Acts 28

Chapter 28: Acts 28:1-31, Rome at last

The gospel finally made it to Rome!

Prayer:

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.

Application:

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.

Prayer:

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.

Acts 27

Chapter 27: Acts 27: 1-44, Shipwrecked in Malta

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You that we made it into the second last chapter of our journey. Thank You for giving us persistence, perseverance, insight, and understanding, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

This was the last leg of Paul’s journey to Rome. He was arrested in Jerusalem, tried before the Sanhedrin, before Felix, before Festus, before Herod Agrippa, pronounced innocent, and imprisoned in Caesarea. Paul appealed to Caesar Augustus and Festus approved his appeal.

VV 1-3, And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band.

2 And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us. 3 And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.

The plural pronouns “we” and “us” mean that Luke had rejoined Paul again. Paul was placed in a prison ship Adramyttium to Rome, under a centurion named Julius. Aristarchus, a disciple from Thessalonica accompanied Paul. The centurion Julius was very kind to Paul and gave him the freedom to be with friends. The ship sailed coast to coast and arrived at Sidon the next day.

A centurion was a soldier in charge of 100 soldiers. A regiment is a battalion of 6000 soldiers.

VV 4-8, And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. 5 And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. 6 And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein. 7 And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone; 8 And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.

They passed through Cyprus, Cilicia, Pamphylia, and arrived at Myra. Here, they disembarked and boarded an Alexandrian ship en route to Rome. They passed through Cnidus, Crete, Salmone, and with great difficulty, they arrived at fair havens. The sea was rough and the winds were blowing against them.

VV 9-12, 9 Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, 10 And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. 11 Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.

12 And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.

After many days, the winds became even rougher and sailing became more dangerous by the day. The Jewish fast or Day of Atonement was already over. Paul announced to the crew that they were heading into a storm and advised the centurion to stop the journey. The centurion did not believe Paul and did not want to stop at fair havens. He hoped to reach Phoenix and disembark there.

VV 13-15, 13 And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete. 14 But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. 15 And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.

Initially, the wind was gentle, but as soon as they sailed past Crete, another typhoon-like storm called Euroclydon hit the ship causing it to toss and turn.

VV 16-20, 16 And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat: 17 Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven. 18 And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; 19 And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship. 20 And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.

They sailed past at a small Island called Clauda. They used cables to stabilise the ship and lighten the ship by throwing the ship’s tackles overboard. The sky was gloomy with no sun by day and no stars by night for many days. The ship was sinking. Everyone gave up hope on survival.

VV 21-26, 21 But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. 22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. 23 For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, 24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. 25 Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. 26 Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.

No one dared to not eat food because of fear. Paul took charged of the situation and addressed the frightened crews, sailors, prisoners, and passengers. He told them to cheer up and eat. An angel of God had appeared to him in a vision and said that he must appear before Caesar in Rome and God will save everyone onboard. However, a shipwreck was inevitable. The angel of God was Jesus Christ, whom he served and to whom he belonged. This was the 6th time that Christ had appeared to Paul.

VV 27-32, 27 But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country; 28 And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms. 29 Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day. 30 And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship, 31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. 32 Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.

They had drifted in the Adriatic Sea for fourteen days. About midnight, the sailors sensed that they were approaching land. They took soundings and discovered that the sea was becoming shallower and shallower. Soundings are measuring ropes with weights attached to measure the depth of the sea bed. When the sea was quite shallow, the sailors dropped four anchors into the ocean floor to stabilise the ship and prayed for daylight. When Paul saw some sailors letting down a small boat to escape, he told the centurion to stop them otherwise no one could be saved. The centurion cut the rope of the boat and foiled their attempt.

VV 33-38, 33 And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing.34 Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you. 35 And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat. 36 Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat. 37 And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls. 38 And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.

As daylight approached, Paul begged them to eat food. Paul took the bread, prayed, and said grace in front of everyone and started to eat. Paul said grace and prayed before non-believers as a testimony to them. They cheered up and started eating. There were 276 people on board the ship. They lightened the ship further by throwing the wheat into the sea.

VV 39-44, 39 And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship. 40 And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore. 41 And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves. 42 And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape. 43 But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: 44 And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.

At dawn, they spotted land and planned to run the ship aground. They took up the anchors and allowed the ship to run aground. The ship broke into two parts. The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners but the centurion stopped them from carrying out their wicked plans. Everyone reached the shore safely, some by swimming, and others by floating on parts of the ship.

They landed on the Island of Malta. In the 1960s divers discovered a Roman anchor off the coast of Malta. Whether this is one of the anchors from this ship remained to be proven but it is permanently on display in a maritime museum in Malta.

Application:

A storm is an inevitable fact of life. It is not if but when. You may have to throw things overboard in a storm. Do not jump ship. Pray and wait on the Lord. He had not forsaken you. He will reveal His glory and rescue you by creating a miracle just for you.

Paul said grace before a meal in the presence of non-believers. Did you say grace in the presence of non-Christians?

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for refining us through storms. We pray for boldness, and strength to face the dark and stormy situation of the pandemic storm. We pray for anchors to stabilise our faith in the pandemic storm. We pray for protection and strength, in Jesus’ name, Amen.