For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance! – Acts 28:30-31 NIV
When you think of Paul’s missionary efforts, we typically think of his three trips through the lands around the northeast Mediterranean. This included extended stays in Corinth and Ephesus, as well as shorter stays in numerous other towns. But Paul also spent an extended period of time in prison. He was in Caesarea for two years followed by two years in Rome. Although he was not in a formal prison in Rome, he was under what appeared to be something like house arrest.
But that time in prison, and the resultant prison ministry, was actually very fruitful for Paul. While in Rome, he is able to welcome into his home anyone who would come, and the picture Luke paints here seems to indicate that there were many who took advantage of the opportunity to visit with Paul. And to all of them Paul proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about Jesus.
The Impact of His Prison Ministry
How much of an impact did Paul have while there? In Philippians 1:12-18 Paul says that because of his chains, it had become clear to all of the place guard that he was in chains for Christ. Paul took the opportunity to talk with all of his guards, many of whom would have passed that on to others. He also said that his imprisonment had encouraged many others to proclaim the gospel. Others that likely would not have otherwise. And Paul rejoiced in this.
Another benefit of his imprisonment was the opportunity it afforded him to write. A number of his letters to churches were written during this time. Would we have had Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, or Philippians otherwise?
Rather than being discouraged because of his years in prison, Paul took advantage of them. And Luke’s last two words provided the silver lining. “Without hindrance”. With a Roman guard protecting him, who would dare to try and stop him. Don’t be discouraged because things are not working out the way you want them to. Instead, look to see how you can serve God in the midst of whatever circumstances you find yourself in.