Delivered from the Lion’s Mouth

How did Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome conclude?  Did he stand before Caesar (Nero), as he had thought he would? (Acts 25:10-12).  It is not easy to determine what happened at the end of the two years he spent in “his own hired house” chained to a member of the Praetorian Guard (Acts 28:30; ca. A. D. 60-62).  Possibly, his accusers did not follow him from Jerusalem to Rome in order to present their charges against him.  In this case he would finally have been set free, he being a Roman citizen and not formally accused before the imperial court.

Paul arrested in Jerusalem Acts 21:33

Paul arrested in Jerusalem Acts 21:33

Possibly, there was a trial and Paul actually stood before Nero, or his representative, and was given an opportunity to make clear his innocence of all charges.  Perhaps he was given an opportunity, also, to present the gospel of Christ in this setting.  As much as we wish he had done so, Luke, the writer of Acts, did not continue his narrative beyond Paul’s two-year stay in Rome as an imperial prisoner.

However, Paul himself, in his final letter to his young co-worker in the gospel, Timothy, does give us reason to think that he offered a formal legal defense during his first Roman imprisonment.  He writes, somewhere between A. D. 64 and 68,  “At my first answer (Grk. apologia, defense) no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge” (2 Tim. 4:16).

Paul offering his defense  and gospel proclamation

Paul offering his defense
and gospel proclamation

And further, he gives us reason to believe that in concert with the delivery of his defense he was given an opportunity to proclaim the gospel: “…the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles (i. e., Romans) might hear” (2 Tim. 4:17).

Nero, emperor AD 54-68

Nero, emperor AD 54-68

And yet further, he gives us reason to believe that he delivered his defense in close proximity to all the dangers inherent in a meeting with the matricidal monster, Nero: “…and I was delivered out of the mouth of the Lion [Nero].  And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever.  Amen” (2 Tim. 4:17-18).

More to come, DB


  1. Drake

    Hard to imagine preparing for that ‘defense’… Thanks for this.

  2. Thanks for your informative narrative, Don. I enjoy and appreciate it.


  3. John

    Thanks Don. See you soon!

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