Paul had written the Roman church a letter (book of Romans) while he was in Corinth in 57 AD right before he left Corinth for Jerusalem. Once he arrived in Jerusalem it was a matter of just a few days before Paul was arrested. Since then he had been in prison for three years. In today's passage Paul had arrived in Rome as a prisoner in 60 AD, three years after he wrote his great letter to the Romans. Now, if the church leaders want to meet with Paul, who had asked them in his letter to provide him financial support in order to travel further west to Spain, they will need to visit Paul while under house arrest. This is probably not the scenario Paul envisioned when he originally wrote his letter.
"I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there." - Romans 15:24-25 in 57 AD
Three days after arriving in Rome as a prisoner under house arrest Paul called the Jewish leaders to meet with him in his house. Paul lived by himself while in Rome waiting for his trial date with Nero, although there was a Roman soldier guarding him 24/7 (Acts 28:16 and 30).
The first thing that Paul makes clear to these Jews (most of whom are probably not believers,…yet) is that he did nothing wrong in Jerusalem. He says he did not wrong the Jewish people and he did nothing wrong against the Law, he didn’t even violate the customs of the fathers:
“I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors.”
Paul goes on to tell these Jewish leaders in Rome that the Roman court in Caesarea found him innocent, but when the Jews demanded that he be brought back to Jerusalem to be tried before the Sanhedrin, Paul had to appeal to Caesar.
“I was compelled to make an appeal to Caesar.”
Paul desired to be shipped to Rome, endure a ship wreck to face justice before the pagan Gentile Nero instead of go to Jerusalem, because he knew what would result if he appeared before the Sanhedrin. Before Paul was a believer he had helped set up cases for the Sanhedrin to try and execute those followers of “The Way.” (Remember Stephen’s trial? Acts 7:1-60)
Paul tells his new Jewish friends he did not intend to bring any charge against the Jewish people. And, to explain this is why Paul wanted to meet with them. Paul has to do some explaining concerning his past before Paul will have a chance to minister to these Jews. Paul has several things going against him now that he did not have to deal with 3 years ago. One, he is a prisoner. Two, he is on trial for violations against the Jewish Law. Three, he is being accused by the leaders in Jerusalem, including the Jewish high priest! Four, Paul has a message that is contrary to what is normally taught in synagogues.
Sharing Gospel with Jews is difficult enough for Paul before he was a prisoner, arrested for Temple violations and wrapped up in a legal case with the Jewish high priest. Paul knows this and desires to smooth things over and provide some good explanation for his present situation.
It seems to have worked because the book of Acts ends with larger numbers of Jews coming to the residence where Paul was staying. Paul spoke “to them from morning till evening” (since he was under house arrest and could not go to work). This continued for two years. Paul stayed in his own house, and could not leave, but Roman Jews and Gentiles continually came to visit and listen to Paul explain the New Testament revelation by using Old Testament verses.
Luke’s account in Acts ends by saying,
“Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ – with all boldness and without hindrance!”