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The second imprisonment of Paul: Fiction or reality?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 February 2023

John-Christian Eurell*
Umeå University, Umea, Sweden
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This article examines the commonly held conception that Paul was released after his first Roman imprisonment, went to Spain and was eventually reimprisoned and executed in Rome. After examining the available evidence it is concluded that the theory of a release of a release and second imprisonment of Paul is ill founded.

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The tradition of a Roman imprisonment of Paul is strong, although we have no authentic testimony of it from Paul himself.Footnote 1 The common conceptions of Paul's life are shaped by the account in Acts, but also include the assumption that Paul was released after this imprisonment only to be arrested and martyred some years later. This assumption can be derived from Eusebius (Historia ecclesiastica, 2.22.6–8) and suggests that there was a second imprisonment of Paul in Rome. Between Paul's two Roman imprisonments, it is commonly assumed that Paul undertook a mission trip to Spain (cf. Rom 15:22–9). However, as I will attempt to show in this article, evidence for a second imprisonment of Paul in Rome is lacking, and the evidence available rather indicates that there was only one Pauline imprisonment.Footnote 2 This does not necessarily mean that Paul never went to Spain. The primary outcome of this article is that the narrative of Acts should not be made normative for historical-critical inquiry into the life of Paul,Footnote 3 but also that filling gaps of knowledge with unreliable traditions is unsatisfactory from a scholarly point of view.

Although most scholars would argue that both the prison epistles and pastoral epistles are pseudonymous,Footnote 4 they reflect conceptions of Paul's life including his imprisonment. Toward this background, it is interesting that Luke is mentioned as one who is with Paul in Colossians, Philemon and 2 Timothy. It is possible that Acts ends as it does because this is the last known evidence that the author found concerning Luke, his pseudonym. This, combined with Luke's objective of presenting the spread of the Gospel from Jerusalem to Rome, is of substantial importance for the study of the ending of Acts.

The ending of Acts

Let us first address the issue of whether Acts anticipates that Paul would be released. A number of formulations in Acts are often taken to imply that Paul would eventually be released. The leading Jews in Rome state that they have gained no information concerning Paul from Jerusalem (Acts 28:21), which is taken as an indication that the charges had been dropped.Footnote 5 Also the description of Paul as under house arrest rather than in prison is often taken as an indication that Paul was not considered a risk for public order and would therefore be released.Footnote 6 Whereas these features certainly serve Luke's purposes of portraying Paul as innocent and with a good relationship to the Roman authorities, it says nothing of whether Paul was ever released.Footnote 7 We must keep in mind that Luke also makes clear that Pilate found Jesus innocent, but still had him crucified (Luke 23:13–24). It has also been suggested that the information that he was imprisoned for two years (Acts 28:30) implies that he was released.Footnote 8 At times, this is combined with the data in 2 Timothy that not only speaks of a Roman imprisonment (2 Tim 1:15–18), but also that everyone deserted Paul at his first defence (2 Tim 4:16).Footnote 9 However, although the traditional way of interpreting the data can indeed be reconciled with the theory of a second imprisonment if one wishes to do so, it must also be admitted that, if one approaches the text without these presuppositions, this course of events cannot be extracted from the texts themselves. Furthermore, Acts 20:28–9 could indicate that Paul would die in Rome. The fact is that the New Testament nowhere indicates what happened to Paul after his Roman imprisonment. Furthermore, no undisputed Pauline material is preserved that speaks of the imprisonment and what possibly happened after Paul's hypothetical release. We are entirely dependent on legends passed on through later adherents of Paul for information. The unanimity of the traditions of a Pauline imprisonment in Rome make it plausible that this part of Paul's legacy has a historical foundation, but discussions concerning Paul's release, further imprisonment and reimprisonment are pure speculation.

The Spanish mission

Our conception of Paul's journey to a Roman imprisonment is based on the narrative in Acts. As for the genuine Pauline epistles, Paul does express a wish to visit Rome on his way to his final destination Spain (Rom 15:22–9).Footnote 10 This is different from the account in Acts, where Paul wishes to reach Rome rather than Spain (19:21).Footnote 11 This wish has given rise to traditions of Paul conducting a Spanish mission between his two imagined imprisonments.Footnote 12 The Acts of Peter claim that Paul went to Spain following his visit to Rome, but mentions nothing of him being imprisoned and is thus probably dependent on the tradition of Romans rather than accurate knowledge. Since this text is likely from the fourth century, its historicity is rather dubious in any case.Footnote 13 Likewise, the Muratorian fragment mentions Paul's trip to Spain following the end of Acts, but the dating of this document is also rather uncertain.Footnote 14 It is more likely that the mention of a mission to Spain is based on Romans.Footnote 15

Before embarking on a more detailed discussion of the traditions concerning Paul's mission to Spain, we must admit that Paul's idea that he should travel to Spain is rather odd. Ferdinand Christian Baur could not conceal that he found Paul's idea to be more or less stupid.Footnote 16 Still, he saw a logic in that Paul wished to spread the gospel where it had not yet been heard and should therefore not linger in Rome (cf. 2 Cor 10:15–-16).Footnote 17 More recent scholarship has suggested that Paul's wish to go to Spain was based on his reading of Isaiah 52:7–12,Footnote 18 as connected to Paul's eschatological expectations,Footnote 19 in order to underline that he did not seek to make the world capital his own domain,Footnote 20 or simply in order to create a physical distance from James and Judaising Christianity.Footnote 21 Although a consensus is lacking on the reasons for Paul's desire to go to Spain, most scholars believe that it is the result of his theological convictions. Jacob Jervell even claims that the purpose of Romans is to gather support for a Spanish mission.Footnote 22 This being said, the apparent fact that Paul wished to visit Spain does not necessarily mean that he actually did so.Footnote 23 Although 1 Clement 5:5–7 claims that Paul went to the furthest limits of the West (i.e. Spain), it is uncertain whether this statement is based on historical data or inferred from Romans.Footnote 24 No Spanish sources from late antiquity state that he visited Spain.Footnote 25 Furthermore, Paul's wish to go to Spain is not present in the reception of Paul found in the prison epistles. In Philemon 22, written from Rome, Paul wishes to visit Philemon in Colossae, which would be in the opposite direction.

Also, the earliest extant explicit account of Paul's martyrdom, the Acts of Paul from the late second century, says nothing of a Spanish mission or even a second imprisonment. When Paul arrives in Rome, Luke awaits him there, and the story of a man falling out of a window and being resurrected by prayer (cf. Acts 20:7–12) is recounted in a somewhat different version (Acts of Paul 14:1). In this account, the dead man is the cupbearer of the emperor. When he returns to the emperor, he tells that he has been resurrected by the king of kings and declares himself a soldier of king Jesus (14:2).Footnote 26 This infuriates Nero, who imprisons the Christians, including Paul (14:3). Most Christians are burned, but Paul is beheaded due to his Roman citizenship.Footnote 27 In the Acts of Paul, Paul is not sent to Rome as a prisoner, but goes there by own will.Footnote 28 Yet, his imprisonment is closely linked to his death. The Acts of Paul does not seek to underline the good relationship between early Christianity and Roman society, as Luke-Acts does, but has Nero behead Paul following his imprisonment. We find no traces of a long period of relative freedom in prison followed by a release and eventual mission to Spain. The Pauline imprisonment in Rome is a vital part of his martyrdom account. Yet the Acts of Paul also reports the apostle preaches and brings people to faith in prison. The storyline of the Acts of Paul is interesting since a number of scholars view the work as a connected in some way to canonical Acts.Footnote 29 It is without question that the Acts of Paul uses canonical Acts, and the parallel accounts in Acts of Paul and canonical Acts suggest that the Acts of Paul does not aim at recounting for Paul's activity between his two hypothetical imprisonments. As such, the Acts of Paul is substantial evidence that the imprisonment in canonical Acts was thought of as ending with Paul's martyrdom by at least some second-century Christians.

What if the author of Acts knew the prison epistles?

The main reason that it is believed that Paul was released and imprisoned a second time is the existence of the so-called prison epistles that are often connected to this purported second imprisonment. However, I regard it as rather plausible that these writings were in fact known to the author of Acts. Let us now discuss the traces of the prison epistles in Acts and how the relationship between these texts can be understood.

With respect to Colossians and Philemon, we must admit that Colossae is not mentioned in Acts, nor are the names Philemon and Onesimus. However, this does not necessarily mean that Luke did not know these texts and traditions. The traditions that are connected to Colossae would have been of lesser relevance in a time when this city had lost its significance.Footnote 30 Onesimus and Philemon are peripheral figures who would not add value to Acts in any self-evident way. On the other hand, as we shall see below, Ephesus plays a significant role in Acts, and it is theoretically possible that Ephesians had superseded Colossians. At the same time, Colossians and Philemon both mention Luke (Col 4:14; Philem 24). Although Luke-Acts is anonymous, it is not plausible that it originally circulated under another name.Footnote 31 Furthermore, the work was connected to the Pauline associate Luke by the second half of the second century.Footnote 32 Since Paul has not yet visited Colossae in Colossians/Philemon, but is imprisoned and together with Luke, it is likely that the author of Acts would place an eventual visit to Colossae subsequent to Paul's imprisonment in Rome that finishes Acts. A visit to Colossae is therefore not to be expected, nor is a mentioning of Onesimus and Philemon, since this correspondence originates from his imprisonment at the ending of Acts. If Luke-Acts was ascribed to Luke already from the beginning,Footnote 33 this places the ‘we-person’ (as we may call the undefined companion of Paul) in Rome together with the imprisoned Paul exactly when it fits the information in Colossians and Philemon. The legacy of Luke as Paul's companion until the end, even in the period preceding his martyrdom, is also indicated in 2 Timothy 4:11. The absence of connections between Paul and Colossae and the people mentioned in his letters there are thus an indication that Luke used the Pauline epistles very consciously rather than that he was ignorant of them, as he models the fictive author of Luke-Acts after the information concerning Luke found in these letters.

In contrast to Colossae, the two other destinations of the prison epistles both play significant parts in the construal of the Pauline mission in Acts. The first to be mentioned is Philippi (16:9–15). Paul and his companions arrive in Philippi directed by the Spirit (16:9), and Luke adds that Philippi was the most significant city in the region (16:12). Paul's mission in Philippi is a significant turning point in the narrative, as it contains the first so-called ‘we-passage’.Footnote 34 In 1 Thessalonians, Paul describes how he was mistreated in Philippi (2:2), and this is echoed in the account in Acts 16:16–40 (which also includes an imprisonment narrative). Yet Acts also describes Philippi as something of a safe haven for Paul, who returns to the city on multiple occasions, as does the we-person (Acts 20:1–6). Despite Paul's great success in Ephesus, he chooses to return to Macedonia (likely Philippi) after this (Acts 20:1).Footnote 35 As the story is told in Acts 20, Philippi emerges as a Pauline centre similar to the role often ascribed to Antioch.

Philippians does not contain greetings in the style typical for Pauline epistles. Although one could argue that this is due to the conditions of Paul's imprisonment,Footnote 36 the pattern found in the other prison epistles suggests otherwise. Paul does mention co-workers in Philippi (Euodia, Syntyche, Syzygos and Clement), but they are otherwise unknown. Euodia and Syntyche are not mentioned in Acts, where Lydia instead plays a prominent role.Footnote 37 Lilian Portefaix argues that Lydia should be considered a fictitious character hiding a germ of historical truth,Footnote 38 and perhaps Luke was inspired by traditions that the church in Philippi had significant leading women (such as Euodia and Syntyche) and invented one of his own.Footnote 39 Although Philippi is a significant place in Acts, we find no direct signs that Philippians has been utilised by the author of Acts.

Let us now turn to Paul's ministry in Ephesus according to Acts. After a short visit in Ephesus in 18:19–21, Paul finally stays for a longer period in the city (Acts 19). Just as in Philippi, Paul is the founder of Christianity in Ephesus.Footnote 40 Paul's mission in Ephesus is successful, and Luke's account is rather elaborate.Footnote 41 The plot of the mission in Philippi is echoed in Ephesus. In Philippi he delivers a slave-girl from a spirit of divination (16:18) and it is implied that Paul performed similar exorcisms (19:12), since some Jewish sorcerers tried to imitate him (19:13–16). Just as in Philippi (16:19), Paul's ministry has a negative economic impact for other religious businesses (19:23–25). However, in contrast to Philippi, Paul is never imprisoned in Ephesus. The idea of an Ephesian imprisonment builds on the presupposition that Romans 16 was originally sent to Ephesus,Footnote 42 which originates with the greeting to Prisca and Aquila (16:3), who live in Ephesus according 1 Corinthians 16:9, and his reference to Andronicus and Junia(s) as his fellow prisoners (Rom 16:7).Footnote 43 On the one hand, an Ephesian imprisonment is easily reconcilable with the hardships Paul claims to have endured in Ephesus (1 Cor 4:6–11, 15:30–3; 2 Cor 1:8–11). On the other hand, Acts portrays Prisca and Aquila as quite mobile. Aquila was born in Pontus but lived together with Prisca in Rome until they were expelled and met Paul in Corinth (Acts 18:1–3), only to eventually reach Ephesus (Acts 18:18–19). Although it is possible that Paul was imprisoned in Ephesus at some point,Footnote 44 there is no reason to believe that the prison epistles were written during this imprisonment.Footnote 45 Udo Schnelle argues rather convincingly that Romans 16 is directed to Rome,Footnote 46 and it is quite possible that the account in Acts is an attempt to harmonise Romans 16:3 with 1 Corinthians 16:19 and possibly 2 Timothy 4:19.

Paul's ministry in Ephesus is more extensive than in Philippi according to Acts, with Paul teaching in the lecture hall of Tyrannus (19:9). In contrast to Philippi, to which Paul returns a number of times in Acts, Paul does not return to Ephesus, although he summons its leaders to Miletus on his way to Jerusalem (20:17–38). At this encounter, he speaks as if he anticipates his own martyrdom, preceded by bonds and sufferings (20:23) and is certain that he will not see them again (20:25, 38). This sets the stage for the letter which he sends in bonds (Eph 3:1, 4:1, 6:20), in which he expresses no intention of personally visiting the Ephesians again (Eph 6:21). There are also some particular parallels to Paul's ministry in Ephesus that are echoed in Acts, such as the receiving of the Spirit (cf. Eph 1:13–14 and Acts 19:2).Footnote 47

Regardless of whether Paul was historically imprisoned in Ephesus, this is not accounted for in Acts. In Acts, the only substantial imprisonment of Paul is connected to his arrest in Jerusalem and eventual trip to and imprisonment in Rome. This is in rather stark contrast to Paul's own words, which include the claim that he was frequently imprisoned (2 Cor 11:23), despite these imprisonments not being accounted for in his letters. It is not impossible that the historical Paul was at some point imprisoned in Ephesus, but this is not sufficient basis to argue that the prison epistles were written (or, on the assumption that they are pseudonymous, allegedly written) from Ephesus. Paul's legacy as a prisoner is primarily connected to his Roman imprisonment, and this is the background against which we must understand the prison epistles. This being said, we must acknowledge that Paul clearly indicates that he endured hardships in Ephesus. In 1 Corinthians, which is written from Ephesus (1 Cor 16:8), he states that he fought the ‘wild beasts of Ephesus’, which probably refers to controversies with the cult of Artemis.Footnote 48 Yet, this does not mean that Paul refers to the riot reported in Acts 19:21–49, although this reference may serve as background for the Acts narrative.Footnote 49

Paul was not released

If Paul was released from prison and went to Spain, it is remarkable that this period in his life left so miniscule an impact on history. We know of no letters he wrote and no churches that he founded. If the Spanish mission ever took place, it must have been a failure compared to Paul's previous work. We know nothing concerning how and why Paul was imprisoned again and eventually martyred. The only traditions concerning Paul we can infer from the Pauline pseudepigrapha is that he was known to have been imprisoned in Rome. We must therefore conclude that the theories concerning Paul's release, Spanish mission, reimprisonment and martyrdom lack sufficient historical basis. For some reason, Luke's narrative of Paul ends in Rome. Colin Hemer suggests that the ending of Acts implies that the reader would know what happened thereafter, but all that appears to be universally believed is that Paul was eventually martyred. Either Luke presupposes that his readers would understand that Paul's imprisonment ended with his death, or he found existing traditions too confusing to harmonise. In any case, as we have mentioned previously, Acts ends at a point where many readers would suspect Luke to have been present.Footnote 50 Luke's construction of Paul's Roman imprisonment is dependent on the assertion that Paul was a Roman citizen, something that is not attested outside Acts. Although the accuracy of this claim is frequently defended,Footnote 51 there is reason to believe that it is part of Luke's literary construction.Footnote 52 The author of 2 Timothy does not appear to be aware that Paul is a Roman citizen, as he has him refer to being rescued from the lions.Footnote 53 Robert Jewett argues that Luke implies that Paul was executed following his imprisonment, and that none of the arguments to the effect that the ending of Acts suggests that Paul was released stand up to closer examination.Footnote 54 The reference to Paul's ‘first defence’ (πρώτῃ μου ἀπολογίᾳ; 2 Tim 4:16) could possibly indicate an early tradition of a second imprisonment.Footnote 55 Yet in its context, it is evident that Paul is speaking of his dealings with Alexander the Coppersmith (2 Tim 4:14; 1 Tim 1:20), so the passage cannot apply to the Roman imprisonment described in Acts.Footnote 56 Furthermore, 2 Timothy can at least partially be designated as a testament of Paul,Footnote 57 which suggests that the author of 2 Timothy imagined that the imprisonment from which he had Paul write preceded his death.Footnote 58


In concluding this our discussion on the second imprisonment and Spanish mission, we must admit that there is no reliable evidence that Paul was released from his Roman imprisonment, nor that he conducted a missionary enterprise to Spain.Footnote 59 Although 1 Clement possibly indicates that the Spanish mission was part of Paul's legacy already in the late first century, this is based on Romans and does not suggest Paul's release from Rome. Also, the Acts of Paul suggests that Rome was Paul's final destination in more than one regard. The notion of a second imprisonment is by no means necessary for the fictional framework of the prison epistles (including 2 Timothy), which fit nicely with the idea of a single Roman imprisonment. Unless one contends that Paul must by necessity have gone to Spain, and that Paul's martyrdom would by necessity have been recounted in Acts if it followed the imprisonment with which it ends, it is more plausible that Paul's life and mission ended in connection to his one and only Roman imprisonment. We know nothing of the circumstances for this imprisonment, but since we have no authentic Pauline correspondence from the time, we may presume that the Romans were not as gentle to Paul as the author of Acts wishes to portray them.


1 See Macpherson, John, ‘Was there a Second Imprisonment of Paul in Rome’, American Journal of Theology 4 (1900), pp. 2340CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 See also the classic treatment of the issue by Harrison, P. N., The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles (Oxford: OUP, 1921), pp. 102–15Google Scholar.

3 On this issue, see the classic treatment of Knox, John, Chapters in a Life of Paul (London: SCM, 1989)Google Scholar.

4 Among the prison epistles, this is especially true for Ephesians and Colossians, whereas Philippians and Philemon are generally regarded authentic (although partition hypotheses are commonly applied to Philippians).

5 Tajra, Harry W., The Martyrdom of St. Paul: Historical and Judicial Context, Traditions, and Legends (Tübingen: Mohr, 1994), p. 73Google Scholar.

6 So Labahn, Michael, ‘Paulus—ein homo honestus et iustus: Das lukanische Paulusportrait von Act 27–28 im Lichte ausgewählter antiker Parallelen’, in Horn, F. W. (ed.), Das Ende des Paulus: Historische, theologische und literaturgeschichtliche Aspekte (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2001), p. 100Google Scholar.

7 Pfister, Friedrich, ‘Die zweimalige römische Gefangenschaft und die spanische Reise des Apostels Paulus und der Schluß der Apostelgeschichte’, Zeitshcrift für die Neutestamentlcihe Wissenschaft 14 (1913), pp. 216–21Google Scholar, suggests that canonical Acts and the Acts of Paul were circulated in parallel, and that the idea of a second imprisonment was invented in order to explain the different traditions of the works. Canonical Acts would then treat Paul until the first imprisonment and the Acts of Paul from his release to his second imprisonment and subsequent martyrdom. Needless to say, this is pure speculation.

8 Herzer, Jens, ‘Verurteilung oder Freilassung und erneute Mission’, in Horn, F. W. (ed.), Paulus Handbuch (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013), pp. 124–8Google Scholar.

9 Ibid., p. 125.

10 For a history of research on Paul's trip to Spain, see Bernd Wander, ‘Warum wollte Paulus nach Spanien? Ein forschungs- und motivgeschichtlicher Überblick’, in Das Ende des Paulus, pp. 175–95.

11 Barnikol, Ernst, Römer 15—Letzte Reiseziele des Paulus, Jerusalem, Rom und Antiochien: Eine Voruntersuchung zur Entstehung des sogenannten Römerbriefes (Kiel: Mühlau, 1931)Google Scholar, argues that the references to Spain are interpolations, and suggests that the reference in Rom 15:24 should be replaced with Jerusalem and in Rom 15:28 with Italy.

12 Some significant early traditions concerning the Spanish mission are discussed in Pfister, Friedrich, Der Reliquienkult im Altertum, 2 vols (Gießen: Töpelmann, 1909–12), vol. 1, pp. 266–78Google Scholar. However, I do not share his optimistic view of the sources.

13 See Baldwin, Matthew C., Whose Acts of Peter? (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005)Google Scholar.

14 A. C. Sundberg, ‘Towards a Revised History of the New Testament Canon’, in F. L. Cross (ed.), Studia Evangelica 4 (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1968), vol. 1, pp. 152–61; Sundberg, ‘Canon Muratori: A Fourth-Century List’, Harvard Theological Review 66 (1973), pp. 1–41; Geoffrey M. Hahneman, The Muratorian Fragment and the Development of the Canon (Oxford: Clarendon, 1993); Rothschild, Clare K., ‘The Muratorian Fragment as Roman Fake’, Novum Testamentum 60 (2018), pp. 5582CrossRefGoogle Scholar date the fragment to the fourth century. For a critique of the fourth-century dating and affirmation of the traditional view, see Joseph Verheyden, ‘The Canon Muratori: A Matter of Dispute’, in J.-M. Auwers and H. J. de Jonge (eds), The Biblical Canons (Leuven: Peeters, 2003), pp. 487–556. Another approach is taken by Armstrong, Jonathan J., ‘Victorinus of Pettau as the Author of the Canon Muratori’, Vigiliae Christianae 62 (2008), pp. 134CrossRefGoogle Scholar, who places it in the third century.

15 See Leonhard Goppelt, Die apostolische und nachapostolische Zeit (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1961), p. 72; Robert Jewett, Dating Paul's Life (London: SCM, 1979), p. 45.

16 Ferdinand Christian Baur, Paulus, der Apostel Jesu Christi. Sein Leben und Wirken, seine Briefe und seine Lehre. Zu einer kritischen Geschichte des Urchristentums, 2 vols, 2nd edn, (Leipzig: Fues, 1866–1867), vol. 1, p. 401.

17 Ibid., vol. 1, p. 402. See also discussion in Anders Nygren, Romarbrevet (Stockholm: Verbum, 1943), pp. 452–4.

18 Aus, Roger D., ‘Paul's Travel Plans to Spain and the Full Number of the Gentiles of Rom XI 25’, Novum Testamentum 21 (1979), pp. 232–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Friedrich Wilhelm Horn, ‘Das apostolische Selbstverständnis des Paulus nach Römer 15’, in U. Schnelle (ed.), The Letter to the Romans (Leuven: Peeters, 2009), pp. 235–6. See also Florian Wilk, Die Bedeutung des Jesajabuches für Paulus (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998), pp. 233–5; J. Ross Wagner, Heralds of the Good News: Isaiah and Paul ‘in Concert’ in the Letter to the Romans (Leiden: Brill, 2002), pp. 329–40. For an assessment and critique of this perspective, see Das, A. Andrew, ‘Paul of Tarshish: Isaiah 66.19 and the Spanish Mission of Romans 15.24, 28’, New Testament Studies 54 (2008), pp. 6073CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Wayne A. Meeks, ‘From Jerusalem to Illyricum, Rome to Spain: The World of Paul's Missionary Imagination’, in C. K. Rothschild and J. Schröter (eds), The Rise and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries of the Common Era (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013), pp. 167–81.

19 Ellis, E. Earle, ‘The End of the Earth (Acts 1:8)’, Bulletin for Biblical Research 1 (1991), pp. 123–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Robert Jewett, Romans (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2006), p. 924.

20 Ernst Käsemann, An die Römer (Tübingen: Mohr, 1973), pp. 379–80.

21 Udo Schnelle, ‘Der Römerbrief und die Aporien des paulinischen Denkens’, in The Letter to the Romans, pp. 3–24.

22 Jervell, Jacob, ‘Der Brief nach Jerusalem: Über Veranlassung und Adresse des Römerbriefes’, Studia Theologica 25 (1971), pp. 6173CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

23 As pointed out by Otto Pfleiderer, Das Urchristentum: Seine Schriften und Lehren in geschichtlichem Zusammenhang (Berlin: Reimer, 1887), p. 145.

24 Andreas Lindemann, Die Clemensbriefe (Tübingen: Mohr, 1992), p. 38, suggests that the failure to mention Spain makes it improbable that this is the destination aimed at. Hermut Löhr, ‘Zur Paulus-Notiz in 1 Clem 5,5–7’, in Das Ende des Paulus, p. 208, regards this as a rather weak argument. However, I agree with Lindemann that the reference to missions in ‘East and West’ more naturally conveys the meaning of worldwide missions than a specific tradition of a mission to Spain.

25 David L. Eastman, Paul the Martyr: The Cult of the Apostle in the Latin West (Atlanta, GA: SBL, 2011), p. 148.

26 This resembles the accusations in Acts 17:7.

27 Those who behead Paul come to faith and are sealed by Luke and Titus (Acts of Paul 14:7). Thus, Luke here, just as in Acts, is together with Paul yet escapes his hardships. The notion of Paul's Roman citizenship is probably derived from canonical Acts.

28 Acts 26:32 also suggests that the trip to Rome is due to the will of Paul.

29 Richard Bauckham, ‘The Acts of Paul as a Sequel to Acts’, in B. W. Winter and A. D. Clarke (eds), The Book of Acts in its Ancient Literary Setting (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1993), pp. 105–52; Bauckham, ‘The Acts of Paul: Replacement of Acts or Sequel to Acts’, Semeia 80 (1997), pp. 159–68; Peter W. Dunn, ‘The Acts of Paul and the Pauline Legacy in the Second Century’ (Ph.D. diss., Cambridge, 1996); Hills, Julian V., ‘The Acts of Paul and the Legacy of the Lukan Acts’, Semeia 80 (1997), pp. 145–58Google Scholar.

30 Cf. Lindemann, Andreas, von, ‘Die GemeindeKolossä”: Erwägungen zum “Sitz im Leben” eines pseudopaulinischen Briefes’, Wort und Dienst 16 (1981), pp. 111–34Google Scholar.

31 Haenchen, Ernst, ‘Das “Wir” in der Apostelgeschichte und das Itinerar’, Zeithschrift für Theologie und Kirche 58 (1961), p. 333Google Scholar. Although we do not know when Luke-Acts was attributed to Luke, the attribution to him in the extant manuscripts is consistent; see Gathercole, Simon J., ‘The Titles of the Gospels in the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts’, Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 104 (2013), pp. 3376CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

32 See Claus-Jürgen Thornton, Der Zeuge des Zeugen: Lukas als Historiker der Paulusreisen (Tübingen: Mohr, 1991), pp. 7–69.

33 This is argued by Martin Hengel, The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Investigation of the Collection and Origin of the Canonical Gospels (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2000), pp. 48–56.

34 The exact scope of the we-passages is debated, but roughly one could say that they comprise Acts 16:10–18; 20:5–21:18; 27:1–28:16.

35 The pattern of travelling via Macedonia can be recognised from 1 Cor 16:5.

36 See Standhartinger, Angela, ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen: Die Kommunikationsstruktur des Philipperbriefes im Spiegel seiner Abfassungssituation’, Novum Testamentum 55 (2013), pp. 140–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

37 On the rhetorical function of Lydia in Acts, see Alexandra Gruca-Macaulay, Lydia as a Rhetorical Construct in Acts (Atlanta, GA: SBL, 2016).

38 Lilian Portefaix, Sisters Rejoice: Paul's Letter to the Philippians and Luke-Acts as Received by First-Century Philippian Women (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1988), p. 132, n. 4.

39 So Shelly Matthews, First Converts: Rich Pagan Women and the Rhetoric of Mission in Early Judaism and Christianity (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001), p. 93.

40 Mikael Tellbe, Christ-Believers in Ephesus: A Textual Analysis of Early Christian Identity Formation in a Local Perspective (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009), p. 22, notes that most ascribe the founding of the church to Apollos, although some also relate it to Pentecost according to Acts 2. In any case, such judgements are entirely based on the narrative of Acts, and their reliability can therefore be questioned.

41 Stephan Witetschek, Ephesische Enthüllungen 1: Frühe Christen in einer antiken Großstadt zugleich ein Beitrag zur Frage nach den Kontexten der Johannesapokalypse (Leuven: Peeters, 2008), pp. 259–62, argues that Luke-Acts is written from Ephesus due to the central role of the Ephesian ministry in Acts 19–20.

42 Cf. Willi Marxsen, Einleitung in das Neue Testament: Eine Einführung in ihre Probleme (Gütersloh: Mohn, 1963), p. 100.

43 On the hypothesis that Romans 16 was originally sent to Ephesus, see J. I. H. McDonald, ‘Was Romans XVI a Separate Letter?’, New Testament Studies 16 (1970), pp. 369–72. See also discussion in Helmut Koester, ‘Ephesos in Early Christian Literature’, in Ephesos, Metropolis of Asia: An Interdisciplinary Approach to its Archaeology, Religion, and Culture (Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1995), pp. 119–40.

44 See discussion in Heike Omerzu, ‘Spurensuche: Apostelgeschichte und Paulusbriefe als Zeugnisse einer ephesischer Gefangenschaft des Paulus’, in J. Frey, C. K. Rothschild and J. Schröter (eds), Die Apostelgeschichte im Kontext antiker und frühchristlicher Historiographie (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2009), pp. 295–326.

45 See Paul Trebilco, The Early Christians in Ephesus from Paul to Ignatius (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2007), pp. 83–7.

46 Udo Schnelle, The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1998), pp. 116–20. See also Harry Gamble, The Textual History of the Letter to the Romans: A Study in Textual and Literary Criticism (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1977); Mark A. Seifrid, Justification by Faith: The Origin and Development of a Central Pauline Theme (Leiden: Brill, 1992), pp. 249–54.

47 For a more extensive discussion of parallels in Acts and Ephesians, see Mitton, Ephesians, pp. 198–220. See also Barbara Shellard, New Light on Luke: Its Purpose, Sources, and Literary Context (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002), pp. 56–8. Martin, Ralph P., ‘An Epistle in Search of a Life-Setting’, Expository Times 79 (1967), pp. 296302CrossRefGoogle Scholar, goes so far as to suggest that Luke is the author of Ephesians.

48 See Hooker, Morna D., ‘Artemis of Ephesus’, Journal of Theological Studies 64 (2013), pp. 3746CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Frayer-Griggs, Daniel, ‘The Beasts of Ephesus and the Cult of Artemis’, Harvard Theological Review 106 (2013), pp. 459–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Doole, J. Andrew, ‘“I Have Fought with Wild Beasts… But I Will Stay until Pentecost”: What (Else) Can 1 Corinthians Teach us about Ephesus’, Novum Testamentum 60 (2018), p. 151CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

49 See Hooker, ‘Artemis of Ephesus’.

50 Although it is possible that the fictional framework of Acts is intended to convey that Acts was written around the time of Paul's Roman imprisonment (as is still held by those who cling to an early dating of Acts), this setting must be understood as purely fictional, since Luke 1:1–4, which was likely written prior to Acts, presupposes previous Gospel accounts, although none of the other canonical Gospels were published by the early 60s.

51 Minnen, Peter van, ‘Paul the Roman Citizen’, Journal for the Study of the New Testament 56 (1994), pp. 4352Google Scholar; Heike Omerzu, Der Prozeß des Paulus: Eine exegetische und rechtsgeschichtliche Untersuchung der Apostelgeschichte (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2002), pp. 17–52; Sean A. Adams, ‘Paul the Roman Citizen: Roman Citizenship in the Ancient World and its Importance for Understanding Acts 22:22–29’, in S. E. Porter (ed.), Paul: Jew, Greek, and Roman (Leiden: Brill, 2008), pp. 309–26.

52 Stegemann, Wolfgang, ‘War der Apostel Paulus ein römischer Bürger?’, Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 78 (1987), pp. 200–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar; John Clayton Lentz, Luke's Portrait of Paul (Cambridge: CUP, 1993), pp. 23–61.

53 Although Roman citizens were normally not thrown to the beasts, there were exceptions; see Paschke, Boris A., ‘The Roman ad bestias Execution as a Possible Historical Background for 1 Peter 5.8’, Journal for the Study of the New Testament 28 (2006), pp. 489500CrossRefGoogle Scholar, n. 24. Not only citizenship, but also social class was taken into consideration when deciding upon a punishment. See Kyle, Donald G., Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome (London: Routledge, 1998), p. 96Google Scholar.

54 Jewett, Dating, pp. 45–4. He suggests that the accusations can be found in Acts 25:8.

55 Herzer, ‘Verurteilung’, p. 125, argues that this is a clear indication that Paul was released when read against Acts 28:21.

56 The reference to being rescued from lions (2 Tim 4:17) is reminiscent of the ‘beasts at Ephesus’ (1 Cor 15:32) and suggests that it refers to the Ephesus tradition in Acts 18:21–40, in which Paul's antagonist is Demetrius the Silversmith.

57 Oberlinner, Lorenz, Die Pastoralbriefe, 3 vols (Freiburg: Herder, 1994–6), vol. 2, pp. 15Google Scholar. Richards, William A., Difference and Distance in Post-Pauline Christianity: An Epistolary Analysis of the Pastorals (New York: Peter Lang, 2002), pp. 133–6Google Scholar, disagrees with this genre designation, but, as pointed out in my Peter's Legacy in Early Christianity: The Use and Appropriation of Peter's Legacy in the First Three Centuries (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2021), pp. 152–4, genre designations must be thought of in more fluid terms, used for the purposes of the author.

58 Smith, Craig A., Timothy's Task, Paul's Prospect: A New Reading of 2 Timothy (Sheffield: Phoenix, 2006)Google Scholar, argues that this passage should not be read as referring to Paul's death, but rather to his ministry. He suggests that the text is more of paraenesis than testament.

59 Pervo, Richard I., The Making of Paul: Constructions of the Apostle in Early Christianity (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2010), p. 33Google Scholar, n. 72, dismisses the idea of a release and second trial as a ‘scholarly construct’.