v 15 The brothers and sisters in Rome had heard we were coming, and they came to meet us at the Forum on the Appian Way. Others joined us at The Three Taverns. When Paul saw them, he was encouraged and thanked God.
Remember Paul was a prisoner in chains at this stage. He had no idea of what the outcome of some trial might be; death in the arena was a possibility as was exile to some remote part of the Empire. Luke, the writer of Acts, was in the entourage that accompanied Paul, which is why this part of the story is in the first person. It was out of personal experience that he could write ‘they came to meet us at the Forum on the Appian Way.’ Paul had written his letter to the Christians in Rome some years earlier so they already knew his reputation and now wanted to meet him face to face.
It is this standing together that keeps hitting me as I read the exploits of these early Christians. They were engaged in mission together, so they walked the road to Rome with Paul, and encouraged him.
I tried for a moment to put myself in the position of one of the armed guards responsible for Paul. They must have felt they were almost surplus to requirements – this prisoner wanted to go to Rome. When he might have escaped in the shipwreck (Acts 27) he seemed to take charge and make sure others were safe. Now this crowd of friends encouraged him along towards Rome rather than thinking of trying to set him free!
What questions they might have asked – how very different from other prisoners they might have escorted.
Paul knew God’s plan for mission, and that going to Rome was part of it.
What is God’s plan for you as you reflect on mission today?