Paul's Forth And Fifth Missionary Journeys
Paul's first three missionary journeys and his journey to Rome are covered well in Acts. What happened after this? Was he executed? Was he released? I have done some research and this article is the result of my work. All research was done only using the Bible, comparing Acts with Paul's letters.
Acts from Chapter 22 goes into great detail about Paul's journey to Rome, then in the final two verses says:
"For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ."
The sudden lack of detail here suggests to me that Luke left Paul at Rome and then wrote Acts two years later. I think that Paul was acquitted at this point and for these reasons:
1) There are four letters written during Acts, 1 &2 Thessalonians were written at Corinth (1Thess 3:1-6), Galatians possibly at Phrygia (Gal 4:13) and 1 Corinthians at Ephesus (1 Cor 16:5-8). That leaves ten letters unaccounted for.
2) If Paul was executed at the end of Acts then when did he write the letter to the Romans? Chapter 16 is full of greetings which is consistent with it being written after his two years in Rome.
3) There is another clue in 2 Corinthians:
"Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea." (2 Cor 11: 24-25)
Paul was shipwrecked only once in Acts (Chapter 27) so by the time he wrote these words he had experienced two more shipwrecks.
4) Paul says himself that he was freed in 2 Tim 4:16: "
At my first defence, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me
the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion's mouth. "
He could have written the letter ot the Philippians during his time in jail at Rome as Phil 4:22 mentions Emperor' palace. That is the only clue as to when this letter was written.
Colossians and Philemon were written together because the letter to Philemon is about Onesimus being returned and Colossians 4:7-9 says
"Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here."
These letters were written just before Paul was released because Philemon 22 says "At the same time, get a room ready for me."
So Paul was expecting to be released.
Paul's forth journey.
Once released he started his forth journey. Romans 15:26 says that Paul travelled to Macedonian and Achaia. He may have written Romans at Illyricum as 15:19 says "And so travelling all the way from Jerusalem to Illyricum, I have proclaimed the Good News about Christ." He was keen to get to Jerusalem so it seems likely that he went straight there.
Paul's fifth journey.
Romans 15:22-26 says:
"But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to see you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to visit you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.
Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there."
Assuming he was released, there is now no reason why Paul did not follow these plans. From Jerusalem he sailed directly to Rome where he wrote the letter to the Hebrews. He then went on to Spain (there is evidence of Christian communities there in 2nd Century). Where he went after that we will never know. Possibly France, North Africa.
Maybe he visited Crete on his way back as Titus 1:5 says
"The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you." Paul wrote this letter to Titus at Nicopolis.
Titus 3:12 says " As soon as I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, because I have decided to winter there."
He probably wrote his second letter to the Corinthians at this point. He visited Miletus (2 Tim 4:20) and I think that he was arrested at Troas 2 Timothy 4:13 says "When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments."
Why did Paul leave these things behind? Was he very forgetful or did he leave them when he was arrested?
He was taken to Rome. (2 Tim 1:17).
Maybe he wrote Ephesians here because Ephesians 6:21 says "Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will
tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you." And 2 Tim 4:12 says "I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. "
It is generally accepted that 2 Timothy was his Final letter. I don't think that there is any doubt when you read this passage. “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2Tim 4:6-8).
The evidence I have given here is very tenuous, but that is all that I have to go on. In this article I have made many assumptions, but each is backed up with supporting bible verses.