Paul has been taken out of prison and the elders and priests are assembled to listen to Paul and try to explain the charges against him to the Roman commander.
Paul: I’ve lived in good conscience under the Law to this day.
The high priest orders someone to punch him in the face. Paul curses him as a whitewashed wall and accuses him of breaking the Law. The people are shocked he would speak to the high priest like that and Paul says, “Yeah, I wasn’t aware the high priest goes around ordering people to be hit in the face.”
He has a point.
Paul knows how to work the system. He realizes that half the guys there are Sadducees who don’t believe in the resurrection and half are Pharisees who do, so he shouts, “I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee and I’m on trial for believing in the resurrection.”
So the crowd gets to infighting now with the Pharisees standing by their tribesman and the two sides yell at each other. So the Commander has Paul removed before the two sides go even more bananas. Paul has a dream that night that Jesus tells him he must go to Rome and preach there.
The next day, some Jews take an oath not to eat or drink until they kill Paul, but Paul’s nephew gets wind of the plot and tells Paul, who has him relay the message to the Commander. The Commander orders 200 soldiers, 200 spearmen, and 70 riders to escort Paul over to the governor Felix. The Commander writes the governor a letter:
I found the Jews trying to kill this guy, a Roman citizen, and the best I can make of it is that it’s some stupid religious differences motivating it. But they’re still trying to kill him, so I’m sending the matter up to you.
– Claudius Lysias
Felix receives Paul and has a room in the governor’s residence made available for him until the Jews come up and make their accusations.
So the high priest comes up with a lawyer and some elders and says, “This guy is disturbing our peace and he has different religious beliefs than we do, and he was trying to desecrate the Temple. We were going to take care of it, but your darned Roman soldiers stopped us.”
Paul: Yeah, I went to worship in Jerusalem. I did not cause a disturbance, they did. I wasn’t even talking with anyone. They can’t prove a damn thing. But I do freely admit to being a Christian and I think the Old Testament proves my point of view.”
Felix knew of Christianity, said, “Yeah, I’ll make a decision when I hear from Lysias, the Commander.”
So Paul is under house arrest for two years, and Felix hoped for a bribe to release him, but otherwise kept him imprisoned as curiosity and a favor to the priests. After two years, a new governor takes Felix’s place.
The new governor Festus goes through the same thing with Paul and the priests again. The Priests request a change of venue to Jerusalem, but Paul refuses and appeals his case to Caesar as was his right. Festus says, “Well that settles that. The case goes to Caesar now.”
Festus entertains Herod Agrippa and his wife and mentions Paul’s case to them. Agrippa is curious to hear the case, so Paul is brought before them all the next day.
Festus addresses the gathered crowd saying, “Look, I’m supposed to send him up to Caesar, but I’ve got no idea what charges I should write that he’s accused of, so maybe you guys can help me.”
Paul says, “Hey, I’m glad I can make a case to you, King Agrippa, since you’re familiar with the Law and the Prophets. So I believe God raised Jesus from the dead and that’s why I’m on trial. I used to persecute Christians, but then I had a vision of Jesus and converted and I’ve been faithfully executing his commission ever since. You know the Old Testament, King Agrippa, do you believe in the prophets concerning the Christ who was to suffer and die and be resurrected?”
Festus: You’re crazy, Paul. You finally snapped.
Agrippa: Dude, you almost persuade me that you’re right.
Paul: I wish all the world would be persuaded.
Agrippa: Yeah, he’s innocent. If he hadn’t appealed to Caesar, I’d say let him go.
They start the journey to Italy. After many stops, they finally reach a harbor called Fair Havens. But the town wasn’t fun, didn’t have many bars, and generally wasn’t liked by the Roman soldiers, so they wanted to head to a different port. But winter was coming.
Paul warns them that sailing in these waters at this time of year would probably mean death, but Fair Havens was a really boring town, so the Roman centurion ordered them to try.
But they hit a storm along the way and have to anchor the boat. The storm thrashes the boat around for three days as they’re tossing over stuff to make it lighter. Then Paul stands up and says, “You should have listened to me.”
“Thanks, Captain Obvious.”
“But it’s cool. The Lord tells me he can get me out of this mess, but he’s pretty sure you’re ****ed. Ha… I’m just kidding. You’re all going to live too.”
They start to sail the boat towards what they think is land, so they can run it aground, and some of the sailors think about trying to escape, but Paul tells the Centurion, “We need those guys or we’re going to die.”
So the Centurion has the small boats cut down and thrown into the sea.
After 14 days of fasting, Paul encourages them to eat. They do. When the boat is finally run aground, the soldiers want to kill the prisoners so none of them escape, but the Centurion stops them for Paul’s sake. He orders everyone to jump overboard and swim or grab onto debris and float to shore on the waves.
Everyone arrives safely on Malta and the Maltese welcome them with a fire. Paul gathers firewood and throws it on the fire, but a snake jumps out and bites him on the arm. Paul shakes the thing off into the fire, but everyone knows he’s going to die. They think it’s karmic justice. But Paul is fine, so they start to think he’s a god.
The governor welcomes them and Paul heals his father of an illness, so everyone starts bringing the sick to Paul and he heals them and the Maltese treat them very generously as a result. They stay there three months before they sail.
They eventually put in at Puteoli and travel up to Rome. Along the way, Christians come out to meet and speak with Paul and he’s encouraged by them.
At Rome, the centurion permits Paul to stay in a home of his own under guard and Paul sends out word to the local Jewish leaders.
“Hey, guys, I’m innocent. I don’t intend to bring charges against Israel or the Jews to Caesar, I was just forced into this by the priests in Jerusalem.”
“Look, Paul, we don’t know anything about it, but maybe you could explain this whole Jesus thing to us, because we have heard word of these Christians, but it’s always bad things we hear.”
So Paul explains to them using the Old Testament why he thinks Jesus was the Messiah. Some are converted, some aren’t and they leave having a disagreement over the topic.
Paul continues to live in Rome for two years entertaining anyone who would come to his rented home and telling them of Jesus.
Paul later dies in Rome sometime during the reign of Caesar Nero and traditionally it is claimed that he was beheaded for the faith.