After Paul had straightened out affairs at Corinth, he immediately began preparations for what he regarded as his most important missionary journey. Paul had already undertaken three missionary journeys, in which he had opened up new territory for the Gospel message and also established a number of Christian groups or churches. But the journey that he now comtemplated was of a more ambitious nature than anything previously attempted. Hence Paul recognized that considerable preparation and planning would be necessary. Nothing could be left to chance for this undertaking. The New Testament indicates how Paul carefully worked out plans to cover every foreseeable situation, and to insure success.
Perhaps it may seem inappropriate to quote Robert Burns' familiar lines: "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men/Gang aft agley."—for the minor tragedy depicted by the poet can scarcely be compared with the important plans of Paul. Nevertheless, there is a striking parallel here. True, the apostle's plans did not altogether "gang agley," for something really worthwhile was ultimately accomplished. Yet the fact remains that practically every detail of Paul's journey worked out in an entirely different manner than he had originally planned. All this will be made clear in the following step-by-step study of Paul's activities.
Acts 19:21-22, and Rom. 1:7-15
1. THE PROJECTED JOURNEY.
In order to understand fully the above passages, we must refer back to Paul's second missionary journey, and his arrival at Corinth. (See Acts 18:1-4.) The New Testament states that while Paul was at Corinth he lodged with "a Jew named Aquila ... [and] his wife Priscilla." Later on, during his ministry at Ephesus, Paul again stayed with this worthy couple. It is also stated that Aquila and Priscilla had "lately come from Italy ... because Claudius had commanded all Jews to leave Rome." However, there are indications that this edict was enforced only upon those who lacked political influence or Roman citizenship. Thus, while Aquila and his wife were compelled to find a new home in Corinth, many of their Jewish friends continued to reside in Rome; and it would appear that Aquila and Priscilla maintained a correspondence with them.
Under such circumstances, it will be readily understood that activities in Rome formed a frequent topic of conversation in the Aquila-Priscilla household. When the day's labors were ended, Paul's host would relate matters of interest connected with the capital city, and possibly names of Jewish friends still residing in Rome were frequently mentioned. Thus, during the period of Paul's stay at Corinth (and later at Ephesus), he was surrounded by what may be termed a Roman atmosphere. Small wonder, therefore, that in Paul's active mind there evolved a new plan for extending the scope of his missionary work. He felt that if the Christian message could be established in Rome, it would then spread to all parts of the empire. There was the familiar saying, "All roads lead to Rome"—and, by the same token, these roads would also be the means of carrying the Gospel from Rome to the ends of the earth. Just when this realization first came to Paul is not recorded. But it must have taken definite shape shortly before the close of his ministry at Ephesus, for the New Testament tells how the apostle exclaimed, "I must also see Rome!" Thus there was to be a new missionary journey. Just as Paul had carried the Gospel message into Asia Minor and to Macedonia, so he was now determined to carry it to the very heart of the empire, and establish Christianity in Rome.
Two important present-day lessons may be seen in this projected journey to Rome.
First: Rome, metaphysically interpreted, symbolizes intellectual understanding and will power, while Paul represents the freeing word of Truth. Paul's projected journey therefore indicates the necessary process of spiritualizing the intellect and will faculty. It is not enough to have merely an intellectual grasp of Truth. Intellectual understanding must be replaced by spiritual understanding; and this must be established not only in the heart, but also in the head. Thus there is brought about a transformation of the whole man.
Second: Rome was the center of the empire, and Paul felt that from this center the Gospel message would be carried to all parts of the world. Similarly, when Truth is implanted at the center of our consciousness, its freeing and illuminating power radiates to all sections of our being. The order of movement is from center to circumference. Thus when the Gospel message is carried to the "Rome" of our consciousness,
"The words of Truth ... will suddenly be illumined and become to you the living word within you—the true light, even the light that lighteth every man coming into the world (John 1:9). You will no longer dwell in dark-" ness, for the light will be within your own heart; and the word will be made flesh to you." (Emilie Cady Lessons In Truth 85-86).
2. THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS.
When the projected visit to Rome had taken definite shape in Paul's mind, he immediately concerned himself with preparations for the journey. One very important preliminary step was the writing of a carefully-worded letter, which was then dispatched to Rome. Fortunately this letter has been preserved and given a prominent place in the New Testament, where it is familiarly known as "Paul's Epistle to the Romans." This Epistle should now be given careful consideration. Perhaps the best method of study will be to present and discuss some important questions relating to the Epistle as a whole, and then proceed to an examination of the contents.
(A) What was Paul's purpose in writing this Epistle? As stated, this Epistle formed part of Paul's preparations for his visit to Rome. On previous journeys, Paul had gone directly to the various synagogues and delivered his message without previous communication. Consequently, the "good news" concerning the Messiah came as a surprise to many synagogue members, and they were not prepared to receive a teaching so much at variance with their traditions. Then followed acrimonious discussions, and the final rejection of Paul and his message. Paul of course made some converts at the synagogues, but he also stirred up much bitter opposition from those who did not accept his teaching. Therefore, for this new venture he determined upon a different method of approach. Not only did Paul give advance notice of his coming, but he also sent a carefully-prepared resume of his teaching, so that upon his arrival his hearers would be acquainted with the basic principles of the Gospel message. Paul hoped that, in this way, many of the former misunderstandings would be avoided, and that both he and his message would receive a favorable reception at Rome.
(B) To whom was the Epistle addressed? Traditionally, this Epistle has always been regarded as addressed to "the Church at Rome"-and few further questions have been raised. However, several modern writers have pointed out that there is nothing in the New Testament to indicate the existence of an organized Christian church in Rome at that time. If there had been a congregation at Rome, Paul would not have been under the necessity of explaining the Christian teaching—for the church membership would have been acquainted with the fundamentals of their faith; nor would they have needed any persuasion from Paul to become Christians. Furthermore, Paul clearly states the basic purpose of this missionary enterprise: "To preach the Gospel not where Christ has already been named, lest I should build on another man's foundation . . ." (Rom. 15:20). Throughout his ministry, Paul went only to "virgin territory"—and it would seem strange indeed if he changed his procedure for this journey. Possibly, therefore, this preparatory Epistle was sent to friends of Aquila and Priscilla, residing in Rome, and through them to the officers of the Jewish synagogue at Rome. The Epistle bears testimony to this possibility, since all Paul's arguments are couched in terms which would be understood and appreciated by persons well-versed in Jewish traditions. The procedure would also be in harmony with Paul's own teaching, frequently used in this Epistle: "To the Jew first." It is also significant that when Paul finally arrived at Rome, he immediately communicated with the Jewish leaders there.
(C) What important teaching is contained in this Epistle? The theme of the Epistle to the Romans is usually stated as "justification by faith." The word justification, as here used, is a Jewish legal term. For Jewish people in those days, life's greatest attainment was to receive the divine pronouncement that they were "just," or "righteous"; and they were thus enabled to enter into fellowship with God. But to attain this "justification," a man was required to fulfill all the commands of the Mosaic law, without violation, either by commission or omission. Unfortunately the law contained so many detailed regulations that few persons—if any—could measure up to the required standard. Now Paul proclaimed that this greatly desired state of justification, together with the ensuing fellowship with God, is attainable through faith in Jesus Christ. This teaching is clearly set forth through such statements as "The just shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:17 A.V.) and "Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1 A.V.).
(D) How is this teaching presented? In the main section of the Epistle the theme mentioned above is carefully explained, amplified, and illustrated, so that it may be clearly understood by the readers. First, the apostle states that all men are separated from God by reason of sin. This applies to the Gentiles, who are convicted by conscience, and also to the Jews, who stand convicted by their law. (See Rom. 1:18 through 3:20.) Then Paul declares that the only way to reconciliation with God is through Jesus Christ. Justification is not attained through the "works of the law," but through righteousness imparted by the Christ Spirit. Nothing, then, can separate the believer from the love of God (Rom. 3:21 through 8:39).
But the apostle recognizes that this new teaching may give rise to a poignant question. Jewish readers would be likely to inquire: Does all this mean that God has now abandoned Israel? Paul answers: Not necessarily! It means, rather, that God has prepared a plan for the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles. For the present, Jews may be regarded as "marking time" until the way is fully opened for the Gentiles. (See Rom. 9:1 through 11:36.)
Then follows what may be termed the practical application of the teaching. The apostle points out that through the acceptance of this new teaching, both Jews and Gentiles may now enter into a new and better relationship, both with God and their fellow men. The readers are urged not to be "conformed to this world," but to be "transformed by the renewing of your mind." The section concludes with some personal explanations, and a loving benediction. (See Rom. 12:1 through 15:33.)
Chapter sixteen should not be regarded as belonging to the Epistle to the Romans. The opening section of Romans clearly indicates that, at the time of writing, Paul had no personal connections with the people at Rome; but in this sixteenth chapter he sends greetings to many close friends. It will also be noticed that greetings are sent to Aquila and Priscilla—who, at that time, were living at Ephesus. Chapter sixteen may have been the closing section of another letter, written by Paul, and sent to Ephesus about the same time as the writing of the Epistle to the Romans.
Rom. 1:1 - Rom. 16:27 (entire letter)
(The student should now read carefully through the entire Epistle to the Romans, studying only one section at a time. Refer back to the notes given above, and also follow the outline for the Epistle, given in Appendix "A.")
Acts 20:1-38; Acts. 21:1-17
3. PAUL'S VISIT TO JERUSALEM.
After completing and dispatching his Epistle to the Romans, Paul felt that it was necessary for him to visit Jerusalem. This was a further activity in preparation for his journey to Rome. The visit to Jerusalem had a twofold purpose:
(1) To convey the contributions of the European and Asian converts to the famine-stricken Christians at Jerusalem. It is important to note how Paul instructed each church to appoint its own treasurer to take charge of the money. This was Paul's method of safeguarding against the charge of making personal profit from these contributions. (See I Cor. 16:1-4 and Acts 20:2-5.)
(2) To consecrate himself for the projected missionary journey to Rome. As a devout Jew, the apostle recognized the importance of spiritual preparation; and a period of meditation and prayer at the Temple—with all its hallowed associations—would make a fitting start for this important journey. Possibly Paul also hoped that, during this visit, he would gain the sanction and support of the Jerusalem council for his projected journey.
As Paul headed for Jerusalem, brief stops were made at the following places:
TROAS (See Acts 20:6-12.) It will be recalled that Troas was the port of embarkation when Paul and his companions pressed forward into Europe on the second missionary journey. (See Acts 16:8-12.) On that occasion, Luke joined the missionary party at Troas, and it seems more than a coincidence that Luke should again appear on the scene at Troas— with the "we" references returning to the narrative. Apparently, between Paul's visits a sizable Christian group had been developed at Troas, and it is noteworthy that regular gatherings were held on "the first day of the week." (See Acts 20:7.) This is an indication that the church assemblies, even at that early period, were departing from some of the established customs, and setting their own procedures. The story of Paul's lengthy sermon at Troas, and the accident befalling young Eutychus, should be read carefully. The healing accomplished by Paul brought a happy ending to the story—and established Eutychus as a "patron saint" for future "church-sleepers"!
MILETUS (See Acts 20:17-35.) Apparently Paul's original plan called for a brief stay at Ephesus, but there was not sufficient ti me for this. However, a message was sent to the church at Ephesus, and a number of church officials hurriedly journeyed to Miletus for a brief interview with Paul. Paul's address to this group, recounting his constructive activities and personal contacts during his ministry at Ephesus, makes interesting reading. Special attention should be given to the saying which Paul here attributes to Jesus: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). There are also several little personal touches in Paul's address which should not be overlooked. Note especially his reference to "these hands"—which still bore the marks of his strenuous toil during the years of his ministry at Ephesus. The entire incident is indicative of Paul's deep love for his converts.
TYRE (See Acts 21:1 -6.) A stay of seven days was made at Tyre, for the purpose of unloading the ship's cargo. This gave Paul an opportunity to visit a Christian group there, which had been formed at a much earlier period. The New Testament records that Jesus conducted a successful ministry in the region of Tyre, and performed an outstanding miracle there. (See Mark 3:8; Mark 7:24-30; also Luke 10:13-14.) Possibly the Christian group at Tyre dated from that time.
CAESAREA (See Acts 21:7-14.) During Paul's brief stay at Caesarea, he lodged with Philip the Evangelist. This Philip should not be confused with the Apostle bearing the same name; he was one of the seven deacons appointed to manage the temporal affairs of the Christian community in Jerusalem. (See Acts 6:1-6.) Some of Philip's earlier activities were discussed in Lesson Two of this course. Mention is also made of a prophet named Agabus, who warned Paul against going to Jerusalem, stating that the apostle would be arrested and imprisoned there. But Paul brushed aside these doleful predictions, and pressed forward to Jerusalem.
Metaphysical interpretation: Two important points concerning Paul's visit to Jerusalem call for careful consideration.
(1) The warnings: At first reading, the story seems to indicate that Paul was instructed by the Holy Spirit to stay away from Jerusalem; but he pressed forward and ultimately reached the Holy City. This has been taken as indicative of Paul's obstinacy and self-will, and the apostle has been represented as a man determined to have his own way, regardless of consequences. However, in connection with an earlier journey, Paul is reported as being fully obedient to divine directions (See Acts 16:6-10); and at a later period he spoke of himself as being "not disobedient to the heavenly vision" (Acts 26:19). It would appear, therefore, that the warnings referred to above should be interpreted, not as instructions to stay away from Jerusalem, but as indicative of the severe trials that Paul would be called upon to face in that city. Many years earlier, when Jesus was making His final entry into Jerusalem, He asked His disciples, "Are you able to drink of the cup that I am to drink?" (Matt. 20:22). Paul was now called upon to "drink of the cup"—and the warnings came, not to dissuade him, but as a challenge to his faith and to test his courage. Paul answered this challenge by saying, "I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 21:13).
(2) The opposition:
"Paul's going to Jerusalem represents the word of Truth as going into spiritual consciousness, proclaiming the I AM doctrine of Jesus Christ, just as Paul in all his missionary trips represents the word of Truth going into the various parts of the consciousness proclaiming this I AM doctrine of the Christ. The spiritual center (Jerusalem) is under the dominance of the Jews who cling to the Mosaic law and make a great religious outcry against the new kingdom that the I AM or Christ proposes to set up. We are not to let the old religious convictions and teachings deter us from proclaiming that which we know to be true. Jesus Christ is King of the Jews (our religious ideas), and this Paul, with his true words, must go without fear of results into the most holy parts and there plant the seeds of the new church, or new state of consciousness. It may seem for the time being that our words have borne no fruit, that we have been put in prison by these narrow religious thoughts that the Jews signify here; but if we are faithful to God we shall be swiftly and safely delivered from them" (Metaphysical Bible Dictionary 507-8).
The above is not to be taken as suggesting that we try to change the basic principle of Truth—for Truth is unchanging. But it does indicate the need for enlarging and extending our understanding of Truth. There is a tendency to formulate creeds, or statements of our beliefs, and then to regard these as final and impervious to change. As the Jewish leaders did, we seek to maintain the status quo, and oppose all other teachings or interpretations—especially if these bear the impress of newness. A much better attitude toward the study of Truth is indicated by Paul's words: "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on ... toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:12-14).
Acts 21:15 through 26:32
4. PAUL'S ARREST AND IMPRISONMENT.
Apparently Paul planned to remain only a short time at Jerusalem, and then press on to Rome. However, as events worked out, Paul remained in the vicinity of Jerusalem for about two and a half years, and only after many unexpected happenings was he able to continue his journey. Furthermore, the journey to Rome was made under entirely different conditions than those anticipated by the apostle. All this will be made clear as the lesson proceeds. Meanwhile, the following events should be closely studied.
(A) THE ARREST (See Acts 21:17 through 22:29.)
While Paul was engaged in a purification ceremony—in preparation for his missionary journey—he was accused of bringing Gentiles into the inner courts of the Temple. This was a false charge. But the infuriated Jewish mob sought to kill Paul. The apostle's activities would have been brought to a sudden end had he not been rescued (and then protected) by a band of Roman soldiers. When quiet was restored, Paul was given an opportunity to speak to the people, and he told briefly of his conversion and commission to preach the Gospel. However, toward the close of his address, Paul referred to his work among the Gentiles—and this immediately brought about a fresh outbreak of hostilities. Paul was then hurried away for safety to a nearby prison.
(B) TRIAL BEFORE THE SANHEDRIN (See Acts 22:30 through 23:11.)
On the following day, after the arrest, Paul was brought before the Sanhedrin, or Jewish supreme council, to be charged with the heinous offense of violating the sanctity of the Temple. This was punishable by death. When the trial opened, Paul attempted to speak, but was quickly silenced by order of the High Priest. This incident should be compared with a similar happening at the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin; and the responses of Jesus and of Paul, when unjustly treated, should be compared. (See John 18:19-23.) An outstanding feature of Paul's trial is seen in the apostle's stratagem for dividing the council—setting the Pharisees against the Sadducees. This resulted in an uproar, and Paul's life was again in danger. Again the apostle had to be rescued by the Roman soldiers. It should be noted that, since the council thus broke up in disorder, no formal condemnation was placed upon Paul at that time.
(C) IMPRISONMENT AT CAESAREA (See Acts 23:12 through 24:27.)
Following the abortive trial before the Sanhedrin, Paul's opponents conspired to assassinate him. The fanatical hatred aroused against the apostle is indicated by the statement that the conspirators had "bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink until they had killed Paul" (Acts 23:12). But the plot became known to the authorities, and Paul was hurriedly transported to the Roman fortress at Caesarea for safety. A few days later, fresh charges were laid against Paul by the Jewish High Priest, who made a special journey from Jerusalem for that purpose; but Felix, the Roman governor, postponed judgment, and Paul was held in prison for a period of about two years. Meanwhile it should be noted that Luke, who had accompanied Paul to Jerusalem, remained free; and possibly Luke used this period for gathering material which he later incorporated into his Gospel. At that time Luke had opportunity to contact the remaining apostles in Jerusalem, and also he may have met Mary, the mother of Jesus, and some other persons closely connected with the Gospel story.
(D) "APPEAL TO CAESAR" (Acts 25:1 through 26:32.)
After Paul had been imprisoned in the Roman fortress at Caesarea for about two years, Felix's term as governor came to an end, and he was replaced by Porcius Festus. But this change did not bring about the apostle's release. On the contrary, the Jewish leaders urged Festus to return Paul to Jerusalem for trial—plotting to assassinate the apostle on the way. Festus, however, decided to proceed to Caesarea, and ordered that the charges against Paul be made there. Later on Festus seemed inclined to accede to the Jewish demands, and send Paul to Jerusalem; but at that time Paul made his historic "appeal to Caesar"—and Festus replied, "You have appealed to Caesar; and to Caesar you shall go."
In order to understand this situation, it becomes necessary to define the word appeal. In present-day legal usage, appeal usually indicates taking a pronounced judgment to a higher court. But it will be recalled that no judgment had been given by the Jerusalem court. Therefore Paul's appeal called for what is now termed a change of venue. In those days, if a Roman citizen believed that his trial would be influenced by local prejudice, he had the right to claim trial by the high court of Rome. And this is precisely what Paul claimed—for the Jerusalem court was decidedly prejudiced against him.
Some writers have suggested that Paul should have exercised his faith, making his "appeal" to God, and he would then have gained his freedom. But Paul did not desire freedom at that time. Had Paul been set free, he would have been killed by waiting assassins. Even if he had escaped from Jerusalem and started on his journey to Rome, he would have been assassinated on the way. Paul's appeal at once assured him of safe conduct to Rome, under the protection of a Roman centurion and a band of soldiers; moreover, his transportation would be at government expense! The New Testament account tells how Festus, being unsure of the charges against Paul, arranged a special hearing when the Jewish king, Agrippa, was present; and in this way a statement of the case was prepared for transmission to Rome. Paul's address before Festus and Agrippa (Acts 26:2) should be read carefully, since this furnishes a clear statement of the apostle's conversion experience in his own words.
Metaphysical Interpretation: It is important to note here that Paul (the word of Truth) was opposed and imprisoned, not by evil-doers, but by reputedly good men. Those opposing the apostle were religious leaders, holding high offices in the Temple and the synagogues. This was not a conflict between evil and good, but of the (supposed) good opposing the good! It will be recalled that Jesus in His ministry encountered similar opposition. This indicates that, in our experience, certain established religious convictions may oppose, or otherwise seek to hinder the new revelations of Truth that come to us. Possibly this was the situation that Jesus had in mind when He said, "A man's foes will be those of his own household" (Matt. 10:36). However, we should realize that this opposition and hindrance is only of temporary character. Paul was imprisoned for a brief period, but later he carried the word of Truth to his intended destination. Similarly, in our spiritual development we may experience certain "marking-time periods," brought about by the opposition indicated above. If we hold steadfastly to those revelations of Truth which are given to us, the prison doors will be opened, the hindrances will cease, and we shall go forward to the attainment of our highest good.
Acts 27:1 through 28:16
5. THE JOURNEY COMPLETED.
(A) VOYAGE TO CRETE (Acts 27:1 -12)
The first stage of Paul's journey was comparatively uneventful. Boarding a small coasting ship at Caesarea, the apostle sailed westward, guarded by a centurion named Julius and a band of Roman soldiers, and accompanied by Luke and Aristarchus. Several brief stops were made, and then the entire party transferred to a larger ship at Myra. Apparently the centurion desired to reach Rome as quickly as possible (although early October was not good sailing weather): when the ship arrived at Crete, Paul urged the centurion to remain there until the stormy season was past. However, this advice was not heeded, and under pretext of finding a more suitable harbor, the ship was headed for the open sea.
(B) THE STORM (Acts 27:13-44)
Almost immediately after leaving the shelter of Crete, the ship bearing Paul to Rome was struck by a fierce northeasterly storm—referred to in some translations of the New Testament as "Euroclydon," or "Euraquilo." In the fury of the storm, the sails and steering gear were swept away, and the ship was driven forward through the darkness to what seemed certain destruction. For fourteen days the storm continued unabated, causing most of those aboard to abandon hope. Just at that point, however, Paul demonstrated his faith, courage, and leadership. Paul assured the officers, sailors, soldiers, and some fellow-prisoners who were being transported to Rome that they were under God's protection, and would be brought safely to land. This message proved prophetic; for although shortly afterward the ship was wrecked, not one person aboard was lost.
(C) LANDING AT MELITA (MALTA) (Acts 28:1-10)
Paul and all the others aboard the ill-fated ship managed to scramble ashore, and were well received by the inhabitants of the island of Melita—now called Malta. At first some of the natives appeared somewhat suspicious of Paul; and when the apostle was attacked by a venomous snake, they suggested that this was the "long arm of justice" reaching out to punish the (supposed) wrongdoer. However, when Paul shook off the viper, and no harm ensued, the bystanders "changed their minds, and said that he was a god." Paul thereafter remained in good standing among the populace. Special note should be taken of the healing work performed by Paul during the three months he was compelled to remain on the island.
(D) ROME AT LAST (Acts 28:11-16)
The final stage of Paul's journey to Rome was started in early spring, when danger of further storms was past. A ship bearing a figurehead of Castor and Pollux ("The Heavenly Twins") took the apostle and his associates from Melita, and passing the island of Sicily, headed for the port of Puteoli (near Naples)—about a hundred miles south of Rome—where both cargo and passengers were landed. The centurion Julius immediately transferred custody of Paul to a waiting Roman officer, with instructions to convey the prisoner safely to Rome. The journey from Puteoli to Rome was made on foot, using the famous Roman road known as the Appian Way. The indications are that this journey was conducted in a rather leisurely fashion, for several stops were made on the way, and the entire account of the trip seems somewhat incompatible with the idea of conveying a Jewish prisoner to the place of trial. Possibly influence or bribery are to be recognized here, for Paul was allowed many personal privileges. However, Paul finally arrived at Rome— not as a missionary carrying the Gospel message, but wearing the legal chain of a prisoner, held for trial before the high court of Rome.
What happened to Paui at Rome will be fully discussed in the next lesson. Meanwhile it should be noted that while Paul's projected visit to Rome was thus finally realized, all details connected with the journey—even including his arrival—worked out in an entirely different way from that at first envisioned by the apostle.
Metaphysical Interpretation: After reading about the storm—as discussed above—the student should refer back to the Gospel story of the storm on Lake Galilee. (See Mark 4:35-41.) There are some interesting similarities, and also some striking contrasts, in these two accounts. Metaphysically these storms may be regarded as symbolizing those unexpected happenings in life which bring turmoil and disturbance, threatening the safety of ourselves or those near and dear to us, and tending to destroy our peace of mind. Such storms may be of an emotional nature, or they may be connected with physical conditions. But always the question arises: How can we meet these storms? What can be done to insure our safety in these times of stress and strain? Paul's attitude throughout the storm brings out some very helpful suggestions.
Throughout the storm—as on many other occasions—Paul was fully conscious of the Christ presence. Much earlier, Paul had taken hold of the promise, "I am with you always" (Matt. 28:20); and many times the apostle testified regarding this close association with Jesus Christ. The writer of Acts sums up Paul's awareness of the Christ presence in a memorable phrase: "The Lord stood by him" (Acts 23:11). The experience of Paul in the storm is reflected in the old saying, "Safer far to travel through the storm with Christ, than to journey through smooth waters without Him!" Paul's unwavering faith that Jesus Christ would bring him safely through every difficulty and danger should be especially noted. Paul's attitude isan outstanding indication of this faith. Not once did he utter a word of doubt. On the contrary, his reiterated assurance of divine protection proved an important factor in bringing the entire ship's company safely to land. Several years after the storm Paul wrote, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (II Tim. 1:12 A.V.).
When life's storms arise, we too may have this same assurance of the Christ presence—for the promise, "I am with you always," is also for us. We too may exercise our faith in Jesus Christ, and know that in every experience in life He is also "able to keep that which we have committed unto Him." Many inspiring messages remind us that this Paul-like faith is well founded. There is the old familiar hymn: "Ask the Savior to help you ... He will carry you through!" The Psalmist testifies to the support forthcoming in times of need: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear" (Psalms 46:1-2). And this assurance finds present-day expression in Unity's Prayer of Protection:
"The light of God surrounds you;
The love of God enfolds you;
The power of God protects you;
The presence of God watches over you;
Wherever you are, God is."
APPENDIX "A": Paul's Epistle to the Romans
INTRODUCTION (Rom. 1:1-15)
Salutation and personal references.
THEME: "JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH" (Rom. 1:16-17)
All men are seeking (either consciously or unconsciously) after conscious oneness and peace with God. This is to be attained only through faith in Jesus Christ.
THE MAIN SECTION (Discussion of Theme) (Rom. 1:18-11:36)
1. Men are separated from God by sin (Rom. 1:18-32).
- to the Gentiles, who are convicted by conscience. (Rom. 2:1-16)
- to the Jews, who are condemned by their law. (Rom. 2:17-3:20)
2. The only way of reconciliation, through Jesus Christ. (Rom. 3:21 -8:39)
- Not by works of the law-Abraham. (Rom. 4:1-25)
- Righteousness is imparted through Christ. Paul's teaching regarding grace. (Rom. 5:1-7:25)
- No condemnation to those "in Christ." (Rom. 8:1-37)
3. Answers to Objections. (Rom. 9:1-11:36)
If this teaching of "justification by faith" is to be accepted, it would indicate that God had abandoned His people, Israel. Paul answers: Not necessarily! He then explains how God, in His great wisdom, has prepared a plan which included the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles. Note the following:
- Paul's great love for his people. (Rom. 9:1-5 and Rom. 10:1-4)
- Paul then reviews the position of the Gentiles. They are like a wild olive tree, upon which has been grafted the cultivated olive. The wild olive denotes strength, while the other indicates spiritual qualities.
- Paul then advances three points to be considered regarding the present position of the Jews:
(1) Not all who claimthe name of "Israel" are true Israelites.
(2) The spiritual growth of the Gentiles should persuade the Jews to further
(3) Israel may be regarded as "marking time" so that the Gentiles may catch
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION (Rom. 12:1-15:13)
The acceptance of the teaching set forth in this Epistle will bring about our "justification," and bring us into close relationship with God; it will also improve our relationship with our fellow men.
CLOSING SALUTATIONS AND BENEDICTION. (Rom. 5:14-33)
Questions for Lesson 6
- Why did Paul desire so strongly to visit Rome? Give two reasons why Paul regarded this as his most important missionary enterprise.
- Explain briefly why Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans. In what way did this Epistle constitute what the lesson terms a new approach?
- Why did Paul regard it as necessary to visit Jerusalem before starting on his journey to Rome? Give at least two important reasons for this visit.
- Why was Paul arrested and imprisoned at Jerusalem? What charges were brought against him? Also explain briefly why Paul made his "appeal to Caesar." What was the final outcome of this appeal?
- Explain briefly what happened during Paul's voyage to Rome. List the places visited on the way, and mention any special activities of Paul at these points.
- What is the metaphysical meaning of Rome? Explain briefly why it is necessary to carry the word of Truth to the point, or points, symbolized by Rome in our consciousness. (Be sure to make this explanation clear.)
- What is indicated by the word justification? Explain briefly the difference between justification by works and justification by faith, and show briefly how this is dealt with in the Epistle to the Romans. Some passages from the Epistle should be quoted to substantiate your answer.
- What is the metaphysical significance of Paul's visit to Jerusalem, just prior to his journey to Rome? Explain how we should interpret the "warnings" given to Paul when the apostle was on his way to Jerusalem.
- Give the metaphysical meaning of Paul's imprisonment at Jerusalem and Caesarea. Also show how this may apply in connection with our own spiritual development.
- On his voyage to Rome, Paul encountered a severe storm, and this resulted in shipwreck. What does this storm symbolize in our experience? Mention two important attitudes of Paul during this storm, and explain how these attitudes may help us today.