Luke records how Paul reached Rome and the welcome he received from the Christians on his arrival. Perhaps some of them are mentioned in the last chapter of Romans as receiving greetings from Paul when he wrote that letter several years before. Maybe they were believers that he had not known anything about previously. Whoever they were, we can see the priority they gave to expressing brotherly love to one who was a prisoner in the eyes of the law.
Paul felt obliged to explain to the Jewish leaders in Rome why he was there in case they had been misinformed about the reasons for his arrival. Their response, while revealing a lack of information about him, highlights the universal antipathy of Jews to those of their number who had become Christians.
A special day conference led by Paul confirmed that this was the case among the Jews in Rome. It looks as if some were convinced in an intellectual sense that Jesus fulfilled what was said in the Old Testament about the promised Messiah. Yet even those who were convinced did not seem to appreciate Paul’s assertion that the salvation provided by Jesus included blessings for Gentiles. Although it looks as if Paul’s efforts in Rome commenced with a disappointing start, yet he was marked by confidence that the cause of Jesus would flourish.
Luke indicates that this was the case during the next two years as Paul used his rented house as a base for spreading the faith. No doubt, this growth was part of God’s preparation of his church there for the troubles that would come upon it through the policy of Nero.
Luke’s account does not take us to that period. It looks as if he regarded Paul’s arrival in Rome as the fitting conclusion to his account. The author had indicated that eventually Paul would stand before Caesar, and now he was in Rome we are told that he did not waste his time while waiting for that trial. Instead he pursued relentlessly the cause of Jesus and, as he tells us in Philippians 1, even the Praetorian Guard heard the gospel. It is not hard to see what Paul’s priority was, the extension of the kingdom of Jesus.