Why didn't the Romans recognize Paul?

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Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
One thing I've always been a bit confused on and have yet to find a decent explanation is why the Roman Jews in Acts 28:21 do not appear to be familiar with Paul, claiming they did not receive any letters about him. Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans of course (58 AD?) prior to arriving to Rome two years later (~60 AD?) and enclosed his epistle with requests to welcome various saints he was sending them.

Can anyone provide some clarity here?
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
The passage in Acts seems to be referring to the specific circumstance of Paul's imprisonment - they are saying that they have not received any communications regarding that, but not necessarily that they know nothing about Paul.

Also it may not have been the same people - the "chief of the Jews" in Rome at the time Paul arrived as a prisoner may not have been (probably were not?) part of the church in Rome at that point.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
One thing I've always been a bit confused on and have yet to find a decent explanation is why the Roman Jews in Acts 28:21 do not appear to be familiar with Paul, claiming they did not receive any letters about him. Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans of course (58 AD?) prior to arriving to Rome two years later (~60 AD?) and enclosed his epistle with requests to welcome various saints he was sending them.

Can anyone provide some clarity here?
The people called by Paul to meet him, v17, are "leaders of the Jews," that is to say, of the Jewish community in Rome. Most of these would not be Christians, perhaps none of them.

Paul asks them for an audience to explain why he's in Rome, to give "his side of the story." What he has to say has provoked violence in the past among the Jewish community. Now, he's being given a potentially unprecedented platform to speak. This could result in new spasms of hostility, public unrest, perhaps of the kind that caused an expulsion mentioned in Act.18:2.

Consider then: 1) Paul says, v19, "I was compelled... I had nothing of which to accuse my nation." He disavows any intent to badmouth the Jewish people or leadership, or the Temple and religion; accusations of that kind were what was hurled against him back in Judea.

2) Paul has no idea what the local leaders might be aware of, come out of Jerusalem. It's taken him probably at least 6months to get to Rome, including 3months incommunicado on Malta. Has there come a delegation from Judea to complain, to present their "side" in the Imperial court? Have they asked by letter for someone to take up their legal interest on their behalf, from the local leadership?

The fact is: no, there's been no word from the Sanhedrin sent to Rome as of Paul's arrival. The local Jewish leaders know "this sect" (Christians) "is everywhere spoken against," that much is generally accepted; but they really don't know much of "why?" And their interest in getting some clarity, from one of the Christian Apostles, no less, prompts a later all-day gathering, v23, of the curious--probably along with partisans prejudiced for and against Paul and his message.

As for the letter to the Christians in Rome, that was composed and sent probably 3yrs prior (57AD), from Corinth before Paul set out on his trip to Jerusalem, see Act.19:21.

Did the Christians in Rome get the letter? Almost beyond question, and the reason for that conclusion is that a great delegation of Christians went out to meet Paul on his way into the city, v15. The first group met at Appii Forum, about 43miles from Rome; the second at Three Taverns, about 33miles.

How did they know he was coming? Probably a runner went up about the time Paul landed at Puteoli, and stayed with some "brethren" (Christians) for two weeks. The believers in Rome were probably better informed through their own channels of Paul's trials over the past 2yrs, than were the local Jewish leadership. They had been primed for a visit from Paul, who long desired to "establish" the church there (Rom.1:11).

Is there precedent for such a "welcoming" delegation? According to other sources (which I cannot find details on right this instant), almost the entire Jewish community went out of Rome to escort a prominent Jewish figure into the capital (perhaps Agrippa or some other noble dignitary, I forget who it was exactly).

So, you can imagine what the Roman centurion, Julius, and the other soldiers were thinking about this "prisoner" of theirs; not to mention the prophecies, the shipwreck, everything up to this point. I'm guessing Paul was recommended to be given house arrest by none other than his "bodyguard" when they arrived with all their prisoners at the clink. Maybe the "soldier who guarded him" was none other than Julius, and the house (v16) his own; until Paul got his own rented facility (v30) in which to stay.
 

Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
The people called by Paul to meet him, v17, are "leaders of the Jews," that is to say, of the Jewish community in Rome. Most of these would not be Christians, perhaps none of them.

Paul asks them for an audience to explain why he's in Rome, to give "his side of the story." What he has to say has provoked violence in the past among the Jewish community. Now, he's being given a potentially unprecedented platform to speak. This could result in new spasms of hostility, public unrest, perhaps of the kind that caused an expulsion mentioned in Act.18:2.

Consider then: 1) Paul says, v19, "I was compelled... I had nothing of which to accuse my nation." He disavows any intent to badmouth the Jewish people or leadership, or the Temple and religion; accusations of that kind were what was hurled against him back in Judea.

2) Paul has no idea what the local leaders might be aware of, come out of Jerusalem. It's taken him probably at least 6months to get to Rome, including 3months incommunicado on Malta. Has there come a delegation from Judea to complain, to present their "side" in the Imperial court? Have they asked by letter for someone to take up their legal interest on their behalf, from the local leadership?

The fact is: no, there's been no word from the Sanhedrin sent to Rome as of Paul's arrival. The local Jewish leaders know "this sect" (Christians) "is everywhere spoken against," that much is generally accepted; but they really don't know much of "why?" And their interest in getting some clarity, from one of the Christian Apostles, no less, prompts a later all-day gathering, v23, of the curious--probably along with partisans prejudiced for and against Paul and his message.

As for the letter to the Christians in Rome, that was composed and sent probably 3yrs prior (57AD), from Corinth before Paul set out on his trip to Jerusalem, see Act.19:21.

Did the Christians in Rome get the letter? Almost beyond question, and the reason for that conclusion is that a great delegation of Christians went out to meet Paul on his way into the city, v15. The first group met at Appii Forum, about 43miles from Rome; the second at Three Taverns, about 33miles.

How did they know he was coming? Probably a runner went up about the time Paul landed at Puteoli, and stayed with some "brethren" (Christians) for two weeks. The believers in Rome were probably better informed through their own channels of Paul's trials over the past 2yrs, than were the local Jewish leadership. They had been primed for a visit from Paul, who long desired to "establish" the church there (Rom.1:11).

Is there precedent for such a "welcoming" delegation? According to other sources (which I cannot find details on right this instant), almost the entire Jewish community went out of Rome to escort a prominent Jewish figure into the capital (perhaps Agrippa or some other noble dignitary, I forget who it was exactly).

So, you can imagine what the Roman centurion, Julius, and the other soldiers were thinking about this "prisoner" of theirs; not to mention the prophecies, the shipwreck, everything up to this point. I'm guessing Paul was recommended to be given house arrest by none other than his "bodyguard" when they arrived with all their prisoners at the clink. Maybe the "soldier who guarded him" was none other than Julius, and the house (v16) his own; until Paul got his own rented facility (v30) in which to stay.
That makes sense. Thanks!
 
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