How long was Apostle Paul in prison?

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Question: What is the total amount of time Paul was in prison during his ministry?

Answer: He, like the other Apostles, were hated by most of the Jews because they openly and publicly taught that Jesus was the Son of God. The Jews thought this was blasphemy against God and were more than willing to throw someone in jail over the issue. Ironically, before his conversion, Paul persecuted many people and put several of them in prison as well.

The Christians were afraid of him after his conversion because they didn't believe that he was converted. They remembered how he had treated their Christian brethren in the past. The more zealous a Jew was about their belief in God, the more they hated the Apostles. Consequently, the Apostles were persecuted and jailed more than most people (see Acts 5:17 - 18)..

All the Apostles were beaten, hauled off to jail, and eventually killed for their beliefs. Christ told them "no man is greater than his master" (John 13:16), and He also said, to paraphrase, "they would drink out of His cup." In both statements, He was telling them they would be persecuted and killed as He was. In God's Kingdom they will receive their rewards.

The exact time and duration of when the evangelist was in prison can vary depending on which commentary or reference work is used. Below are some of the times, listed in the Bible, where the apostle found himself in jail.

  • In Philippi, during what is called his second missionary journey, Paul casts out a demonic spirit from a slave girl. Her masters, however, who had been making a living from the woman's spiritual powers, become angry at the evangelist. They stir up the entire city against him and fellow-evangelist Silas such that they are arrested, beaten and put in prison. (Acts 16:16-18)
 
 
 
 
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  • Jews from Asia, who hate Paul, see him at the temple in Jerusalem and believe (wrongly) that he is bringing unconverted Gentiles into a part of the temple area where they were forbidden. They loudly accuse him of wrongdoing and stir up a riot against him. The mob violently lay their hands upon him and drag him out of the temple. As they begin to beat the apostle to death the Roman army shows up and saves his life (Acts 21:30-32).

    For his safety he is taken at night by 200 Roman soldiers to Caesarea. It is in Caesarea that Governor Felix resides and where the trial against the apostle can be heard. Although Felix believes that he is innocent, he keeps him as a prisoner of Rome for more than TWO YEARS in the hopes someone will offer a bribe to free him (Acts 24:26-27). He is eventually sent to Rome by ship in order to have Caesar hear his case.

  • After spending two plus years in Caesarea the apostle is escorted to Rome by a Centurion. He eventually arrives in the city and, again, spends time in prison until his trial before Emperor Caesar.

  • At the end of his fifth and last journey, in 67 A.D., he is again arrested and sent to Rome. He stays in jail until he is beheaded by the Romans around May or June 68 A.D.

During his ministry the apostle Paul spent about a total of 5 1/2 to 6 years in prison. Thank you for submitting your question!

Written by:  Margaret Vidal

Cities visited by Apostle Paul
Antioch  -  Assos  -  Athens  -  Caesarea  -  Corinth  -  Damascus
 
Ephesus  -  Miletus  -  Neapolis  -  Philippi  -  Tarsus  -  Thessalonica  -  Troas
 
 
 
   
 
 
 
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