Read: Acts 28:16-31
Wow! We’ve already come to the end of Luke’s amazing writing for us as he wraps up the book of Acts. The story began with the resurrected Christ challenging us to go and be His witnesses throughout the world and ends some 30+ years later on a high note that is still ringing today. In my sometimes wild imagination, I can see a very old Luke writing this last section after so many ups and downs in his life. I’m in awe of this old man that traveled during times that were difficult, to say the least, who no doubt ministered to many without the luxury of a Bible, survived a shipwreck then invested his time chronicling the Apostles actions for us to appreciate 2,000 years later.
Take a deep breath and pause to appreciate the sacrifice these men and women gave so we could read these stories.
As the centurion responsible for delivering all of the prisoners to Rome, perhaps Lucius’s last act of kindness toward Paul was to allow him to live in custody rather than in the dark cells that prisoners expected. He was no doubt moved by the events on Malta. James would suggest, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2), but who would have thought that this would have included such a wild journey? What if they would have set for Rome a month earlier, had perfect weather, and landed without delay? Would Paul have been given this privilege?
When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him. Acts 28:16
Assembly of Jews
Just three days after arriving Paul addressed the Jews that were assembled in Rome and takes time to recount his story to gain their respect:
The Jews objected, so I was compelled to make an appeal to Caesar. I certainly did not intend to bring any charge 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 28:19-20
Remember back in Acts 18:1-3 we read that Paul met Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth because they were kicked out of Rome. If they were kicked out of Rome, how was it that Paul was meeting with a Jewish assembly? The answer is recorded in historical journals that show the expulsion lasted for about five years. Bible timelines set the time in Acts 18 around A.D. 51. Acts 28 covers events about eleven years later.
This context helps me appreciate the Jews’ response that they hadn’t heard anything bad about Paul from Judea. Instead, they seem to be all ears for what Paul had to say.
But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.” Acts 28:22
“People everywhere are talking,” some things never change!
Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. Acts 28:24
At the risk of being redundant: some things never change!
In the words of Luke, here’s a lesson for us to consider as we go about the business of being Jesus’s witnesses to the ends of the earth:
The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors 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.
Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen! Acts 28:25-28
Some will listen, some will not. Regardless, our mission is to preach the gospel to the entire world so they will have a chance to hear.
Luke leaves us with these encouraging words and with an exclamation point:
For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance! Acts 28:30-31
This is the 51st post written to guide our journey through Acts. It’s difficult to express how significant the words have been to this Christ-follower. I hope you have heard from the Lord like never before.
Great lesson on Acts: https://bibletalk.tv/pauls-journey-to-rome