The Youth’s Instructor


November 22, 1900

From Persecutor to Disciple

Part 2.


On one occasion Paul said: “Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” YI November 22, 1900, par. 1

These words explain the secret of Paul's power and success. He kept back nothing that was profitable for the people. He preached Christ publicly, in the market-places and the synagogues. He taught from house to house, availing himself of the familiar intercourse of the home circle. He visited the sick and sorrowing, comforting the afflicted, and lifting up the oppressed. And in all that he said and did, he preached a crucified and risen Saviour. YI November 22, 1900, par. 2

Paul's great desire was to preach the gospel at Rome. In his letter to the church at that place he wrote: “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; that is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” YI November 22, 1900, par. 3

It was not curiosity that made Paul desire to see the capital of the world. He had been assured in a vision that he would be permitted to bear witness for the Lord in Rome. YI November 22, 1900, par. 4

Paul went to Rome as a prisoner. As he approached the city, his brethren came out to meet him. In the eyes of the world he was a criminal worthy of death, but in the eyes of his fellow Christians he was worthy of special honor. He tells us what effect his bonds had upon them. “Many of the brethren in the Lord,” he declares, “waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” YI November 22, 1900, par. 5

After Paul had been in Rome three days, he called the chief men of the Jews together, and explained why he had been brought to Rome as a prisoner. He stated that he had done nothing against the people or the customs of the fathers; and that after being examined before the Roman authorities, he would have been set at liberty, had it not been for the opposition of his countrymen. YI November 22, 1900, par. 6

Paul manifested true Christian forbearance. He had been falsely accused by his countrymen in Judea, and had been subjected by them to an unjust trial. He had endured the hardships and perils of the journey to Rome, and was now awaiting his trial before the emperor. Yet when he told his brethren in Rome about his imprisonment, he made no complaint. Not that I had aught to accuse my nation of, he said; I did not come to accuse any one. I have called you together to speak of the hope of Israel, for which I am held in bonds. Acts 28:30. YI November 22, 1900, par. 7

“And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” YI November 22, 1900, par. 8

Though kept a prisoner at Rome, Paul exerted a powerful influence. He was near the palace of the emperor, and he wrote to the Philippians: “I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places.” We know that converts were made in the court of the emperor; for in concluding his letter to the Philippians, Paul said, “All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.” YI November 22, 1900, par. 9

For hundreds of years after Paul had laid off his armor, the papacy bore sway. Then Luther, an Augustine monk, brought up under the straitest rules of the papacy, went on a pilgrimage to Rome. He sought for salvation in the rites and ceremonies of a corrupt church. As he was performing an act of penance, slowly climbing on his knees up Pilate's staircase, the words of Paul to the Romans came with peculiar force to his darkened mind, arousing his senses and touching his heart. “The just shall live by faith,” a voice seemed to say to him. That one sentence changed Luther's whole life, and brought about one of the greatest reformations the world has ever witnessed. YI November 22, 1900, par. 10

Mrs. E. G. White