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Prison Epistles

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Paul's Roman Imprisonment:

Paul wrote the Books of Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, and Philippians during his imprisonment in Rome. The Lord Jesus brought Paul to Rome to complete the mission strategy that Jesus gave to his disciples just before his ascension into heaven. Acts 1:8 states that Jesus told his disciples they were to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Paul was brought to Rome to complete the mission of bringing Jesus' gospel to the ends of the earth. With the coming of Paul to Rome the gospel was brought from the Jewish capital of Jerusalem in the east to the Gentile capital of the world in Rome in the west. The Lord himself had told Paul, “Take courage! For as you have testified things about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” (Acts 23:11).

In compliance with the Lord Jesus' will to have his gospel brought to Rome, Paul came there, not as an apostle who was free to go about conducting his ministry, but as an apostle in chains whose activities were limited because he was held under house arrest and guard.

His imprisonment began in Caesarea years earlier. At the end of his third missionary journey, during which time he spent more than two years working in Ephesus, Paul revisited the churches he had established in Macedonia, the northern province of Greece, on his second missionary journey (cf. Acts 20:1-3). From there he travelled to Jerusalem by way of Troas and Miletus (cf. Acts 20:6, 13-16). In Jerusalem the Jews mobbed Paul, because they thought he had desecrated the temple by bringing a Gentile into it (cf. Acts 21:27-30). Roman soldiers came to Paul's rescue and took him into their custody (cf. Acts 21:31-33). Paul then became entangled in the Roman judicial system. He was taken to the Roman governor Felix in the provincial capital of Caesarea. Felix kept Paul imprisoned there for two years, hoping that he might receive a bribe from Paul for his freedom (cf. Acts 24:24-27). Festus then succeeded Felix as governor and intended to appease the Jews by having Paul transferred for trial in Jerusalem. Paul then resorted to his right as a Roman citizen and appealed his case to Caesar in Rome (cf. Acts 25:9-11).

Paul was transferred by ship under guard to Rome. Enroute his ship was wrecked in a storm off the island of Malta. Paul finally arrived in Rome around A.D. 59 to 60. There he was held under house arrest and guard for the next two years. His Roman imprisonment, or captivity, has been dated as A.D. 59-61, and even as A.D. 61-63.

This study looks at three of these Epistles: Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians

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