St. Paul, Apostle | Biography | 5



The time was approaching when St. Paul was to leave Corinth –

not sailing thence to Jerusalem as he had planned, but returning by the way he had come, because he found that some of the unbelieving Jews had formed a scheme to destroy him while upon his journey.

For the space of a week the Apostle remained at Troas, and upon the last evening he had assembled the Christians together in an upper room - one of those dining-halls.

The Scripture narrative tells us that they were there to “break bread,” the name usually given in those days to the celebration of the Holy Mysteries.

The Body and Blood of our Lord was received by those early Christians with extreme care and the profoundest reverence,

but in that age the Church had not ordained that the reception of the Eucharist should take place in the morning and fasting. This rule prevailed at the close of the first century out of respect to so great a mystery.

In the time of the Apostles the Communion was given at other parts of the day, and thus we understand the passage referring to this meeting of Christians upon the last evening of St. Paul’s stay in Corinth.

An unusual crowd appears to have been assembled, and the heat was so great that the windows were left open. A young man named Eutychus, sitting in the recess of one of these windows, being overcome with sleep, fell through it to the ground.

St. Paul at once descended, to find Eutychus, as it seemed, lifeless, but stretching himself upon the body, he besought God to manifest His power, and then returned to the upper room, and continued teaching till the day dawned.

Eutychus soon joined the assembly, perfectly restored by the power of the Almighty through His servant.

St. Luke, with Timothy and others who proposed accompanying the great Apostle on his journey, went down to the ship,

but St. Paul had decided to travel on foot to the place at which it would next stop, called Assos, where he entered the vessel and went on to Miletus, situated some 35 miles from Ephesus.

At Miletus he sent a message asking some of the bishops and priests to come down to the ship and pray with him. They talked together upon the shore, and St. Paul told them that he was bound for Jerusalem:

I go to Jerusalem not knowing the things which shall befall me there. Save, that the Holy Ghost in every city witnesses to me, saying that bands and afflictions await me at Jerusalem.

He conjured the bishops to guard the people confided to their care, and warned them against false teachers, who would seek to mislead them, and then he bade them farewell.

We read that there was weeping among them all, for they feared from his words that they should see the face of their teacher and father no more; and as the vessel sailed from Miletus they returned to Ephesus with heavy hearts.

At Tyre the ship had to unload, and St. Paul with his companions availed themselves of this opportunity of going on shore to find out the Christians who dwelt in that part.

7 days they remained amongst the disciples they found there;

and one who had the power of understanding some of the things which were to happen, warned the Apostle of the great danger which threatened him at Jerusalem.

But St. Paul knew that his way was ordered by God Who could shield him from every danger if such was His Divine Will, therefore he would not be persuaded to alter his course.

The Christians of Tyre went with him to the shore and knelt down while he blessed them, and so they parted, and the ship sailed on to Ptolemais.

There the Apostles left the vessel and pursued their way by land, staying at Caesarea in the house of Philip the Evangelist, whose 4 daughters had the gift of prophecy.

During St. Paul’s visit, there came down from Judea a prophet, named Agabus, who took the girdle of the Apostle, and binding his own hands and feet with it, said,

Thus says the Holy Ghost. The man whose girdle this is, the Jews shall bind in this manner in Jerusalem, and shall deliver into the hands of the Gentiles.

St. Luke and Timothy then entreated their companion not to go to Jerusalem, but he would not listen to them.

 “What do you mean, weeping and afflicting my heart?” he said, “For I am ready not only to be bound, but to die also in Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus.” 

When the Apostle uttered these words, the others besought him no longer, but said, “The Will of the Lord be done,”

and thus - the one with heart filled with courage and even with desire to die for Christ, the others with sorrow mingled with their confidence in God - they went on to Jerusalem.

Arriving in that city, St. Paul was received with the greatest joy by all the Christians, and next day the Apostle James, the Bishop of Jerusalem, convened a meeting of all who composed the Church.

To them St. Paul gave a report of his work during his 4 years’ absence.

When he had concluded his address, he was told that great numbers of the Jews in that city believed the Gospel,

yet were very strict in their observance of Mosaic Law, and that they were hostile because they believed St. Paul taught the Jews of other places to neglect the customs of their people.

St. James advised that, to prove this belief unfounded, the Apostle should go to the temple upon the next day, which was the feast of Pentecost, and take part in a certain ceremony for four of the faithful.

These four men had taken a vow:

The Jews frequently did this for some special purpose, either that they might be delivered from some danger, or to show their gratitude for some special blessing.

Vows were made for a certain time, during which the person considered himself specially consecrated to Almighty God, and he had to observe strict rules, such as to abstain from drinking wine, or from shaving his head.

When the time had come to an end, it was the duty of the person who had made the vow to appear in the temple, taking his offerings.

Offerings on such an occasion were costly, and it was a customary thing for some richer and pious Jew to pay this amount for the man whose vow was at an end.

It was for this purpose that St. James proposed St. Paul accompanying to the temple the four men who now accomplished the vow of the Nazarite, so that the Jews might observe his respect for their ancient law.

Scarcely had the Apostle shown himself than some Jews, who had come up from Asia for the festival, saw him, and pointed him out to their fanatical companions as one who despised the law and profaned the temple.

A terrible uproar followed, and seizing the Apostle, they cried,

 “Men of Israel, help:

this is the man that teaches all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place, and moreover has brought in Gentiles into the temple, violating this holy place.

St. Paul was thus dragged from the temple to the outer court, and the gates were closed, while the angry people began beating their prisoner,

and would certainly have killed him had not word been taken to the Roman tribune Lysias, who sent soldiers and centurions down to the scene of contest.

Lysias readily believed that the Apostle had committed some serious offence, nevertheless, however guilty, it was not lawful for the mob to punish him, so the soldiers were ordered to bring him in chains to receive judgment.

When the captain enquired what the charge against the prisoner was, there was such confusion that he could not discover the truth, and therefore bade the soldiers lead St. Paul to the castle, the angry crowd following, with cries of “Away with him! Away with him!

When the Apostle was brought into the castle, he turned to Lysias, and asked if he might speak with him, who replied, “Canst thou speak Greek?”

Upon hearing that St. Paul was a Jew of Tarsus, he acceded to his request that he might address the people:

Men, brethren, and fathers,” began St. Paul, using the Hebrew language, which was spoken in Jerusalem, and in a moment the tumult was hushed and every ear strained to listen.

The Apostle gave them a sketch of his early history,

- telling them how he once hated and persecuted the Christians, and then of his wondrous journey to Damascus - of his blindness, and its cure.

He passed on to his first visit to Jerusalem, spoke of his vision in the temple, when the Lord Jesus appeared to him, and bade him depart and preach to the Gentiles.

The crowd had heard him thus far with silent attention, but now their rage burst forth afresh.

Were they, the sons of Abraham, to be left for the despised Gentiles?

They would not suffer such words to be spoken, and once more they cry, “Away with him.” Away with such a one from the earth, for it is not fit that he should live.

They began casting off their heavy outer garments purposing to stone him, but Lysias ordered his soldiers to bring the prisoner within the castle.

He had not understood St. Paul’s address, being delivered in Hebrew, but he saw how greatly the people were infuriated, and therefore judged that some terrible crime must have been committed.

He accordingly told one of the centurions to scourge the prisoner, so that he might confess what he had done, and St. Paul was bound to a low pillar that he might receive this humiliating punishment.

But he spoke to the centurion and said: “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman and uncondemned?

The centurion knew that such a thing was unlawful, so he went to Lysias to tell him that their prisoner was a Roman.

When Lysias found from St. Paul that he was a free-born citizen of Rome, he gave orders for him to be unbound,

and convened a meeting of the Jewish council for the next day, before which the Apostle should answer the charges made against him.

Early in the morning this council assembled, just as once it had assembled to judge St. Stephen when Saul, the well-known Pharisee, was one of its members:

Now he was a prisoner - Paul, the servant of Jesus Christ, standing before many who knew him as the persecutor of Christians.

Men and brethren,” he said, “I have conversed with all good conscience before God until this present day.

At this the high priest Ananias, in his anger, told those who stood near to strike the prisoner upon the mouth.

Then St. Paul said to him, “God shall strike thee, thou whited wall. For you are sitting to judge me according to the law, and contrary to the law command me to be struck?

The bystanders now accused the Apostle of speaking against the high priest.

Seeing that he was not to be fairly tried, St. Paul appealed to the Pharisees who were present: “Men, brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. Concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

At these words a great dissension arose between his judges:

Party spirit was kindled immediately in the Pharisees, who, forgetting their anger against the Apostle, now declared that they found no evil in him.

The confusion increased, so that Lysias heard of it, and ordered his soldiers to go and bring back the prisoner to the castle.

It was well that he did so, or St. Paul would have been almost torn to pieces by the indignant Sadducees.

Night drew on, and in the still darkness the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to His servant, speaking softly and encouragingly in his ear: “Be constant; for as thou hast testified of me at Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.