Paul is imprisoned by the government in Rome because (as he explains to the Jews living in Rome):
…though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation… It is because of the hope of Israel [Jesus] that I am wearing this chain. Acts 28: 17b-20
So Paul is wearing a chain in Rome, ready to appeal his case to the emperor.
Wow, that is a lemony situation. But God makes this situation some kind of lemonade for Paul!
For example, “Paul was allowed to stay by himself with the soldier who guarded him.” (vs. 16) And he stayed in what seems to be a private home: “They came to him at his lodging” (vs. 23) and one translation says that he lived “in his own hired dwelling” or “at his own expense” (vs. 30).
Pretty nice situation: living with a guard in your own home (even though in chains)
But, get this. The Roman guard switches over to a new guy every once in while. And these guys have no one to talk to but Paul. So what does he do?
Paul tells us in his letter to the Philippian church:
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Philippians 1: 12-14
Paul shares the Gospel with every single imperial guard who is sent to keep an eye on him! He has a captive audience.
When they see the lemonade God makes of Paul’s circumstance, the “freed” Christians in Rome grow in courage to preach the Gospel!!
Get this! There’s more:
[Paul] lived there [under house arrest in Rome] two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. Acts 28: 30-31
Many Jews came to Paul to hear the Gospel and some believed (vs. 24). Paul of course preached to the Gentiles as well – Romans and Greeks (vs. 29).
And those Gentiles even included Caesar’s family – or at least those who worked in the emperor’s home!! Because Paul ends the letter to the Philippian church this way:
All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Philippians 4: 22-23
How amazing is that? Because of Paul’s arrest and imprisonment in Rome, the Gospel spread in amazing ways – so that even members of Caesar’s household became saints – Christians.
So, when you face lemons in life, remember the lemonade God made of Paul’s arrest and Roman imprisonment!
Dear Lord: Next time I face lemons in life, remind me of this story!! Amen.