Paul, Prisoner

By Charles H. Welch

Paul the Prisoner. A note on an objection.

A serious and reverent examination of the teaching that Acts 28:28 is the Dispensational Boundary, has included in its objections, two terms used in Acts 28:30 and 31, which it is incumbent upon us to examine.

"The direct evidence of Scripture indicates that Paul was neither in prison nor in bonds during the time covered by Acts 28:30,31".

"The first objection is based upon the words 'his own hired house', the second on the words, 'no man forbidding him'."

There is "direct evidence" that Paul was a prisoner when he reached Rome. "I was delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. . . I appeal(ed) unto Cresar . . . for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain" (Acts 28:17-20). While Paul was in this condition, he received a deputation of Jews to his "lodging".

What difference we may well ask is there between a "lodging" and "an hired house"? Is it outside the realm of possibility that Acts 28:23 and 30 are two ways of speaking of the same place?

How is it possible to argue that Paul could be a prisoner and bound with a chain in his "lodging", but that he must, of necessity be conceived of as being free, if he receives visitors in his own "hired house"? The lodging xenia, means a place for the accommodation of strangers, and xenizo is used in Acts 28:7 where we read that Paul was "lodged" for three days courteously. If an "hired house" makes prison impossible then most certainly Paul was never a prisoner in Rome at all! But if a Roman prisoner could have a "lodging" then he could also have an "hired house", the two passages stand or faU together. It wilt be observed in Acts 28:16 that

"Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him",

"which" Lewin comments "indicates a private residence; and accordingly after this, mention is made of the xenia (verse 23), and again of idion misthoma, which express only what had before been less precisely expressed." Further there is no "house" mentioned, but merely a suite of apartments, see Wetstein on Acts 28:30. It wilt be seen that the attempt to "prove" from the words, "in his own hired house" that Paul was no longer a prisoner is invalid; it proves too much, for it would exclude the "lodging" and the dwelling by himself (Acts 28:16,23) as well.

The second ground of objection is the word translated "no man forbidding him", the Greek akolutos. It is amazing that a writer, who in the examination of the Greek terms used, shows much acumen and industry, should have passed over the way in which this term "unhindered" is used.

The following extract from An Alphabetical Analysis Part I, pp. 35-36 wilt show that "unhindered" has no bearing upon whether Paul was or was not a prisoner at the time, but that it indicates that with the dismissal of Israel, the hindrance offered by that people to the preaching to the Gentiles had ceased.

"Acts 28 ends with the Apostle dwelling for two years in his own hired house preaching and teaching, 'no man forbidding him'."
"During Paul's early ministry, the Jew had consistently opposed the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles, and this, said the Apostle, was their climax sin.
"They 'killed the Lord Jesus' but forgiveness was given and a new opportunity to believe and repent was granted. They had earlier 'killed their own prophets' and had more recently 'persecuted' the Apostle and his helpers 'forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved', reaching however a climax 'To FILL UP their sins alway; for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost' (I Thess.2:15,16).
" 'To the bitter end,' reads Moffatt. 'In its severest form,' reads Weymouth. The same word 'forbidding' found in 1 Thessalonians 2:16 is the word used of Paul, 'no man forbidding him'. Israel the opposer had gone. They had filled up their measure of sin to the brim, and the very Gentiles that they had 'forbidden' now entered into blessings hitherto unrevealed." (See THREE SPHERES OF BLESSING.) To which we add: Peter's ministry in the Acts concluded with the words "forbidding" and "withstand" both translations of the Greek word koluo. Paul's ministry concludes with the words, "no man forbidding" (Acts 28:31) where the Greek word is akolutos. Peter maintained this attitude up to the tenth chapter of the Acts, he would have "forbidden" both Cornelius and God, for the word "withstand" in Acts 11: 17 is koluo.

The upshot of this work at Caesarea was that even Peter was called upon to give an account of himself.

"The apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them" (Acts 11: 1-3).

We find no remonstrance from Peter to the effect that seeing that the Church began at Pentecost, the conversion of Cornelius should have been anticipated and be a matter for rejoicing. No; Peter patiently, and humbly, and apologizingly, rehearsed the matter, even to the pathetic conclusion: "What was I, that I could withstand God?"

Why should Peter ever think of withstanding God, if he knew that the Church began at Pentecost? It is abundantly evident that neither Peter, the other Apostles, nor the brethren at Jerusalem had the remotest idea of any such thing.

"When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, THEN HATH GOD ALSO to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life" (Acts 11: 18).

Neither the "hired house" nor the word "unforbidden" can have the slightest bearing, one way or another, as to whether Paul was, or was not, at the time of Acts 28 :28, "the prisoner of the Lord for us (you) Gentiles" .



Key Words #
The dispensation (3:2 and 9 R.V.) Mystery (3:3)
  Seated together
The church which is His body (1:22,23)
The fulness (1:23,4:10) Christ the Head (1:22) Principalities and powers (1:21)

Key Words

Try the things that differ (1:10 margin)
    The Prize
Strive (1:27) Press toward the mark (3:14)
Prize (3:14)
Depart.* (1:23) Offered.* (2:17)
The Truth in practice

Key Words #

Dispensation (1:25) Mystery (1:26)
Complete in Him
The church which is His body (1:24)
Fulness (1:19) Christ the Head (2:19) Principalities and powers (1:16, 2:10)

Key Words

Rightly dividing the Word (2:15)
    The Crown
Strive (2:5) Course finished (4:7)
Crown (4:8)
Depart.* (4:6) Offered.* (4:6).
# None of these expressions occur in Philippians or 2 Timothy.
* Only occurrences in Paul's epistles.

An Alphabetical Analysis

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