Paul Writes Letters from Prison


5_Paul Writes Letters from PrisonScripture Reference: Acts 28:11-22, 28-31

Suggested Emphasis: We can tell others about Jesus through the written word: bibles, tracts, correspondence courses, books, etc.


Story Overview:

For the two years Paul was in Rome he was allowed to live in his own rented house with Roman guards keeping an eye on him. While there he often invited the Jews to come to his house and hear about Jesus. Some of the Jews became Christians. Paul also spent time writing epistles (letters) to the churches he had visited. Paul wrote to them about how to live the Christian life. Many of these letters are the recorded books that we find in our New Testaments. This is the last record of Paul but many believe that he was released from prison and left Rome to go on more missionary journeys.

Background Study:

Click here for an overview of the Book of Acts

When Paul arrived in Rome, he was not thrown in a prison. Instead he was allowed to rent a house to live in. He was then placed under house arrest. He was not allowed to leave the house, but he could move freely within it. There was probably a Roman soldier from the palace (Praetorian) guard chained to him at all times. This guard was changed every three hours except at night when they were asleep.

The palace guard was an elite group of soldiers. They were encamped just outside of Rome. Their primary purpose was to guard the emperor. Their secondary purpose was to guard prisoners waiting for trial in the imperial court. Paul spent time with at least five or six of these soldiers every day. They had no choice but to hear him preach.

Paul stayed in this situation for two years. A prisoner who appealed to Caesar as Paul had done was automatically taken to Rome for trial. He was kept under arrest until his accusers arrived. When they arrived, the trial would begin. If the emperor felt the charges were unwarranted (as these were), he would order the accusers executed instead of the prisoner. For this reason, many times the accusers would not show up. If they did not come to Rome to accuse the prisoner within two years, the prisoner was set free. He could never again be brought to trial by the same accusers for the same offense.

Paul used his imprisonment for Christ. Even though he was under arrest, he continued to preach to any non-believers who came to see him. He even preached to the soldiers with him. He continued to teach any Christians who visited him. He wrote letters to the churches he had already established on his previous missionary journeys to encourage and teach them. He used all his time for Christ in any situation.

It was probably during these two years that he wrote the books of Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and Philemon. With these and other writings Paul wrote thirteen of the Epistles that make up our New Testaments. Through the Epistles, God encourages and guides His people.


Way to Introduce the Story:

Help the children find the book of Philippians in their bibles. Most bibles will have a note at the beginning that credits Paul with the writing of this book. Also note Paul’s name in the first verse. “Letters were written in a different way when Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians. The letters (or epistles as they were called) did not begin with “Dear people in the church at Philippi” as we might write a letter. The person who wrote the letter often put their name at the beginning. This is what Paul (and Timothy, his helper) did. Next he wrote the name of the people he was writing to. Then he wrote a greeting. Paul wrote lots of epistles. Look at the next book of the bible (Colossians). Remember how the Lord told Paul that he would be going to Rome (Acts 23:11)? Today we are going to learn about what happened when Paul got there. He didn’t just sit around doing nothing. He wrote some letters!”

*Depending on the age and attention span of your class you could go on and examine any of Paul’s epistles (Romans, I & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, I & 2 Thessalonians, I & 2 Timothy, Titus, or Philemon).

The Story:

Ways to Tell the Story:

This story can be told using a variety of methods.  Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.

Review Questions:

  1. How did Paul get to Rome? In a ship.
  2. What is an epistle? A letter
  3. Where was Paul when he wrote many of the epistles? In prison in Rome.

Song Suggestions:

Learning Activities and Crafts:

(How to choose the best learning activities for my teaching situation)


  • Find the city of Rome on a map
  • Help the children find the table of contents in their bibles and point out all of the epistles that Paul wrote.
  • Invite a guest speaker to class today to tell how they use the written word to teach people (people who send out correspondence courses would be good).
  • Write notes or send pictures to someone to explain something from God’s word.
  • Older children could design their own newspaper ad for the church or for correspondence courses.



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