The book “COMING OF THE SAINTS”
by J. W. Taylor
ST. PAUL AND CAESAREA
'Oft when the word is on me to deliver.
Opens the heaven and the Lord is there; Desert or throng, the city or the river
Melt in a lucid Paradise of air.
Only like souls I see the folk there under
Bound who should conquer: Slaves who should be Kings, Hearing their one hope with an empty wonder,
Sadly contended in a show of things.
Then with a rush the intolerable craving
Shivers throughout me like a trumpet call. Oh, to save these! To perish for their saving,
Die for their life, be offered for them all.'
'St. Paul', by F. W. H. Myers
THE chief port of Palestine at the time of which I am writing was Caesarea. Built by Herod the Great on the coastline of the Great Sea, with a prodigal expenditure of labour and of wealth, having a temple dedicated to Caesar built on rising ground over against the mouth of the Haven, with amphitheatre, forum, baths, and many great houses or palaces built of white stone or marble, this great seaport rapidly attracted to itself a large and mixed and powerful population.
Greeks and Romans from across the Mediterranean lived here side by side with the merchants of Palestine and Syria. 'A large mole ran out into the sea and afforded a secure harbour for shipping', and vessels of all kinds were continually going to and returning from the chief Mediterranean ports. 1
1 'When Nero succeeded Claudius in a.d. 54 the "Province of Judaea" (consisting of Judaea proper, Samaria, Galilee and Judaea beyond Jordan) was governed by a procurator, appointed at pleasure by the Emperor, and he controlled a small Roman garrison, never exceeding, in ordinary times, three thousand men in number. The seat and headquarters of Roman administration were fixed at the city of Caesarea, on the sea-coast, north-west of Jerusalem, and some sixty miles by road from that city. In Jerusalem itself was a small Roman garrison, and the procurator occasionally visited the city. For general supervision and military interference in case of emergency Judaea, like every other "second class" province, depended on a neighbouring governor of high rank with legionaries at his disposal. In this case the legate of Syria was charged with this as one among his numerous and engrossing duties. The procurator in a.d. 54 was one Antonius Felix. He had been appointed two years previously by Claudius, and Nero left him undisturbed in his office. Felix's wife was Drusilla. She was sister to the only king now left in the neighbourhood, namely Herod Agrippa II—the "Agrippa" of the Acts of the Apostles. To him Claudius had, in A.D. 52, given the tetrarchy of Balanea Trachonitis ("all the country in the neighbourhood of the sea of Galilee"), and Nero on his accession added to his dominions four Galilean cities on the Lake, Tiberias and Taricheae on the western shore, Julias in Gaulonitis, and another. A Jew by birth, he was none the less a firm friend of the Romans, and constantly assisted the procurator with his presence and advice, and, when it came to fighting, with his small army' (Henderson's Life and Principate of Nero, pp. 362, 363).
2. Geikie, The Holy Land and the Bible.
'Till Herod's day the plain of Sharon had been a broad tract of pasture, forest and tillage, with no history, but he raised it to the foremost place in the land. The want of a port to receive the commerce of the West had always been felt. The shore offered no natural harbour, but there was a rocky ledge at Strabo's Tower, and this Herod chose as the seat of his projected harbour. In twelve years a splendid city rose on the ledge and its neighbourhood, with broad quays, magnificent bazaars, spacious public buddings and courts, arched sailors' homes and long avenues of commodious streets. A double harbour had been constructed of about 200 yards each way, and also a pier over 130 yards in length, built of stones, 50 feet long, 18 broad and 9 thick. This great structure was raised out of water 20 fathoms deep, and was 200 feet wide, a wall standing on it, and several towers. It was adorned, moreover, with splendid pillars, and a terraced walk extended round the harbour.
'On an ermnence, beside a temple of polished stone near the shore, rose a colossal statue of Augustus as Jupiter Olympus, visible far out at sea, and another of Rome, deified as Juno. A huge open-air theatre was built on the slopes of the bills, some miles north of the city, as well as an amphitheatre capable of containing 20,000 spectators. A circus, over 1,000 feet long, rose in the east of the city. The walls of the city enclosed 400 acres, but gardens and villas, it may be presumed, stretched far beyond them. Besides the theatre, a grand palace, afterwards the residence of the Roman governors, was erected for himself by Herod, and he had the wisdom to provide for the city a complete system of underground sewerage.
'To supply it with water two aqueducts were built: one stretching away, for over eight miles, to the great springs from the Carmel hills. The second aqueduct ran three miles north to the River Zerka.' 2
Such was Caesarea Stratonis in the days of the earliest Christians.
Here life was larger and less circumscribed than at Jerusalem, and though party feeling ran high, especially between the Jews and Greeks, the constant intercourse with the world beyond them produced a spirit of tolerance which was quite foreign to the inland Jew.
Here dwelt Cornelius, the centurion of the Italian band of whom we read in the Acts of the Apostles. Who was he? Was he simply some devout stranger to whom God gave the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit ? Or was he something more than this ? If we read the account carefully the internal evidence of the narrative would lead us to conclude that he had some considerable knowledge of the Galilean ministry of our Lord, but was ignorant of much that had taken place beyond this. When troubled in mind he was directed to send for Peter (not 'one Peter', as we read in our Bibles, for the 'one' is an interpolation, but 'Peter', as if the Apostle was not altogether unknown to him), and when St. Peter came, and told him of all that had happened, and especially of the crucifixion and resurrection, and of the commission to the Apostles to preach and to testify 'that Jesus was indeed He who was ordained of God to be both Saviour and Judge', we are expressly told that St. Peter introduced his message in these words:
'The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ. . . . That word ye know, which was published throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him.'
How did Cornelius know this, and know this with a knowledge so perfect and direct that St. Peter recognizes it as needing no further teaching from himself, and so immediately goes on to tell Cornelius of the Passion of our Lord and His victory over death?
Was Cornelius associated in any way with that earlier ministry? One instinctively thinks of the centurion of Capernaum, and returning to the description of him in the Gospels, we remember that he had a servant who was dear to him (Luke 7 :2), and whom our Saviour healed. We find it noted, too, that the elders of the Jews came to Jesus saying that the centurion was a worthy man, 'for he loveth our nation, and hath built us a synagogue'.
The description of Cornelius is curiously similar: 'Cornelius the centurion, a just man and one that feareth God and of good report among all the nation of the Jews'; and after the angel had departed who spoke to Cornelius we find him calling on 'two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually'.
The removal of the centurion from Capernaum becomes more probable when we remember that Herod Antipas (in whose service he was) is said to have been deposed in a.d. 39, and it would be only natural that the Romans in taking over complete control of his province should make considerable changes among the subordinate officers (whether Romans or not) who had been associated with his rule. 3
Again, who was it that appeared to Cornelius? We are told that 'an angel' called 'Cornelius', but we find Cornelius answering, 'What is it, Lord?'
It seems quite possible that the centurion of Capernaum had been removed to Caesarea, and that our Lord Himself, remembering his faith, which was 'greater than any He had found in Israel', came to Cornelius, and because, perhaps, of the resurrection-power which seemed inseparable from His glorified humanity, the miracles of Pentecost were renewed at the house of the centurion.
But Cornelius - although the chief Roman official who was a member of the Church at Caesarea-was by no means the only important Christian here. The chief pastor of the Church is generally supposed to have been St. Philip (the deacon) who, after preaching in Samaria, finally settled in Caesarea, and with his family of daughters entertained St. Paul, St. Luke and Trophimus, and others of the brethren as they touched at Caesarea on their journeys. We read of St. Philip as first preaching at Samaria and then teaching and baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch; so that we know him at once to have been a large-hearted man who did not feel himself in any way bound by the restrictions of Jewish customs but welcomed both Samaritans and negroes as equal sharers in the blessings of the Gospel. Traditionally, too, we find St. Philip mentioned in the old legend of Glastonbury as the authority who sent St. Joseph of Arimathea and his fellow-missionaries to be witnesses for Christ 'unto the uttermost parts of the earth'; and Isidores Hispalensis, who wrote in the sixth or early part of the seventh century (having been born about a.d. 560 and dying in a.d. 636), refers to him as
3 The estimated date of St. Peter's visit to Caesarea is given in our Bibles as
having first carried the news of the Gospel to the Samaritans, and as having preached Christ later to the Gauls and afterwards in Hierapolis of Phrygia, where he was crucified and is buried with his daughters (hidorus Hispalensis, vol. vii, 392). 4
In another place he writes 'St. Philip preached to the Gauls, and persuaded the neighbouring and savage tribes on the borders of the ocean to the light of knowledge and of faith' (vol. v, 184). And yet again (vol. vii, 395): 'St. Philip journeyed to the Gauls.'
So we find at Caesarea, Cornelius, his kinsmen and near friends, 'his servants and one or more devout soldiers of his company', St. Philip the deacon and his four daughters, and an increasing company of Christians constantly embarking or returning or waiting here during the course of their journeys. Those who went to Cyrene, Crete and Cyprus would go from Caesarea. Saul, on his first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion, was taken down to Caesarea by the 'brethren' and shipped from there to Tarsus (Acts 9 :30). Those who were finally driven away from Jerusalem by the second great persecution, when Herod Agrippa killed 'James the brother of John with the sword' and cast St. Peter into prison, would naturally fly to Caesarea or beyond it; and this is the time, according to tradition, when St. Joseph of Arimathea, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Martha, St. Many Cleopas, St. Mary Salome, St. Maximin, St. Parmenas, St. Restitutus and others escaped by the sea-coast westward.
The sudden journey of King Herod Agrippa from Jerusalem to Caesarea immediately after St. Peter had been delivered from prison (Acts 12 :19) is consonant with this tradition, and rather suggestive of an attempt to intercept the fugitive Christians. Later on we find records of the repeated visits of St. Paul to Caesarea either when going to or returning from Jerusalem, and on the occasion of his last visit to Jerusalem we find him accompanied by many friends, certainly by St. Luke, Trophimus and Mnason (of Cyprus), and most propably by Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Timothy and Tychicus. We are also told of 'certain disciples of Caesarea' who not only welcomed and entertained the missionaries, but accompanied them on their way to Jerusalem.
It seems to me, if we look a little below the surface, that we find at Caesarea a centre of missionary life and work-the most
4 Messrs. Haddan and Stubbs write of this as referring to St. Philip the Apostle; but (although there is a great confusion in all the old writings between the Apostle and evangelist) there can be no doubt that Isidorus was referring to St. Philip who was 'one of the seven deacons', for he expressly says so.
See also, Eusebius Eccles. Hist., ii, 25: 'And after this there were four prophetesses, daughters of Philip, at Hierapolis in Asia. Their tomb is there, and that, too, of their father.'
important centre, perhaps, of Christianity after Capernaum and Jerusalem, in which St. Luke, the missionary historian, St. Philip, the deacon and Evangelist, St. Cornelius, the Roman centurion, St. Zaccheus, the publican of the Gospels, St. Joseph of Arimathea, St. Lazarus of Bethany, St. Barnabas, and very probably St. Cleopas, St. Mary, the wife of Cleopas, and the Holy Women of the Bethany household, took an important part.
What was the relation of St. Paul to these elder disciples who had been friends and companions and colleagues of St. Stephen?
St. Paul had listened to the last sermon of St. Stephen-is not the permanent record of it due to his memory?-had been 'consenting to his death', and had heard, doubtless with a fine amazement, the martyr's dying prayer for those who were stoning him. At this time he would naturally imagine that the Christians (who were the especial objects of his persecution) would hate him for the active part he had taken in the martyrdom of St. Stephen, and we can well imagine his increasing wonder, his shame, his pained delight, to find on his conversion that the martyr's prayer was no isolated expression of ecstatic love, but that St. Stephen's nearest and dearest friends had also drunk of the martyr's spirit and were ready without any ungenerous reproaches specially to befriend him.
For was it not these - St. Philip, St. Luke, St. Barnabas, the other members of the Seventy, and the deacons, and not the Apostles-who believed in his word and took care of him in the time of his danger? Who obained for him a passage in the ship from Caesarea to Tarsus when obliged to fly from Jerusalem, and with whom the new convert, Saul, found rdmself, even at this time, more in sympathy than with the bulk of the Church remaining at Jerusalem ?
When writing of Emmaus I mentioned it as the possible meeting-place of the older and newer discipleship; for here, through St. Luke, who was living with St. Cleopas (and perhaps with the Blessed Virgin and St. John) the oldest disciples might very well have been brought into special intimacy with St. Paul during the early days after his conversion.
'Saul', who was apparently directly related to St. Luke (Rom. 16 :2i), who was brought up in Jerusalem and, according to some writers, was with St. Barnabas in the school of Gamaliel, would have the opportunity (for a time) of daily converse with all those who had specially known our Saviour in the flesh and who had ministered to Him at His crucifixion and burial, and their personal knowledge of, and blessed companionship with, the Lord Jesus would prepare the way for it if, indeed, it did not rather suggest to St. Paul, his special mission to the Gentiles and his championship of their rights and liberties as independent of the Jewish law.
This fellowship and friendship which was formed or re-fonned in Jerusalem between St. Luke, St. Barnabas and Saul was afterwards purposely renewed at Antioch, where all were associated together for the space of a year in preaching the Gospel.
Of the history of the immediately succeeding years but little is known beyond the records of St. Paul's travels, because the main historian of the period (St. Luke) accompanied St. Paul.
But it must not be supposed that there were not many other missionaries engaged in evangelistic work.
There were - as we have seen - many missionaries in the West, and especially in the neighbourhood of Rome and Sicily, while beside those at Caesarea, Cyrene, Cyprus and Antioch we find the saints of Damascus and Ephesus before the coming of St. Paul. We find, too, in Eusebius some record of a successful mission to Edessa undertaken by St. Thaddeus, of an episcopate established by St. Mark at Alexandria (bk. ii, cap. 16), and of a mission to the Far East by St. Bartholomew,5 all in the very earliest years after Christ (E.H., bk. i, cap. 3, 14, and bk. v, cap. 10). In Jerusalem itself, under the leadership of St. James the Less, the Church grew amazingly, not simply among the poor and oppressed or 'common people', but also among the priests, for, as we read in Acts 6:7, 'a great multitude of the priests were obedient unto the faith'. These were full of Jewish feeling and tradition, and their spirit seems to have been largely shared by the bishop of the Church, St. James, the picture both of him and of the early Church at Jerusalem which we find depicted for us in the Acts of the Apostles fully bearing out this view and being confirmed by the writings of Hegesippus and Josephus. In all these writings two important points stand out very clearly: one, the extraordinary influence and respect inspired by St. James among a large number of the Jews; and the other, the peculiar position gradually assumed by the Jerusalem Church.
5 There is also a very old tradition (supported by evidence from the second and third centuries) that St. Thomas preached the gospel in India. 'It is believed that the Apostle landed at Cranganore in a.d. 52, and that he founded seven Churches, which remain to this day as monuments of his missionary labours. Placing die infant Church in charge of elders appointed from the converted Brahmin families of Pakolomattarm Sankarapuri, Kalli and Kaliankal, the Apostle went to the opposite coast and died a martyr at Mylapore' (E. M. Philip in 'An Indian National Church', Church Times, January 1 1904).
King Alfred is said to have sent presents or alms to the Christians in India (of the churches founded by St. Thomas). These were taken by Sieghelm, bishop of Sherbourne, in the year 883. On his return he brought back jewels and spices (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and William of Malmesbury).
This was, curiously to us, perhaps, but very naturally to the devout Jews who belonged to it, a mixture of Judaism and Christianity - a 'via media', if one may call it so, in which although the Messiah had come, the types and worship pointing to His advent were valued all the more perhaps on account of this, and were in no sense cast aside.
Never abating his allegiance to Christ, nor forfeiting the esteem and friendship of the other Apostles, St. James and most of his followers remained 'Hebrew of the Hebrews', attending the Temple services and living, as regards the Law, blameless. St. James was generally named 'The Just'; and so important and widespread did his influence become in Jerusalem, that when St. Paul returned , from one of his long missionary journeys, as reported in the 21st chapter of the Acts, St. James was able to point to many thousands of Jews in Jerusalem who had become believers in Christ but retained all their interest in the Temple services. The exact words are: 'Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe, and they are all zealous of the Law.'
It was for this reason that he begged St. Paul to purify himself and to avoid occasions of offence. But offences necessarily came.
Imagine for one moment all the conflicting interests meeting in the Holy City. There were the orthodox Jews led by the families of Annas and Caiaphas, men who knew themselves to be mainly responsible for the crucifixion of our Saviour, and who would feel bound by this to maintain that He was an impostor. Mingling with them, devout, strict and blameless - if possible out-rivalling them in all religious ceremonial and observances - were the early Jewish Christians, men who held that Jesus is the Messiah, the Holy One, the very God Himself. Around both was the less religious contemporary Jewish world, critical of both but often confusing them, counting that every man blamelessly devout and zealous of the Law was worthy of equal honour and respect.
Again, outside these and more or less contemptuously indifferent are the Roman officials-men who, unless attracted by individual adherents of the new religion, endeavour to maintain an impartial attitude, to interfere but rarely and then to punish whatever parties or persons appeared to be responsible for public disturbances.
If we realize this, and keep it before us as we read the Acts of the Apostles, we shall, I think, find in it an atmosphere or setting largely explanatory of the scenes described as taking place within Jerusalem. How increasingly bitter would be the feeling of the orthodox Jews! Forced to associate and to worship day by day with those who brought continually to their mind the remembrance of what might be the most awful crime of which man could be guilty, powerless to get rid of them, unable to find any valid pretext for turning them out of the Temple - finding that they were increasing in number and in influence - discovering that the new belief was spreading in the most unlooked-for quarters - that the very family and household of the High Priest was itself infected - father divided against son, and brother against brother-the quiet Thcophilus becoming the friend and disciple of St. Luke and the teacher Gamaliel (as we read in the 'Recognitions') secretly befriending the Christians - all this must have been as gall and wormwood to the Jews who had paid for the betrayal of our Saviour, had incited the populace to cry, 'Crucify Him!' and had then condemned Him to the cross.
It must be acknowledged, too, that much of the practice of the early Christians would tend to excite curiosity, suspicion, and even perhaps alarm. The early morning Eucharists, the secret meetings, the orderly establishment of settled Church government and discipline, the headship of St. James - the departure of the Apostles on their missionary journeys accompanied, as they often were, by several friends to see them off upon their mission - the occasional influx of Gentile strangers from abroad - all these would irresistibly suggest the idea of some far-reaching conspiracy subversive of the national custom and religion of the Jews.
And therefore, although (for several years apparently) we read, 'The Churches had rest throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied'; yet in Jerusalem itself, as time went on, the quietness of their persecutors was rather that of a smouldering fire ready at any gust of wind to burst into an active flame.
How the wind arose and the flame at last was kindled we are told in the Acts of the Apostles. Strangers in distant towns and countries, Greeks and Romans - who had become disciples of Christ - began, I suppose, to feel a longing to visit the scenes of our Saviour's Passion-a longing which has been felt by thousands of loving hearts for all the centuries since.8 And so, when St. Paul came back from Ephesus to Jerusalem on this very occasion when St. James was anxious lest trouble should arise, he and St. Luke brought with
6. We even have evidence of many British Christians making pilgrimages to the Holy Land in a.d. 386. See letter from Paula and Eustochium 'ad Marcellam' (Palestine Pilgrims Text Society, vol. i). 'The Briton separated from our world, if he has made any progress in religion, leaves the setting sun and seeks a place known to him only by fame and the narrative of the Scriptures.'
them several disciples, two of whom are particularly mentioned; one pilgrim from Cyprus named Mnason, and another named Trophi-mus, who had come all the way from Ephesus with St. Paul, accompanying him backwards and forwards between Asia Minor and Greece and probably assisting him in his work. The latter was the unwitting occasion of very great disturbances in Jerusalem, and became the chief or exciting cause of a religious persecution more lasting than any which had preceded it. All the closing chapters of the Acts of the Apostles are full of storm and controversy, occasioned apparently by this visit of Trophimus.
The chief priests pretended that St. Paul had taken him into the Temple and so profaned it. They incited the people to kill St. Paul, and so great was the uproar and excitement in Jerusalem, that the Romans had to protect the Apostle by force.
Claudius Lysias, the captain of the Roman Guard, with a company of soldiers and centurions, had to rescue him from the fury of the mob, and later on, when a plot was formed by over forty of the Jews to assassinate St. Paul, he was sent, with a special escort of four hundred and seventy men, to Felix the governor at Caesarea.
It is in connection with this disturbance that some of the most dramatic incidents of St. Paul's life took place. At one time, just after his rescue by the Roman soldiers, we see him dragged away from the Jews into the shelter of the fortress of Antonia, and on the stairway leading to the entrance, craving permission from the captain to speak to his accusers. There, standing on the stairway, the massive portals of the fortress framing him as in a picture, surrounded by the Roman soldiers in uniform tunics with shining helmets and lances held at rest, like a small forest of spears, around their prisoner, the excited mob of Jewish worshippers, fresh from the Temple service, crowding closely below, St. Paul stands and tells the history of his life, and makes a good confession of the faith till, drowned by the clamour of the multitude, his voice can be heard no more, and we see the Roman guard draw him quickly within the fortress gate and close the doors.
Again, a few nights later, we catch a further glimpse of St. Paul, the centre of a powerful guard of soldiers, horsemen and spearmen, setting out on the strange night journey to Caesarea. The dark streets of Jerusalem are full of unwonted noise and commotion. The square in front of the fortress is thronged with horsemen and foot-soldiers. Late arrivals come galloping up in haste, and the noise of the horses' hoofs, the champing of the bits, and the calling of the men, wake the sleepers in the adjoining houses. Doors and casements are thrown open, heads peer out inquiring the cause of the uproar. Gruff voices answer. Torches are lighted and one sees the whole of the square packed with soldiers. The centurions take command, and almost immediately the scene is full of orderly and dramatic interest. At the short, sharp word of command the troops form into rank and draw up in front of the prison. The guard is summoned and the gates cautiously opened. The order is handed to the warder, and shortly afterwards the doors are flung wide open and St. Paul is brought out. He is given a horse, and chained to two horsemen, one on either side. Again the sharp, clear words of command ring out into the night. The doors of the fortress fall-to, and the long cavalcade of foot-soldiers, spearmen and cavalry pass down the dim streets of the city, out by the Jaffa Gate, and so down the hill towards the distant sea-coast.
In this way St. Paul leaves Jerusalem, and probably (so far as we know) for the last time. He is carried captive to Caesarea and kept a prisoner there for two years. Appealing from the tribunal at Caesarea he is finally sent on from Caesarea to Rome, and with the history of this journey, in which he was accompanied by St. Luke, the Acts of the Apostles closes.
What happened during these two years at Caesarea or, rather, what is likely to have happened? For much must be conjectural. The friends who had come with St. Paul to Palestine, and who had been with him through so many dangers, would not forsake him in adversity. St. Luke, we know, remained with him, and during these two years probably finished writing his Gospel and began the Acts of the Apostles. Trophimus, who had been the innocent cause of St. Paul's imprisonment, would feel doubly bound to do what was possible for his comfort, and Aristarchus appears to have been so carried away by his enthusiasm, or so identified with St. Paul in word and act, as to come under the same condemnation and to share his imprisonment.
Timothy, Tychicus, Gaius, Secundus and Mnason, if they could not remain through all the weary months of waiting, would at all events be present during the earlier part of the imprisonment, until the call of duty or St. Paul's commands forbad them to stay longer. The nephew of St. Paul, too, who discovered the plot to kill him, and disclosed it to the chief captain, Claudius Lysias, would probably find Caesarea a safer place to live in than Jerusalem, and the unnamed disciples who had accompanied St. Paul from Caesarea to Jerusalem would naturally return home when St. Paul was brought back a prisoner.
What did imprisonment mean as applied to St. Paul? He had committed no offence recognized by Roman law; and the governor, Felix, was favourably disposed towards him, and evidently interested in religious controversy. We are told (Acts 24 123), 'he commanded the centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come to him', so that for a large portion of this time St. Paul, Aristarchus, Trophi-mus and St. Luke would not only have free communication with one another but with all who chose to visit them.
St. Philip, the first great missionary pioneer and friend of St. Stephen, would often be in their company and, protected perhaps by the friendship of Cornelius, the news brought from distant countries by the ships which entered the harbour, or the arrival of some of 'the brethren' from Ephesus or Cyprus or Greece or Rome or Cyrene, would bring fresh interest and spirit into the days of waiting. Nothing perhaps answered so nearly to the newspapers of modern times as the cultivated memories and narratives of the sailors and news-carriers of those days who journeyed from port to port across the Mediterranean; and it was in this way, but by special messengers, that the chief news of the scattered Churches was carried to the ears and knowledge of the Apostles.
At the beginning of St. Paul's detention at Caesarea, when he was brought before Felix, and at the close of his stay, when he appeared before Festus and King Agrippa, both Caesarea and Jerusalem would be profoundly moved by his trial and by the necessary preparations for the hearing of his case. But the chief feature of all the intervening time seems to have been the formation (if we may call it so) of a great standing missionary committee or council, in which the work of the oldest Hebrew missionaries under St. Philip, the mission to the Gentiles under St. Peter and St. Paul and, later still, the work of their Greek and Roman disciples - all -would be considered in the light of the great commission, 'Go ye, therefore and teach all nations.' What interesting histories St. Paul, St. Timothy, Trophimus and Tychicus would give of their travels and labours! And as St. Luke sat and occasionally wrote at St. Paul's dictation, eager faces would press in on the conclave, and questions be asked which only long and repeated explanations could thoroughly satisfy.
Those who were gathered together would be especially interested in the history of that foreign tribe of the Galatians who, like themselves, were beset with troubling questions as to whether Jewish ritual was either necessary or advisable for Gentile Christians.
The city of Tarsus, from which St. Paul came and where he had lived for many years, was on the borders of this province, and St. Timothy and Gaius of Derbe (a town in Lycaonia, which was the southern part of Galatia) had been travelling and working with St. Paul and Trophimus immediately before St. Paul's imprisonment. Indeed, it is quite possible that both of these remained with St. Paul during the Whole, or a large part, of his forced confinement in Caesarea.
So that the people of the Galatians, among whom were St. Paul's earliest converts and dearest friends, would often be in the mind and on the lips of St. Paul and those who were associated with him during his stay in Caesarea. The country from which they originally came or, at all events, the more southern part of it, 'Provincia Gallica', would be known to all on the Mediterranean coast as one of the oldest and richest of the Roman dependencies overseas; and whether the family of Bethany had already gone there, or the land was still waiting for the news of the Gospel, there is very considerable reason to believe that both country and people were much in the mind and heart of the Apostle.
That this is no mere conjecture is evident from the writings of St. Paul himself. Shortly before he came on this last visit to Jerusalem he had been writing to the Church at Rome and describing his plans for the future, the chief feature of which was a long journey from Jerusalem, via Rome, into Spain. In this proposed journey he would almost necessarily pass through Marseilles and all the large towns near the sea-coast between Rome and Spain, confirming and strengthening the Church at Rome and all the scattered Churches or bands of catechumens to be found upon his route.
So that the mind of St. Paul must have been already occupied with the needs of the Massilians, the Galatae and the Iberians long before his imprisonment; and this occupation with their necessities could only be increased by enforced seclusion, when he had more leisure to consider and compare the relative requirements of the various parts of the Roman Empire, and especially those in which the Gospel of Christ had hardly yet obtained a footing. And as the months went by, and no prospect appeared of the release of the Aposde, the question would naturally and inevitably arise as to who could possibly supply his place. Who was there, however imperfectly trained, who would take this Western journey instead of St. Paul, and report to him on the condition and necessities of the scattered bands of Christians already appearing in the distant parts of the Empire ?
Mixed up with legends, which may or may not have some true foundation, we may yet find in certain old histories of the Bethany family and St. Joseph, and in the traditions of the old Provencal Churches, some real historical clue to the answer of this question.
Let us consider them first.