Studies in Paul’s Prison Epistles – Acts 25:6-12 & 28:16, 30-31
Introduction: In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries we think of several memorable letters from prison. Henry David Thoreau wrote from prison. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the famous letter from the Birmingham jail. Also Dietrich Bonhoeffer penned several letters from his prison cell before he was executed by the Nazis.
In the Bible we find a group letters known as Paul’s prison epistles. As the book of Acts concludes Paul is imprisoned for nearly two years. During this time he is continuing to preach and teach. Also, he writes some of the most memorable of his epistles from prison – Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.
J – A – I – L
See also: Ex. 20:16; Acts 23:29; I Peter 2:12, 4:15-16; Gen. 39:20-21; Dan. 6:16; Jer. 38:6.
Justice – 23:29 – As we study Paul’s life and times we must remember he was not living in the West. In the Roman system of the day a defendant was guilty until proven innocent.
Accusation and appeal – v. 23:29 – Paul’s accusers said that he should die for his crimes. The authorities were simply confused by this religious hate talk. Paul knew the law and used it to his advantage. He appealed to a review by Caesar.
Incarceration – v. 28:16 – In prison Paul was under house arrest. He was not held in a state supported prison. Rather his prison was like the debtor’s prisons of days past. The prisoner had to pay for his or her subsistence while in prison. This explains why Paul was so indebted to those who sent him relief offerings.
Liberty – vs. 23:30-31 – Like the modern trustee Paul was granted some liberty while he was imprisoned and awaiting trial. He had some free time, and he chose to use it constructively to preach, to teach, and to write. What writing he did. From his humble prison cell he wrote those letters that we know as prison epistles – Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon
Exemplary story: The next time you have to sit and wait for an appointment or wait for a ride ask yourself how you are using your time. Do you become frustrated or do you while away the hour? Paul was so intent on fulfilling his mission that he would use all his waking hours in service to Christ. Today we may thank God that Paul used his time in prison to pen his prison epistles.