It's a fascinating experience to be in the same area where the Apostle Paul wrote his prison epistles and reflect on how important this is to us today.
[Darris McNeely] We’re in an underground section of the city of Rome right now. We’ve been on a walking tour. We’re in an area that dates back to the time of the first century, and actually the time when the apostle Paul would have come to Rome on his first imprisonment, and as the book of Acts shows us, rented a room, waiting for his appearance before the Roman emperor. He’s made a long journey from Caesarea, he has now arrived in Rome, and he’s come to an area of the city where there are tanners. There are people working with heavy material – leather, sail cloth, dyes. It’s a region or an area that would be familiar to Paul, who was a tentmaker, and himself knowing this type of work and people – and since Paul was largely having to fund his own imprisonment, likely he knew this area, the type of people here, found lodging, and waited.
While here, he wrote some of the prison epistles – the book of Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians. The book of Philemon, as he encountered a runaway slave and wrote a letter back to his owner, telling him how to receive this slave back into his home. You read those letters and you see a buoyant optimism, especially in the book of Philippians. You see how Paul, who was at the heart of the pagan Roman world, tells his churches to deal with this world, and to face it, and to overcome it, and to also be an example of God and Christianity and the new life that they have learned.
What’s amazing is, you read those books, and you recognize what he is writing – we typically think that he wrote them from an imprisonment – and that’s true, it was a house arrest. But the quarters in the area of the city in which we’re standing right now – a tannery, a place where washing was done – it wasn’t a very pleasant area. In fact, it stank. It was very uncomfortable. And understanding the materials that the Roman world used to do their cleaning – urine, and other harsh chemicals at times – the odor, the environment here, was not conducive to a positive, upbeat attitude. But this is where Paul had to do his work, some of his best work, as he was imprisoned and awaiting a trial before the emperor and his appearance there during his first imprisonment.
It’s a fascinating journey we are on, and to be within, literally, just a few hundred feet, likely, of where the apostle Paul would have rented out a space to await his time before the emperor – it’s an amazing experience, and a place to certainly reflect and to think about how important this is to God’s people and certainly to us today as we face our world, and as we face a time ahead of us.
That’s BT Daily. Join us next time.