Having been the instrument of accomplishing this work, Paul departed for Jerusalem, wishing to attend a festival there. Accordingly Paul conducted his defence before the king; and when it was concluded Festus and Agrippa, and their companions, consulted together, and came to the conclusion that the accused was guilty of nothing that deserved death or imprisonment. As we see from Paul’s own letters, he was highly respected in the increasingly scattered Christian communities, many of which he started himself. Some of his listeners became believers, and then he left for Corinth. He was at this time probably a member of the great Sanhedrin, and became the active leader in the furious persecution by which the rulers then sought to exterminate Christianity. After a long and perilous voyage, he at length reached the imperial city in the early spring, probably, of A.D. 61. "Paul was not kept in close confinement; he had at least the range of the barracks in which he was detained. The sudden light from heaven; the voice of Jesus speaking with authority to his persecutor; Saul struck to the ground, blinded, overcome; the three-days suspense; the coming of Ananias as a messenger of the Lord and Sauls baptism, --these were the leading features at the great event, and in these we must look for the chief significance of the conversion. Rescued from their violence by the Roman commandant, he was conveyed as a prisoner to Caesarea, where, from various causes, he was detained a prisoner for two years in Herod's praetorium ( Acts 23:35 ). Here, in consequence of the report Titus brought from Corinth, he wrote his second epistle to that church. This first imprisonment came at length to a close, Paul having been acquitted, probably because no witnesses appeared against him. St. Paul remained in custody until Felix left the province. It is at this point that the historian, speaking of St. Pauls company, substitutes "we" for "they." As the work grew under his hands, he felt the need of help, went himself to Tarsus to seek Saul, and succeeded in bringing him to Antioch. His rooms were resorted to by many anxious inquirers, both Jews and Gentiles ( Acts 28:23 Acts 28:30 Acts 28:31 ), and thus his imprisonment "turned rather to the furtherance of the gospel," and his "hired house" became the centre of a gracious influence which spread over the whole city. After a three-months stay in Malta the soldiers and their prisoners left in an Alexandria ship for Italy. As a Pharisee, before his conversion to Christianity, Paul saw Christians (who were predominantly Jewish at the time) as a scourge against Judaism. It possessed a splendid harbour, in which was concentrated the traffic of the sea which was then the highway of the nations; and as Liverpool has behind her the great towns of Lancashire, so had Ephesus behind and around her such cities as those mentioned along with her in the epistles to the churches in the book of Revelation, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Paul declared that "Christ is the end of the law", [Romans 10:4] exalted the Christian church as the body of Christ, and depicted the world outside the Church as under judgment. Paul and Silas consented to do so, and, after paying a visit to "the brethren" in the house of Lydia, they departed. At length the city of Antioch, the capital of Syria, became the scene of great Christian activity. Having undertaken to follow up the believers "unto strange cities." He turned, therefore, again to the Gentiles, and for two years he dwelt in his own hired house. He readily responded to the call thus addressed to him, and came down to Antioch, which for "a whole year" became the scene of his labours, which were crowned with great success. Paul suffered much in spreading the Gospel. He must therefore, have been yet a boy when was removed, in all probability for the sake of his education, to the holy city of his fathers. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’, Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. This was the moment of his conversion, the most solemn in all his life. --St. Paul was henceforth to the end of the period embraced in the Acts, if not to the end of his life, in Roman custody. Once more he set out on his missionary labours, probably visiting western and eastern Europe and Asia Minor.
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