I’m currently in a debate/discussion over whether Paul was arrested once or twice by Rome. This all stems from Paul’s words “I am currently being poured out” in 2Tim. The traditional view as you know says that Paul was expecting to die as punishment by Rome. So with your recent post I noticed this verse:
Acts 26:17. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you,
This verse would seem to indicate rather definitively that Paul didn’t die at the command of Rome (at least as far as this commission is concerned).
A Bible study on II Timothy is now available on my audio website http://preceptsaudio.wordpress.com/category/ii-timothy/ .
I believe that the conflict in II Timothy is between Paul and believers who were rejecting the truth he was teaching. This is evident from passages like II Timothy 1:15.
Paul’s point in that he was about to be poured out as a drink offering, that his “departure” (unloosing) was at hand, and that he had finished his course is that these all indicate that he was finishing the task God had given him to do with the writing of II Timothy, his last inspired act. The idea that it is speaking of death or the end of his life, or that he was about to be martyred, is entirely read into the passage. To be poured out as a drink offering no more meant he was about to die at the hands of Rome than the “Gentiles” being “offered up” in Romans 15:16 meant that Rome was about to destroy all other nations.
It is hard to say if Paul was not to die at the hands of Rome, for certainly this promise would only last as long as his commission did (and it was ending in II Timothy.) If one did not acknowledge that fact, however, the verse would be a puzzler! You are right in that it does seem to indicate an immunity from the murderous hatred of the Jews and Gentiles. In fact, we can see that immunity at work often in Paul, as in when he came back to life after being stoned at Lystra.
If Paul was imprisoned again by Rome, we have no indication of it in Scripture, and I don’t personally see any sign of it in II Timothy. It must then have taken place after the Bible was finished being written, in which case we would have no more Biblical idea of it than we would if I was imprisoned.