Story Nineteen

 •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 7
THE people who lived on the island of Mĕĺ ĭ-tȧ were very kind to the strangers who had been thrown by the sea upon their shore. It was cold and rainy, and the men from the ship were in garments drenched by the waves. But the people made a fire, and brought them all around it, and gave them good care. Very soon they found that many of the men were prisoners, who were under guard of the soldiers.
Pa̤ul gathered a bundle of sticks and placed them on the fire, when suddenly a poisonous snake came from the pile, driven out by the heat, and seized Pa̤ul's hand with its teeth. When the people saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, "This man must be a murderer. He has saved his life from the sea, but the just gods will not let him live on account of his wickedness.”
But Pa̤ul shook off the snake into the fire, and took no harm. They looked to see his arm swell with poison, and to see him fall down dead suddenly. But when they watched him for a long time and saw no evil come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god, and were ready to worship him.
Near the place where the ship was wrecked were lands and buildings belonging to the ruler of the island, whose name was Pŭb́ lĭ-us. He took Pa̤ul and his friends into his house and treated them very kindly. The father of Pŭb́ lĭ-us was very ill with a fever and a disease called dysentery, from which people often died. But Pa̤ul went into his room, and prayed by his side; then he laid his hands on him, and the sick man became well. As soon as the people of the island heard of this, many others troubled with diseases were brought to Pa̤ul, and all were cured. The people of Mĕĺ ĭ-tȧ after this gave a great honor to Pa̤ul and those who were with him; and when they sailed away they put on the ship as gifts for them all things that they would need.
The centurion found at anchor by the island a ship from Ăl-ĕx̝-ăń drĭ-ȧ on its way to Ĭt́ a-ly̆, which had been waiting there through the winter. The name of this ship was "The Twin Brothers." After three months in the isle, the centurion sent on board this ship his soldiers and prisoners, with Pa̤ul's friends; and they sailed away from Mĕĺ ĭ-tȧ. After stopping at a few places on their voyage, they left the ship at Pū-tḗ o-lī, in the south of Ĭt́ a-ly, and from that place they were led toward Rōme. The church at Rōme, to which Pa̤ul had written a letter in other days, heard that he was coming, and some of the brethren went out to meet him a few miles from the city. When Pa̤ul saw them, and knew that they were glad to meet him, even though he was in chains, he thanked God, and took heart once more. He had long wished to go to Rōme, and now he came into the city at last, but as a prisoner, chained to a Rṓ man soldier.
When they came to Rōme, the good centurion Jú lĭ-ŭs gave his prisoners to the captain of the guard in the city; but from the kind words spoken by Pa̤ul was allowed to go to a house by himself, though with the soldier who guarded him always at his side. After three days in Rōme, Pa̤ul sent for the chief men among the Jews̝ of the city to meet in his house, because he could not go to the synagogue to meet with them. When they came, he said to them:
"Brethren, though I have done no harm to our people, or against our law, yet I was made a prisoner in Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm, ̝of the Rṓ mans. When the Rṓ mans had given me a trial, they found no cause for putting me to death, and wished to set me free. But the Jews̝ spoke against me, and I had to ask for a trial before Cǽ s̝ar, though I have no charge to bring against my own people. I have asked to see you and to speak with you, because for the hope of Ĭś̝ ra-el I am bound with this chain.”
They said to Pa̤ul, "No letters have come to us from Jū-dḗ ȧ, nor have any of the brethren brought to us any evil report of you. But we would like to hear from you about this people who follow Jesus of Năź a-rĕth, for they are a people everywhere spoken against.”
So Pa̤ul named a day, and on the day they came in great number to Pa̤ul's room. He talked with them, explaining the teaching of the Old Testament about Christ, from morning until evening. Some believed the words of Pa̤ul, and others refused to believe. And when they would not agree, Pa̤ul said to them as they were leaving, "Truly indeed did the Holy Spirit say of this people, in the words of Ī-s̝á iah the prophet, 'Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand, and seeing ye shall see, and yet not see. For this people's heart is become hard, and their ears are dull, and their eyes they have shut; for they are not willing to see, nor to hear, nor to understand, nor to turn from their sins to God.' But know this, that the salvation of Christ is sent to the Gentiles; and they will listen to it, even though you do not.”
And after this Pa̤ul lived two years in the house which he had hired. Every day a soldier was brought from the camp, and Pa̤ul was chained to him for all that day. And the next day another soldier came; each day a new soldier was chained to Pa̤ul. And to each one Pa̤ul spoke the gospel, until after a time many of the soldiers in the camp were believers in Christ; and when these soldiers were sent away they often carried the gospel with them to other lands. So Pa̤ul, though a prisoner, was still doing good and working for Christ.
Then, too, some of Pa̤ul's friends were with him in Rōme. The young Tĭḿ o-thy̆, whom Pa̤ul loved to call his son in the gospel, and Lṳke the doctor, of whom he wrote as "the beloved physician," were there, perhaps in the same house. Ăr-ĭs-täŕ chus of Thĕs-sa-lō̇-nī́ cȧ, who had been with him in the ship and in the storm, was still with Pa̤ul. Märk, the young man who years before went with Pa̤ul and Bäŕ na-băs on their first journey from Ăń tĭ-ŏch, visited Pa̤ul in Rōme.
At one time, when Pa̤ul had been a prisoner nearly two years a friend came to see him from Phĭ-lĭṕ pī in Măc-e-dṓ nĭ-ȧ. His name was Ē̇-păph-ro-dī́ tus, and he brought to Pa̤ul a loving message from that church, and also gifts to help Pa̤ul in his need. In return, Pa̤ul wrote to the church at Phĭ-lĭṕ pī a letter, "The Epistle to the Phĭ-lĭṕ pĭ-ans̝," full of tender and gentle words. It was taken to the church by Ē̇-păph-ro-dī́ tus and by Tĭḿ o-thy̆, whom Pa̤ul sent with him, perhaps because in Rōme Ē̇-păph-ro-dī́ tus was very ill, and Pa̤ul may have thought it better not to have him go home alone.
In Rōme a man named Ō̇-nĕś i-mus met Pa̤ul. He was a runaway slave who belonged to a friend of Pa̤ul, named Phī-lḗ mon, living at Cō̇-lŏś sē̇ in Ā-s̝ia Mī́ nor, not far from Ĕph́ e-sŭs. Pa̤ul led O-nĕś ĭ-mŭs to give his heart to Christ, and then, although he would have liked to keep him with himself, he sent him back to Phī-lḗ mon, his master. But he asked Phī-lḗ mon to take him, no longer as a slave, but as a brother in Christ. This he wrote in a letter which he sent by O-nĕś ĭ-mŭs, called "The Epistle to Phī-lḗ mon." Ō̇-nĕś ĭ-mŭs carried at the same time another letter to the church at Cō̇-lŏś sē̇. This letter is "The Epistle to the Cō̇-lŏś sĭ-ans̝." And about the same time Pa̤ul wrote one of the greatest and most wonderful of all his letters, "The Epistle to the Ē̇-phḗ s̝ians̝," which he sent to the church in Ĕph́ e-sŭs. So all the world has been richer ever since Pa̤ul's time by having the four letters which he wrote while he was a prisoner at Rōme.
It is thoughts though it is not certain, that Pa̤ul was set free from prison after two years; that he lived a free man, preaching in many lands for a few years; that he wrote during those years the. First Epistle to Tĭḿ o-thy̆, whom he had sent to care for the church at Ĕph́ e-sŭs, and the Epistle to Tī́ tus, who was over the churches in the island of Crēte; that he was again made a prisoner and taken to Rōme; and from his Rṓ man prison wrote his last letter, the Second Epistle to Tĭḿ o-thy̆, and that soon after this the wicked Emperor Nḗ ro caused him to be put to death. Among his last words in the letter to Tĭḿ o-thy̆ were these:
"I have fought a good fight; I have run my race; I have kept the faith; and now there is waiting for me the crown which the Lord himself shall give me.”