Free Online Bible Library | Lecture 15: Paul's Life After Acts - Part 1

Lecture 15: Paul's Life After Acts - Part 1

Course: New Testament Overview, by Dr. Carl Laney

Lesson 15: Paul's Life After Acts - Part 1

Hi, I’m Carl Laney, Professor here at Western Seminary and it’s my privilege to give you this introduction to the New Testament. Today we are going to be looking at Paul’s life after Acts. We left off in our last lesson in Acts 28 when Paul spent two years in prison or under house arrest in Rome. We read in Acts 28:30 he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the Kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness and unhindered. We followed that up by showing that Paul wrote four letters during that time, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. But then we have the question what happened next. The Book of Acts ends rather abruptly, and we wonder what is the rest of the story. Well, Paul Harvey, radio commentator, had a classic line that he used to conclude some of his radio stories and his line was, “Now you know the rest of the story.” That’s what we are going to look at this morning, we’re going to look at the rest of the story of Paul’s life after Acts.

Let’s have a word of prayer. Heavenly Father we thank you for the life and the ministry of the Apostle Paul and we pray that you might guide us as we study your word together. Thank you for these students who are interested in understanding the trues of the New Testament and I pray that our time together in the Pastoral Epistles might be helpful and encouraging for them. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.


A. Author

Well, Paul’s life after Acts, you know, we can’t be dogmatic about the details of Paul’s life after Acts, but we do have quite a bit of information from his letters and from the Pastoral Epistles as to where he might have traveled. We try to put this material together and you can see there is a lot of different references. It’s an interesting puzzle because it is the kind of puzzle that can be put together in several different ways. We want to try to conclude what’s the best way to put this puzzle together. I suggest that Paul was probably released after his house arrest there in Rome. He spent two years there, had the opportunity to write, some would say that Paul died, and others would say that he went on to have a fruitful ministry after his release from prison. I take this second view based upon the indicators in his letters of travel plans and his indicators in the Pastoral Epistles of where he went. So, we have some information to go by. Let’s see if we can put this information together.

I’m going to suggest, that the first place that Paul traveled to after his release from Rome was to Colossi in Asia Minor. Paul wrote Philemon in verse 22 and he said, prepare me a lodging, get me a reservation at the local hotel. Paul anticipated going to Colossi, so that’s where he probably went after his release from prison. Then we have a reference in 1 Tim. 1:3 that Paul told Timothy to remain on at Ephesus, as Paul went on to Macedonia. Paul no doubt went to Ephesus, spent some time there, left Timothy there, as Paul went on from Ephesus to Macedonia. He left Timothy in charge of the church there at Ephesus and traveled on across the Aegean to Macedonia. Where might he have gone when he was in Macedonia? Well, most likely Philippi. Paul wrote the Philippians and said that the was coming shortly to Philippi. My guess is that Paul would have gone to Philippi in Macedonia, as he had planned and indicated.

Where did Paul go next? As we continue our discovery here, Paul had written to Timothy in 1 Tim. 3:14, in case I am delayed in Macedonia, I want you to continue your ministry in Ephesus. Paul expected to return to Ephesus. He had expected to return to Timothy in Ephesus, so we assume that he most likely did.

At this point, it gets a little bit more sketchy, but Paul mentioned in Romans 15:24 that he had wanted to go to Spain. Having fulfilled his obligations in Asia and Macedonia, most likely at this time, Paul would have fulfilled his desire to go to Spain. And the early church believed that he in fact did. 1 Clement 5:7 says that Paul traveled to the extreme limit of the west, that would have been the Spanish Peninsula at the west end of the Mediterranean Sea. The Muratorian Canon also mentions Paul’s journey to Spain.

Paul went to Spain and no doubt traveled along that way and then on his way back we suggest that he probably stopped at Crete. You remember on his trip to Rome Paul wanted to spend the winter on Crete and suggested that they would do that, but instead they got involved in that storm and were shipwrecked on the Island of Malta. Paul had a desire to minister in Crete. So, we believe that’s probably what he did on his return voyage from Spain. He dropped off Titus at Crete, to fulfill what Timothy was doing in Ephesus. So, Paul writes in Titus 1:5, I left you in Crete. Titus was there doing the follow up work for Paul’s ministry in Crete.

Things get a little bit more uncertain at this point in Paul’s itinerary, but we have several texts that suggest that he traveled to Asia Minor. 2 Tim. 4:13 mentions the cloak that he left at Troas in Asia Minor. Perhaps he had to make a quick escape from the authorities and left his cloak, his books, and parchments there at Troas. Then in 2 Tim. 4:20, Paul writes in his last letter that he left one of his associates sick at Miletus. So, we know that Paul was ministering south of Ephesus, in the area of Miletus. Several texts indicate that he traveled also to Greece at this time. He wrote to Titus in 3:12, meet me at Nicopolis. Paul says meet me in Nicopolis on the Adriatic Sea there in Greece, for the winter. Then he also mentions in 2 Tim.4:20 that Erastus remained in Corinth. So, Paul apparently had gone to Corinth, spent some time there.

Eventually Paul made his way to Rome. We have this in 2 Tim. 1:16-17, that he was in Rome and he wrote his last letter from Rome, anticipating his death. Now is this a reconstruction of Paul’s travels after Acts, what Paul refers to as foolish and ignorant speculations? 2 Tim. 2:23. My answer is no. This is not foolish and ignorant speculations because we are looking at Biblical information about what Paul planned to do and did after his release from prison. What we are really discovering here is what we would say is the background of the Pastoral Epistles. 1 & 2 Tim., and Titus, letters that Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus that really expressed his pastoral concerns.

We are going to take a look at parts of each of these letters in this lesson, and the first one is 1 Tim. In the letter that Paul wrote to Timothy while Timothy was at Ephesus, Paul was talking about the polity and practice of the New Testament church. By polity we mean how it’s run, the government, how things operate in the New Testament church.

Let’s get acquainted with this letter by examining some of the facts and there are some places in your notes where you can fill in the blank. I encourage you to do that, so you can get all of this information. Although the Pauline Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles has been contested, that’s your first blank, in ancient times Paul claims to be the author of these letters and this view was accepted by the early church. Now there are some that would say that someone else wrote these letters, that it wasn’t Paul. It’s argued that there’s a different vocabulary and style from Paul’s other letters and that the ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church, is too advanced. Others suggest that Paul was executed, not released, and therefore he wouldn’t have had an opportunity to write these letters. But the early church viewed these as Pauline, and we believe that they are indeed Paul’s letters.

B. Reader

Who was the reader? Well the letter was addressed to Timothy, a young man who joined Paul on his second journey when he revisited Derbe and Lystra. Timothy was apparently converted under Paul’s ministry. Paul refers to him as his true child in the faith. Timothy had been raised in a home where the Bible was read and studied, but his faith came to fruition under Paul’s ministry. Later Timothy accompanied Paul on his third missionary journey and was with Paul in Rome, during his imprisonment. Timothy was appointed to guide the church at Ephesus while Paul went on to Macedonia.

C. Date of Writing

As to the date of writing, 1 Tim. was written soon after Paul’s release from prison, but after his visit to Philippi so Paul had traveled to Colossi, to Ephesus and then had probably gone on to Macedonia and then from Macedonia or Philippi. Paul wrote this letter to Timothy probably in the autumn of AD62.

D. Historical Setting

Well here’s the situation. Timothy was ministering as Paul’s representative at the church at Ephesus. Paul had traveled to Macedonia and there was the possibility that his return would be delayed. Paul recognized that Timothy needed some instruction on matters of church polity, how the church was to be run and church practice. This letter was intended to help Timothy to exercise leadership in these areas, and give him a little more creditability and support by this apostolic letter, this letter from Paul.

E. Purpose & Theme

Paul wrote Timothy to backup his leadership with apostolic authority and to show Timothy how the church was to be run. The theme I suggest is the polity and practice of the New Testament Church. The book can be outlined chapter by chapter. The first chapter dealing with the doctrine of the church. Then the worship of the church in chapter 2. Chapter 3 deals with the leadership of the church in terms of elders and deacons. Chapter 4 deals more with the teaching of the church and accountability of church leaders. Chapter 6 deals with church members and then finally a charge that Paul gives to Timothy.

II. Outline

We want to examine the first chapter of Timothy, as representative of the book as a whole. When Paul met the elders of Ephesus at Miletus at the end of his third missionary journey he warned them that false teachers were coming to the church. Five years have passed and now in AD62 the false teachers were there. They had arrived at Ephesus. In chapter 1 Paul warns Timothy of the danger of false teaching and illustrates this through his own testimony, and the results of sound doctrine.

Paul begins his letter to Timothy with these words, Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Saviour, and Christ Jesus who is our hope; 2 unto Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Paul refers to Timothy as his child in the faith, my true child in the faith which would suggest to us that Timothy was brought to a full understanding of who Jesus is, the resurrected Messiah through Paul’s ministry.

III. The Doctrine of the Church

A. Introduction, 1:1-2

Now Paul address the danger of false doctrine, 3 As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach, heteros doctrine. Heteros as in heretical, doctrine that is contrary to the doctrine taught by Paul. These false teachers had come to Ephesus and were teaching a different doctrine, a strange doctrine, something that was different than the apostolic tradition that Paul had taught there.

B. Danger of False Doctrine, 1:3-11

1. Problem at Ephesus, 3-4

There was this dangerous of heteros doctrine. Then, there was also the problem with myths, in verse 4 he mentions myths, not to pay attention to myths. We wonder what myths might this refer to. Well there were lots of Jewish myths Paul mentions to Titus the problem of Jewish myths. There are lots of Jewish myths and tradition that can be found in the Apocrypha and the Talmud, these are Jewish materials. The assumption of Moses tells about prophecies that Moses made after his assumption. The life of Adam and Eve tell of their repentance after leaving the Garden, and stories about Adam and Eve, these were Jewish myths not found in scripture. Then the secrets of Enoch, as he journeyed through the heavens. These are speculative, myths, legions, traditions, and these people were becoming enamored by these stories that weren’t biblically based and Paul warns about them. He also mentions in verse 4 genealogies. Now we find genealogies in scripture, but the genealogies referred to here are probably referring to the Jewish genealogies, like can be found in the Book of Jubilees, where there are genealogies and additional stories about what these figures in the genealogies did. Again, it’s myth, it’s speculation, it’s not Biblically based. Paul warns against these things. While the false teaching produces strife and questions as Paul notes, and gives rise to speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. Paul points out that his instruction is designed to produce and result in love, agape.

2. Paul’s pursuit, 5

Paul gives us the goal of his instruction in verse 5, he says, the goal of our instruction, the ultimate goal the ultimate purpose is love. Love sourced in a heart that is pure, a conscience that is good and a faith that is without hypocrisy. You might be surprised to see that, Paul is saying the goal of my instruction is not theological accuracy. Now Paul wanted to be theologically accurate, but that wasn’t his goal. The goal of his instruction wasn’t theological precision. Paul wanted to be precise on the details that God had revealed but again that wasn’t his goal. His goal wasn’t theological recognition by others nor was it theological persuasion so that others would believe everything that he taught. Paul’s aim, his goal in teaching was agape. Agape love, love for God, love for one another. The Great Commandment in the Law. You know, if I’m theological accurate and precise in my teaching, and recognized as a good teacher and persuade my students but miss the goal of love I’ve missed the mark. I’ve really failed. Some teaching results in division. Some teaching diminishes others. Some teaching is proud. That’s not the kind of teaching that Paul wants to pursue. He wants us to pursue teaching that results in love. Love for God, love for one another. If our teaching doesn’t result in love, then somehow or another, we have failed., we’ve missed the mark.

3. Perversion of the law, 6-11

Paul points out that there were some at Ephesus that were turning from grace to legalism. Verses 6-11, they wanted to be teachers of the law, but in face they were ignorant of the law’s purpose and function. So, Paul has to explain, you know, the law is good if one uses it lawfully, there is a good place to study the law. The word law in Hebrew, Torah, simply means instruction. The Hebrew scripture is full of God’s instruction and so much of that instruction is helpful, applicable, and relevant to us. But the law was not designed to help those already justified, the law was ultimately intended to point sinners to their need for the Messiah. That’s the ultimate goal as Paul says in Galatians 3:24. Once that goal has been achieved, there are things that we can learn about God, his character, his attributes, his holiness, but the law isn’t intended as a basis for justification. It’s intended to point us to our need for the Savior. These people were misusing the law. Using it in an improper way.

C. The Testimony of Paul, 1:12-17

1. Paul’s conversion, 12-14

Paul goes on to share something of his own testimony of God’s gracious work in his life and in verses 12-17, Paul tells us about his conversion. Paul describes in rather harsh terms his past life before he met Christ, I thank Christ Jesus our Lord that he has strengthened me, because he considered me faithful, putting me into service even though I was formerly a blasphemer and persecutor and violent aggressor, yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief. Paul explains that he acted ignorantly and in unbelief before he came to Christ. He’s not saying that to excuse his guilt but rather to explain why he was shown mercy.

Now the Hebrew Bible make a distinction between sins of ignorance and sins of defiance. Sins of ignorance are sins that we inadvertently overstep the bounds that God has placed. Sins of defiance are the sins of the high hand, where one raises their fists in the face of God in defiance of what he has revealed. According to the Old Testament there was atonement for sins of ignorance, but not sins of defiance. If you shook your fist in the face of God, the ultimate consequence would be death rather than a provision of atonement. Paul explains that he was guilt of sins of ignorance. He was seeking to serve God as a Jewish person but in fact he was persecuting Christ and his church.

2. Paul’s example, 15-16

Paul refers to himself in verse 15 as the foremost of sinners. Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am the foremost of all. The Good News here is that if God can save Paul, he can save anybody. Is anybody on this earth too wicked, too sinful to be saved? Paul says he is the foremost of sinners, and if God can save him, God can save anybody. Boy that’s Good News. Notice in verse 15, Paul says, it is a trustworthy statement. This is a favorite slogan or statement that Paul uses in the Pastoral Epistles. It is one of the reasons that some people say that these letters are not Pauline, because Paul doesn’t use this phrase in any of his other letters. But the expression is faithful is the word or translated it’s a trustworthy statement. It’s a formula that Paul uses in the Pastoral letters to introduce some important truths. Paul is introducing an important truth about God’s grace and how God in his mercy saved Paul, and that if God can save Paul the wonderful truth is God can save anybody.

3. Praise to God, 17

Out of Paul’s reflection on what God has done in his own life, he bursts into praise as we see in verse 17, Paul just can’t help lifting the name of God before his readers, he says, now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. Some of you may know that verse is set to a little chorus and if you’re not familiar with it let me introduce it to you. There’s one word that is added, the only wise God, to make the chorus work. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever, Amen. Amen, be honor and glory forever and ever Amen. If you want to hear it twice back up the tape and play it again. That’s a neat little song. I’ve sung that to my children over the years and it’s just a great way to memorize these attributes of God with this little chorus. We’re going to move past the rest of what Paul wrote to Timothy. I encourage you to read that on your own, but we want to move ahead to another letter that Paul wrote, and this is his letter to Titus.

IV. Facts on Titus, 1:1

A. Reader, Titus 1:4, Gal. 2:3, Gal. 2:1, Titus 1:5

Titus was like Timothy, left in charge of a congregation by Paul, when Paul had to leave. Timothy was left at Ephesus and Titus was left on the Island Crete to do follow up work for Paul on the Island of Crete. Let’s get acquainted with this letter that Paul wrote to Titus. Paul authorship is evidenced by internal evidence and by the testimony of the church fathers. Who was Titus? Well, Titus is referred to as a true child in the common faith, same terminology used to describe Timothy, and this would suggest that Titus came to faith through Paul’s ministry. Titus was a Greek Christian, not Jewish in background. He was one of Paul’s traveling companions on his journeys, and an assistant in church planting work as we see in Titus 1:5. About four years after Paul’s release first Roman imprisonment, Titus accompanied Paul to the Island of Crete. He was left there to set things in order and to appoint elders, while Paul traveled on to Asia Minor. This letter was written by Paul, after his visit to Spain and Crete.

B. Date of Writing, 3:12

We suggest that he wrote Titus from Asia Minor, probably in the summer of AD66, if we’re traveling on to Nicopolis as he mentions in Titus 3:12, where he spent the winter. Titus was facing a difficult assignment on the Island of Crete. He needed some encouragement as Timothy did, to know how to deal with the problems of church order and doctrine. Apollos and Zenas were traveling to Crete, and so Paul took the opportunity to write this letter and send it by way of Apollos and Zenas to Titus, with the encouragement that Titus was to this instruction to help him in his leadership there, and then to travel on from Crete and meet Paul in Nicopolis for the winter.

C. Historical setting, 3:13

A map can help us put things in order. Titus on Crete, Paul in Asia, Paul with travel plans to go to Greece and to winter in Nicopolis, and he writes this letter from Asia to Titus on the Island of Crete and says when you finish your work there meet me in Nicopolis for the winter.

D. Purpose & Theme

The purpose of his letter was to help Titus establish the main doctrines of the church and church order and doctrine. Those are the blanks there in your notes, to establish the basic elements of church order and doctrine. The letter emphasizes also the need for purity in leadership and soundness in doctrine. The theme I suggest is the need for consistency between confession and conduct. Paul speaks of the Cretans who professed to know God, but by their deeds they deny him, Titus 1:16. Paul encourages Titus to teach the importance of consistency between what you believe and what you do.

V. Outline

The Book breaks nicely into two main sections, Chapter 1 dealing with the administration of sound doctrine through proper leadership. Chapter 2, Paul’s proclamation of sound doctrine and encourage Titus to proclaim it there on the Island of Crete. This little letter to Titus is a fun letter to study, in light of the structure and divisions in the Book. Even if you’re not using the Greek text you can actually learn something of the structure from your English translation. In your notes there, I provided a list of the Greek constructions that are sign posts that Paul the author uses to give indications of the progress of his logical argument in this book. By observing the placement of these key connections and conjunctions a structural outline of the Book can be developed and you can begin to see the purpose and the result of what Paul is saying.

VI. Structure and Divisions in Titus

The first of these structural indicators is the word Alla. This is a strong adversative construction connecting and it’s usually translated with a strong but, the word but. Gar is the inferential conjunction that provides the reason or explanation, Gar translated for. De is an adversative often translated but not as strong as Alla, but it’s also used in a transitional or continued as a transitional or continuative particle. Sometimes translated then or now. Hina used in purpose clauses usually translated in order that or showing results, so that or that. Now these conjunctions which I’ve introduced to you can help us follow the thought of Paul’s letter. We’ll discover that in our next lesson as we look at Part 2 of this lecture.