At the conclusion of his first Roman imprisonment, the Apostle Paul was “delivered from the mouth of the lion” (i. e., Nero, 2 Tim. 4:16). He then made his long projected preaching trip to Spain (see Rom. 15:24, 28). Where did he go thereafter?
We can derive the following likely itinerary by piecing together references in 1 Timothy and Titus, epistles written during this period (ca. A. D. 63-64). First, he sailed from Spain, stopping at the island of Crete, leaving the evangelist Titus to work there (Tit. 1:5). Next, he passed near Ephesus on the coast of Asia Minor (modern Turkey), leaving the evangelist Timothy to labor there (1 Tim. 1:3). He then sailed north on the Aegean Sea and traveled through Greece), intending to winter on its west coast (late 63 through early 64) in the historic city of Nicopolis, near the site of Octavian’s victory over Antony and Cleopatra in the famous sea battle of Actium, A. D. 31 (Tit. 3:12).
Then disaster struck Rome — and the Christians. On July 19, A. D. 64, a large portion of the city of Rome burnt.
That Nero was responsible for the fire is not likely, but the people of Rome blamed him for it — and he passed the blame on to the Christians. He inflicted unspeakable torments upon them. So cruelly did he treat them that according to the Roman historian Tacitus the people of Rome came to pity them (Annals XV. 44).
In the wake of the fire, leaders among the Christians were rounded up in various parts of the empire and transported to Rome for imprisonment and execution. Paul was thus brought back to the “the mouth of the lion” (2 Tim 4:17). This second time, he would not be released.
More to come, DB