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Acts of ps.Linus - Passio Pauli (2012)

Ps.-Linus, Martyrdom of the Apostle Paul
(Martyrium Pauli apostoli a Lino conscriptum)

[Translated by Andrew Eastbourne]


Lipsius, R. A. (ed.)  Acta Apostolorum Apocrypha, part 1, pp. 23-44.  Leipzig, 1891.


De Santos Otero, A.  "Later Acts of Apostles."  In E. Hennecke and W. Schneemelcher (eds.), New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 2:  Writings Relating to the Apostles; Apocalypses and Related Subjects, rev. ed., ET ed. R. McL. Wilson.  Louisville / London, 1992.  [On p. 439, "Martyrium Pauli (Ps. Linus)"—the text is described as based on the Acts of Paul, likely in order to make a pair with the Martyrium Petri.]

The text appears to be largely a re-working of the martyrdom story in the Acts of Paul, for which see the text in Lipsius, pp. 104-117, and a translation in Hennecke-Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha (rev.), 2: 260-65.


[p. 23]

[1] When Luke had come to Rome from Galatia, and Titus from Dalmatia, they waited for Paul in the city; and when Paul arrived and saw them, he rejoiced greatly and rented a public storehouse for himself outside the city, where he would talk about the word of life with these and the other brethren.  Meanwhile he began to gather together a very great multitude, and many souls were added to the faith by him, with the operation of God's grace, in such a way that the sound of his preaching and his holiness was heard [p. 24], and the talk about him went around throughout the whole neighboring region.  For he had already become known to the Roman world by means of signs and portents, by his plentiful teaching and by his amazing holiness.  Many also from the household of Caesar came together, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the great joy and exultation of the faithful was increasing every day.  Indeed, even the instructor of the emperor [i.e., Seneca], perceiving that divine knowledge was in him, was joined in friendship with him to such a degree that he could scarcely restrain himself from conversation with him—and so, if he was not able to talk with him face to face, he enjoyed that man's sweetness and friendly conversation and counsel by frequent exchanges of letters.[1]  Thus, with the operation of the Holy Spirit, his teaching was increased and was loved, such that he was now teaching legally and being heard by many most freely.  Indeed, he was holding discussions with pagan philosophers and was defeating them, and for this reason very many people were yielding to his instruction.  In fact, Caesar's instructor read aloud some of that man's writings before him [i.e., Caesar], and made him out to be amazing in all respects.  Even the senate expressed an unrestrictedly high opinion of him. [p. 25]

[2] Finally, one day, when Paul, in service to his teaching, was addressing the crowds in the evening in an upper room, a certain Patroclus, a favorite and cup-bearer of the Emperor, stole away from his sight and went off to the storehouse where Paul was lodging, in order to hear the teachings about eternal life.  For he had been attracted and mentally drawn to this by his own companions and Caesar's close friends who, belonging to his court, were following Paul's counsels.  But since he could not enter and approach him because of the great number of people there, he climbed to a higher window and sat down next to it so as to be able to hear the word of God more conveniently.  Indeed, he was longing with a passionate spirit to be comforted by Paul's talk.  When Paul, however, had drawn out his sermon at length and the young man was almost overcome by sleep, the wicked and envious devil, pained at the love which the youth quite zealously maintained for God's word and for the Apostle himself, caused the young man to doze off a little—and then falling from the window (which was fairly high up) he breathed his last.  Soon after, when this had been reported to Nero, who was returning from the baths—Nero very frequently asked after[2] the young man, who was dear to him—the emperor was saddened [p. 26] to his very soul over the death of Patroclus, and he put someone else in place of him for the service of the wine, to present his cup to him.

[3] But Paul, immediately realizing (through the spirit) what had happened, said to the people:  "Brethren, the wicked one has found an opportunity for testing you.  But the Lord Jesus Christ, in his customary manner, will turn the villainy to his own glory.  Go outside, therefore, and you will find that a young man, a favorite of Caesar, has fallen from a height and is now lying lifeless.  Lift him up and hasten to bring him to me."  They, for their part, went out immediately and speedily brought the dead young man to him.  Moreover, the crowds were amazed at how Paul had come to know in detail[3] about what had happened with no one to inform him of it.  So Paul said to the crowds:  "Now your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will be apparent.  For it is time for the seed of eternal life, arriving in good soil, to bear fruit in a hundred-fold harvest.  Therefore draw near to the Lord our God with full faith, and let us pray to him that the soul of the man may be restored into this youthful corpse, and that he may live better than he had lived.  And after they all groaned while devoting themselves to prayer, Paul said:  "Young Patroclus, arise and tell what great things God has done for you."  Thereupon, at these words, [p. 27] Patroclus arose as though from sleep, and began to glorify God, who granted such power to human beings.  And Paul sent him away with the rest of those who belonged to the household of Caesar, and they went off, all rejoicing and exulting in the Lord, who carries out the wishes of those who fear him and hearkens to their prayers.

[4]  While Nero was lamenting for Patroclus and was engrossed in the immensity of his sadness, those who were standing around him said to Caesar:  "Lord, may Your Magnanimity not be distressed with vexation over the death of the youth.  For he is alive and is here at the gates."  But when Caesar heard that Patroclus was alive, of whose death he had heard a little earlier, he was struck with fear and refused to let him enter and stand before his gaze.  When, however, he had been persuaded by very numerous friends, he commanded him to enter.  Seeing him vigorous and without any signs of death, he was amazed and said to him:  "Patroclus, are you alive?"  He answered:   "Caesar, I am alive."  Nero said:  "Who caused you to live?"  Patroclus, gladdened in heart and kindled with the heat of faith, said to him:  "The Lord Jesus Christ, the king of all ages. [p. 28]"  And Nero, thrown into confusion at the name of the Power of God,[4] said to the young man:  "So then, that man ought to reign forever and dissolve all the kingdoms of the world?"  And Patroclus said:  "Indeed, Caesar, he will destroy all the kingdoms which are under heaven, and all that are under heaven will serve him; and he himself alone is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords."  But Nero struck him and said:  "So then, are you serving as a soldier for that king?"  And Patroclus, exulting, said:  "Yes indeed—for he raised me from the dead!"

[5] Then Barnabas, Justus, a certain [other] Paul, Arion the Cappadocian and Festus the Galatian, who were Caesar's attendants and always stood by him, said to Nero:  "Why, Caesar, do you strike a young man who is authentically wise and answers you most sensibly and most truthfully?  For we too are serving as soldiers for that unconquered king, Jesus Christ our Lord."  Nero, however, when he heard them speaking of the unconquered King Jesus with the same meaning and words, he threw them into prison, so as to torture excessively those whom he had loved excessively before. [p. 29] And he ordered that the servants of that great king be searched out, and laid down an edict that all the soldiers of Christ, wherever they were found, without questioning, should be punished with various tortures.  Hence, through a major investigation by the officials of the government and the supporters of the storehouse of wickedness, the servants of God were sought and found—and very many were brought into Caesar's presence.

[6] Among them, Paul too, bearing for the sake of Christ's name the chains he was accustomed to, was brought there, bound.  All those who were bound were directing their attention to him together, so much so that Nero was able to determine, without being informed by anyone, that he was in charge of the soldiers of the great king.  And, understanding that he was the leader and the teacher of Christ's servants, he said to him:  "You, a servant of the great king—but a prisoner of mine—why did you decide to enter secretly into the kingdom of the Romans and take it away from me, and to assemble soldiers for him from the forces under my command?"  Paul, however, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke steadily to Caesar in the hearing of all those who could be present:  "Nero, I am assembling soldiers not only from your back-yard, but also from the entire world.  For I have orders not to turn away [p. 30] anyone from any nation who wishes to serve as a soldier for my eternal king.  For the Lord of all is able to distribute the richest gifts with a generous hand to everyone, in accordance with the merits of each one.  Indeed, if you too see fit to believe in him and obey him faithfully, you will not regret it.  Do not think, however, that the riches of this world, magnificence or glory should save you; but if you become subject to him, you will be saved forever.  For when he comes to judge the living and the dead, he will ravage the form of this world with fire, and will bestow on his soldiers the largesse that was prepared before the foundation of the world and hidden from the ages, which will never fall short and which will remove every deficiency.

[7]  Nero, hearing this and becoming inflamed with anger, because Paul had said that the form of the world was to be dissolved with fire, ordered that all the soldiers of Christ be burned with fire, but that Paul be mutilated by decree of the Senate as one guilty of treason, in accordance with Roman laws.  He handed him over to the prefects Longinus and Megistus and to Acestus the centurion, so that they would lead him outside the city and would give instructions for his decapitation, making his killing a spectacle for the people.  To these men, Paul was preaching about salvation without ceasing.  Nero, driven by the activity of the devil, speedily also directed the officials and apparitores in the whole city[5] and the surrounding region, so that they would search out with the greatest care the Christians who were in hiding and those who were known, and kill them.  [p. 31] Hence, so numerous a crowd of Christians was killed that the Roman people burst into the palace in strength and, struggling to provoke a rebellion against Caesar, shouted:  "Put an end to this most unjust order, Caesar!  Moderate your unreasonable fury!  Let what has already crossed the bounds of cruelty be enough for your cruelty.  They are our fellow citizens whom you are destroying; they guard the Roman empire.  Caesar, you are taking away Roman power, which used to be terrifying to all nations by virtue of the great throng of such great soldiers."  Then Nero, terrified at the shouts of the people, laid down another decree, that no one should dare to touch the Christians, nor bring any trouble upon them, until the report of a complete legal proceeding, on the basis of a denunciation in each case, should be conveyed to the emperor.

[8] For this reason, Paul was again brought before his presence.  When Nero saw him, however, he shouted out most violently, saying:  "Take him away!  Take away the malefactor,[6] behead the deceiver, do not allow the enchanter[7] to live, destroy the remover of our senses, remove from the face of the earth the modifier of our minds!"  Paul said to him:  "Nero, I shall suffer for a short time; but I shall live forever for[8] my God and the eternal king, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is going to come to judge the world in a conflagration of fire."  Nero said [p. 32] to Longinus, Megistus and Acestus:  "Quickly, remove his head from him, and so may he flatter himself about eternal life—and perceive that I am the unconquered king, I who have bound him and defeated him by killing him."  But Paul said:  "Nero, so that you may know that I live for my unconquered king eternally even after decapitation, but that you are defeated even though you believe you are winning—after my head has been cut off, I will appear to you alive, and you will be able to understand that death and life serve my Lord Jesus Christ, to whom belongs every kingdom and who will give it to whom he wills.  Every victory belongs to him, and whom he wishes to prevail he causes to triumph magnificently.  He himself is alone the unconquered king forever."  And with these words having been spoken, Paul was led off for punishment.

[9]  Now while he was being led away, Longinus and Megistus and Acestus said to him:  "Tell us, Paul, where is that king, and where has he appeared to us, and in what manner did you come to know him, and what good has he done, or will he do, for you?—that you Christians should love him so passionately that you refuse to give your assent to our religion in any fashion, in order to live and enjoy the good things of this life.  Instead, you consider it more pleasant than any amusement to die for him [p. 33] in manifold torments.  For it seems to us a great error to hate pleasantness and life, and to embrace punishments and death with unmitigated longing."

[10] Paul, however, said:  "You wise men, blooming with good sense!  Abandon the darkness of ignorance and error, the fog of which is overclouding your understanding, noble gentlemen, so that you are not able to see the truth which lies hidden in you.  Turn the eyes of your mind to the eternal and true light, so that you may have the power first to know yourselves, and so to arrive at the knowledge of that king with gladness, and to remain safe and unharmed by the fire that will come upon the whole world.  For we are not serving as soldiers for any earthly king, as you believe, but for the living God, the king of the heavens and of all ages, who, on account of the sins which are being committed in this world, will come as judge and will judge it with fire.  But happy will the man be who believes in him:  He will have eternal life and will live forever.  And most unfortunate will that man be (no one is more unfortunate) who spurns the riches of his goodness and long-suffering and does not turn to him:  He will perish forever.  Indeed, it was for this reason that the one who made heaven and earth descended from heaven to earth; [p. 34] for this purpose that the one who made man was made a man:  So that a man could turn from his iniquity, leaving behind the vain things and mute images which he most wickedly worships in place of God, and serve the one who made him and revere the one the angels fear and all the powers of heaven revere.  When this happens, he will make that true worshipper and venerator his own partner and an associate of his angels—that is, of the holy and blessed spirits.  And rightly so, because God is a spirit, and he will make the one who worships and venerates him in spirit and truth an associate of the holy spirits.  But the one who refuses to believe in him he will make an associate and partner of the wicked demons in torment and in the burning of eternal fire; he will send that fugitive to this perpetual fire—that is, the fire that is to come, by which God is going to judge the world.

[11] "Therefore, you wise men, let your sagacity take counsel and discern who made the world—because it did not come forth without a maker. [p. 35] Consider who made man—because, as the divine oracles testify, he did not make himself.  Pay heed to the fact that vain images are not gods, but rather human products and the demons that lie hidden in the same products—and they, although they seem to be in accord in that they unanimously desire the destruction of the human race, yet they do disagree with each other in very many ways.  'For the impious do not have peace,' says the Lord.[9]  Indeed, before us is this question:  Why do people rush to cause destruction and to hold those associated with them in punishments, since they know that human beings are going to ascend, by the grace of God, into the heavenly habitation from which the very spirits fell through pride.  Men of the city, recognize with your understanding that the title of deity is in no way distributed among the many, because there is one God by whom all things [were made], and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom all things [were made], and one Holy Spirit in whom everything exists—and to this [Trinity] all faithful things faithfully submit; and there is no division in the divinity, because it lacks plurality.  Consider well, Roman citizens, whence discord arose, and by what method it has grown and become advanced so far and wide, wretchedly, and why so many—not divinities, but wretched monstrosities of gods—have emerged:  obviously because many began to wish to become leaders and tyrants and rulers—not of vices, but of the people who share in their own nature; and hence, plunged into the tempest of ignorance and cast down into the pit of their own pride, [p. 36] each one either borrowed or established the god of his own power.  Thus it is said, 'Fear first in the world created gods.'[10]  Wretched men arrived at such a pitch of insanity that in this state they set up the most wretched of men as gods for themselves, so as to become like them in order to avoid destructive death.  But some of them too, because they did not think it right to keep the knowledge of God in their minds, were handed over to their own wishes,[11] so as to practice those deeds which the Roman laws punish with curses, and there was fulfilled in them what was said by the most holy words:  'Let those who make them become similar to them.'[12]  For they made wretched gods for themselves, and were made wretched themselves—and were tumbled down to such irrationality that they say to the trunk of a tree, 'You are our god'; and to a stone, 'Help us'; and they worship a manufactured block of wood, they who have been warmed by its shavings."[13]

[12] At this, great crowds of listeners raised their voices in lamentation and said:  "We have gone astray; we have sinned; we have acted wickedly; O teacher of salvation and truth, who shows us eternal life, have mercy on us, so that we may be rescued from the snares of sins and may be able to escape [p. 37] from the fire by which the world will be burned and all unbelievers and wicked ones will be tormented."  Then Paul said:  "Brethren, whose heart God has touched by his Spirit, stand firm like men in the faith.  For servants of eternal salvation will come to you, by whom you will be baptized; and if you persevere in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, you shall be saved for eternity."  Longinus too, and Megistus and Acestus, speaking to the Apostle more privately, said:  "We ask you, Lord:  Cause us to be enrolled in the soldiery of the eternal king, so that we may be able to escape the fire that is to come and share in the everlasting kingdom; and we will let you go—or, wherever you prefer to go, we will be your companions on the road, obedient even unto death."  Paul said to them:  "My brethren, I am not a fugitive but a lawful soldier of my king.  For if I knew that I was remaining and was not rather coming to that life and glory by means of this death, I would not only do what you are asking, but I would be begging you for this.  As it is, however, I have not run in vain through much suffering, nor am I suffering now for no reason.  For a crown of righteousness awaits me, which he in whom I have believed will give me—he about whom I am certain that I am going to him and that with him I will come in his splendor, and that of his Father and the holy angels, to judge the world.  For this reason, I disdain this death, and I shall not obey or carry out your request [p. 38] that I run away."  They, for their part, wept and said to him:  "What then shall we do?  How shall we live, once you have been punished, and shall we have the power hereafter to come to that one in whom you are persuading us to believe?"

[13] And when they were saying these things amongst themselves, and many people were raising their voices on high, Nero sent certain soldiers—Parthenius and Pheretas[14]—to see whether Paul had been killed yet.  When they arrived, they found him still living and addressing the crowds at great length.  Paul called them to him and said:  "Gentlemen, believe in the living God, who will raise from the dead both me and all who believe in him."  But they said to him in answer:  "First we will go and make our report to Caesar, and then, when what we have been sent for has been accomplished, and once you are dead and have been resurrected, then we will believe in your king.  As for you, explain the delays by which you are putting off the order, and go to the designated place where you are to suffer the sentence that has been duly passed."  Paul also said to them:  "You need me to stay in the flesh, if you wish to believe, more than I do—I am going to life through death.  But now, let us proceed with joy in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

[14] And as they continued on to the place of his suffering, accompanied by countless crowds of people, he came to the gate of the city of Rome, where there came to meet him a most noble matron, named Plautilla, who loved the Apostles zealously and followed the divine religion.  In tears, she began to commend herself to his prayers.  Paul said to her:  "Farewell, Plautilla, daughter of eternal salvation!  Lend me the cloth with which you cover your head, and go off a little to the side because of the crowd,[15] waiting for me here until I return to you and pay back the favor.  For I will bind it around my eyes like a handkerchief, and I will leave it to you, loving woman, as a token of my love, for the sake of Christ's name, when I go on toward him."  She quickly stretched out the cloth to him and did just as the Apostle had commanded.  Parthenius and Pheretas scoffed at her, however, saying:  "Why do you believe this trickster and magician?  Why are you losing a fine cloth, when you will not get such a fine one through him in this world?"  But Paul said to her:  "Even so, daughter, stand ready here for my arrival, and I will bring you signs of my death in the cloth as I am about to conquer with Christ."

[15] Meanwhile, Longinus, Megistus and Acestus, as they pressed forward resolutely for their salvation, asking about the way in which they would be able to arrive at the true life, heard the blessed Apostle say:  "My brothers and sons, soon, when I have been decapitated and you, along with the others who have assisted at my execution, have departed from the place in which the Lord will think it right to summon me, believers will take and bury my body. [p. 40] As for you, take note of the place of my tomb, and come there tomorrow at the break of dawn, and there you will find two men praying—Titus and Luke.  You will tell them for what reason I sent you; and they will give you the sign of salvation in the Lord.  Do not hesitate, therefore, to carry out your orders, because as soon as you have been dipped in the sacred spring as believers and made holy by the life-giving power of the divine mysteries, immediately you will be purified and cleansed whiter than snow from all pollution of sins, even from this crime which has been perpetrated against me, of which you now stand in awe; you will be enrolled in the ranks of Christ's soldiers, and will be co-heirs of the heavenly kingdom.

[16] This having been said, he arrived at the place of his suffering.  There, turned toward the East, with his hands stretched out toward heaven, he prayed at great length with tears in Hebrew, and gave thanks to God.  And when he had finished his prayer in his ancestral language, bidding farewell to the brethren he blessed them, and binding his eyes with Plautilla's veil he planted both knees on the ground and extended his neck.  The executioner, lifting up his arm on high, struck with force and cut off his head.  After it had been cut off from his body, it cried aloud the name of Jesus Christ in Hebrew with a clear voice; and immediately a stream of milk spurted out from his body onto the clothing of the soldier, and afterwards blood flowed out.  When some people were wanting to seize the garment with which he had bound his eyes, [p. 41] it was not to be seen.  Furthermore, such an immense light and such a pleasant aroma flashed forth from heaven there at the moment of his decapitation, that the eyes of mortals could not endure that splendor; the human tongue could not tell of the aroma.  All those who were present, however, seeing the grace of God in the blessed Apostle, marvelled greatly, praising and extolling[16] until very late the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal and unconquered king, whom the magnificent teacher and instructor of the nations had proclaimed.

[17] Those who had been sent to hurry up his execution returned and arrived at the gate of the city, where they found Plautilla praising and glorifying the Lord for all that she had heard and seen through his holy Apostle.  They asked her with scorn why she was not covering her head with the veil she had given to her Paul.  She, kindled with the heat of faith, answered proudly:  "You vain and miserable men, who do not know how to believe what you see with your eyes and handle with your hands!  Truly I do have same cloth which I offered to that man—now precious because of the shedding of his glorious blood.  For a company of countless figures in white, attending him, came from heaven and returned it to me [p. 42] in all truth; and rewarding me with thanks for the kindness I did him, he said:  "You, Plautilla, gave me obedience on earth; I will be indulgent to you when you move on with all speed to the heavenly realms.  For very soon I will return for you and I will show you the glory of the unconquered king."  And Plautilla, drawing out the cloth, infused with rose-colored blood, from the folds of her garment, showed it to them.  They, seized with great fear, went along quickly to Caesar and reported to him what they had seen and heard.

[18] But when he heard this, he was struck with frightful wonder; stupefied with immense amazement, he began to discuss and hold conversations about what had been reported with philosophers and friends and state officials, and also with as many of the senate as he could have there, in fear and mental confusion.  And while they were marvelling at these things in turn, and questioning amongst themselves, Paul came around the ninth hour, although the doors were shut, and stood before Caesar and said:  "Caesar, look:  Here I am—Paul, soldier of the eternal and unconquered king; now indeed, you should believe that I am not dead, but that I live for my God.  But for you, you wretch, unspeakable evils and very great punishment are impending, after not much time, and eternal destruction, because among your other horrible, disgraceful acts you have unjustly shed much blood of the just."  And saying this, he suddenly disappeared.  Indeed, Nero, on hearing this, was stricken with indescribable fear [p. 43] and went more or less out of his senses; he did not know what he could have done.  But persuaded by his friends, he ordered Patroclus and Barnabas and those who had been shackled with them to be freed and to go wherever they wished.

[19] Finally, Longinus, Megistus and Acestus, just as Paul had instructed, came at first light to his tomb, and saw two men praying—and standing in their midst, Paul.  Terrified by this marvellous sight, they trembled and were afraid to approach any nearer.  Titus and Luke, however, returning to themselves from the ecstasy of prayer, saw the prefects and the centurion who had been attendants at the slaughter of Paul hurrying toward them; seized with human fear, they turned to run away—and Paul vanished from their sight.  But the others shouted after them, saying:  "Blessed men of God, we have not come, as you imagine, to pursue you and kill you, but so that you may transport us as believers to eternal life through the water of baptism, just as the true teacher Paul promised us—he whom just now we perceived standing and praying in your midst." [p. 44] And indeed, Titus and Luke, when they heard this, stood still with great gladness and spiritual joy; then they laid their hands on them and gave them the mark of everlasting sanctification, and thus, after a fast lasting until evening, they were baptized in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit belong honor and glory, power and authority forever and ever.  Amen.

[1] Cf. the apocryphal correspondence of Paul and Seneca, translated in Hennecke-Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha (rev.), 2: 46-53.
[2] Alternatively, "needed."
[3] Lat. ex ordine.
[4] Cf. 1 Cor. 1:24.
[5] Or, "every city."
[6] Lat. maleficus, which frequently has the sense of "practitioner of magic."
[7] Lat. carminator.
[8] Cf. Rom. 14.8.
[9] Is. 48.22.
[10] Cf. Statius, Thebaid 3.661; Petronius fr. 27 (= Anth. Lat. 466).
[11] Cf. Rom. 1.28.
[12] Ps. 115.8; 135.18.
[13] Cf. Jer. 2.27.
[14] So he is named in the Gk. text; Lat. Feritas.
[15] Lat. propter plebis impedimentum.
[16] Or "confessing"; Lat. confitentes.

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This text was translated by Andrew Eastbourne and commisioned by Roger Pearse, 2012. This file and all material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.

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