Perseverance - Page 2
St Luke lived in stirring and momentous times. He witnessed the vigorous and inspired advance of Christianity along the great lines of communication of the Roman Empire and he played his part in blazing the trail. He joined St Paul on the second missionary expedition, and as the wave of hostility to the new Faith mounted to bursting point, he became Paul's ever closer friend and medical attendant.
He has left us his own vivid, first-hand account of that hazardous voyage from Caesarea, the port of Roman Palestine, to Rome, the capital of the world – the voyage which was the prelude to Paul’s first imprisonment. And now Paul is in prison in Rome for the second and the last time and, as he writes, “Only Luke is with me” (NRSV, 2 Timothy 4:11).
It is the late summer of the year 65 AD. It was in the previous September that the great fire of Rome had broken out. People thought that the fire was engineered by the Emperor Nero in one of his madder moods, and in order to divert the rising tide of popular indignation from himself, he promptly put the blame on the Christians. That was the beginning of the first persecution which was to continue until the end of his reign, years after the original charge of fire-raising had been forgotten.