Mount of Olives promising them that the walls of the city shall fall at his bidding as those of Jericho before Joshua's trumpets, and his adherents' excited belief, stimulated by their lust and 89hope of rapine and of plunder, was only chilled by Felix' appearance at the head of Roman troops. The mob was scattered, but the leader escaped. . . . Wherever Felix appears in the history of these troubled years, we find him struggling with disorder, and crushing, so far as he could with the small force at his disposal, both brigandage in the country and rioting in the city. Difficult cases he duly refers to Nero. Pending decision he will keep the peace firmly. There is no good evidence to warrant the accusa­tions of cruelty and lust so lightly brought against him.' How accurately the Lukan narrative pictures this state of things.'198198‘The witness to Felix' or Festus' endeavours of the other contem­porary writer, St. Luke, is far more trustworthy. His Christianity secured to him a greater neutrality in his attitude alike to Jew and to Roman, and his simple tale of proceedings in which both were concerned is of the highest historical merit, striking with at least one shaft of clear light into the enwrapping mist of prejudice and hatred.'—Henderson, p. 363. The strong Roman garrison in Fort Antonia keeping watch and ward over the faction-torn city at the time of the Feast. The swoop of the tribune Lysias to rescue Paul from the hands of the raging and howling crowd in the Temple Courts. His mistake in thinking that his prisoner was ‘the Egyptian.' The scene on the stairs and within the fort. The growing respect of the officer as he notes that the man whom he had taken to be a leader of banditti can speak Greek, then that he is, though a Jew by race, not merely an inhabitant but a citizen of a famous Greek university city, and lastly, most important of all, that he inherits from his father the privileges of Roman citizenship. His own naive remark ‘with a great sum obtained I this citizenship' only enhancing the superior position of the man who can reply ‘but I was Roman born.'199199Acts xxi. 37-40; xxii. 22-30. Tarsus was an urbs libera. The scene in the Sanhedrin is quite explicable when we read in Josephus, ‘about this time King Agrippa gave the High-Priesthood to Ishmael, the son of Fabi. And now arose discussions between the high priests and the leading men of the multitude of Jerusalem . . . and when they met together, they cast reproachful words and threw 90stones at one another.'200200Josephus, Ant. xx. 8. 8. See also Milman, Hist. of the Jews, ii. 171–2. If Ananias were High Priest de facto, while Ishmael was High Priest de jure, the exclamation of Paul, ‘I wist not that he was High Priest,' was not unjustifiable.201201Acts, xxiii. 5. Again the request of the chief priest to Lysias that Paul should again appear before the Council, and the plot that was made whereby forty assassins were bound together by an oath to waylay and murder him, is quite in accordance with the evidence of Josephus, when he tells us that precisely at this period ‘robbers went up with the greatest security to the festivals and having their weapons concealed [under their garments] and mingling themselves with the multitude, they slew both their own enemies and those whom other men wanted them to kill for money.'202202Acts, xxiii. 12-22. Josephus, Ant. xx. 8. 5; Bell. Jud. ii. 13. 3.

The reticences of St. Luke upon many points on which we should like to have fuller information are quite as remarkable as his accuracy. We would gladly know more about the causes which secured for St. Paul such favoured and even indulgent treatment for four or five years at the hands of the succession of Roman officials with whom he was brought in contact.203203See Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller, pp. 310–313; also pp. 30–37. How was it, one asks, that he was able during the whole of this time to find sufficient means to meet the heavy expenses that must have been thrown upon him? Had Paul been a mere penniless Jewish preacher of a new superstition, an ordinary commonplace enthusiast of no position or resources, it is practically certain that he would not have received so much attention from Procurators like Felix and Festus, or such courtesy as was shown by the tribune Claudius Lysias and the Centurion Julius. At Fort Antonia he was allowed to re­ceive visitors and to bid a centurion conduct his nephew to the presence of his superior officer. Does this visit of his nephew signify that some change had taken place in Paul's relations with his family, that that family was 91one of distinction and wealth, and that money had come to Paul possibly on the death of his father? We do not know. We can only conjecture, but the fact remains that in dealing with him the Roman authorities treated him as if he were a person of some consequence.

The first mark of this was exhibited in the extraordinary precautions taken to ensure Paul's safe convoy to Caesarea. Four hundred and seventy troops—legionaries, horsemen, and light-armed auxiliaries—were sent to make a swift night march to Antipatris, and then the horsemen continued the journey apparently without a halt to Caesarea. The next was when Felix, after declining to condemn Paul, when the High Priest in person with a deputation of the Sanhedrin brought their threefold accusation against the Apostle by the mouth of a trained advocate, not only deferred the trial indefinitely on the pretext that he must wait until Claudius Lysias also could appear and give evidence, but he ordered that Paul, while kept in charge, should be treated with indulgence, and leave was given to any of his friends to minister unto him.204204The confinement of Paul both at Caesarea and Rome was not the severe confinement of a prison, custodia publica,, but the lighter one, custodia militaris, where the prisoner was bound by a chain to an attendant guard. There were however degrees of the custodia militaris and the word here used for indulgence—ἄνεσις—is the same as is used by Josephus (Ant. xviii. 6–10), where he describes how Caligula on his accession did not liberate Agrippa (Herod Agrippa I) from custody (he had been put in chains by Tiberius) yet gave him indulgence or relaxation—τήρησις μετὰ ἀνέσεως. The reason given by St. Luke why Felix thus deferred the trial and treated Paul well was ‘that he had more accurate knowledge concerning the Way,'205205Acts, xxiv. 22: ἀκριβέστερον εἰδὼσ τὰ περὶ τῆς ὁδοῦ. i.e. the Christian religion, implying more accurate knowledge than to be deceived by the prejudiced ex parte statements of the Jewish accusers. The explanation lies in the verse which follows: ‘and after certain days Felix came with Drusilla his wife, who was a Jewess, and heard him [Paul] concerning the faith in Christ.' And during the long interval of two years that he kept him in captivity, ‘hoping,' says St. Luke, ‘that money would be given him 92of Paul, he sent for him the oftener and had communion with him.'206206Acts, xxiv. 26: ἐλπίζων ὅτι χρήματα δοθήσεται ὑπὸ τοῦ Παύλου· διὸ καὶ πυκνότερον αὐτὸν μεταπεμπόμενος ὡμίλει αὐτῷ. Now these statements point to two things: first, that Felix knew about Paul and Christianity from Drusilla, and, secondly, that from what Drusilla told him he was sufficiently interested in the man and his teaching to have repeated private interviews with him, and further that he believed him to be possessed of sufficient means to offer him a bribe to secure his release. No Roman governor, more especially a man of the type of Felix, would have such consideration as all this implies for a commonplace prisoner. At this time of political unrest and ferment in Judaea the Procurator's relations with the Jewish leaders were sufficiently strained without his extending his protection to a man against whom they displayed such fierce animosity. It would not have been difficult for him to condemn Paul as a disturber of the peace, and it was his interest to do so. At the same time he clearly was afraid to release him, lest he should provoke one of those outbursts of Jewish fanaticism which actually took place in Caesarea itself after St. Paul had been confined in the barracks attached to Herod's palace for two years. The stern way in which in this year 59 A.D. the Governor dealt with the Jewish rioters led to a deputation of the principal Jewish inhabitants of Caesarea going to Rome to accuse him for his misdeeds and harshness before Nero himself, and finally to Felix' recall to Rome to answer the charges brought against him.207207Josephus, Ant. xx. 8—9: Πορκίου δὲ Φήστου διαδόχου Φήλικι πεμφθέντος ὑπὸ Νέρωνος, οἱ πρωτεύοντες τῶν κατὰ τὴν Καισάρειαν κατοικούντων Ἰουδαίων εἰς τὴν Ῥώμην ἀναβαίνουσι Φήλικος κατηγοροῦ_τες· καὶ πάντως ἂν ἐδεδώκει τιμωρίαν τῶν εἰς Ἰουδαίους ἀδικημάτων, εἰ μὴ πολλὰ αὐτὸν ὁ Νέρων τῷ ἀδελφῷ Πάλλαντι παρακαλέσαντι συνεχώρησε, μάλιστα δὴ τότε διὰ τιμῆς ἔχων ἐκεῖνοι It is perhaps no wonder that in such a crisis of his life the accused man, who only narrowly escaped condemnation by the powerful influence of friends at court, should have ‘desired,' as St. Luke tells us, ‘to gain favour with the Jews by leaving Paul bound.'208208The reading of Cod. 137 is τὸν δὲ Παῦλον εἴασεν ἐν τηρήσει διὰ Δρυσίλλαν. There is a curious Western reading here, 93which possibly records an ancient authentic tradition that Felix left Paul in confinement ‘because of Drusilla.'209209There occurs in Josephus, Ant. xx. 7. 2, a passage in which he says: ‘When Felix was Governor of Judaea, he saw this Drusilla and fell in love with her, for she did indeed exceed all other women in beauty, and he sent to her a person whose name was Simon, one of his friends, a Jew, born in Cyprus, who pretended to be a magician and endeavoured to persuade her to leave her present husband and marry Felix.' As Drusilla had required her first husband to become a Jewish proselyte and submit to circumcision, so it was thought that her subsequent desertion of him for the Gentile, Felix, could only have been brought about by magic arts. She was, however, at the time of her marriage with Felix still a girl in her teens, and this Magian may have been the instrument employed by the unscrupulous Felix to cajole her into an act which as an Herodian princess must have been repugnant to her. But who was this Simon, a Jew of Cyprus, who pretended to be a magician? Professor Rendel Harris in the Expositor, v. pp. 190–4 (1902), identifies him with Elymas the Sorcerer of Acts xiii. 8. Now Codex Bezae for Ἐλυμας reads Ἐτοιμας, and this reading is confirmed by several other Western authorities who read either ετοιμος or its equivalent ‘paratus.' Ramsay adopts Ετοιμος as the correct name in St. Paul the Traveller (p. 74). And there is the same uncertainty in the text of Josephus. The Ambrosian MS. A has Ατομον for Σίμονα, also the Epitome of Josephus at Vienna. Ετοικος and Ατομος are, it may reasonably be assumed, different forms of this man's name. Was he then one source of Felix' ‘more accurate knowledge' of Paul and The Way? As Drusilla was the sister of Agrippa II, who had an official residence in Jerusalem and in whose hands was the appoint­ment of the High Priest, she may well have counselled her husband, for her brother's sake even more than for his own, not to irritate Jewish fanaticism by any act that might fan it in its present state of fever heat to yet further deeds of violence.

Festus on his arrival was confronted by a difficult and critical situation. But he was a firm and just magistrate and was determined that the prisoner should despite the clamours of the Jews have a fair trial in his presence. The principal charge brought against Paul was the crime of majestas—the inciting of the Jewish communities through the world to treason against Caesar. The other accusations—the being a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes and a profaner of the Temple—on the other hand were, in the scornful words of the Procurator to King Agrippa, only 94‘certain questions of their own superstition.'210210Acts, xxv. 19: ζητήματά τινα περὶ τῆς ἰδίας δεισιδαιμονίας. The profanation of the Temple was also an offence against Roman Law—Judaism being a religio licita. These charges, St. Luke tells us, they failed to prove, and the Apostle no doubt hoped that the Governor would pronounce judgment in his favour. But Festus, aware of the excited state of Jewish feeling, was naturally anxious not at the very outset of his official term to get himself into disfavour with these embittered representatives of the dominant faction at Jerusalem, and he asked Paul whether he would be willing to go up to that city, there to be judged by him. But the Apostle was determined not thus to place himself in the midst of enemies thirsting for his life and utterly unscrupulous about the means employed; he was sick, too, of delay, and he no longer hesitated. ‘To the Jews I have done no wrong, as thou well knowest,' he replied to the Governor (I am somewhat paraphrasing the actual words as recorded), and ‘if I have committed any offence against Caesar, I, as a Roman citizen, should be tried not at Jerusalem but before Caesar's judgment seat. As you do not acquit me of treason, I claim my right of appeal—ad Caesarem appello.'211211It is more than probable that St. Paul was acquainted with the Latin language. The employment of Tertullus before Felix shows that the pleading was in Latin. On this the Procurator, after a conference with his assessors212212Acts, xxv. 12: συλλαλήσας μετὰ τοῦ συμβουλίου. This body was com­posed of consiliarii or assessores, in Greek πάρεδροι. Suet. Tib. 33; Galba, 19; Josephus, Bell. Jud. ii. 16. 1. (consiliarii) on the legal aspects of the case, quashed all further proceedings in Judaea, ‘Thou hast appealed to Caesar, to Caesar shalt thou go.'

I have dwelt at some length on the circumstances which brought about Paul's visit to Rome, in order to make it clear that the charge against him was political, not religious, the offence one of majestas, not of preaching new doctrines subversive of the Jewish law. And it is noteworthy that even in regard to the political charge both Festus and 95King Agrippa were agreed that Paul had done nothing worthy of death or of bonds. He had however appealed to Caesar, and so he obtained, not indeed his liberty, but an escape from an irksome confinement in the midst of his deadly foes, and a prospect of at length making acquaintance with that Church in Rome which he had so many years been longing to visit. Whatever the risks, he would gladly face them, for his deep faith assured him that he was going to Rome as God's appointed instrument to do good work in Christ's Name amidst the thronging population of that great world-centre of Imperial rule. Those words that came to him, as on that first night of his incarceration in Fort Antonia he beheld in mystic vision the Lord Jesus standing at his side—‘Be of good cheer, for as thou hast testified concerning me at Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness even at Rome'213213Acts, xxiii. 11. See Ramsay's article in the Expositor, March 1913: ‘Suggestions on the History and Letters of St. Paul,' pp. 269–76. —had, we may well believe, been his comfort and stay during the whole of those two weary years spent to all appearance so uselessly in the guard-rooms of Herod's palace at Caesarea. Now, at last, the opportunity had come of bearing witness in the presence of Caesar him-self: an opportunity embraced with his whole heart and soul, even though the witness should be that witness which is crowned with the martyr's death.

The Apostle left Caesarea some time during the month of August, 59 A.D., only after many hardships and life-and­death perils to be shipwrecked in November on the coast of Malta. Compelled with his companions in misfortune to winter on the island, it was not until the end of February 60 A.D. that Paul landed at Puteoli, a centre of the corn traffic with Alexandria and the chief commercial sea-port of Italy and Rome.214214Puteoli shared with Ostia the trade between Rome and the provinces, more especially the corn supply. It was originally named Dicaearchia. Three years after St. Paul, the historian Josephus (as he himself tells us) on his way to Rome had experiences extraordinarily similar to those of the apostle. He writes: ‘I reached Rome after an extremely perilous voyage; for our ship, having foundered mid-way in the Adriatic, we, to the number of about six hundred, had recourse to swimming and had already remained the entire night in the water, when, at daybreak, a vessel from Cyrene providentially hove in sight, and received on board myself and others, eighty in all—more fortunate than our companions. Thus rescued from destruction, I landed at Dicaearchia, called by the Italians Puteoli.' This passage is interesting, for here as in Acts xxvii. 27 we find the term ‘Adriatic' applied to the sea between Greece and Cyrenaica. Comp. Strabo, ii. 123: Ἰόνιον πέλαγος, ὁ νῦν Ἀδρίας. Also the number on board St. Paul's ship, 276, is seen not to be excessive as compared with the 600 with whom Josephus voyaged. In this busy and prosperous place 96thronged with seamen and traders of many nations the Apostle found a body of Christians who gave a right brotherly welcome to him and his companions, Luke and Aristarchus, and entertained them seven days. Of the origin of this Christian community the Acts tells us nothing, but its presence here will occasion no surprise to those who have followed the arguments of the previous lectures. It is but one proof more of the early evangelisation of Rome and other towns in Italy.

From Puteoli the company of prisoners with their military guard journeyed along the Appian Way to Rome. But the news of the approach of the Apostle had already reached the Christians of the capital, and two separate deputations came to greet him, one as far as Appii Forum, one of the regular halting places on this route, the other to Tres Tabernae still nearer Rome.215215Appii Forum was 41, Tres Tabernae 23 miles from Rome. ‘Ab Appii Foro hora quarta: dederam aliam paullo ante Tribus Tabernis.'—Cicero, ad Atticum, ii. 10. Probably among these delegates were a number of those whose names are so affectionately men­tioned in the Epistle to the Romans, Ampliatus, Urbanus, Stachys and the rest, and surely Aquila and Prisca, his old and tried friends. St. Luke mentions no names, but his one brief statement of the effect of this meeting upon the way-worn and much burdened Apostle is worth a whole volume. In the midst of a strange and foreign land, a prisoner in bonds, Paul was feeling perhaps, as was natural, somewhat lonely and depressed, but at the sight of his friends his spirit revived. How expressive are the words ‘whom when Paul saw, he thanked God and took courage.'216216Acts, xxviii. 15: οὓς ἰδὼν ὁ Παῦλος εὐχαριστήσας τῷ θεῷ ἔλαβεν θάρσος·


The Apostle after his entrance into Rome was conducted by the centurion Julius to an officer who bore the title of the Stratopedarch.217217It is generally admitted that the words ὁ ἑκατόνταρχος παρέδοκε τοὺς δεσμίους τῷ στρατοπεδάρχῃ, though wanting in A B, formed part of the original text. This centurion, in whose charge St. Paul with his fellow-prisoners had been for the seven months since they left Caesarea, is described in the Acts as being of the Augustan band (σπεῖρα Σεβαστή) or as it probably should be more correctly translated, of the Imperial Service Corps. That great authority, Dr. Mommsen, has been able to give an explanation of the meaning of these unusual terms, which affords one more example of the marked accuracy of St. Luke in his references to Roman or local officials. Professor Ramsay has thus summarised Mommsen's conclusions.218218Berlin. Akad. Sitzungsberichte, 1895, pp. 501 ff; Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller, pp. 315 and 347–8. ‘Augustus had reduced to a regular system the maintenance of communications between the centre of con­trol in Rome and the armies stationed in the great frontier provinces. Legionary centurions, called commonly frumentarii, went to and fro between Rome and the armies and were employed for numerous purposes between the Emperor and his armies and provinces. They acted not only for commissariat purposes (whence the name) but as couriers and for police purposes, and for conducting prisoners. They all belonged to legions stationed in the provinces, and were considered to be on detached duty when they went to Rome; and hence in Rome they were “soldiers from abroad”—peregrini. While in Rome they resided in a camp on the Coelian Hill called Castra Peregrinorum. In this camp there were always a number of them present, changing from day to day, as some came and others went away. This camp was under the command of the Princeps Peregrinorum, and it is clear that the Stratopedarch in Acts is the Greek name for that officer.'

Julius in any case had now fulfilled his duty and handed over his prisoners to his chief. But the exceptionally favoured treatment now accorded to Paul by the Roman 98authorities in the capital itself was even more remarkable than that which had been shown to him in Judaea, and it may be added throughout his voyage. I have already spoken of the behaviour of Felix to him as a proof that the Apostle was regarded as a man of some distinction, and that at this period of his life he was in no lack of means. This impression is deepened as the narrative of the captivity proceeds. Festus and his assessors would not have been likely to have troubled themselves to send to Caesar's judgment seat a poor and obscure man. The courtesy of Julius to him and the privileged position he occupied during the voyage must have been due in the first instance to instructions given by the Governor. It can only have been by express permission that Luke and Aristarchus were allowed to accompany the Apostle in the vessel, a most unusual thing.219219Ramsay quotes Pliny, Ep. iii. 16, as relating that when Paetus was brought a prisoner from Illyricum to Rome his wife Arria, despite her entreaties, was not allowed to accompany him, but he was permitted to take certain slaves to wait on him, and he raises the question whether Luke and Aristarchus may not have voluntarily accompanied Paul in the capacity of slaves. And it was the same upon his arrival at Rome. From the very first the prisoner ‘was suffered to abide by himself with the soldier that guarded him,' and to call together the chief of the Jews to meet him twice in the friend's house220220St. Luke (Acts xxviii. 23) speaks of the place where St. Paul received the Jewish leaders as ἡ ξενία, and appears to distinguish it from τὸ μίσθωμα, the hired lodging in which he spent the next two years (Acts xxviii. 30). ξενία suggests a room in a friend's house. Comp. Philem. 22 and Acts xxi. 16. in which for a short time he remained, and then for the whole of the next two years of his light captivity he lived in his own hired house, receiving freely and without hindrance all who came in to him. Where this friend's house or this hired dwelling was situated we have no hint, but it must have been in the immediate neighbourhood of, perhaps even within, the extensive barracks of the Praetorian Guard outside the Collin Gate, for this would be necessary for the convenience of the change of the guards to whom he was chained. The custodia militaris at its best was most 99irksome, and as we learn from his epistles was felt to be so by the Apostle, but he had at least the opportunity, which was so near to his heart, of being able to have unrestricted intercourse with his Roman friends, and to preach the Gospel to all who wished to hear him. This liberty, which, as we have seen, was conceded at once after his arrival, can only have been due to the contents of the official report—the literae dimissoriae and relatio—sent by Festus concerning the prisoner, which would be handed by Julius to the Stratopedarch and by him in his turn to Burrhus, who was in 60 A.D. still sole Praetorian Prefect.221221The literae dimissoriae or apostoli stated the simple fact of the claim made by the appellant. When the appeal was made to the Emperor, the letter was called relatio. The report thus sent included all the depositions necessary for the elucidation of the case. Buss, Roman Law and the Hist. of the N.T. p. 399. Usually there were two Praetorian Prefects, but since 52 A.D. Sextus Afranius Burrhus had held the sole command. His appointment was due to Agrippina, who wished to have a man she could trust at the head of the Praetorian Guard on the death of Claudius. He was a worthy, straightforward man, who with Seneca exercised a great influence for good upon Nero during the first five years of his reign, the quinquennium Neronis, which the Emperor Trajan is reported to have praised above any other period in the reigns of his predecessors. Burrus was shortly after his to fall into disfavour. He died in 62 A.D. Some said he was poisoned by the Emperor, and his death was followed by Seneca's retirement. After Burrhus' death two Praetorian Prefects were appointed, one of them the notorious Sofonius Tigellinus, a cruel, venal, and vicious man, who pandered to all Nero's lusts and extravagances.

Three days only had passed before St. Paul saw the leading men of the Jewish synagogues gathered round him in the room where he was confined. So eager was he to be at work again in his Master's business that he must have sent out the invitations to the heads of the six or seven independent Jewish congregations in Rome immediately after his arrival. Apostle of the Gentiles as he was, he always adhered to his unbroken rule—to the Jew first. His words at the opening of his Epistle to the Romans acquire added force in the new situation in which he now found himself—‘as much as in me lies I am ready to preach the Gospel to you also in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the Gospel; for it is the power of God unto salvation to 100every one that believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.'222222Romans, i. 15, 16. These words were indeed addressed to the Christians of Rome, but he knew well how small a number out of the great Jewish population in that city had been converted to the Gospel, and even at a distance the thought saddened him, and his heart yearned towards them, the more so because he felt keenly the prejudice which his preaching to the Gentiles had aroused against him in the minds of his countrymen further east. There are few more touching passages in the writings of St. Paul, none which reveal the innermost depth of his soul more fully than portions of the ninth and tenth chapters of the Epistle to the Romans. No estimate of St. Paul is complete which does not take account of these impassioned utterances: ‘I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience bearing witness with me in the Holy Ghost, that I have great sorrow and unceasing pain in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were anathema from Christ for my brethren's sake, my kinsmen according to the flesh. . . . Brethren, my heart's desire and my supplication to God is for them that they may be saved.'223223Rom. ix. 1-3; x. 1. And now, as the chiefs of the Roman synagogues stand around him, he endeavoured to persuade them that it was not for anything that he had done against the Jewish people or contrary to the customs of the fathers that he had been put upon his trial and compelled to appeal to Caesar. On the contrary, he wished to make it clear to them that all the proceedings against him were due to a misunderstanding, because—and in these words lies the whole force of his apology—‘for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.' The reply was a purely non-committal one. The Jews declared that they had received from Judaea no letters concerning Paul, nor had any of the brethren that came to Rome spoken harm of him. They were therefore quite ready to hear what he had to say and appointed a day for a conference. But they added, with a cold hostility which must have chilled any hopes he may have had of the issue of his appeal, ‘as concerning this sect 101it is known to us that it is everywhere spoken against.'224224Acts, xxviii. 17-21. This declaration was no doubt strictly correct, and is of great importance. It shows that already those charges of ‘atheism,' immorality, and of abominable practices at their feasts, which were shortly to be so freely brought against them, were being widely accepted, and that the Jews them-selves were taking pains to dissociate Judaism from any connexion with the new sectaries, whom they disowned. The period during which the Christians were to find shelter beneath the privileges accorded by the Imperial Government to the Jewish people and religion was well-nigh over. The essential note of the Christianity preached by Paul was universalist, that of the Judaism protected by Roman law was national and particularist: between the two there could be no reconciliation. No wonder that when a body of Jewish delegates more numerous apparently than the first gathered in the Apostle's room, they remained unconvinced by his arguments. These chiefs of the Synagogues were not of the stuff of which converts are easily made, and though St. Luke says they reasoned among themselves and had clearly some difference of opinion, yet of their generally unbending attitude the scathing words with which the Apostle closed the interview are a proof that he regarded all his efforts as thrown away and futile.225225The passage quoted Is. vi. 9, 10 is remarkable as having been spoken at least twice by our Lord in regard to the Jewish reception of His message, St. Matt. xiii. 14, St. Mark iv. 12, St. Luke viii. 10 and St. John xii. 40. St. Paul used it of Israel's rejection of the Gospel in his Epistle to the Romans (Rom. xi. 8) as here. It was a repetition of what had happened at Antioch in Pisidia and elsewhere, and there his previous experiences cannot have given him much encouragement that now, as a prisoner accused by the Jews of Jerusalem, he would meet with more success. In any case his breach with official Judaism in Rome seems to have been final. At this point the actual narrative of the Acts ceases. The next two verses, which state that ‘he (Paul) abode two whole years in his own hired dwelling, and received all that went in to him, preaching the Kingdom 102of God the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness, none forbidding him,'226226Acts, xxviii. 30, 31. Comp. St. Luke, xxiv. 50-53, Acts, cc. i. and ii. Ramsay holds that, in the expression τὸν πρῶτον λόγον trans. R.V. ‘the former treatise' with ‘the first' in the margin; St. Luke did not use πρῶτον as an equivalent for πρότερον If this were the case, ‘the first' may be regarded as implying, in addition to a second treatise, also a third. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller, pp. 27–28. See also his Article in Expositor, March 1913, pp. 268–70, 281–4. are a kind of appendix. The brief summary of events which it con­tains forms—as did the last verses of the Gospel with the opening passage of the Acts—a bridge of connexion with another narrative, in which the author intended to take up the story at the point where it is left, i.e. the departure of the Jewish delegates, and continue it in a third treatise in fuller detail.

This abrupt breaking off of the Lukan history at a most interesting point is much to be regretted. We are not however left without information about St. Paul's personal condition, his missionary activity, and his relations with the outside world during the two years he spent in his hired house. Four epistles were written by the Apostle during this period, containing a number of references to his life and to the friends who were with him or helping him. Of these a group of three, the Epistles to the Colossians and Philemon and the circular epistle (commonly called) to the Ephesians, were clearly dictated in rapid succession and were dispatched together, somewhere about the middle of the imprisonment. The fourth epistle, to the Philippians, is later; internal evidence points to a date not long before the final trial and release.

The tone of the group of three is on the whole cheerful and full of confidence. The Apostle is surrounded by a number of his most trusted disciples and fellow-workers. In each of these epistles he refers to his bonds, but in every case not to complain, nay, rather to give added weight to his advice or his pleading. To the Colossians he writes: ‘Pray for us that God may open unto us a door for the Word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also 103in bonds, that I may make it manifest as I ought to speak,' while in a corresponding passage of the circular epistle lie asks for the prayers and supplications of his readers, ‘on my behalf that utterance may be given to me in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak'—passages which testify that his whole thoughts at this time were directed to the opportunity—the door—which his position gave him for preaching the Gospel in the very heart of the world's capital.227227Col. iv. 3; Eph. vi. 19, 20. Notice on the other hand the force of the appeal with which the Epistle to the Colossians closes—‘the salutation of me Paul with mine own hand. Remember my bonds,'228228Col. iv. 18; Philemon 8-13, 19, 22. or in that most delightful passage from the beautiful epistle to Philemon, in which he so tenderly and affectionately pleads with the master at Colossae to receive back the slave Onesimus, who had run away from him and robbed him, but had now been converted by Paul at Rome and so become Philemon's brother in the faith. ‘Wherefore, though I have all boldness in Christ to enjoin thee that which is befitting, yet for love's sake I rather beseech, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus: I beseech thee for my child, Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds, Onesimus, who was aforetime unprofitable to thee, but now is profitable to thee and to me; whom I have sent back to thee in his own person, that is my very heart; whom I would fain have kept with me, that in thy behalf he might minister to me in my bonds of the Gospel.' A few verses further on the declaration ‘if he have wronged thee at all or oweth thee ought, put that to my account: I Paul write it with mine own hand, I will repay it' affords one more testimony to those already given that the Apostle at this time did not lack means. One reason for St. Paul's cheerfulness was, no doubt, that his release was approaching and not far distant, otherwise he would not have concluded his letter 104to Philemon with the words ‘Withal prepare for me a lodging: for I hope that through your prayers I shall be granted unto you.' The other reason was that he had at his side at this time a body of faithful friends,229229Aristarchus, Col. iv. 10, Philem. 23. Luke, Col. iv. 14, Philem. 23. Epaphras, Col. i. 7, iv. 12, Philem. 23. Timothy, Col. i. 1, Philem, 1. Tychicus, Col. iv. 7, 8, Eph. vi. 21, 22. Onesimus, Col. iv. 9, Philem. 10. Mark, Col. iv. 10, Philem. 23. who were a comfort to him. Aristarchus and Luke, who accompanied the Apostle on his voyage probably in the capacity of slave-attendants, still continued their willing service. Aristarchus is mentioned as ‘my fellow-prisoner,' Luke as ‘the beloved physician.' Epaphras, a native of Colossae, one of those who had originally carried the Gospel to that town, had arrived in Rome bringing news of the state of the Church of which he was so prominent a member. He also is styled by the Apostle ‘his fellow-prisoner,' and possibly all these three lived with him in his hired house. Then, too, Tychicus of Ephesus had joined him in company with Paul's specially loved disciple Timothy, whom we now find acting as his amanuensis. In addition to these were Jesus surnamed Justus, one of the few among the circumcision who had been a fellow-worker and a comfort to him, and Demas, of whom we know nothing, except that he some years later deserted him.

One name remains which deserves a longer notice.

‘Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, saluteth you, touching whom ye received injunctions, if he come unto you receive him,' the very phraseology of this salutation sent by St. Paul to the Colossians suggests that more lies behind the words than they actually express. Since Barnabas and Paul parted in anger at Antioch in 50 A.D. because of Mark, and Paul chose Silas to be his fellow missionary, while Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus, no mention is made of the latter in the Acts at all nor in the pre-captivity epistles of Paul. What was he doing during the interval, and how are we to account for this greeting being sent by Paul from Rome in Mark's name in 61 A.D. to the Church at Colossae?


In studying the history of the Apostolic age it should always be remembered that the character of our extant authorities only too often has caused a one-sided and very warped view of the expansion of Christianity (during the period of which we are treating) to be taken. The happy fact that St. Paul found a sympathetic biographer in his disciple and companion St. Luke, and still more the fact that, owing to his exceptional power and weight as a writer, a very considerable collection of his letters have survived the general destruction of early Christian literature, has led to a quite false estimate being formed of the widespread and successful activity of other leading missionaries and preachers of the Gospel. The influence they exerted and the large area covered by their work have been too much overlooked and ignored. The late Professor Bigg was one of the few who have shown a really comprehensive grasp of what actually took place. In his admirable ‘Introduction to the First Epistle of St. Peter' he has pointed out how small a portion of Asia Minor was ever visited by St. Paul. He also suggests not only that many of the Churches in that part of the Empire were planted at an early date but that the reason why St. Paul deliberately refrained from entering Asia, Mysia and Bithynia on his second missionary journey was that those provinces were already being evangelised by others.230230Bigg, Internat. Commentary, Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, pp. 73–4. To say this is no disparagement to St. Paul, he would be the last to wish to take credit for other men's labours, and he himself expressly states in his Epistle to the Colossians that neither the Christians of that city nor those of Laodicea had seen his face in the flesh!231231Col. ii. 1.

Now the emphatic mention by St. Paul in this epistle of Mark as Barnabas' cousin (with the enigmatic parenthesis that follows) appears to me to be one of those seemingly incidental notices, which, when placed in its right setting, is then seen to be the central link in a chain of circumstantial evidence drawn from a variety of sources. Once more I ask, therefore, What had been the history of Mark since in 10650 A.D. he sailed with Barnabas for Cyprus? According to one of the best authenticated traditions of these early times he went to Alexandria and spent some years in organising the Church in that great city and in evangelising the neighbouring districts of Egypt.232232Eus. Hist. Eccl. ii. 16. 24. Also in the Hieronymian version of Eusebius' Chronicle; Schöne, ii. 155; Lipsius, Die Apokryphen Apostelgeschichten und Apostellegenden, ii. 2nd half, p. 322 ff. Another tradition of a less trustworthy character, but reasonably probable, relates that Barnabas himself went in the first instance with Mark to Alexandria.233233Περίοδοι Βαρνάβα, c. 26 (Tischendorf, p. 73). Mark is supposed to be the narrator. ἐλθόντες δὲ ἐπὶ τὸν αἰγιαλὸν [of the village Limnes in Cyprus] εὕρομεν πλοῖον Αἰγύπτιον καὶ ἀνελθόντες εἰς αὐτὸ κατήχθημεν ἐν Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ κὰκεῖ ἔμεινα ἐγὼ διδάσκων τοὺς ἐχομένους ἀδελφούς . . . . . It is quite likely that this choice by Barnabas of Egypt as the scene of Mark's missionary labours may have been dictated by the fact that it lay outside the Pauline sphere of activity. Now Eusebius tells us—and he had exceptional opportunities of obtaining accurate information about the Alexandrian Church—that in the eighth year of Nero's reign Annianus succeeded Mark the Evangelist in the administration of the Church in Alexandria.234234Eus. Hist. Eccl. ii. 24. The date of Mark's leaving Egypt thus corresponds with the date at which we find him in Paul's company at Rome, i.e. 61 A.D. When he is introduced to us it is as one about to journey to Colossae with the Apostle's commendation. But the question again naturally arises, why should he from Alexandria have gone out of his way to Rome in order to visit Colossae, what was his object? Those words of St. Paul—‘Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, about whom ye received injunctions'—gives, I think, the answer. If Mark is thus described to the Colossian Christians as ‘the cousin of Barnabas,' it follows that Barnabas was well known in Colossae, and that the injunctions referred to were Barnabas' injunctions, and, if so, that Barnabas himself had been with Paul and had been one of those who had furnished him with information about the state of the Asian Churches. The course of events, that the passage 107suggests to me, is this. One of the objects of the Epistles to the Colossians and Ephesians was to give comfort to the hearts of these Asian Christians, who were afflicted by hearing of St. Paul's imprisonment at Rome. Barnabas, at Colossae, on receiving the news had resolved to go to his old friend in this crisis of his fate and at the same time revisit the scenes of his previous labours in Rome and in Italy. He travelled by Alexandria to see Mark, and finding that the work of organisation there was satisfactorily advanced, it was agreed between them that Mark should seek a new field for his energies in Asia Minor and that Barnabas should write to prepare the minds of the Colossians for his cousin's coming among them. Meanwhile, as Pauline influence was still strong in the Asian cities—he first took Mark with him to Rome to effect a reconciliation between him and Paul and secure a few words of commendation from the Apostle, as a further credential to the former deserter. It has been pointed out above that the traditional date of Mark's departure from Egypt synchronises with the date at which we find him at Rome with St. Paul making ready shortly to depart for Colossae. The presence of Barnabas at Rome at this time is vouched for by the Gnostic Acts of Peter [Actus Petri Vercellenses], which state that Barnabas accompanied Timothy, when the latter was sent a little later by Paul to Macedonia as the bearer of the Epistle to the Philippians.235235The Actus Petri Vercellenses are portions of the Περίοδοι Πέτρου which formed the basis of the Clementine Recognitions and Homilies, found in the Latin Cod. Vercellensis. See Lipsius, vol. ii. 1st half, pp. 174 ff; also vol. ii. 2nd half, p. 272. Speaking of the departure of Paul into Spain the passage runs ‘praeterea quod non esset Romae Paulus neque Timotheus neque Barnabas, quoniam in Macedoniam missi erant a Paulo.' The same argument holds good here as in the case of the mention of Barnabas in the opening of the ‘Clementine Recognitions'; his name would never have been introduced in documents written expressly to exalt the position of St. Peter, unless he had actually visited Italy and worked there. There are strong grounds for believing that Timothy after carrying out his mission 108to Philippi went on to Ephesus and made that town the centre of his ministerial activity for some years. The Pastoral Epistles represent Timothy and Mark as together a few years later in this same district. In a future lecture I shall bring forward reasons of considerable weight for holding that the Epistle to the Hebrews was written by Barnabas and sent by him to Rome from some place not far from Ephesus, where he had been in touch with Timothy.236236Tim. i. 19, 20; vi. 12-14; 2 Tim. ii. 11; comp. Heb. xiii. 23. There is much that is disputable in all this, but all critics who approach the subject with an open mind must at least admit that a cumulative presumption has been established in favour of the conclusion that Barnabas and Mark were together in Italy and Rome in 61 A.D. and afterwards in Colossae.

At the time when the Epistle to the Philippians was written the circumstances and surroundings of St. Paul had undergone a complete change. He had no longer around him a group of trusted friends and companions. Only Timothy (whom in the opening salutation we find as sharing with Paul the responsibility of joint authorship of the epistle) is left of those mentioned in the earlier epistles, the rest being probably dispersed on various missions. The situation is in fact precisely similar to that described in the Second Epistle to Timothy, and curiously it was at the time of his trial in each case that the Apostle has to complain of being thus left alone.237237Phil. ii. 11; comp. 2 Tim. iv. 9-11. As on the occasion of his second trial he sorrowfully writes ‘only Luke is with me,' so now of his intimate disciples there is only Timothy. Epaphroditus, the bearer of a gift from the Church of Philippi to the Apostle, was indeed still in Rome, having been detained by a sickness that had been well-nigh unto death, but he was about to return as the bearer of the epistle, and such was the unselfishness of St. Paul, moved as he was by the tenderest feelings of gratitude and affection towards these Philippians, who had always from the very first been the most liberal and helpful of all the Churches that he founded, 109that he was ready to spare even Timothy from his side to go with Epaphroditus to testify to the Apostle's deep sense that once again they had borne his needs in kindly remem­brance. He has ‘no one like-minded' with Timothy to fulfil this office, and he promises that ‘as soon as I shall see how it will go with me' he will send this beloved disciple, of whom he touchingly says ‘ye know the proof of him, that as a child serveth a father, so he served with me in the furtherance of the Gospel.'238238Phil. ii. 19-30.

Those words, ‘as soon as I shall see how it will go with me,' tell their own tale. St. Paul was no longer ‘in his own hired house' but in the Pretorian camp, where he was in closer confinement while his case was being brought at last before the Imperial Appeal Court. This alone can be the meaning of the passage, ‘now I would have you know, brethren, that the things that are happening to me have rather turned out unto the progress of the Gospel, so that my bonds became manifest in Christ in the whole Praetorium and to all the rest; and that most of the brethren in the Lord, being confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the Gospel without fear.'239239Phil. i. 12-15. See Lightfoot, Epist. to Philippians, pp. 97–102; Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller, pp. 356–360; Expositor, March 1913, pp. 277–80. The publicity of the trial, in fact, and the opportunity that it gave the Apostle in the course of his defence against the charges brought against him to set forth the true nature of the faith that he preached had caused the message of the Gospel to be known throughout the Imperial Court, the Praetorian Guards, and generally in Rome. The whole tone of the epistle shows that so far all had gone well, that the brethren were filled with confidence that the issue would be favourable, and that Paul himself, although not free from serious anxiety and quite prepared for death should it come, is full of hope that he will speedily be released and be able once more to revisit his beloved Philippians.240240Phil. i. 19-25; also ii. 17 and 24.

This Epistle differs widely in character and contents 110from those to the Colossians and Ephesians. In the latter St. Paul was combating certain subtle forms of heretical belief of a gnostic character which had been creeping in and making headway among the mixed Greek and Oriental populations of a group of Asian Churches, to whom he him-self, though well known by name and repute was, except at Ephesus itself, personally a stranger. To Philippi he writes, as a Roman citizen to Roman citizens, as a friend to dear friends, as an Apostle to a body of personal disciples who had above all others shown him unceasing sympathy and kindness. His Epistle is primarily a letter of thanks called forth by the gift of money that had been sent to him by the hands of Epaphroditus.241241The supposition that Paul at this time was in no lack of financial resources is fully borne out by the language of the passage in which be expresses his gratitude to the Philippians for their kindly thought in providing for his necessities. His words are quite plain on this point: ‘Not that I speak in respect of want,' and again: ‘Not that I seek for the gift, but I seek for the fruit that increaseth to your account. But I have all things and abound: I am filled, having received from Epaphroditus the things that came from you. . . .' The whole passage is worth careful study. Phil. iv. 10-20. Such a letter was bound to be rich in personal references and allusions. I have already referred to those which relate to the hopes and fears aroused by his pending trial. He had however other troubles that worried him. Despite all he had endured and was enduring for the Gospel's sake, it is clear that there was a Judaising faction among the Roman Christians, who even now could not abate their opposition and spite against the Apostle of the Gentiles. ‘Most of the brethren in the Lord,' he writes, ‘being confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear. Some indeed preach Christ of envy and strife; some also of good will; the one do it of love, knowing I am set for the defence of the Gospel; but the other proclaim Christ of faction, not sincerely, thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds. What then? Let but in every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ be proclaimed; and therein I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.' Who they were of 111whom he is here speaking is revealed in the later warning: ‘Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the concision; for we are the circumcision, who worship by the spirit of God and glory in Jesus Christ and have no confidence in the flesh.'242242Phil. i. 14-18; iii. 2, 3.

Among the Philippian Christians there had been discords, the opening of the fourth chapter pointing to the existence of acute dissensions between two women, named Euodia and Syntyche, possibly deaconesses, and probably each of them with a following. ‘I exhort Euodia and I exhort Syntyche,'' writes the Apostle, the word exhort being repeated, as being addressed to each separately, ‘to be of one mind in the Lord.' He then proceeds, ‘Yea, I beseech thee also, true yokefellow, help them [to be reconciled]; seeing that they laboured with me in the Gospel together with Clement also and my other fellow-workers, whose names are in the book of life.' These words have caused much difficulty to commentators, and have been interpreted in many different ways. To myself their meaning does not seem doubtful. The passage is a sudden parenthesis and is addressed by St. Paul to Timothy, the man whose name is coupled with his own at the beginning of the Epistle, and who was sitting at his side as his amanuensis. He was his yoke-fellow, since he was sharing with him the duty and the burden at that very moment of a common task. He commends him to the Philippians in the words ‘I have no man like-minded, who will truly care for your state.' The word here descriptive of the character of that care which Timothy alone could be trusted to give, be it noted, is the same word which is used as the epithet qualifying the ‘yoke-fellow' of chapter iv. 3, a word which in the original Greek signifies ‘genuine.' This identity of epithet is of some evidential significance in support of the identifi­cation of the yoke-fellow with Timothy, and it is strengthened when we find that the Apostle again uses this same epithet in the opening salutation of the First Epistle to Timothy, 112where he addresses that disciple as ‘my true [or genuine] child in the faith.'243243Phil. iv. 3: γνήσιε σύνζυγε; ii. 20: οὐδένα γὰρ ἔχω ἰσόψυχον, ὅστις γνησίως τὰ περὶ ὑμῶν μεριμνήσει; 1 Tim. 1: Τιμοθέῳ γνησίῳ τέκνῳ ἐν πίστει.

The appeal of St. Paul ‘to his true yoke-fellow' to strive to heal the dissensions between the two women Euodia and Syntyche is accompanied by the suggestion that he should secure the help of ‘Clement and the rest of my fellow-workers' in the task of conciliation. Who this Clement was, we do not know. Origen, Eusebius and others regard this passage as a reference to the well-known Clement, who wrote in the name of the Roman Church an Epistle to the Corinthians, but it is extremely doubtful whether they had any sound historical authority for their statement. The name of Clement was not uncommon, and this Clement may have been one of the leading Christians in Philippi. Nevertheless it is not at all impossible that he may have been the Roman Clement. The title ‘fellow-worker'—σύνεργος—is frequently used by St. Paul of those like Timothy, Titus, and others, sent out by him on some mission as his delegates. Clement may have been thus sent to Philippi by Paul. It will be observed that he alone is named, and this implies that he stood apart from the rest as a person of some authority. The final salutation is of some interest. ‘The brethren who are with me salute you'—the brethren here being those of his companions, not inhabitants of Rome, who were still at his side. ‘All the saints'—i.e. the body of Roman Christians—‘salute you, but especially those of Caesar's household.' Why especially? Surely because Paul was now during his trial confined in the barracks close to the palace, and he had therefore special opportunities of intercourse at this time with those members of the Roman Church who belonged to the vast Imperial household—numbering many thousands of freedmen and slaves. This phrase and the earlier one, ‘my bonds have become manifest in Christ in the whole Praetorium,' supplement and partly explain one another. The spread of the Gospel among Caesar's household was no 113new thing. Already in his Epistle to the Romans St. Paul had sent his salutations to those who were of the households of Aristobulus and of Narcissus. These households had almost certainly even in 57 A.D. been incorporated in the household of the Emperor.244244Supra, p. 26.

Over the further progress and issue of the trial a veil falls. It was during the early months of this year 62 A.D. that Burrhus died, and a little later Seneca retired from public life. Burrhus had been sole Praetorian Prefect, but Nero now reverted to the usual custom of appointing two. One of these, Sofonius Tigellinus, has left an infamous name as a man who encouraged the cruel propensities of Nero and pandered to all his vicious excesses. It is probable therefore that the trial of Paul took place while Burrhus was still prefect, and that it may have been furthered by the friendly offices of Seneca.245245   The very remarkable coincidence in thought and phrase between the writings of Seneca and Paul led to a tradition arising of actual intercourse between them, and even of Seneca having secretly become a Christian. Ithas been shown conclusively by Lightfoot (in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Philippians) and others that there are no grounds for such a supposition. It is however possible that he may have heard of St. Paul from Burrhus, from his brother Gallio, or others, and have been interested in a man whose language and moral sentiments were in certain respects so closely akin to his own.
   As Seneca was Consul suffectus during Paul's imprisonment he must have had some acquaintance with the case. That a member of the Annaean gens in the next century was a Christian seems to be proved by an inscription discovered at Ostia in January 1887.

   D. M.

   See Lanciant, Pagan and Christian Rome, p. 17.
That he was acquitted at the beginning of 62 A.D. there can be no reasonable doubt. Clement of Rome, a contemporary, affirms that Paul after-wards travelled to the far West, and the fragment of the Muratorian Canon, about 200 A.D., states that he carried out his intention of visiting Spain. The Pastoral Epistles also refer to extensive journeyings of the Apostle later still 114in Asia Minor. What probably occurred was that when Paul was brought before the Court the charges preferred against him in the literae dimissoriae of Festus would be read and considered, and then an interval of time would be given for the appearance of witnesses. Then, as no witnesses came, and the relatio of Festus was found to be favourable, a dismissal followed.246246Clement, 1 Ep. to Car. c. v.: ἐπὶ τὸ τέρμα τῆς δύσεως. Murat. Canon, lines 37, 38: ‘Sed profectione Pauli ab urbe ad Spaniam pro­ficiscentis.' There was a law of Claudius, which permitted the discharge of a prisoner if the prosecutors did not put in an appearance after a certain time. Dion Cassius, lx. 28.

« Prev Lecture IV Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection