As a Roman citizen, Paul was supposed to get a fair trial. Instead he had to spend two years in prison.
The Roman governor was called Festus. He said, “I think you should come to Caesarea.” So for the fourth time, Paul was put on trial. This time, his enemies were there with him. They accused him of one crime after another. But no one had any proof. Festus did not want to get into trouble with the religious leaders.
Paul told Festus, “You’re the governor. If you can’t judge me, then don’t hand me over to my enemies. They tell nothing but lies about me. I’ll appeal to Caesar.”
Paul was claiming his right as a Roman to be tried by Emperor Nero himself. It meant that, no matter what, he would not be turned over to the religious leaders. But he also would not be let free until Nero had seen him.
Festus did not know what to do with Paul. He had no choice but to make sure he went to Rome. There he would be tried by the emperor. But before he let Paul go, Festus asked King Agrippa what he thought of the case.
Once again, Paul told what happened. This time he stood in front of the son of King Herod and many other very important people. When he had finished, Agrippa said to him, “Do you think you can talk me into becoming a Christian so easily?” Then he turned to Felix. “This man has done nothing wrong. In some ways it’s too bad he asked to see Caesar. Now can’t let him go free. He must go to Rome.”
Paul was finally on his way to Rome. It was not in the way he had though the would go. He was not traveling as a free man, on his way to visit friends. Paul was under heavy Roman guard, a prisoner. He was on his way to see Emperor Nero.
One of the soldiers in charge of Paul was an officer named Julius. He could see that Paul was not dangerous. He treated him kindly. When Paul was put on board the ship to go to Rome, Julius said Luke and some of Paul’s other friends could travel with him. They changed ships, going from port to port. Over and over again they ran into bad weather. Finally the storms made sailing almost impossible. The little ship carrying Paul had found a harbor on an island. He told them, “If we don’t stop here for the winter, we’ll not only lose the cargo, but our lives as well.” The owner of the boat was in a hurry to deliver his cargo of grain to Rome. He did not listen to Paul and they sailed on.
Before long, a very strong wind caught the ship! There was nothing the crew could do. For more than a day, the storm tossed the ship. Waves swamped its decks. The crew threw the cargo overboard.
The sky was dark for many days . The captain could not see the moon or stars. They were lost at sea! All the crew were terribly seasick. No one had eaten for a long time. Paul told them, “Men, be brave,. None of you will die. Last night an angel of God told me I would stand before the emperor. None of you will die, we will land on an island.”
All of a sudden there was a terrible grating sound. The boat ripped open on the rocks! It started breaking up. “Jump ship!”
The waves crashed all around them. Each man made it to the beach safely. That was all that mattered. Once on shore, they found on the island was Malta,. They were close to Italy, after all, The people who lived there were very kind. Paul was safe and he would go to Rome after all.
Paul finally did arrive in Rome. Believers from all over the area came to meet him and Luke and the others. When Paul saw them, he thanked God. He felt brave again.
The Romans did not put Paul into prison this time. They let him go where he wanted. This was all right, as long as a soldier went with him. Paul went to the religious leaders in Rome. He told them what had happened. They said, “We haven’t heard anything about you from the Jews in Jerusalem. Come and tell us more.”
Once again Paul told how Jesus had met him on the road to Damascus. He told how he had traveled all over, telling people about Jesus. He told them how he met Jesus and how Jesus changes lives. He told how God had sent His Son for Jews and non-Jews. “I haven’t done anything wrong,” he finished.
The Jews didn’t know what to think. Some believed Paul. Others were not so sure. For the next two years, they would fight about Paul. In the meantime, Paul waited until the emperor would see him. The Romans let him go where he wanted, as long as his guard stayed close by. Paul used this time to preach and teach. He welcomed everyone. No one tried to stop him.
Those two years would be the last chance Paul ever had to preach freely. Some people think he spent part of that time going to Spain and then Greece. Later he was arrested again and put back into prison. There, he wrote letters to many of the friends he had met while preaching. Paul was finally killed by Emperor Nero in Rome.