Adversity Appeared to Expand
But Transitioned Toward an End
The persecution of Paul ended in Rome where he was taken to present his appeal but the accusers did not show. Events during the trip threatened to expand his adversity but instead became opportunities for Paul to start his Rome gospel mission. Through the events we learn about a dispute ending because the accuser backs down and an adversity appearing to expand as it transitions toward an end.
We conclude our current study on Responding to Adversity with a discussion of Paul’s voyage to Rome and the end of his persecution. The persecution started in Jerusalem. Later, he was moved to Caesarea, where he was tried in court; first under Governor Felix and later under Governor Festus. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Submitting to Due Process in Adversity, Paul determined during trial under Festus that he was unlikely to find justice through the trial in Caesarea. Therefore, he appealed to Caesar. The appeal required he be taken to Rome to present his case for judgment by the emperor.
He was taken to Rome. However, his accusers did not follow him and did not arrange for any representation at his appeal hearing. The case appears to have simply fizzled out as the bible provides no information about any hearing of his case in Rome. Instead, after an initial period as a prisoner in Rome, he spent about two years there free to interact with people normally [Acts 28:30–31]: “Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.” Thus, the persecution ended within a short time of his arrival in Rome and became a launch pad for his gospel mission there.
This discussion of the end of Paul’s adversity of persecution focuses on two lessons. First, we note that his accusers “did not show” and their failure to show may have been the primary reason the persecution just fizzled out. We discuss this aspect of his experience along with other examples of an adversity ending because the accuser backed down. Second, we note that his adversity threatened to expand as its end approached during the trip to Rome. We draw examples from previous studies to understand that an apparent expansion of adversity could at times be the beginning of the end of the adversity. We note that Paul’s adversity was indeed a vehicle that conveyed him to Rome to extend his gospel mission.