Chapter 28: Acts 28:1-31, Rome at last
The gospel finally made it to Rome!
Heavenly Father, thank You that finally, we reached the last chapter in our journey of faith. Thank You for faith, stamina, strength, perseverance, and persistence to complete the whole book of Acts, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
VV 1-2, And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita. 2 And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.
They were shipwrecked in Malta. Malta or Melita is a Phoenician word that means a place of refuge. The natives made fires to welcome the shipwreckers.
VV 3-6, 3 And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. 4 And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. 5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. 6 Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.
When Paul was gathering sticks for the fire a poisonous snake wrap around his hand. The natives thought Paul to be a murderer and expected him to drop dead at any time. When nothing happened to Paul, they changed their minds and thought that he must be a god.
This is a fulfillment of Mark 16:18.
Mark 16:18, ‘’they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover’’.
The promise of Mark 16:18 is given specifically to the original apostles and Paul. This is not a universal promise and does not apply to present-day Christians.
VV 7-10, 7 In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously. 8 And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him. 9 So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed: 10 Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.
It so happened that the father of Publius, the native chief man, was sick with fever and dysentery. Paul laid hands and prayed for him and healed him. Word spread around the island. The natives brought many people with sickness to Paul for prayer and were healed. The natives honoured Paul I’m many and assisted them when they departed.
VV 11-16, 11 And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux. 12 And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days. 13 And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli: 14 Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome. 15 And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.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.
After three months in Malta, they boarded an Alexandrian ship whose signboard was the Twin Brothers, Castor, and Pollux. They landed at Syracuse, proceeded to Rhegum, Puteoli, and Rome. Paul was strengthened and encouraged when met Christian disciples who came to see him. At Rome, the centurion delivered Paul to the captain of the prison. Paul was put on house arrest. Paul lived by himself in a house chained to a Roman pretorian guard. Paul could not leave the house but visitors could visit him. You can follow Paul’s journey to Rome on maps available on the internet.
Paul wrote four prison epistles, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon during his house arrest in Rome.
VV 17-20, 17 And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. 19 But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. 20 For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.
Three days later, Paul called the Jewish leaders to explain to them why he was in Rome. He narrated the mob in the temple, his trial before the Sanhedrin, before Felix, before Festus, and before Herod Agrippa the 2nd, house arrest in Caesarea, and appeal to Caesar. Paul said he was in chains for the ‘’hope of Israel’’ which means the Messiah.
VV 21-24, 21 And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee. 22 But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against. 23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. 24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.
The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem were not interested in pursuing Paul and did not update the Jewish leaders in Rome concerning Paul’s arrival to Rome. Paul shared the gospel with them from morning till evening. He proved to them from scripture that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied by Moses and the prophets. Some believed but some did not believe.
VV 25-27, 25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, 26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: 27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
the Jewish leaders could not agree among themselves. Paul quoted Isaiah 6:9-10.
Isaiah 6:9-10, “And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.”
VV 28-31, 28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. 29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves. 30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, 31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
Paul announced to the Jewish leaders that since the Jews did not believe, salvation would be given to the Gentiles. They disputed among themselves and left. Paul lived 2 years in his own rented house under house arrest, preaching the gospel and teaching the word of God with confidence to all visitors and the praetorian guards, who took the gospel to Caesar’s household.
The book of Acts ended on this note somewhat open-endedly. Secular history informed us that Caesar Nero released Paul in 62.AD, but rearrested and beheaded him at Rome in 66 AD.
Paul used his house arrest to preach the gospel. The prison was his pulpit. The praetorian guards and visitors were his congregation. Did you use your home or your office to preach the gospel?
Paul was chained to a soldier, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week but he preached the gospel far and wide. Are you chained to your job, sickness, lockdown, or pandemic? Do not lockdown the gospel. Preach the gospel in season and out of season, in pandemic and out of pandemic.
Heavenly Father, thank You for such an amazing journey of faith across 27 years of church history, through the eyewitness account of Luke. Thank you for the valuable lessons that we can take away from these amazing stories. Thank You for making scriptures come alive, in Jesus’ name, Amen.