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NEW TESTAMENT TIMES

and the Pharisees. That night Paul had a comforting vision of Christ. V. 11.

A plot of the Jews to waylay Paul and kill him was frustrated by Paul's sister's son, who told the chief captain. The chief captain sent the prisoner with an escort down to Cæsarea where the procurator Felix had his residence. Acts 23:12-35. Hearings before Felix brought no decisive result, ch. 24, and Paul was left in prison at Cæsarea for two years until Festus arrived as successor of Felix. Then, in order to prevent being taken to Jerusalem for trial, Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen by appealing to the court of the emperor. Ch. 25:1-12, Accordingly, after a hearing before Herod Agrippa II, who had been made king of a realm northeast of Palestine by the Romans, v. 13; ch. 26:32, Paul was sent as a prisoner to Rome, chs. 27:1 to 28:16.

On the journey he was accompanied by Luke, who has given a detailed account of the voyage — an account which is not only perhaps the chief source of information about the seafaring of antiquity, but also affords a wonderful picture of the way Paul acted in a time of peril. The ship was wrecked on the island of Malta, and it was not until the following spring that the prisoner was brought to Rome. There he remained in prison for two years, chained to a soldier guard, but permitted to dwell in his own hired house and to receive visits from his friends. Acts 28:16-31.

During this first Roman imprisonment Paul wrote four of his Epistles — to the Colossians and to Philemon, to the Ephesians, and to the Philippians. Colossians, Philemon, and Ephesians were all written at the same time. Colossians and Ephesians were both sent by the same messenger, Tychicus, and this messenger was accompanied by Onesimus, who bore the Epistle to Philemon.

The Epistle to Philemon

Onesimus was a slave who had run away from Philemon, his master. He had then been converted by Paul, and Paul was now sending him back to his master. The little letter which the apostle wrote on this occasion gives a wonderful picture of the way in which ordinary social relationships like that of master and servant may be made the means of expression for Christian love. Very beautiful also was the relation between Philemon and the apostle through whom he had been converted.