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Bible Gemz 1893 - The Hazy Accounts of Paul's Death

December 25, 2018


For two whole years Paul lived in his own rented place and welcomed everyone who came to him.

He continued to preach about the kingdom of God and to teach boldly and freely about the Lord Jesus, the Messiah. (Acts 28:30-31)



The remaining questions can be divided into two groups:


The story has been leading up to appearing before Caesar. 

So why is that missed out? Did Paul ever appear before Caesar? 

Why doesn't Luke give us a summary of what happened to Paul after that? 


Why does the story just stop where it does?

It seems like it doesn’t have an end. Like it is an anti-climax. What is going on Ian?


Here is the summary from E-Sword of the death of Paul:


When Paul writes again to Timothy he has had a winter in prison, and has suffered greatly from the cold and does not wish to spend another winter in the Mamertine (probably) prison. (We do not know what the charges now are. They may have been connected with the burning of Rome. There were plenty of informers eager to win favor with Nero. Proof was not now necessary. Christianity is no longer a religio licita under the shelter of Judaism. It is now a crime to be a Christian. It is dangerous to be seen with Paul now, and he feels the desertion keenly.  Only Luke, the beloved physician, is with Paul (2 Tim 4:11) and such faithful ones as live in Rome still in hiding (2 Tim 4:21). 


Paul hoped that Timothy may come and bring Mark also (2 Tim 4:11). Apparently Timothy did come and was put into prison Heb 13:23). Paul was not afraid. He knew that he would die. The Lord Jesus stood by him, perhaps in visible presence 2 Tim 4:27)  The tradition is that Paul, as a Roman citizen, was beheaded on the Ostian Road just outside of Rome. 


The date of Paul's death is believed to have occurred after the Great Fire in Rome which occurred in July 64 but before the last year of Nero's reign. Nero died in June, 68 AD, so Paul was executed before that date. Nero blamed the Christians for the great fire in Rome. After Paul appealed to Caesar in Caesarea, he was always going to face Nero, an unstable and brutal leader. Nero’s mother Agrippina had cleared the way for her son to be Emperor of Rome by having Claudius killed. When Caesar became Emperor Rome descended into one of the worst periods of in-fighting and descension it had known. Paul is likely to have arrived in Rome early in AD 64 and to have been granted a lenient imprisonment before the Great Fire of Rome. It is likely that Paul’s death occurred in AD 66 or as late as the spring of AD 67. The death of Paul had to have occurred before Nero’s death at his own hand in AD 68. It is also likely that Luke and Timothy were with him at the end. However the details of Paul’s death are subject to much debate. All sorts of stories abound related to the death of Paul. 


One legend has it that Paul’s death occurred at the Aquae Salviae, on the Via Laurentina. It is claimed that after Paul was decapitated, his severed head rebounded three times, giving rise to a source of water each time that it touched the ground, which is how the place earned the name "St Paul at the Three Fountains"). Another story has developed for where Paul’s body was buried. Paul is reportedly buried outside the walls of Rome, at the second mile on the Via Ostiensis on an estate owned by a Christian woman named Lucina. In the fourth century, Constantine was responsible for the first church to be built in Rome on the site of Paul’s remains. Between the fourth and fifth centuries the church was extended by a series of Emperors, Valentinan I and II, Theodosius I and Arcadius. St Paul’s Basilica was reputedly built on that same site in 1800.  This is all according to Catholic tradition. 


Another story suggests that Paul was released from his two years of house arrest only to be imprisoned again by Nero and executed in AD 66.    


Forgive me if I wish to steer clear of Catholic tradition and search out the facts for myself from other documents of the time. 

I will share my findings in the next Gemz after which I estimate I will write one more Gemz on Acts to cover the remaining question.


Why does the story just stop where it does?

It seems like it doesn’t have an end. Like it is an anti-climax. What is going on Ian?


In the meantime you can figure out for yourself why Paul did not appear before Caesar and why Luke doesn't give us an account of what happened to Paul. 



May you live in such a way that your death is just the beginning of your life. Max Lucado


If you limit your story to the days between birth and death, you brace yourself for a sad ending. You are made for more than this life. Max Lucado


The greatest tragedy is not death, but life without purpose. Rick Warren


The dread of death ends when you know heaven is your true home. Max Lucado


And now in an attempt to lighten all this talk about death at Christmas time here is my final question. 


What happens if you get scared half to death twice? Ian


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