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From Trials to Triumph

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    Chapter 46—Paul Is Free Once More

    Clouds were gathering that threatened not only Paul's own safety, but also the prosperity of the church. In Rome he had been placed in the charge of the captain of the imperial guards, a man of integrity, by whose clemency he was left comparatively free to pursue gospel work. But this man was replaced by an official from whom the apostle could expect no special favor.TT 255.1

    In their efforts against Paul the Jews found an able helper in the profligate woman whom Nero had made his second wife, a Jewish proselyte. Paul could hope for little justice from Nero, debased in morals and capable of atrocious cruelty. The first year of his reign had been marked by the poisoning of his young stepbrother, the rightful heir to the throne. Nero had then murdered his own mother and his wife. In every noble mind he inspired only abhorrence and contempt.TT 255.2

    His abandoned wickedness created disgust, even in many who were forced to share his crimes. They were in constant fear as to what he would suggest next. Yet Nero was acknowledged as the absolute ruler of the civilized world. More than this, he was worshiped as a god.TT 255.3

    Paul's condemnation before such a judge seemed certain. But the apostle felt that so long as he was loyal to God, he had nothing to fear. His Protector could shield him from the malice of the Jews and the power of Caesar.TT 255.4

    And God did shield His servant. At Paul's examination the charges against him were not sustained. With a regard for justice wholly at variance with his character, Nero declared the prisoner guiltless. Paul was again a free man.TT 255.5

    Had he been detained in Rome until the following year, he would doubtless have perished in the persecution which then took place. During Paul's imprisonment, converts had become so numerous as to arouse the enmity of the authorities. The anger of the emperor was especially excited by the conversion of members of his own household, and he soon found a pretext to make the Christians the objects of his merciless cruelty.TT 256.1

    A terrible fire occurred in Rome; nearly half the city was burned. Nero himself, it was rumored, had caused it; but he made a pretense of great generosity by assisting the homeless and destitute. He was, however, accused of the crime. The people were enraged, and in order to clear himself, Nero turned the accusation on the Christians. Thousands of men, women, and children were cruelly put to death.TT 256.2

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