Chapter 42: “As Thou Has Testified of Me in Jerusalem, So Must Thou Bear Witness Also at Rome”

The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, (1979), 340–47


Map Chp. 42

The Acts of the Apostles

Paul’s Arrest and Imprisonment, ca. A.D. 58–60

 

Acts

Jerusalem

The Gradual Process of Conversion

21:18–26

Paul Persecuted, Arrested, Bound

21:27–39

The Story of Paul’s Conversion

21:40; 22:1–16

Paul’s Vision of Jesus

22:17–21

The Protection of Roman Citizenship

22:22–29

Appearance before the Sanhedrin

22:30; 23:1–10

The Lord Again Appears to Paul

23:11

The Jewish Conspiracy Against Paul

23:12–22

Caesarea

Paul Transferred to Caesarea

23:23–35

The Case Before Felix

24:1–27

Paul’s Letter to the Saints at Colossae—

Written from His Imprisonment in Rome, ca. A.D. 61–63 (Acts 25–28; Colossians)

 

Acts

Paul Appeals to Caesar

25:1–22

Paul Testifies Before King Agrippa

25:23–27; 26:1–32

Departure for Rome

27:1–8

Crete

Shipwreck at Fair Havens

27:9–44

Melita (Malta)

Paul Heals the Sick

28:1–10

From Malta to Rome

28:11–15

Rome

Paul Preaches in Rome

28:16–31

 

Colossians

Gospel Brings Hope, Blessings, Salvation

1:1–12

Christ Created All Things

1:13–19

The Colossians Share in Salvation

1:20–29

Paul Warns Against False Doctrines

2:1–23

Rules of Christian Behavior

3:1–17

Saints Should Be Wise in All Things

3:18–25; 4:1–18

Interpretive Commentary

(42-1) Acts 21:28, 29. What Charge Did the Jews Make against Paul?

Trophimus was an Ephesian, a gentile, one to whom the inner courts of the temple were closed. The charge that Paul had thus violated the sacred precincts was a serious one, even though untrue. It was a capital offense for which Paul could have been stoned. That he was not seriously hurt was due to the intervention of the chief captain of the Roman soldiers stationed in Jerusalem to maintain order.

(42-2) Acts 21:38. “Art Not Thou That Egyptian?”

Josephus, the Roman-Jewish historian, tells us of an Egyptian Jew who raised a large following in the wilderness and brought them to the Mount of Olives. (See Josephus, Flavius Josephus, Wars 2. 13. 5.) He promised his followers that the walls of Jerusalem would crumble when they approached and they could drive out the Romans with ease. Felix, the Roman governor, met them with his army and totally defeated them. However, the leader was not captured, and the chief captain mistakenly thought Paul was this man.

(42-3) Acts 25:11. “I Appeal unto Caesar”

Under Roman law, each citizen accused of crime had the right and privilege of being heard before the imperial seat. Authorities on Roman law assert that local magistrates had a discretionary power where appeal was concerned. They could decide if the case warranted such a privilege where guilt was obvious and the crime of such enormity that a delay would thwart true justice.

(42-4) Acts 26:25. “I Am Not Mad, Most Noble Festus; but Speak Forth the Words of Truth and Soberness”

As with Paul, so with Joseph Smith and others of the Lord’s prophets. Men who are spiritually out of tune with eternal truths simply cannot believe a humble testimony when they hear it. Joseph Smith described his personal dilemma in these words: Read Joseph Smith—History 1:24, 25.

Many people with testimonies of the gospel do not commit their lives to Christ because they have persuaded themselves that it would be too difficult and costly to give up their friends, their habits, their comfortable way of life. Yet Paul cared little for the possessions, the fashions, the opinions of men. He was willing to give up life itself for his testimony. Are you “almost persuaded”? (See Acts 26:28.) What have you learned thus far from the example of Paul that has helped you to become totally committed to the Savior?

(42-5) Acts 27:9. What Is the Significance of Paul’s Statement “the Fast Was Now Already Past”?

Luke’s reference to the fact that sailing was dangerous because ‘the fast” was already past is a probable reference to the Hebrew Day of Atonement. It marked the period during which it was generally regarded as unsafe to travel upon the waters until the weather moderated. The Day of Atonement was the last of ten solemn days set aside for penitential reverence and personal purification. It fell on the tenth day of Tishri, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, and corresponded to our latter part of September and early part of October. It also marked the yearly entrance of the high priest into the most sacred Holy of Holies to make a universal atonement for the sins of the people and called for abstinence from all food and labor. The Jews did much of their dating by means of their yearly festivals and holy days.

(42-6) Acts 28:16–31. What Do We Know Concerning Paul’s Activities While He Was Imprisoned in Rome?

Luke gives us little information respecting Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. That Paul had been intending for some time to go there is certain (Acts 19:21 and Romans 1:9–11), though perhaps not as a political prisoner. That Paul was not inactive during the period of his confinement is more than a safe guess; it is a virtual certainty. Besides his native predisposition to hard work, Luke tells us that “Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him” (Acts 28:16) and that he “received all that came in unto him” and taught them of Jesus Christ, “with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” (Acts 28:30, 31.)

It is generally recognized that Paul wrote at least four of his epistles during his first imprisonment, namely, Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians, and Philemon.

That Paul entertained strong hopes of acquittal is evident from some of his letters. To the saints at Philippi he wrote: “I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.” (Philippians 2:24.) To Philemon he wrote, “But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.” (Philemon 22.) As for the trial itself, it would have to await the whim of Nero, most likely, so that much of Paul’s time was taken up with waiting.

Colossians

(42-7) The Letter to the Colossians—Jesus Is the Only Mediator between God and Man

Paul wrote this letter to counteract the effect of Judaic and gentile thought, both of which demeaned the preeminent status of Jesus Christ and his mission. Paul affirms that Jesus is the Savior and the only mediator between man and the Father. Only in Jesus does all fulness of the Father dwell. He alone is able to raise men to the status of godhood. Men ought, therefore, to focus their affections on the things of Jesus Christ.

(42-8) Place and Date of Writing

Paul wrote this letter to the saints at Colossae and to the members in the nearby cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis (Colossians 4:12, 13, 16). The time of his writing was almost certainly during his first Roman captivity.

(42-9) Background Information

Colossae was a small, relatively unimportant city located in Phrygia on the famous trade route which connected East with West. In the fifth century B.C., the city had achieved some degree of commercial importance; however, by Paul’s day its influence had significantly declined as Hierapolis and Laodicea, two neighboring cities, grew and thereby attracted much of the trade which Colossae formerly enjoyed.

Some scholars reason that Paul never visited Colossae prior to his Roman imprisonment (Colossians 2:1). Thus the question arises as to how a branch of the church came to be established in that city. They believe that Epaphras, who was native to Colossae, may have been converted by Paul while Paul preached at Ephesus during his third missionary journey. Perhaps this same Epaphras was the missionary who spread the gospel message in Colossae and the surrounding area (Colossians 1:7, 8; 4:12, 13). Others feel Paul did visit Colossae on his third missionary journey, either to establish the church in the area or else to lend his support to an already existing church (Acts 18:23; 19:1; see Sperry, Paul’s Life and Letters, p. 234). In either case, it is apparent that Paul greatly desired to visit Colossae after his Roman imprisonment (Philemon 22).

(42-10) Colossians 1:5, 6. What Does the Phrase “in All the World” Mean?

The Inspired Version renders the phrase “in all the world” as “in all generations.” Elder Bruce R. McConkie interprets it to mean “in all dispensations.” (DNTC, 3:23.) The scripture appears to mean that the gospel has been preached by holy prophets and teachers such as Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and Spencer W. Kimball in every dispensation of time during the history of this world.

(42-11) Colossians 1:9. How May One Know the Will of God?

“All the saints of whom we have account, in all the revelations of God which are extant, obtained the knowledge which they had of their acceptance in his sight through the sacrifice which they offered unto him; and through the knowledge thus obtained their faith became sufficiently strong to lay hold upon the promise of eternal life, and to endure as seeing him who is invisible; and were enabled, through faith, to combat the powers of darkness, contend against the wiles of the adversary, overcome the world, and obtain the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls.” (Lectures on Faith, Lecture Sixth, vs. 11, p. 59.)

(42-12) Colossians 1:19. How Does “All Fulness” Dwell in the Son?

It has pleased the Father to vest in Jesus, the Son, a fulness of all power both in heaven and in earth (Matthew 28:18), to set him on high at the Father’s hand, and to make him perfect even as the Father is perfect (Ephesians 1:23: Colossians 2:9; 3 Nephi 12:48). The son “is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father, possessing all the fullness of the Father, or the same fullness with the Father. … And he being the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fullness of the glory of the Father, possessing the same mind with the Father. …” (Lectures on Faith, Lecture Fifth, vs. 2, pp. 48–49. Italics added.)

(42-13) Colossians 1:26–29. What Is “the Mystery Which Hath Been Hid from … Generations”?

Paul refers to Christ as a mystery, and so he is to all who try to understand him through the carnal mind. Christ is known only by the spiritual man.

(42-14) Colossians 2:8. What Is the Danger of the Learning of the World?

“The Lord has sternly warned against the egotism and arrogance, the foolish pride and rebelliousness that sometimes accompany learning. Acquiring and applying knowledge with intelligence—‘the light of truth’—and with humility, is indispensable to our happiness and exaltation.

“‘… O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.

“‘But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.’ (2 Nephi 9:28, 29.)” (Hanks, Now and Forever, p. 126.)

Most of your college instructors probably deserve your attention and respect for their knowledge and preparation in their chosen fields. However, can they be relied upon to be all-knowledgeable in matters of faith and morals? Do they have all the answers to the questions posed by life? To whom may you turn for trustworthy advice? A well-balanced education should always include a religion class or course of individual study each quarter or semester. Danger can occur if such studies are neglected. Elder Marion D. Hanks relates the story of a college graduate who lost her testimony in part because of her intellectual training at a university:

“I wish it were appropriate to tell you all the details of a conversation I once had with a young lady, a lovely person, who was professionally qualified in an important field. I would not want you to know those details, so I simply share a headline. She was about to make a decision that would influence her and her generations. She came into my office reluctantly, but she came because both she and I loved her parents. She was not really interested in anything I had to say and acknowledged it openly when I asked her. I said to her, ‘When did you last do any serious reading about the Church?’

“‘Oh,’ she said a bit blithely, ‘in the ninth grade. We were reading the Book of Mormon. I quit, though.’

“I said, ‘Did you also quit praying and going to church?’

“‘Yes,’ she said.

“‘And pretty soon you stopped living the life of the Church?’

“‘Yes.’

“I said, ‘I really just have one other question to ask you. The new Church Office Building is about ready to be completed—all those many stories. Your specialty will be involved in its completion. I’d like to do what I could to get you the job to work on that great big building. Would you like that?’

“Looking a little dubious, she said, ‘Well, sure!’

“I said, ‘All right, I think I can do it on one condition. You agree to perform your professional specialty on that building on the basis of what you knew about it in the ninth grade.’

“She looked a long time at the floor before the teardrops came, and she said, ‘Oh, Brother Hanks, I’m in terrible trouble. Can you help me?’

“I said, ‘Yes, I think I can now.’” (“Appreciate Your Opportunities,” Speeches of the Year, 1975, pp. 281–82.)

The poet John Milton said, that the end of all learning is to know God and to live and imitate him. It is wise to learn that lesson early in our education for life!

(42-15) Colossians 2:11. What Is “the Circumcision of Christ”?

It is a “spiritual circumcision, which consists in accepting Christ and living his gospel, of cutting away, not a part of the body, but one’s whole carnal nature. The contrast is with carnal or literal circumcision, which had in times past been a symbol of conformity to the law of carnal commandments which God gave Moses to remind Israel of her duties.” (McConkie, DNTC, 3:33.)

(42-16) Colossians 2:13. What Does It Mean to Be Quickened by Jesus, Having Once Been Dead in Sin?

To be quickened means to be made alive. One who has been spiritually dead because of sin can be made spiritually alive through submission to the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. He is raised to a newness of life in Jesus Christ through forgiveness of past sins.

“Our loving Father has given us the blessed principle of repentance as the gateway to forgiveness. All sins but those excepted by the Lord—basically, the sin against the Holy Ghost, and murder—will be forgiven to those who totally, consistently, and continuously repent in a genuine and comprehensive transformation of life. There is forgiveness for even the sinner who commits serious transgressions, for the Church will forgive and the Lord will forgive such things when repentance has reached fruition.” (Kimball, Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 14.)

(42-17) Colossians 2:18, 19. What Does Paul Mean by the Worshiping of Angels?

The Gnostic philosophy held that God was not directly approachable by man but had to be contacted through a series of angelic mediators or less divine spirits. Paul is here denouncing this idea of worshiping angels, which led the saints away from allegiance to the true head (Christ), and only true mediator between man and God.

(42-18) Colossians 3:3. What Is Meant by “Ye Are Dead, and Your Life Is Hid with Christ in God”?

This verse refers to those who were dead to sin and sealed up unto eternal life. On this same subject, the Prophet Joseph Smith said:

“Your life is hid with Christ in God, and so are many others. Nothing but the unpardonable sin can prevent you from inheriting eternal life for you are sealed up by the power of the Priesthood unto eternal life, having taken the step necessary for that purpose.” (Smith, HC, 5:391; see also D&C 86:8–11.)

(42-19) Colossians 3:5. How Should the Saints “Mortify Therefore [Their] Members Which Are upon the Earth”?

Mortify, as used here, means “to put to death.” Therefore, the implication is this:

“Deaden and control your carnal desires; discipline your appetites; control your worldly desires.” (McConkie, DNTC, 3:36.)

(42-20) Colossians 3:11. The Equality Brotherhood in Christ

“I might say, using a part of the apostle Paul’s language: We are neither English, nor German, nor French, nor Dutch, nor Spanish, nor Italian, but we are all one as baptized members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and also, we are ‘Abraham’s seed,’ as the apostle Paul declared, and therefore ‘heirs according to the promise.’ All of us as children of God have been baptized by those who have been authorized to preach the gospel and to administer in the ordinances thereof.” (Harold B. Lee in European Area CR, Aug. 1973, pp. 5–6.)

(42-21) Colossians 3:17. “In Word or Deed, Do All in the Name of the Lord Jesus”

“Any word which cannot be spoken in the name of Christ should be left unsaid, any deed that cannot properly bear our Lord’s name should be left undone.” (McConkie, DNTC, 3:38.)

(42-22) Colossians 3:18. How Should a Wife “Submit” to Her Husband?

In Greek the word submit does not imply that women are inferior to men. Rather, it means a willingness to put oneself under the guidance or direction of another. The same word is used in Luke 2:51 wherein Luke portrays how Jesus returned to Nazareth with Mary and Joseph where he was subject unto them. In any organization, including that of the family, someone must govern; and Paul here suggests that man has that priesthood assignment and that the woman should recognize it and submit herself to it. In the very next verse, Paul charges the man to love his wife; so he provides no justification for verbal or physical abuse or for a dictatorship of any kind in the home. (See Ephesians 5:22–31.)

(42-23) Colossians 3:19. “Husbands, Love Your Wives”

“There are those married people who permit their eyes to wander and their hearts to become vagrant, who think it is not improper to flirt a little, to share their hearts, and have desire for someone other than the wife or the husband, the Lord says in no uncertain terms: ‘Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shall cleave unto her and none else.’ (D&C 42:22. Italics added.)

“And, when the Lord says all thy heart, it allows for no sharing nor dividing nor depriving. And, to the woman it is paraphrased: ‘Thou shalt love thy husband with all thy heart and shall cleave unto him and none else.’ The words none else eliminate everyone and everything. The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse. We sometimes find women who absorb and hover over the children at the expense of the husband, sometimes even estranging them from him. The Lord says to them: “… Thou shalt cleave unto him and none else.’

“Marriage presupposes total allegiance and total fidelity. Each spouse takes the partner with the understanding that he or she gives self totally to the spouse: all the heart, strength, loyalty, honor, and affection with all dignity. Any divergence is sin—any sharing the heart is transgression. As we should have ‘an eye single to the glory of God’ so should we have an eye, an ear, a heart single to the marriage and the spouse and family.” (Spencer W. Kimball in CR, Oct. 1962, p. 57.)

See also Interpretive Commentary on Ephesians 5:22, 23.

Points to Ponder

You Can Prepare to Act with the Same Courage That Paul Exhibited in Presenting the Message of Jesus Christ

When the Lord met Paul on the road to Damascus, a chain of events started which culminated in Paul’s martyrdom. When Paul arrived in Jerusalem this fifth time since his conversion, could he have escaped from the hatred of the Jews that had been growing in intensity since he began his ministry? What would be the price of such escape? Repudiation of Christ and of his Christian brethren? Even if the Jews had been agreeable, could Paul have found it in his nature to do such a thing? Any answer would have to take into account the courage that Paul showed in every situation.

As to the Romans, they offered Paul a way out every time there was a confrontation. And does not King Agrippa imply that he would have been easy to deal with? Paul likely could have saved his life if he had been willing to back down from the firm stand he always took in support of his beliefs.

Every good cause advances on the shoulders of those who are willing to carry responsibility. It always takes moral courage. Sometimes it takes physical courage. Paul lived in a day when it took great physical and moral courage, because he lived among a people that the Book of Mormon calls “the more wicked part of the world.” (2 Nephi 10:3–6.) Often it takes a good deal of hard work, but always it takes the courage to act responsibly.

Courage Is Often Needed to Act Responsibly

Elder Lawrence and his companion had been asked by the Ridgeleys to teach their eighteen-year-old son, Richard. Richard investigated, prayed, received the witness of the Spirit, and requested baptism Now the elders were on their way to the Ridgeleys’ to ask permission to baptize Richard.

Mrs. Ridgeley met them at the door, and Elder Lawrence stated the purpose of their visit. To his surprise, his announcement that Richard wanted to be baptized was met with tears and anger. Among other things, Mrs. Ridgeley stated that she would have preferred to see Richard anything but a Mormon. After much discussion, including Richard’s humble pleas, Mrs. Ridgeley agreed to accept her husband’s decision, whatever it would be. He was not at home and so another visit was necessary.

When the elders found Mr. Ridgeley a few days later, he was up on a ladder painting his house. The elders were greeted by some abuse and much silence as Mr. Ridgeley applied the brush with a ferocity which displayed his anger.

Elder Lawrence put the issue to him: “We have come to ask permission to baptize Richard.”

Freely translated, the answer was no. To Elder Lawrence’s companion, it seemed logical to beat a retreat and regroup before the verbal abuse was followed by a bucket of paint. But Elder Lawrence felt that he owed Richard his very best effort. He thought about the paint; he thought about the physical damage this strong, mature man could inflict; and he thought of the Christians in the arena with the lions. He decided to wait until Mr. Ridgeley came down, and he hoped he could think of something to say.

The Spirit rewarded his resolute action and took over completely. It was as though he were watching and hearing himself. As Mr. Ridgeley reached the bottom of the ladder and turned around, Elder Lawrence caught him by the hand and, looking into his eyes, said, “Mr. Ridgeley, if you do not wish us to baptize your son, we will not do it because there is a rule in the church of Jesus Christ that we must honor the rights of parents in these matters until children are of age and can make their own decisions. However, before you turn Richard down, you had better be sure that this is not the true church of Jesus Christ as Richard believes it is and as we know it is. If we are right, the responsibility for denying Richard an opportunity to be saved will be on your shoulders.”

Mr. Ridgeley’s entire attitude and appearance changed. He became kindly and eager to please and cooperate. The baptism was arranged with no further problems.

Using the life of Paul as an example, do those things that will make courage become a reality:

    You Can Emulate Paul’s Courageous Life

  • Maintain personal purity so the Lord’s Spirit can be a constant source of inspiration.

  • Seek knowledge by every good means and from every proper source.

  • Keep current with the counsel of the Brethren and obey it.

  • Pray sincerely and often for guidance.

  • Labor diligently for the kingdom.

  • Have charity.

If you do these things, the Lord will strengthen you so that you can teach and defend the gospel of Jesus Christ with power and be an influence for good.