Paul with the Romans and at Rome.

1866 26 After a long, wearisome, and changeful journey, through Acts xxi. — xxviii., during a period of two long years, for which time he had not seen any brethren, the apostle at last finds himself approaching Rome. (Acts xxviii. 13–15.) He had, some time before, written to the saints there, expressing his desires towards them, and his prayer that he might come to thorn prosperously and with joy, and that they might be refreshed and comforted together. (See Rom. i. 10; Rom. xv. 32.)

They met him on his journey, some at Appii Forum, a distance of fifty miles; and some at the Three Taverns, a distance of thirty miles.

This was their answer to his letter, and this was also the Lord's answer to his prayer. For now, on seeing them he was refreshed, just as he had prayed; refreshed, let me say, by their love, a richer refreshment than that which gift or communicated knowledge provides for the soul. When he saw them, we read, "he thanked God, and took courage."

This was, indeed, receiving a lovely answer both to his letter and to his prayer.

When he wrote his letter, we may be sure that he little thought he was to see them as Rome's prisoner. He made request that he might have a prosperous journey to them (Rom. i. 10), and had told them to pray that he might reach them with joy. (Rom. xv. 32.) But it is beautiful and blessed to see, that though the hand of the Spirit of God had given his journey to them and arrival among them this character, he does not treat it as anything less than a full answer to his desires. "He thanks God" as owning the answer of his request.

All the ends, I may say, of the mercy he looked for are fulfilled to perfection. He had prayed,
First, that he might come to the saints at Rome;
Secondly, to be comforted in them;
Thirdly, to have some fruit among them.

These had been his desires (Rom. i. 10–13), and these are, each and all of them, answered. (Acts xxviii. 15–24.) He sees them, he takes courage, and, through preaching, gathers fruit there as well as among other Gentiles.

I would add a little contemplation of Paul at Rome to this of Paul with the Romans.

It is said that sorrow has a tendency to make us selfish; that when we are in trouble ourselves, we think we may be indifferent to others in the demands and pressure of our own necessities.

The way of the Lord Jesus has been noted as the contradiction of this. Not only through His life of sorrow was He ever ministering to others, but in the agony of the cross remembering the sorrow of others, and saying to John, "Behold thy mother."

So also His dear devoted servant, the apostle of the Gentiles. He testified to the elders at Miletus that bonds and afflictions abided him. He had nothing but personal sorrow in prospect, but he was even then full of concern for others, his own case not moving him. And so, when he reaches Rome. He was there for two years, bound with a chain and kept by a soldier; but he was thinking of others. He reasoned with the Jews, received all that came to him, and, caring for all the churches, wrote to Ephesus, Colosse, Philippi, and Philemon. He appears to have been then called before Caesar, and to have been striped, and under such condition, in fervent care for the truth and for the saints, to have written to the Galatians. [?] Finally, at the time of his second call before Nero, when "he was ready to be offered up," in still deeper solicitude for others, he wrote his Second Epistle to Timothy.

Beautiful fruit of divine workmanship! Sorrow may naturally lead us to indifference to others in the care of ourselves, but the Spirit forms character as well as nature, and what is the bearing of that last letter of his, the Second Epistle to Timothy, but an urging on his dear son in the faith to toil, and serve, and watch for others in spite of all disappointments?