Often the purposes of God are not seen until long afterward. The apostle Paul had been tremendously successful in preaching the gospel and starting churches across the Roman Empire. Then, when he decided to visit Jerusalem, he was immediately arrested and imprisoned. After all his successful ministry, why did God allow him to be stuck in prison in Jerusalem for more than two years, achieving very little (Acts 24:27)?
We cannot know all the answers. One answer that can be discerned involves Luke, Paul’s traveling companion, who had come to Jerusalem with Paul (Acts 21:17). Luke apparently stayed in Jerusalem for the two years that Paul was imprisoned there since he left with Paul on the journey to Rome (Acts 27:1). What did Luke do during those two years? It seems likely that he used that time to “carefully investigate everything from the beginning” and to talk with “those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word” (Luke 1:1-4). These eyewitnesses may have included Mary, the mother of Jesus, since Luke included in his Gospel details of Jesus’ birth that the other Gospel writers did not. Luke seems to have spent those two years compiling and writing the Gospel of Luke, and likely most of the book of Acts as well. As a gentile (non-Jewish) Christian, he was particularly concerned to explain who Jesus was to gentiles, those who did not have the Jews’ extensive background knowledge of the Old Testament. Without Paul’s imprisonment, we would not have these valuable parts of the Bible.