From the City of Religion to the City of Sinners: The Gospel Must Come to Rome

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament book of Acts which is the narrative of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the final four chapters of this New Testament book—chapters twenty-five through twenty-eight. STANDING TRIAL IN THE CAPITAL CITY OF RELIGION! STANDING TRIAL IN THE CAPITAL CITY OF SINNERS! THE CHIEF OF SINNERS STANDING AMONG THE CHIEFEST CITY OF SINNERS! THE JOURNEY FROM JERUSALEM TO ROME! THE APOSTLE OF CHRIST STANDING TRIAL BEFORE CAESAR! THE APOSTLE OF CHRIST ON THE ROAD FROM JERUSALEM! THE JOURNEY OF ABRAHAM UNTO JERUSALEM AND THE PROGRESSION UNTO THE CITY OF ROME! When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the New Testament book of Acts drawing to a close—and not only drawing to a close, but drawing to a close in a city that was far removed from where the narrative began. It is actually quite interesting that this narrative which would begin at the mount of Olives with Jesus and His disciples and followers there upon the mount before His ascension unto the right hand of the Father would ultimately conclude with the apostle Paul living, dwelling and abiding within Rome. Perhaps one of the most profound and astounding truths that are found within this narrative of Scripture is that when Jesus emphatically and boldly declared unto His disciples and followers that they would be witnesses unto Him in Jerusalem, in Judaea, IN Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth, He never explained, nor did He ever declare that the gospel concerning the kingdom, nor the gospel concerning Himself would ultimately reach and come unto Rome. Within the first and opening chapter of this New Testament narrative we find a group of one-hundred and twenty individuals going up into an upper room and there tarrying, there abiding and there waiting until the promise of the Father would come from the right hand of God in heaven. How absolutely and incredibly captivating it is to think and consider the fact that the first and opening chapter of this New Testament book would begin in the city of Jerusalem, and yet in the final chapter of this book we find the apostle Paul in the city of Rome.

            The more I think about and the more I consider the awesome and incredible truth that is found within these chapters the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that while the New Testament book of Acts would indeed begin with one-hundred and twenty present in an upper room within the city of Jerusalem would find its culmination in the city of Rome as the apostle Paul would ultimately preach and proclaim the gospel concerning the kingdom, and the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus the Christ in the midst of the city of Rome. In fact, there is not a doubt in my mind that the great tempest which we read about in the twenty-seventh chapter of this narrative was a powerful attempt of the enemy and adversary to destroy the apostle Paul and prevent him from coming unto the city of Jerusalem. What’s more is that within the gospel narratives of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus the Christ we find Jesus Himself—together with His disciples—being caught in the midst of a storm which the disciples believed would threaten their lives. It would be on the other side of that storm and on the other side of the sea we find and encounter a man who was possessed with a legion of unclean spirits and demons whom Jesus would deliver from the powers of darkness, and from the powers of hell itself. I am absolutely convinced that we must needs recognize and understand this, for it was the Lord Jesus the Christ who would Himself appear unto the apostle Paul and not only instruct the apostle to not fear nor be afraid, but also declared unto him that just as He testified concerning Him in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, so also would he stand and testify concerning Him in the city of Rome. It is truly something absolutely remarkable and captivating when you think about and consider the fact that when Jesus the Christ declared unto His disciples that they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth, He never even mentioned Rome.

            As I sit here today I can’t help but think about the fact that although Jesus would not stand trial within the city of Rome, and although Jesus would never stand before Caesar in the city of Rome, He would indeed and He would in fact stand trial before Rome. It would be there in Judaea Jesus would stand trial before Pontius Pilate. What’s more, is that it would be Pontius Pilate who would emphatically and boldly declare on more than one occasion that he had found no fault within Jesus. Despite the fact the Jews, the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of Israel, and the Pharisees found fault within Jesus the Christ—Pontius Pilate would find no fault within Jesus the Christ. Despite all the accusations which the Jews would bring against Jesus the Christ, Pontius Pilate would hear all the arguments and all the accusations against Him, and would determine that He had found no fault with Him. Pause for a moment and think about how absolutely and incredibly powerful it is how Jesus would be accused before Pontius Pilate, and yet Pontius Pilate would find absolutely no fault with Jesus—this despite all the arguments and accusations against Him from the Jews and from the religious system and community which accompanied Jesus unto His trial before Pilate. It is truly something intriguing and astonishing to think about and consider the fact that although Jesus would never depart from the city of Jerusalem and the land of Judaea to stand trial in Rome, He would nonetheless stand trial before a representative of Rome itself within the land of Judaea. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful reality, for it is truly something worth noting and pointing out that Jesus would indeed and would in fact stand trial before Pontius Pilate. It would be there as Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate this emissary and representative of Rome would hear all the arguments and accusations against Jesus, and would—after it was all said and done—declare concerning Jesus that He found no fault with Him. What’s more, is that Pontius Pilate would have indeed released Jesus, however, because of the mounting and unrelenting pressure from the Jews He ultimately condemned Him to death.

            The narrative concerning the life of the apostle Paul—and not only the narrative concerning the life of the apostle Paul, but also the narrative that is found within the book of Acts itself—is a powerful witness and testimony of just how far the gospel would indeed spread, and just how far the gospel would in fact reach. It would indeed be true that Jesus would speak and declare unto His disciples and followers that they would be witnesses unto Him in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Samaria, and ultimately unto the uttermost parts of the earth, however, there is not a doubt in my mind that anyone at that time realized—much less even thought or imagined the gospel would and could in fact reach the city of Rome. There is not a doubt in my mind that when men and women heard the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto them concerning receiving the power of the Holy Spirit and concerning their being witnesses before and unto Him unto the uttermost parts of the earth they imagined the gospel would ultimately reach Rome itself. Pause for a moment and think about the absolutely awesome and incredible reality that the gospel would initially begin in the city of Jerusalem, and the Church would indeed experience its conception and birth in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, and yet not only would it not remain within the city of Jerusalem, but it would also ultimately reach the city of Rome itself. How absolutely powerful it is to think about the fact that the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus the Christ which would begin in the city of Jerusalem would ultimately be brought—not only unto the Samaritans, and not only unto the Gentiles, but ultimately unto Rome itself. I am absolutely and completely convinced that if we are to truly understand and recognize the true power and nature of the gospel of the Lord Jesus the Christ we must needs read and consider the words which are found in the opening chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, that which is found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, as well as that which is found in the eighth and tenth chapters of the book. It is within these chapters where we not only encounter, but also come in direct contact with where the gospel would begin, and how the gospel would ultimately transition beyond Jerusalem, would make its way unto the Samaritans, would continue among the Gentiles, and would ultimately reach Rome itself. Consider if you will the following words which are found within these chapters found within the New Testament book of Acts:

            “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after that He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen: to whom also He shewed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And He said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power. BUT YE SHALL RECEIVE POWER, AFTER THAT THE HOLY GHOST IS COME UPON YOU: AND YE SHALL BE WITNESSES UNTO ME BOTH IN JERUSALEM, AND IN ALL JUDAEA, AND IN SAMARIA, AND UNTO THE UTTERMOST PART OF THE EARTH” (Acts 1:1-8).

            While it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand the words which are found in the opening chapter of the New Testament book of Acts it is also necessary that we journey back to the final chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the beloved physician Luke. It is in fact true that we consider the words which are found in the opening chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, however, I am also convinced that we must needs pay close and careful attention to the words which are found in the final chapter of the gospel narrative written by the physician Luke, as it is the words which are found in that passage that sets the tone and the stage for the words which are found in the opening chapter of the book of Acts. What’s more, is that the words which are found in the final chapter of the New Testament book of Acts also helps us understand the events which we find in the second chapter of the book of Acts when from the right hand of the Father in heaven Jesus would send and release the person of the Holy Spirit. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the final chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke concerning the words Jesus spoke unto His disciples and followers just before He ascended unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. Consider now if you will the following words which are found in the final chapter and in the final verses of the final chapter of  the gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke:

            “And as they thus spake, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And He said unto them, Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them His hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, He said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them. And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped Him, and returned ot Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the Temple, praising and blessing God. Amen” (Luke 24:36-52).

            These words further help strengthen and enhance the picture of the release of the Holy Spirit upon the one-hundred and twenty in the upper room—and not only the release of the Holy Spirit that they might speak in other tongues, but the release of the Holy Spirit that those original one-hundred and twenty might be witnesses for the Lord Jesus the Christ. That witness would indeed begin within the city of Jerusalem, however, it would ultimately lead beyond Jerusalem and would spread within and throughout Samaria. It is in the second chapter of this New Testament book we find and encounter the person of the Holy Spirit being poured out upon the one-hundred and twenty in the upper room, however, it is in the eighth chapter we find the early Church being forced beyond the city of Jerusalem, and ultimately within and throughout Judaea and Samaria. It is within the eighth chapter of this New Testament book we find persecution forcing the Church out of the city of Jerusalem into Judaea and Samaria, and it is within this same chapter we not only find the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ being preached in Samaria with signs, wonders and miracles following, but we also find the Holy Spirit being released among the Samaritans. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this, for the Holy Spirit would initially be released among and released upon the Jews, however, it would eventually and ultimately be released upon the Samaritans as well. Not only this, but as we will later see—the Holy Spirit would be released among and poured out upon the Gentiles as well. With this in mind I invite you to consider the awesome and powerful reality of what is found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, for there is within the supernatural miracle of Pentecost we find the mystery of the witness—namely, the declaration of the gospel in the tongues of the nations. The Holy Spirit was released upon the one-hundred and twenty in the upper room, and those present within the city of Jerusalem which came from the surrounding nations, lands and peoples would hear their own language being spoken by unlearned and untrained Jews. Consider if you will the following words found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts:

            “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine” (Acts 2:1-13).

            What makes the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts so incredibly unique and powerful is when you think about the fact that within its words and verses is the divine mystery of the witnesses which Jesus spoke unto His disciples and followers concerning their being witnesses for and unto Him in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. It is truly something remarkable and astounding when you think and consider the fact that even before the early Church would actually be witnesses in Samaria, and even before the witness of the gospel and the witness of Christ would reach unto and among the Gentiles where they were, it would first reach them in the city of Jerusalem. It would be in the city of Jerusalem you will find and encounter the truly astonishing and captivating truth that the one-hundred and twenty in the upper room would indeed be witnesses unto the nations and unto the peoples of the nations in the midst of the city of Jerusalem as they would declare unto them the wondrous works of God in their own language and tongue. Oh how absolutely incredible it is to think and consider this truly awesome reality, for on the day of Pentecost we encounter the absolutely awesome truth that the witness would initially begin in the city of Jerusalem with speaking in other tongues, as the wondrous works of God would first be spoken unto the Gentiles in their own language. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this, for before the gospel would indeed and would in fact come unto where they were and into those lands it would first be spoken directly unto them in their own language there in the city of Jerusalem. What a truly spectacular truth it is when you take the time to think about this, for it brings us face to face with the truth concerning the power of the witnesses of Christ being manifested in the midst of the city of Jerusalem with, through and by the evidence of speaking in other tongues. What a truly beautiful thought it is to think and consider how the witness of the kingdom and the witness of the gospel would first be spoken in the tongue of the nations and peoples round about Judaea, Jerusalem, Galilee and Samaria before it would ever be preached by the apostles, by Philip, and even by the apostle Paul.

            If you follow the progression of the New Testament book of Acts you will find and discover in the eighth chapter that eventually the power of the witnesses would need to move beyond the borders and walls of the city of Jerusalem and would need to spread out within and throughout Judaea and Samaria. It would be in the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the means and catalyst to thrust the early Church outside of the city of Jerusalem in into Judaea and Samaria as Jesus spoke of was indeed persecution. In the opening verses of the eighth chapter of this book you will find that after the death and martyrdom of Stephen there would be a great persecution that would break out against the Church—against the disciples and followers of the way—in the city of Jerusalem, and it would thrust them into Judaea and Samaria. It would be that thrusting into Judaea and Samaria that would ultimately set the stage and context for Philip—who would later be referred to as Philip the evangelist who was one of the seven—to not only perform and work great signs, wonders and miracles among the Samaritans, and not only to preach the gospel concerning the kingdom, but also for the apostles Peter and John to come unto Samaria. It would be upon the apostles Peter and John coming unto Samaria that they would indeed experience the manifestation of the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. What an absolutely awesome and powerful thing it is to think about the events in the eighth chapter and to see how persecution would thrust the early Church and believers out of Jerusalem, and it would ultimately be the beginning—not only of the witness, but also of the Holy Spirit—being manifested among the Samaritans. It would be in the eighth chapter of this New Testament book we find the witness entering into and expanding throughout Samaria, and ultimately the person and presence of the Holy Spirit being released among them. Consider if you will the following words which are found within this passage of Scripture beginning with the first and opening verse:

            “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; AND THEY WERE ALL SCATTERED ABROAD THROUGHOUT THE REGIONS OF JUDAEA AND SAMARIA, EXCEPT FOR THE APOSTLES. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, He made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. THEREFORE THEY THAT WERE SCATTERED ABROAD WENT EVERY WHERE PREACHING THE WORD” (Acts 8:1-4).

            “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city. But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great on: to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. NOW WHEN THE APOSTLES WHICH WERE AT JERUSALEM HEARD THAT SAMARIA HAD RECEIVED THE WORD OF GOD, THEY SENT UNTO THEM PETER AND JOHN: WHO, WHEN THEY WERE COME DOWN, PRAYED FOR THEM, THAT THEY MIGHT RECEIVE THE HOLY GHOST: (FOR AS YET HE WAS FALLEN UPON NONE OF THEM: ONLY THEY WERE BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS.) THEN LAD THEY THEIR HANDS ON THEM, AND THEY RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST” (Acts 8:1-17).

            It is necessary that we read and pay close attention to the words which are found in this chapter, for not only do we find the Church together with its witness coming into Samaria, but we also find the gospel being preached unto and among them by Philip the evangelist. What’s more, is that not only do we find the gospel concerning Christ being preached among the Samaritans, and not only do you find many Samaritans believing because of the works Philip performed and the words which he spoke, but you also find them experiencing great joy in the midst of the city. In fact, in the twelfth verse of the eighth chapter you will find many Samaritans—when they had believed what Philip preached concerning Christ—being baptized with John’s baptism. It would be this witness and this testimony of the Samaritans receiving and believing the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ that the apostles Peter and John would come unto Samaria that they might lay their hands on them. It would be their coming unto Samaria, and their laying their hands on them that they would receive the person, the presence and the promise of the Holy Spirit. It would be in the fifteenth verse of this chapter that we find that prior to the coming of the apostles the Holy Ghost had not fallen on any of them, an that they were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When, however, the apostles Peter and John came down unto them and laid their hands on them they would receive the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. It would be in the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts that we find the witness and the witnesses coming unto Samaria that the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ might be preached unto and among them. Not only that, but in addition to the witness concerning Jesus the Christ come unto and among the Samaritans, so also would the promise of the Father—the person of the Holy Spirit—come unto and upon them.

            Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of what took place in Samaria, for although it might not necessarily be the catalyst for the gospel being preached unto the Gentiles, nor the manifestation of the Holy Spirit unto and among the Gentiles, it would certainly be the beginning of the witness coming unto the Gentiles round about Judaea and Jerusalem. It would be in the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ and the baptism of the Holy Spirit coming unto the Samaritans, while in the ninth chapter we find the conversion of that one whom the Lord Jesus would Himself use to bring the gospel unto the Gentiles. With this being said, we must needs pay close attention to the words which are found in the tenth chapter of this New Testament book, for it is in the tenth chapter where we find the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit being released unto, among and upon the Gentiles. It would be in the tenth chapter of the book of Acts we find the apostle Peter being led unto the house of a centurion named Cornelius by and according to a vision he would receive while at Joppa. It would be this vision, as well as the sending of two of the servants of this centurion according to the word and promise of the Lord that would ultimately result in the apostle Peter coming unto and among the house of Cornelius that he might preach and proclaim the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus the Christ. What’s more, is that not only do you and not only will you find the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ being preached unto and among Cornelius and all his household, but you will also find the person of the Holy Spirit being released unto and upon them and filling them. These words must be carefully considered, for the further you delve into the book of Acts the further you will begin to see the picture of how the witnesses would extend unto and among the Gentiles, and how the gospel would be preached unto the uttermost part of the earth. Jesus did indeed promise that His disciples and followers would be witnesses unto Him in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth, and now we begin to see the power of the witness beginning to come unto the Gentiles right where they are. What would begin with the witness being manifested among the Gentiles in Jerusalem in their own tongue would now come directly unto and among them right where they lived. With this in mind, please consider if you will the following words which are found in the tenth chapter of the book of Acts:

            “And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing. And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peer; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the seaside: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore we all are here present before God, to hear all the things that are commanded thee of God. Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (He is Lord of all) that word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we were witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of the quick and dead. To give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And He commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days” (Acts 10:25-48).

            It is the words we find in this particular portion of Scripture that not only reveals the witness coming unto the Gentiles, but it is within this chapter we find the person and presence of the Holy Spirit coming unto the Gentiles as well. It should be noted that Jesus did indeed and did in fact speak unto His disciples and followers declaring unto them that they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth, and now by the time the tenth chapters draws to a close—not only do we find the witness and the Holy Ghost coming unto Samaria, but we also begin to find the witness coming unto and among the Gentiles. Oh we must needs pay close and careful attention to this, for there is not a doubt in my mind that when the disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ heard Him emphatically and proclaim unto them that they would be witnesses unto the uttermost parts of the earth He would send them into Asia, and would even send them as far as Rome itself. I happen to find it absolutely incredible that when Jesus spoke and declared unto His disciples and followers declaring that they would be His witnesses unto the uttermost parts of the earth He never mentioned Rome. If there is one thing I so absolutely love about the New Testament book of Acts it’s that what would begin in and within the city of Jerusalem with one-hundred and twenty who were baptized with the Holy Spirit would eventually and ultimately culminate and reach the city of Rome itself. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that the city in which Jesus was betrayed, in the city in which Jesus suffered, in the city in which Jesus was scourged and mocked the gospel concerning Him would spread throughout Judaea, throughout Samaria, and would ultimately find its way unto Rome. How truly incredible it is to think about the fact that the journey which the apostle Paul would take unto the city of Jerusalem at the time of the feast would ultimately lead to another journey that would take place within his life—one that would not only lead him unto Rome, but would also bring the witness of the kingdom, the witness of the King, and the person of the Holy Spirit unto those within Rome. What’s more, is that it would be that which we find in the final chapters of the New Testament book of Acts that demonstrates and points to the fact that not even the city of Rome itself would be untouched and unreached by the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ, and not only would Rome itself be immune and exempt from the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. In fact, it would be Jesus Christ Himself—that One who would stand before Pontius Pilate and would be sentenced unto death—that would send the apostle Paul unto Rome where He would testify concerning Him. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts in the twenty-third chapter beginning with the first verse:

            “And Paul, earnestly beholding the council said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest? Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people. But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of  a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called into question. And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is not resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God. And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle. And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome” (Acts 23:1-11).

            Consider also the following words which are found in this particular New Testament book—not only in the twenty-sixth chapter as Paul stood before Agrippa the king, but also as the apostle Paul stood before all those who were aboard the ship that was set to reach Rome, for the words which are found within these two passages of Scripture bring us face to face with the awesome truth that it was absolutely necessary for the apostle Paul to journey from the city of Jerusalem unto the city of Rome. I previously wrote how the journey which the apostle Paul took unto Jerusalem was in all reality a journey that began centuries and generations earlier with Abraham as he was instructed of the LORD to take his one and only son Isaac and sacrifice him in the land of Moriah upon one of the mountains He would show him. What’s more, is that not only would Abraham make this journey unto Jerusalem where he would have sacrificed his one and only son Isaac, but Jesus Himself would make this journey unto Jerusalem as both the sacrifice and offering. What we find in the New Testament book of Acts is the apostle Paul taking the same journey Abraham had made centuries and generations earlier, as well as the journey which his Lord Jesus would also take. It would be in the city of Jerusalem Jesus would suffer many things at the hands of the religious leaders, as well as at the hands of sinners, and ultimately be sentenced unto death. It would be this journey unto the city of Jerusalem Jesus would ultimately find Himself standing trial before Pontius Pilate who although he found no fault with Him would sentence Him to death—and not only sentence Him to death, but also sentence Him to death while allowing another to go free in His place. What we find within the narrative of the apostle Paul is actually a journey beyond Jerusalem, and a journey unto Rome itself. THE JOURNEY BEYOND JERUSALEM! THE JOURNEY BEYOND JERUSALEM THAT BRINGS THE WITNESS UNTO ROME! The following words help us to truly understand and recognize this powerful witness beyond Jerusalem—this powerful witness that would ultimately bring the gospel beyond just the Gentiles, but ultimately unto Rome itself. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that none of the disciples and followers of Jesus thought, conceived, perceived, anticipated and even expected the gospel would ultimately find and make its way unto Rome, and yet it would be a journey the apostle Paul himself would take. Hear the following words which are found in the narrative concerning the life of the apostle Paul:

            “I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutes. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:9-18).

            “But after long absitence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have harke3ned unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee al them that sail with thee. Wherefore sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island” (Acts 27:21-26).

            I sit here this evening thinking about and considering the awesome and tremendous truth that is found within the New Testament book of Acts and I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the fact that what would begin in the city of Jerusalem and in an upper room with one-hundred and twenty would not only extend into and reach Samaria, and would not only extend unto and among the Gentiles, but it would ultimately reach Rome itself. It’s interesting and worth noting that Jesus the Christ would never appeal to Caesar, and Jesus would never stand trial before Caesar in Rome, and Jesus would never make the journey unto the city of Rome, but that apostle whom He appeared to on the road to Damascus would be His witness, His chosen vessel, His catalyst that would bring the witness unto the city of Rome. When Jesus walked among us as the Word which was made flesh and dwelt among us He came preaching kingdom within and empire, and He would preach and proclaim the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and through the life of the apostle Paul we find the manifestation of the kingdom ultimately and finally coming unto Rome. No less than thirty years after the death, the burial and ascension of the Lord Jesus the Christ the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ would reach Rome. This gospel concerning the one whom Pontius Pilate would sentence to death within the city of Jerusalem would ultimately reach the city of Rome itself as the apostle Paul would be brought by the Lord Jesus the Christ unto the city of Rome. What makes this truly powerful and awesome when you think about it is the fact that when Jesus the Christ spoke and declared concerning His disciples and followers being witnesses unto Him in the uttermost parts of the earth the city of Rome would ultimately be included in that. Not only this, but it would ultimately be in the eastern arm of Rome—Constantinople which is the modern city of Istanbul—that would help spread Christianity even further than that during the days of the emperor Constantine.

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful reality of what is found within the final chapters of the New Testament book of Acts, for what we find within these chapters is more than just the apostle Paul standing trial before the high priests in Jerusalem, and is more than the apostle Paul standing trial before Festus and Agrippa, but it is ultimately about the apostle Paul being brought by the Lord Jesus Christ unto the city of Rome itself. These chapters are more than simply the apostle Paul bearing witness of the Lord Jesus the Christ in the city of Rome, but there would indeed and there would in fact be an even greater witness that would be established within the city of Rome—namely, a church and body of believers that would be established in the midst of it. We know that the very first epistle found in the New Testament after the book of Acts is the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Romans. It is this epistle which thus signifies that not only would the apostle Paul bear witness concerning Christ and be a witness in the midst of Rome after standing trial in Jerusalem, but also that there would be a church and body of believers that would be established and set up in the midst of this city. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that it was never the Lord’s will for the Church to simply remain in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, but that the Church would ultimately spread within and throughout Judaea and Samaria, and would ultimately spread unto Rome itself. In fact, I would dare say that it was precisely because the gospel and the witness of Christianity and of Jesus Christ came unto the city of Rome that the gospel and witness would come unto the eastern and western hemispheres of the planet. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find within the final chapters of the book of Acts is more than simply the apostle Paul bearing witness concerning Jesus the Christ within the city of Rome, but it is also about a body of believers that would be established in the midst of and within this city. What’s more, is that there is not a doubt in my mind that the manifestation of the Holy Spirit would indeed be manifested in the midst of the city of Rome itself, as the words which are found in the eighth chapter of this epistle would bring us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that there was indeed a personal experience with the person and presence of the Holy Spirit.

            If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words which are found within these chapters it’s that the witness was never meant to remain within the city of Jerusalem, and the witness was never meant to be stuck in the upper room in the city of Jerusalem. There is not a doubt in my mind that the evidence and witness of speaking in tongues was not only a means of bringing the power of witness unto the nations within the city of Jerusalem itself, but it was also a means of bringing the witness out of the upper room and into the streets of Jerusalem. Oh I can’t help but wonder what that must have sounded like for all those from other nations and lands as they heard these Galilaeans speaking with other tongues—and not only speaking with other tongues, but also speaking in their own native tongue. What’s more, is that as you read the words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find it written how those in the upper room proclaimed the mighty works of God in their own language. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that the evidence of speaking in tongues was meant to bring the witness out of the upper room and bring the witness unto the nations and Gentiles in the city of Jerusalem itself. It’s quite remarkable and astonishing to think about and consider the fact that the witness concerning Jesus the Christ, and the witness concerning the kingdom would be powerfully proclaimed by Galilaeans in the tongues of other languages there in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. It would be there in the city of Jerusalem where not only would the mystery of the witness which Jesus spoke about be manifested, but it would also be there in the midst of the city of Jerusalem where the effects of Babel would effectively be reversed and removed, for it would be in the city of Jerusalem we find one hundred and twenty Galilaeans being baptized with the Holy Spirit and speaking in other tongues as the Holy Spirit filled them and gave them utterance.

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close it is truly worth noting and pointing out that the book of Acts is more than simply the person, the presence of the Holy Spirit being released within the city of Jerusalem, but the Spirit would be manifested among the Samaritans, the Spirit would be manifested within Cornelius’ household and among the Gentiles, the Spirit would be manifested among those disciples in the city of Ephesus, and the Spirit would ultimately be manifested in the city of Rome. It is truly something worth noting and pointing out how the witness of the Spirit and the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ would ultimately find its way unto Rome as the Lord would give the apostle Paul an effectual door of ministry in Rome that a church and body of believers might be established there. The simple and profound truth that we even have an epistle written unto and called “Romans” is a truly wonderful and powerful statement, declaration and testimony that the gospel would indeed come unto the city of Rome itself. There would be those who would speak of “those who had turned the world upside down” with their teaching and their doctrine coming unto and among them, and this same reality would ultimately be manifested, experienced and demonstrated within Rome itself. Oh how absolutely wonderful and powerful that the Spirit would bring the witness of the gospel, the witness of the kingdom, and the witness of Jesus the Christ unto Rome itself, and that not even the city of Rome would be exempt from the witness which Jesus spoke about. Eventually and ultimately the witness of the Holy Spirit would come unto and among those disciples and those Jews which were present in the midst of the city of Rome itself. Not only this, but the Spirit of the Lord would work through and together with the apostle Paul in establishing a body of believers and a congregation in the midst of the city of Rome—this city which would be the capital and chiefest city in the known world at that time. What would indeed begin within the city of Jerusalem would indeed and would in fact extend beyond simply Jerusalem, Judaea, and Samaria, and would ultimately reach Rome itself. What’s more, is it would be from Rome itself the gospel would eventually spread throughout the rest of the world through the eastern leg of Rome—Constantinople—and even the Roman Catholic church. Oh how absolutely critical and vital the apostle Paul’s journey unto Rome would be, for it would be his witness in the city of Rome that would not only help establish a church in the midst of the city, but that church would survive the persecution of Nero, and the church would still be, and is still alive in the earth today nearly two thousand years later.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s