It appears that Paul’s accusers never showed up in Rome. Without an indictment and witnesses, there was no trial and Paul was released after 2 years in confinement. Now he was able to continue his ministry throughout the Mediterranean world.
We really don’t know many details of what happened in his life after Acts 28, but many clues are provided in his letters that are called the Pastoral Epistles. They were written during the period after his first Roman imprisonment.
Paul had written to Philemon and requested that he prepare lodging for him, so he probably first headed to Asia Minor after leaving Rome. The logical route to Philemon’s home in Colossae would have been to sail to Ephesus and then follow the Meander River to the Lycus Valley. After he had visited believers in both Colossae and Ephesus, he then departed for Macedonia, leaving Timothy in Ephesus to continue the work.
While he was in Macedonia, he undoubtedly fulfilled his desire to visit Philippi. It was during his stay there that he wrote Timothy with the hope that he could join him in Ephesus soon. In case of delay, though, Paul set forth instructions concerning church policy and practice in I Timothy 3:14. It’s also possible that Paul revisited Ephesus and remained there for some time, ministering to the believers.
His itinerary becomes more speculative from this point on. It is believed that sometime during this later period of Paul’s ministry, he journeyed to Spain. Clement of Rome wrote that Paul journeyed to “the extreme limit of the west,” a phrase that was understood to refer to the Spanish peninsula. The Muratorian Canon also mentions Paul’s journey to Spain, so it seems that the early church accepted it as historical fact.
Next, it would have been logical for Paul to have visited Crete on his return voyage from Spain. After a successful ministry on the island, he departed, leaving Titus to complete the follow-up and appoint elders in every city according to Titus 1:5.
After this, there are only references to him being in different places: Asia Minor in 2 Timothy 4:13,20; Greece in Titus 3:12 and 2 Timothy 4:20. It seems that he may have traveled to Asia Minor first and visited Miletus, where he left the ailing Trophimus as he journeyed back to Troas. It also appears that at this time he was being pursued by the Roman authorities. It may have been because of a quick escape that he left his cloak, books, and parchments in Troas. From this point on, he was probably on the run from the authorities.
He was arrested a second time and brought once again to Rome (2 Timothy 1:8, 16-17). During this imprisonment he was treated more harshly and according to the Scriptures, anticipated death as the ultimate outcome. He wrote to Timothy from the Mamertinum Prison that was adjacent to the Roman forum, and asked him to join him before winter.
According to Eusebius, Paul was martyred in the thirteenth year of Nero. His death probably occurred in the spring of A.D. 68, since he had hoped Timothy could join him before winter.
According to tradition, he was beheaded with a sword outside the gates of Rome on the Ostian Way and buried in the catacombs south of the city. It is almost certain that he did suffer a martyr’s death. Most importantly, though, the interpretation of the Christian Faith and its spread throughout the world are so interwoven with his ministry and theology that neither can be considered apart from Paul and his work.
Below is a map of the places that Paul probably visited after leaving prison in Rome.
Rome’s Destruction of Jerusalem
The fall of Jerusalem to the Roman legions in A.D., 70 brought the early apostolic age to a close. Peter had been martyred under Nero in A.D. 64, and now Paul was gone also. Only a very few of the apostles lived beyond the date of Jerusalem’s destruction, with John being one of them.
When Agrippa I died in A.D. 44, Emperor Claudius decided to return Judea to the rule of Roman procurators. Their corruption and cruelty helped to ignite a revolt by the Jews. In A.D. 66, the tensions between the Jews and the Greeks became so explosive that the Jews were forced to leave the city. When report of this reached Jerusalem, riots broke out among the Jews.
It was late summer of that year before Cestius Gallus, governor of Syria, was able to start south from Antioch with 40,000 soldiers to quell the rebellion. He marched to Jerusalem and attacked the fortified city, but it was not to be vanquished. The Jews resisted valiantly and Gallus was forced into a humiliating retreat. When word of his failure reached Rome, Nero appointed his best general Titus Flavius Vespasian, to bring the area to its knees with three legions of soldiers.
Vespasian amassed his troops at Ptolemais and was able to subjugate Galilee by the end of A.D. 67. He then turned his attention to crushing opposition in Samaria, Perea, and Idumea. By the next summer, Vespasian’s position in Palestine was sufficiently secure for him to lay siege to Jerusalem. He was just about to do so when word arrived from Rome of Nero’s death.
Jerusalem would survive for a little while longer. After three emperors were overthrown, the army proclaimed Vespasian emperor. He ascended the throne in A.D. 70. After two years, he sent his son Titus with 80,000 soldiers to bring Jerusalem into submission. Titus offered Jerusalem a chance to surrender, but she wouldn’t. They broke through the two outer walls and launched an attack on Antonia Fortress and Herod’s Palace. The fortress was captured and razed.
On August 6, all Temple activity ceased and the Temple was burned on August 28th. The Upper City was overthrown and Herod’s palace captured about a month later. According to Josephus, over a million Jews perished in the assault on the city of Jerusalem. The survivors were taken captive to work a slaves and the city was leveled. Titus returned in triumph displaying slaves and temple treasures as fruits of his victory.
The Jews still resisted Roman rule, though. Fighting dragged on another three years, until the Romans captured the remote mountain fortress of Masada. The Roman victory there was empty, though, because the 900 defenders took their own lives rather than subject themselves to the slavery of Rome.
Following Rome’s complete victory over the Jews in Palestine, Vespasian decreed the termination of Jewish religion and worship. The priesthood and Sanhedrin were abolished, but no power or military force would quench the flame of Judaism. The faith of Abraham’s people endures to this day, in both the independent country of Israel and other national states around the world.