The Beheading of the Apostle Paul


It’s not the best way to start your day. You have just sat down with your coffee and your breakfast bagel. You are eagerly anticipating inspiration from this morning’s Interruption.

What will Pastor Grant discuss this a.m. – peace, power, or prosperity? Oh no, not death by beheading!

Again, sorry.

The Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy writes:

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.  2 Timothy 4:6 ESV

The image from the Greek word for “departure” is a ship casting off lines to set sail. Paul knew it was time for him to enter eternity. Paul continues his writing with one of the most beautiful epitaphs ever written:

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  2 Timothy 4:7 ESV

Paul knew that his ministry had ended. He was ready for his departure. Historically, Paul was enduring his second imprisonment in Rome. His first was relatively mild (by Roman standards) as he was confined to a rented house and chained to a guard 24 hours a day for two years.

Paul was released after the first imprisonment.

Then Emperor Nero decided he wanted to rebuild a district of Rome. To bypass the needed Roman Senate approval, rumor indicates that he set that part of the city on fire. The idea of never letting a crisis go to waste probably started with Nero.

A crisis that he started!

A wild wind arose and about two-thirds of the city burned. Now, having more of a crisis than anticipated, Nero blamed the Christians and began persecuting them. Paul, as a leader, was apprehended and thrown into the Mamertine Prison.

By any standards, Mamertine Prison was a terrible place. Deep underground, it was a dungeon. Think of the worst living conditions possible and equate Mamertine. And technically it was not a prison but a holding place before execution.

Once Paul was thrown into Mamertine, he knew the end was near.

What would you do? How would you react? You are in a dungeon and it is 100 percent guaranteed that you will be executed. Yes, you will get an appearance before Nero (Paul got two audiences). Paul describes his first trial:

At my first defense, no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!  2 Timothy 4:16 ESV

The great Apostle Paul. Thousands saved and probably hundreds healed through his ministry. In the end, no one stood with him. If they did, they would have been executed too, so they kept their distance.

Paul, dirty, hungry, thirsty, in a dark dungeon, and alone. How did he endure?

But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed, and all the Gentiles might hear it.  2 Timothy 2:17 ESV

The Lord stood with Paul, like angels ministering to Jesus just before the cross. Jesus gives us a promise too:

When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.  Matthew 10:19 ESV

The Apostle Paul lived his life in the Presence of God and before death, Jesus stood with him.

History is now fast-paced toward its end. Prophecy predicts persecution and martyrdom for saints in the last days. Even without death by persecution, there are thorns along our narrow path.

Our example, the Apostle Paul! Jesus stood with him. Jesus will stand with you.

A few days after Paul finished writing 2 Timothy, he was led out to a road named the Ostian Way where he was beheaded. A life released into eternity. Paul gives a final encouragement to all of us:

The Lord is within your spirit and his grace overflows to you!  2 Timothy 4:22 TPT

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