Scriptures

Acts 28

Introduction

“Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.” Acts 28:1-6

Paul Ashore On Malta

In the previous chapter we read that God kept His promise and not a single soul was lost. Luke now tells us that they soon discovered the island’s name was Malta. The natives, who were descendants of Phoenicia, did not speak Greek, but they did show considerable kindness to those recently shipwrecked.

And so Luke tells us that while Paul helped gather sticks to lay on the fire they had built, a viper, who was feeling the heat of the fire, latched onto the apostle’s arm but Paul shook it off into the fire.

Notice the snake didn’t move until it felt the heat and as Christians we won’t move and grow unless we allow God to apply that heat in our life, Job 23:10 / 1 Peter 1:7 / 1 Peter 4:12-13.

These islanders who were very superstitious believed he must truly have been guilty of something since the snake bit him after he had survived the sea and when he didn’t die, they decided he was a god.

God delivered Paul from the prisons, He delivered him from the courtrooms, He delivered from the shipwreck, and He has delivered him again from the hands of a snake bite.

I’ve said this many times but we really need to understand the point, God gave Paul a purpose and one of those purposes was for Paul to preach in Rome and no-one and nothing, not even a snake was going to prevent that from happening.

“There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably. His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. They honoured us in many ways and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.” Acts 28:7-10

Luke tells us that the centurion and ship’s officers, along with Paul and his company, were invited to stay at the house of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius.

And it was him who entertained them for three days, during which time Paul healed Publius’ father of a fever and dysentery by praying and laying his hands on him.

If anybody today could genuinely perform a miracle like this, then the reaction to that miracle would be the same as Paul’s. Others who were sick were also brought to the apostle and he healed them.

No wonder they bestowed honour on Paul while he was with them and sent the whole company on their way with adequate provisions.

Paul’s Arrival At Rome

“After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island. It was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux. We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days. From there we set sail and arrived at Rhegium. The next day the south wind came up, and on the following day we reached Puteoli. There we found some brothers who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome. The brothers there had heard that we were coming, and they travelled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged. When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him.” Acts 28:11-16

Luke informs Theophilus that they set sail aboard another Alexandrian ship after three months, likely after the worst of the winter storms were over.

Their first stop was at Syracuse, then Rhegium and, finally, Puteoli. Puteoli was the main port of call for ships carrying wheat from Egypt to Rome and it’s there they found brethren and stayed with them for seven days then they went on to Rome.

And when someone like the apostle Paul is heading for a place like Rome, word gets around, and brethren from the city some of whom travelled 43 miles to greet him at the Market of Appius and others met him at the Three Taverns.

Look at Paul’s reaction to this meeting of the saints, when he saw them all he thanked God and they gave him the courage to go on, Romans 12:6-8.

And so Paul has finally reached his destination and while he was in Rome, he was permitted to live with a guard by himself. This was a great moment for Paul and for the saints in Rome.

Paul Preaches At Rome Under Guard

“Three days later he called together the leaders of the Jews. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death. But when the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar-not that I had any charge to bring against my own people. For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.” Acts 28:17-20

After three days in Rome, Paul called for the leaders of the Jews and he explained to them that he was in Rome because of charges brought against him by their brethren in Jerusalem.

He tells them that the authorities had wanted to release him, but he had to appeal to Caesar because the Jews were opposed to Paul being at liberty.

And he says the reason he’s in chains is because he is a Christian, he is someone who whole wholeheartedly follows Christ. Because he knows and fully understands that Jesus Christ was and is the true fulfilment of Israel’s hope. In other words, Jesus is the Messiah, Acts 3:22-24 / John 4:25-26.

All the way through the Old Testament there are many prophecies concerning this coming Messiah. The Jews and the Samaritans were waiting on the arrival of the Christ, John 1:41 / John 1:45 / Luke 2:25 / Luke 2:38.

Even the enemies of Jesus recognized the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, Matthew 2:4-6 / Matthew 26:63-64 /  John 7:42 / Acts 26:27.

“They replied, “We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of the brothers who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you. But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.” Acts 28:21-22

It appears from our text that the leaders of the Jews in Rome knew nothing of the charges against Paul and reported that no one had come from Jerusalem.

Since Paul’s accusers were Jews and the people he is speaking to here are Jews, we would think that such a serious charge against Paul would be known by most Jews.

These guys hadn’t heard anything bad about Paul, in fact they were more interested in hearing more about this Christianity which everyone, everywhere is speaking against. And so Paul after a while arranges to do just that.

“They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe.” Acts 28:23-24

On the appointed day, a large group returned and Paul preached all day and he preached all day using Moses and the prophets to testify concerning God’s kingdom.

The apostle Paul used the Old Testament to convince the Jews and Gentiles that Jesus was the Messiah and we like we did earlier should be doing the same thing, Romans 15:4 / 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

But as we have seen time and time again through the Book of Acts the group was divided as to whether to believe Paul or not. But just before they go, Paul has one more statement to make, again using the Old Testament as his proof.

“They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet: “‘Go to this people and say, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding;  you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’” Acts 28:25-27

Paul quoted from Isaiah 6:9-­10 why? To show that their rejection of the Gospel had been foretold by the Holy Spirit. And this is still a major problem for many people today, they read and listen to the Bible but they fail to understand it. They see Christians coming together every week and living their lives fully devoted to God but they can’t perceive that commitment.

And why don’t they understand, why can’t they perceive? Well, simply because their hearts have become hardened. In other words, we must leave our own ideas behind, forget about what the world says and turn to Jesus in repentance and He will heal us from the disease of sin.

“Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!” Acts 28:28

Paul tells them that salvation would be taken to the Gentiles and they will listen. Being a Christian is more than just coming to Jesus, it’s more than just hearing His words, Matthew 7:21-27. It’s about obeying His words and practicing what Jesus preached.

And so Paul is finished speaking with the Jews but he is far from finished when it comes to preaching the Gospel.

“For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 28:29-31

Paul spent two years in his own rented house where he received guests and taught many people concerning the kingdom of God. He spoke boldly and no one forbid him to continue.

He finally made it and his ambition to preach the Gospel in the greatest city known to mankind was fulfilled thanks to the grace of God.

And as the Book of Acts begins with Luke writing about Jesus, Luke ends his report to Theophilus writing about Jesus.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Isaiah 41:10

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