Paul With the Romans and at Rome

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After a long, wearisome, and changeful journey, through chapters 21.-28., of Acts, during a period of two long years, for which time he had not seen any brethren, the apostle at last finds himself approaching Rome (chap. 28:13-15). He had, some time before, written to the saints there, expressing his desires towards them, and his prayer that he might come to them prosperously and with joy, and that they might be refreshed and comforted together. (See Rom. 1:10; 15:3210Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. (Romans 1:10)
32That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. (Romans 15:32)
They met him on his journey: some at Appii Forum, a distance of fifty miles, and some at the Three Taverns, a distance of thirty miles.
This was their answer to his letter, and this was also the Lord's answer to his prayer. For now, on seeing them he was refreshed, just as he had prayed; refreshed, let me say, by their love, a richer refreshment than that which gift or communicated knowledge provides for the soul. When he saw them, we read, " he thanked God, and took courage."
This was, indeed, receiving a lovely answer both to his letter and to his prayer.
When he wrote his letter, we may be sure that he little thought he was to see them as Rome's prisoner. He made request that he might have a prosperous journey to them (Rom. 1:1010Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. (Romans 1:10)), and had told them to pray that he might reach them with joy (Rom. 15:3232That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. (Romans 15:32)). But it is beautiful and blessed to see, that though the hand of the Spirit of God had given his journey to them and arrival among them this character, he does not treat it as anything less than a full answer to his desires. " He thanks God" as owning the answer of his request.
All the ends, I may say, of the mercy he looked for are fulfilled to perfection. He had prayed:
First, that he might come to the saints at home;
Secondly, to be comforted in them;
Thirdly, to have some fruit among them.
These had been his desires (Rom. 1:10-1310Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. 11For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; 12That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. 13Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. (Romans 1:10‑13)), and these are, each and all of them, answered (Acts 28:15-2415And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage. 16And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him. 17And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. 19But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. 20For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain. 21And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came showed or spake any harm of thee. 22But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against. 23And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. 24And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. (Acts 28:15‑24)). He sees them, he takes courage, and, through preaching,' gathers fruit there as well as among other Gentiles.
I would add a little contemplation of Paul at Rome to this of Paul with the Romans.
It is said that sorrow has a tendency to make us selfish; that when we are in trouble ourselves, we think we may be indifferent to others in the demands and pressure of our own necessities.
The way of the Lord Jesus has been noted as the contradiction of all this. Not only through His life of sorrow was He ever ministering to others, but in the agony of the cross remembering the sorrow of others, and saying to John, " Behold thy mother."
So also His dear devoted servant, the apostle of the Gentiles. He testified to the elders at Miletus that bonds and afflictions abided him. He had nothing but personal sorrow in prospect, but he was even the full of concern for others, his own case not moving him. And so, when he reaches Rome. He was there for two years, bound with a chain, and kept by a soldier; but he was thinking of others. He reasoned, with the Jews, received all that came to him and, caring for all the churches, he wrote to Ephesus, Colosse, Philippi, and Philemon; He appears to have then been called before Caesar, and to have been striped. Finally, at the time of his second call before Nero, when he was " ready to be offered up;" in still deeper solicitude for others, he wrote his Second Epistle to Timothy.
Beautiful fruit of divine workmanship! Sorrow may naturally lead us to indifference to others in the care of ourselves, but the Spirit forms character as well as nature, and what is the bearing of that last letter of his, the Second Epistle to Timothy, but an urging on his dear son in the faith to toil, and serve, and watch for others in spite of all disappointments.