Paul’s Martyrdom in Rome? (conclusion)

Click here for the source of map above

For background, you may want to read my previous blog “Paul’s Martyrdom in Rome?”

Here is a summary of Paul’s travel to Jerusalem after his 3rd Missionary Journey: Paul met church elders from Ephesus at Miletus because he wanted to sail past Ephesus for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem for the Pentecost (Acts 20:16). No, I don’t think he wanted to be there by Pentecost for the festivity per se – rather, the opportunity to preach the Gospel, considering that Jews from everywhere would be in Jerusalem for the Pentecost. From Miletus, Paul took several ships’ ride, from one port to another, arriving in Ptolemais where he met Christian brothers and stayed for a night (Acts 21:7). The next day, Paul travelled by land coming to Caesarea (Acts 21:8). Again he met fellow believers, then few days later Paul went up to Jerusalem (Acts 21:8-15).

It is important to remember Paul’s travel route as we come to conclude his possible location when he was martyed for the faith. So, it’s by several boat or ship rides from Miletus to Ptolemais, next by land to Caesarea and then Jerusalem.

I uploaded a map (see above) to show the distance from Rome to Spain. In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul indicated his plans to go to Spain via Rome. See Romans 15:23-28.

But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you.

Paul indeed arrived in Rome but via a different circumstance. He was a prisoner for the Gospel of Christ, which actually was his 4th Missionary Journey. As we can see from Acts 28:30-31, Paul stayed under house arrest in Rome for two years. Incidentally, the key verses of Luke’s second writing, Acts 1:6-8, came to fulfillment with his closing verses at the end of his narrative (Acts 28:28,30-31).

So when they [the apostles] had come together, they asked Him [Jesus Christ], “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:6-8)

Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. (Acts 28:28,30-31)

Without a doubt, Paul, through his missionary journeys, particularly his fourth under house arrest, indeed he became a witness to the “end of the earth” – Rome, the capital of the known world of Israel in the last days.

Now see Jesus’ words to the apostles in Matthew 24:1-22.

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when His disciples came to point out to Him the buildings of the temple. But He answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” As He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

Now compare Acts 1:6-8 with Matthew 24:14-15,21-22, then ask yourselves, “Do you see similarities in both passages?” Acts 1:8 spoke of the Gospel reaching the end of the earth, same with Matthew 24:14. Also, in Acts 1:6, the apostles asked about the restoration of Israel’s kingdom; then in Matthew 24:29-36,42 (see below), Jesus went on to tell the disciples about the end of the Old Covenant age, the coming of Jesus Christ.

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days [the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple] the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only … Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. (Matthew 24:29-36,42)

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). The Gospel is for eternal (Revelation 14:6), it shall not pass away. “Heaven and earth” is covenant language; see Isaiah 65:17. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.”

Therefore, it’s not literal “heaven and earth passing away but the Old Covenant”. See Isaiah 66:1.

Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool; what is the house that you would build for Me, and what is the place of My rest?

Don’t you find it ridiculous for God to destroy His own throne, and the place of His reign (earth is God’s footstool)? Even during the flood in Noah days, God flooded the earth and destroyed humans and living things but not the earth.

True, no one knows the day and the hour, only the Father, yet Jesus clearly declared the fulfillment of God’s judgment – the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple – would be with the generation of the disciples, the immediate audience of Jesus Christ at His first coming (See Matthew 24:34; Matthew 16:27-28; Matthew 10:23 and others). You may want also to read this article from crosswalk.com entitledLiar, Lunatic or Lord?”

Now going back to Paul’s journey after his released from house arrest in Rome, let us look at the details of 2 Timothy 4:9-13, 19-21.

[9] Do your best to come to me soon. [10] For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. [11] Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. [12] Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. [13] When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. (2 Timothy 4:9-13)

[19] Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. [20] Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus. [21] Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers. (2 Timothy 4:19-21)

Paul asked Timothy to come to him soon (4:9), but he should first pick up the cloak Paul left at Troas, as well as the books and all the parchments (4:13), and he should come before winter.

ESV Study Bible Map, Paul’s 3rd Missionary Journey

Look at the first map at the top, the beginning of this blog. You will see Rome, Greece and Asia Minor. We will focus on the last two. Here on our second map, Corinth is the same with Greece. Look at the areas I encircled with blue. Paul came to Troas after his released from house arrest at Rome (2 Timothy 4:13).

Next, Paul mentioned leaving Trophimus at the care of believers in Asia Minor at Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20), right below Ephesus, see map above. Remember that Paul’s opponents, those who wanted him dead, were in Ephesus, so he told the Ephesian elders they would no longer see each other (Acts 20:25), but it was not out of fear or a desire to preserve his own life but to finish his course of ministry that he received from the Lord Jesus (Acts 20:24).

Timothy, on the other hand, was previously with Paul at Rome. Let us look at the four prison letters of Paul. First, Philippians 1:1-2.

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

So clearly, Paul was with Timothy when he wrote to the Philippians. Next, Colossians 1:1-2.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

Again, Paul was with Timothy on his letter to the Colossians. Next, Philemon 1:1-2.

Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:

The letter to the Colossians and Philemon could have been sent at the same time because Philemon was from Colossae. Archippus, who was greeted along with Philemon, was a co-worker of Paul in Colossae. See Colossians 4:15-17.

Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”

Colossae, Hierapolis and Laodicea were tri-cities in Asia Minor. Only Laodicea was rebuilt quickly after the great earthquake but by their own effort – they were sufficient by themselves refusing help from Rome. The two other cities were left in ruins, slow to rebuild. So we see in Revelation, Jesus addressed only seven churches, excluding Laodicea and Hierapolis.

The area often suffered from earthquakes, especially from the great shock that occurred in the reign of Nero (60 AD) in which the town was completely destroyed. But the inhabitants declined imperial assistance to rebuild the city and restored it from their own means.[10]

Source, click here.

Cities grow as they develop commercial centers that provide jobs for their residents. The ancient city of Colossae was built on a major trade route through the Lycus River Valley in the Roman province of Asia Minor (in the southwest corner of modern-day Turkey). There the Co­lossians manufactured a beautiful dark red wool cloth (colossinum) for which the city became famous. But Colossae’s importance as a business center diminished significantly around 100 BC, when the neighboring city of Laodicea was founded as an active and commercially aggressive competitor. The two towns, along with neighboring Hierapolis, were destroyed by earthquakes in AD 17 (in the reign of Tiberius) and again in 60 (in the reign of Nero). Rebuilt after each earthquake, Colossae never regained its early prominence, and by 400 the city no longer existed.

TheologyOfWork, Background on Colossae and the Colossians

Continuing on our discussion, next is Ephesians 1:1-2.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here in Ephesians, there was no mention of Timothy. Perhaps Paul’s pastoral letter to Timothy could shed some light; see 1 Timothy 1:2-3.

To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.

So Timothy was asked to remain in Ephesus while Paul embarked to Macedonia, but we don’t know for sure if he first went to Spain, just as he told the Romans prior to his arrest in Jerusalem, or he went straight to Macedonia after his released from house arrest in Rome.

So now, we can see the details of Paul’s travel after his Roman imprisonment. He was imprisoned only once in Rome as we can see with my previous blog on the topic. Scholars found no evidence of either Peter or Paul entombed or later transferred and buried in Rome. Paul’s travel, as indicated from his own letters after his released from house arest in Rome, was clearly in the direction heading to Jerusalem. From Rome, Paul went to Macedonia (1 Timothy 1:2-3), then Troas (2 Timothy 4:13), and next Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20). Again, Paul’s travel direction was obviously going towards Jerusalem. See again Paul’s journey back to Jerusalem before his house arrest in Rome. From Miletus, Paul travelled by boat or ship, through several ports, then landing in Tyre or Ptolemais going to Caesarea, then Jerusalem. So where was Paul martyred?

Now, let us again see Scripture and understand the heart and earnest desire of Paul as far as his ministry was concern.

See Acts 21:13.

Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.

Also, Romans 10:1-4.

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they [the Jews] may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Next, let us see what Jesus said about His prophets and apostles:

See, Matthew 23:32-38.

Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house [temple] is left to you desolate.

Next, Luke 13:31-35.

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to Him [Jesus], “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

Question: Was Paul a prophet or only an apostle?

See Acts 13:1,9.

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul … But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him.

So, was Paul among the prophets or teachers only? What then is a Prophet of God?

The Nelson’s New International Bible Dictionary defined “Prophet” as a person who spoke for God and who communicated God’s message courageously to God’s Chosen People – the nation of Israel.

The Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible said, “The ministry of the word (Acts 6:4) was a prophetic ministry, and so we find Paul himself described as a prophet long after he had become an Apostle (Acts 13:1).”

Paul, an apostle and prophet of Christ Jesus, also perished in Jerusalem, and the Jews was made accountable for his innocent blood, so Jerusalem and the temple became desolate in 70 AD. The Old Covenant Israel came to an end, so indeed “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Oh, by the way, Peter was said to be in Babylon. See 1 Peter 5:12-13.

By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son.

But Rome was not Babylon, Jerusalem is. See my blog entitled “Dating the Book of Revelation” to read the explanation. In conclusion, both Peter and Paul were martyred in Old Covenant Jerusalem.

Blessings!

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Published by Eric

I am a pastor. In the course of leading Bible studies, I have noticed inconsistencies in the traditional Christian beliefs and teachings. So now I am on a journey of in-depth study of the Scripture. By the grace of God, having been liberated by the truths of the Word of God, now I am doing the ministry independently, teaching the Word of God.

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