Lesson 70 - Chapter 28:1-31

Lesson 70 - Chapter 28:1-31

Lesson for September 3, 2017

The Book of Acts

Chapter 28:1-31

Verses 1-10

“When they had been brought safely through, then we found out that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all. But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, “Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.” However he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god. Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us courteously three days.And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him. After this had happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured. They also honored us with many marks of respect; and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed.

The ship Paul was traveling on wrecked off the island of Malta, but all 276 persons on board were saved. It’s amazing what happens when we follow God’s instructions. God could have saved only Paul, Luke and Aristarchus, but chose to save the entire crew and passengers. We are not told if any or all of those on board believed in Christ as their Savior, but I’m confident that Paul shared the Gospel with those who would listen. 

Once on the island, we see God working miracles immediately. There must have been positive volition among the people of this island wanting to know God. The first miracle was that of a snake from a pile of wood that attached itself to Paul’s hand. At first the natives, being superstitious, assumed Paul was a murderer and was being punished for his crime with a snake bite. However, God delivered Paul without harm and he simply shook off the snake. Once this occurred, the natives began to call Paul “a god.” This was how Paul’s evangelistic ministry on Malta began. The miracles were of course to draw attention to his message, not to primarily alleviate suffering, which was a secondary consideration. 

The next miracle was the healing of the father of Publius, leader of the island. The man was afflicted with fever and dysentery and when Paul arrived to see him, he prayed and the man was healed. Then the word spread and everyone who had a disease came to Paul to be cured. The Greek word for healing is “iaomai,” which means being made well by the laying on of hands by someone with the spiritual gift of healing. However, the Greek word for cured is “therapeuo,” which is a medical term which means to treat or care for the sick. Remember who was traveling with Paul – Doctor Luke. And Luke was able to treat these people, medically. So we learn that God healed by miracles in the earlier church, but He also used medical doctors like Luke to accomplish healing.

Verses 11-22

 “At the end of three months we set sail on an Alexandrian ship which had wintered at the island, and which had the Twin Brothers for its figurehead. After we put in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. From there we sailed around and arrived at Rhegium, and a day later a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. There we found some brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days; and thus we came to Rome. And the brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us; and when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage. When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him. After three days Paul called together those who were the leading men of the Jews, and when they came together, he began saying to them, “Brethren, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. And when they had examined me, they were willing to release me because there was no ground for putting me to death. But when the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal to Caesar, not that I had any accusation against my nation. For this reason, therefore, I requested to see you and to speak with you, for I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel.”They said to him, “We have neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren come here and reported or spoken anything bad about you. But we desire to hear from you what your views are; for concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere.”

After three months, Paul and his companions boarded a ship named the Twin Brothers. The twin brothers were Castor and Pollux, the twin sons of Zeus in Greek mythology. They were regarded as good luck for sailors. They sailed from Malta, to Syracuse, to Rhegium, to Puteoli and finally to Rome.

After three days, Paul called his first meeting with the Jews. Paul assumed incorrectly that the word of his many trials before the Jews and the Romans had reached Rome. Paul was still under arrest and was taken by a guard and allowed to stay in a house with a soldier as his guard. So after three days, Paul called together the Jews for a meeting. 

Paul then began his explanation of why he was in Rome under house arrest. Even though the Jews in Rome were not aware of his previous encounters in Jerusalem and Caesarea, Paul used the opportunity to present the Gospel to them by recounting the stories. The hope of Israel was always Jesus Christ the son of David Who will return to the earth and fulfill the Davidic Covenant. The Jews in Rome knew little of Christianity. They simply knew that there was a great deal said against it. But to their credit, these Jews wanted to hear Paul’s view on Christianity, which he was happy to share.

We have a good analogy in this passage of Paul as the “prisoner of the Lord.” Even though Paul was bound by chains upon arrival in Rome, the truth was he was there by the sovereignty of God. He was under house arrest awaiting trial, but had a lot of freedom as well. In Ephesians 3:1 Paul called himself the prisoner of Jesus Christ and in Ephesians 4:1 the prisoner of the Lord. Paul was related to Christ through positional truth and therefore had a personal relationship with Christ. Paul recognized that he was in Rome because it was God’s will. Paul had dedicated his life to the service of the Lord and considered himself to be a prisoner of Christ, bound by personal love for the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Verses 23-29

“When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe. And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, saying, ‘Go to this people and say, “You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;For the heart of this people has become dull, And with their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes; Otherwise they might see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them.”’ Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.” [When he had spoken these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves.]

Paul presented the Gospel from a source that these men would understand – the Old Testament. True witnessing relies on accuracy of content rather than persuasiveness of speech. Paul presented truth morning until evening. Paul kept going through various passages of the Old Testament in presenting the information about Jesus Christ. Here are just a few from the book of Isaiah of the over 300 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled regarding the coming Messiah (Savior) that Paul could have used:

Isaiah 53:1...His people would not believe Him.……………………………………………John12:37-38
Isaiah 53:2b...Appearance of an ordinary man……………………………………… Philippians 2:7-8
Isaiah 53:3c...Great sorrow and grief would accompany him……………………………Luke 19:41-42
Isaiah 53:3d...Men hide from being associated with Him…………………………… Mark 14:50-52
Isaiah 53:4b...He would bear the sins of the world………………………………………….I Peter 2:24
Isaiah 53:5a...Would bear penalty for mankind's transgressions……………………………..Luke 23:33
Isaiah 53:5b...His sacrifice would provide peace between man and God…………………Colossians 1:20
Isaiah 53:5c...His back would be whipped.…………………………………………………Matthew 27:26
Isaiah 53:6a...He would be the sin-bearer for all mankind…………………………………Galatians 1:4
Isaiah 53:6b...God's will that He bear sin for all mankind…………………………………….. I John 4:10
Isaiah 53:7a...Oppressed and afflicted………………………………………………… Matthew 27:27-31
Isaiah 53:7b...Silent before his accusers………………………………………………..Matthew 27:12-14
Isaiah 53:7c...Sacrificial lamb……………………………………………………………………John 1:29
Isaiah 53:8a...Confined and persecuted……………………………………………Matthew 26:47-27:31
Isaiah 53:8b...He would be judged…………………………………………………………John 18:13-22
Isaiah 53:8c...Killed.………………………………………………………………………..Matthew 27:35
Isaiah 53:8d...Dies for the sins of the world……………………………………………………I John 2:2
Isaiah 53:9a...Buried in a rich man's grave………………………………………………Matthew 27:57
Isaiah 53:9b...Innocent and had done no violence………………………………………………..Mark 15:3
Isaiah 53:9c...No deceit in his mouth……………………………………………………………John 18:38
Isaiah 53:10c...Resurrected and live forever……………………………………………………Mark 16:16

Isaiah 53:12c...Grouped with criminals…………………………………………………………Luke 23:32

Paul got in one last word with documentation from Isaiah 6:8-10. The truth often divides, as in this case.

Paul was using this passage in Isaiah to pronounce his intention to go to the Gentiles with the Gospel, since the Jews for the most part had rejected him. They had rejected his message of the Gospel and the God of Israel, Jesus Christ (Jehovah). God would now send his message to the Gentiles and the Gentiles would be the recipients of the Gospel. And the Gentiles would become the new client nations to God and communicators of the Word of God.

Verse 29, though it is true, is not found in the original text of Scripture.

Verses 30-31

“And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.”

These two years were the beginning of Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles. He had two years in Rome and the freedom to share the Gospel and teach Bible doctrine to all who came to him. He had gone to the Jews first but was generally rejected, so he now shifts gears and begins his ministry to the Gentiles.

In 65 A.D., Paul finally made his fourth missionary journey after being freed by Nero. He traveled west from Rome to Spain, as we knew he would from Romans 15:24-28. From Spain, Paul returned to Ephesus, where he left Timothy as the pastor. When Paul went from Ephesus to Macedonia, he wrote to Timothy and Titus. Then Paul went to Nicopolis where he wintered in Nicopolis in 67-68 A.D. In the spring of 68 A.D., the Romans arrested Paul and transported him to Rome for his second Roman imprisonment and his second trial before Nero. This time Nero, who hated Christians, had Paul put to death.