The Final Arrest
Paul's work among the churches after his acquittal at Rome, could not
escape the observation of his enemies. Since the beginning of the
persecution under Nero the Christians had everywhere been a proscribed
sect. After a time the unbelieving Jews conceived the idea of fastening
upon Paul the crime of instigating the burning of Rome. Not one of them
thought for a moment that he was guilty; but they knew that such a charge,
made with the faintest show of plausibility, would seal his doom. Through
their efforts, Paul was again arrested, and hurried away to his final
On his second voyage to Rome, Paul was accompanied by several of his
former companions; others earnestly desired to share his lot, but he
refused to permit them thus to imperil their lives. The prospect before
him was far less favourable than at the time of his former imprisonment.
The persecution under Nero had greatly lessened the number of Christians
in Rome. Thousands had been martyred for their faith, many had left the
city, and those who remained were greatly depressed and intimidated.
Upon his arrival at Rome, Paul was placed in a gloomy dungeon, there to
remain until his course should be finished. Accused of instigating one of
the basest and most terrible of crimes against the city and the nation, he
was the object of universal execration.
The few friends who had shared the burdens of the apostle, now began to
leave him, some by desertion, and others on missions to the various
churches. Phygellus and Hermogenes were the first to go. Then Demas,
dismayed by the thickening clouds of difficulty and danger, forsook the
persecuted apostle. Crescens was sent by Paul to the churches of Galatia,
Titus to Dalmatia, Tychicus to Ephesus. Writing to Timothy of this
experience, Paul said, "Only Luke is with me." 2 Timothy 4:11.
Never had the apostle needed the ministrations of his brethren as now,
enfeebled as he was by age, toil, and infirmities, and confined in the
damp, dark vaults of a Roman prison. The services of Luke, the beloved
disciple and faithful friend, were a great comfort to Paul and enabled him
to communicate with his brethren and the world without.
In this trying time Paul's heart was cheered by frequent visits from
Onesiphorus. This warm-hearted Ephesian did all in his power to lighten
the burden of the apostle's imprisonment. His beloved teacher was in bonds
for the truth's sake, while he himself went free, and he spared himself no
effort to make Paul's lot more bearable.
In the last letter that the apostle ever wrote, he speaks thus of this
faithful disciple: "The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus;
for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; but, when he was
in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. The Lord grant
unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day." 2 Timothy
The desire for love and sympathy is implanted in the heart by God
Himself. Christ, in His hour of agony in Gethsemane, longed for the
sympathy of His disciples. And Paul, though apparently indifferent to
hardship and suffering, yearned for sympathy and companionship. The visit
of Onesiphorus, testifying to his fidelity at a time of loneliness and
desertion, brought gladness and cheer to one who had spent his life in
service for others.