Paul was executed in Rome. Was he convicted of the original charges brought against him by the Jews from Asia who caused the riot in the temple? According to the time line, he may have been freed for a time before his execution. Or does anyone know exactly what happened?


We have no biblical record of Paul's death. However, there are some mentions of it in the writings of the early church. For example, the apocryphal book The Acts of Peter and Paul mentions that both apostles died after being condemned by Nero for their work in bringing down (quite literally) Simon Magus. 1 Clement 5 suggests that Paul was martyred in Rome after having been to the "extreme limit of the west." Neither of these sources connect his death to the imprisonment recorded in Acts. Eusebius stated explicitly that Paul was released from his first imprisonment, continued to minister, and was martyred on his second trip to Rome (Eccl. Hist. 2.22).

Beyond this, Philippians and Philemon were written from prison (Phil. 1; Philem. 1:9-10), and are ascribed by most conservative scholars to the period of Paul's first imprisonment in Rome (cf. Phil. 4:22). In these letters, Paul expressed an expectation that he would be released from prison (Phil. 1:25-26; Philem. 22). In 2 Timothy, Paul's last letter, Paul was in prison once again (2 Tim. 1:8; 2:9), and this time he believed his death was at hand (2 Tim. 4:6-8).

Based on this type of information, many scholars believe that Paul was released from his first imprisonment (the one mentioned in Acts), probably around A.D. 62, and that he continued to minister thereafter. Eventually, he traveled to Rome, during which time he was arrested and then martyred. He died perhaps as early as A.D. 64. Nero's reign ended in A.D. 68, so if the history is correct that Paul died under Nero, he did not live past A.D. 68.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.