Let us mention each imprisonment, look for spiritual lessons in each one, and then add the time together to answer your question. The Apostle Paul’s first imprisonment is described in Acts 16:16-40. Paul cast a demon out of a girl while he and Silas were in Philippi. The girl’s masters were angry that they had lost their source of income from her soothsaying. The girl’s masters spoke against Paul and Silas to the magistrates, resulting in Paul and Silas being beaten and cast into prison. However, instead of complaining about their imprisonment, “at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God” (Acts 16:25). After an earthquake that broke apart the prison and released the prisoners, the jailor asked how to be saved. Paul and Silas replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31). The jailor and his family were saved, and Paul and Silas were set free. Paul and Silas were in prison less than 24 hours. Bible scholars estimate that this imprisonment occurred in approximately A.D. 51.

The false accusation that resulted in Paul’s second imprisonment is found in Acts 21:27-28. “When the seven days were almost over, the Jews from Asia, upon seeing him in the temple, began to stir up all the crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, ‘Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people and the Law and this place; and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place’” (NASB). Paul was arrested in Jerusalem and endured taunts from the Jews such as “Away with him” (Acts 21:36) and “Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live” (Acts 22:22). This reminds us of what the Jews said to the Lord Jesus before He was crucified. We read in John 19:15, “But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him.” Paul was faithfully serving the Lord and suffered for it. Are we willing to suffer persecution for our precious Savior? Paul was willing.

Due to a threat on his life, Paul was escorted by soldiers from Jerusalem to Caesarea. We read in Acts 24:24-27, “And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.” Paul faithfully witnessed to Felix about Christ during his two years of imprisonment. This is a good example for us to stay faithful to the Lord, even when we are dealing with difficult circumstances. Bible scholars estimate that Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea from A.D. 58-60.

Paul was sent to Rome to have his case heard by Caesar. We read in Acts 28:16, “And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.” Then we read in Acts 28:30-31, “And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” Therefore, Paul was under house arrest for two years with a soldier guarding him. Bible scholars estimate that Paul was under house arrest in Rome from A.D. 60-62. While under house arrest, Paul wrote Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, and Philippians. This is a lesson to us to continue serving the Lord even when we are isolated by sickness, injury, or even imprisonment. Countless millions of people have been encouraged by the epistles that Paul wrote while under house arrest. Bible scholars estimate that Paul was released from house arrest in approximately A.D. 62.

It is a powerful example to us that Paul resumed serving the Lord after over four years in prison. The Lord Jesus Christ was REAL to Paul. Is he real to you? Have you admitted to God that you are a sinner and trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior? If not, do so today. Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ is very real. He is the Creator of all things and people. He gives all who trust in Him eternal life, and we give Him all of the praise for His work on the cross for us. After being saved from the wrath of God, we desire to serve the Lord as the Apostle Paul did. Paul resumed visiting churches and sharing the gospel from approximately A.D. 62-66.

We do not read of his third arrest in the book of Acts, but Bible scholars estimate that he was arrested in approximately A.D. 66 and imprisoned in Rome. While in a Roman prison he wrote the second epistle of Timothy. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:9, “Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evildoer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” Paul poured out his life for the glory of God. What an example to us! The Lord revealed to Paul that his life on this earth was nearly over. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” Do you love His appearing? If so, then a crown of righteousness will be given to you, dear believer. How wonderful it will be in heaven to be among those who “cast their crowns” (Revelation 4:10) at the feet of the Lord Jesus, who loved us, and gave Himself for us. Bible scholars estimate the Paul was martyred by the Roman Empire by beheading in approximately A.D. 67.

If we calculate how much time Paul was in an actual prison, then the estimate is approximately 3 years. He was imprisoned for two years in Caesarea and about a year at the end of his life in Rome. However, when we add the time that Paul was either in prison, house arrest, or being transported as a prisoner, then the estimate is approximately six years. Paul had no regrets about living for the Lord and suffering for it. May we have the same attitude and honor the Lord with our whole lives.  (DJ)  (508.3)