The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Acts 28

Act 28:1

Act 28: "So concludes the wonderful and exciting record of the work of the apostles, in fulfilling the prayer of the Lord Jesus from the cross: 'Forgive them, for they know not what they do.' The preaching of the gospel brought their responsibility clearly before the people. Thus the prayer was answered by the provision of such chosen vessels as Peter and Paul -- and through their works, both Jews and Gentiles were brought to learn of the divine purpose in Christ. They now 'knew what they should do.' So in the concluding words of Luke, Paul cited from the prophecy of Isa 6:9-10 (Act 28:26,27), and declared that the means of salvation would be taken to all mankind (v 28). The chapter also records the emotions of the apostle as he had at last reached the apex of his appointments: to witness before kings. Notice the personal encouragement in v 15, that the meeting with the brethren was seen by the apostle as a gift from God, through which he would take courage for the final work. So the victory of faith and understanding concludes the record. The chapter reveals: (1) Miracles at Malta: vv 1-10; (2) Journey to Rome: vv 11-16; (3) With the Jews in Rome: vv 17-20; (4) Paul's ministry in Rome: vv 30,31" (GEM).

MALTA: This tiny island (95 square miles) about 60 miles south of Sicily, was the site of Paul's shipwreck. During his three months' stay he healed sick people, was considered a god, and won a number of converts (Acts 28:1-10). Today many churches there honor Paul.

Occupied by Phoenicians as early as the 10th century BC, the island later became a Roman province. The inhabitants apparently did not speak Greek.

Act 28:2

ISLANDERS: "Barbarians" (KJV): lit, foreigners, and specifically those who did not speak Greek or Latin. (They were prob Phoenician, with a language -- Punic -- closely related to Hebrew.)

Act 28:3

VIPER: Poisonous: Job 20:16; Isa 59:5.

Act 28:4

JUSTICE HAS NOT ALLOWED HIM TO LIVE: The natives interpreted this event in terms of their own superstition. They concluded that Paul actually was a murderer; and although he had escaped death in the sea, the goddess of justice, Dike, had now brought a proper fate upon him.

Act 28:5

Paul survives a deadly serpent bite: Mar 16:18; Luk 10:19; cp Num 21:1-9.

Act 28:6

This is now considered a miracle; no man can escape the bite of the serpent -- without Christ!

Lystra in reverse: Acts 14:11,19!

Act 28:10

HONORED: By gifts of money, clothing -- prob shared by Paul with his companions.

Act 28:11

CASTOR AND POLLUX: The twin sons of Jupiter, and the patron "gods" of sailors.

Act 28:12

SYRACUSE: A Corinthian colony founded in the 8th century BC, Syracuse became one of the most magnificent Greek states. It successfully fought off the Athenian expedition of 415-13 but fell to Rome in 241 BC. at the end of the First Punic War. The city suffered terribly during the Roman civil wars of the 1st century BC, but Augustus made efforts to restore it.

Act 28:13

RHEGIUM: A city on the "toe" of the "boot" of Italy. It lies opposite Messina in Sicily. Here Paul's ship stopped on his way to Rome (Acts 28:13). The name means "breach," which is a reference to the ancient belief that Sicily was rent from the continent by an earthquake. Other early writers believed the name was derived from 'regium', the Latin word for "royal." Because of its strategic location, Rhegium has played a prominent role in history. It is now called Reggio, and is the capital of Calabria.

PUTEOLI: The harbor on the Bay of Naples where Paul landed after the long, almost disastrous journey from Palestine. The city was on one of the best harbors on the Italian coast and had been established centuries earlier by the Greeks. Because it was a great trading center, many Jews lived there; and a Christian church was already established when Paul arrived (Acts 28:13,14). A part of the pier where Paul may have landed is still to be seen in the modern Pozzuoli. After seven days, Paul and the others set out to walk to Rome

Act 28:14

TO SPEND A WEEK WITH THEM: A favor which Julius prob gladly granted.

AND SO WE CAME TO ROME: Note Luke's almost palpable excitement, at the prospect of seeing Rome!

Act 28:15

FORUM OF APPIUS AND THE THREE TAVERNS: 33 and 43 miles, respectively, from Rome.


Act 28:20

Just because Paul preached to the Gentiles did not mean he had abandoned his Jewishness.

THE HOPE OF ISRAEL: "The restoration of Israel is today, and has been down through the ages, the Hope of Israel. Paul, in Acts 28:20 said, 'Because that for the hope of Israel, I am bound with this chain.' Two men, shortly after the crucifixion of Christ, walked to Emmaus. They were sad. Why? 'We trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed ISRAEL' (Luke 24:21). These sad men were talking to the risen Christ, the one who is to redeem Israel. Just before Christ's ascension, the disciples, their hopes revived on learning that he had been raised from the dead, asked him saying, 'Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom of ISRAEL?' (Acts 1:6)" (OLD).

Act 28:23

Paul forcefully set forth the gospel of the Kingdom in his letters: ie Col 1:13; 4:11; Heb 12:28; 1Co 4:20; 6:9; 2Th 1:5; 2Ti 4:18.

The Book of Acts ends with Paul preaching in Rome, in fulfillment of Christ's promise in Acts 1:8.

Act 28:26

Paul was the one "sent" with a message to the nation (Isa 6:8). The outcome: desolation and captivity (Isa 6:11,12).

Act 28:28

GOD'S SALVATION HAS BEEN SENT TO THE GENTILES: Now that the gospel has been preached across the empire, and as far as Rome, the principle of "to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile" may now be set aside.

Act 28:30

FOR TWO WHOLE YEARS PAUL STAYED THERE IN HIS OWN RENTED HOUSE: Or "at his own expense" (RSV) welcoming all visitors, to whom he spoke of the Kingdom of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ "quite openly and unhindered" (RSV). Here (vv 30,31) is a clear testimony to the legality of Christianity: Paul, even while a prisoner, is allowed to preach it even in Rome!

"During this period he also wrote to the believers at Ephesus, Philippi and Colosse, and sent the letter to Philemon. Luke thus establishes that Paul bore witness in Rome to the resurrected Christ as the Lord had foretold, but there is no reference in Acts to Paul appearing before Caesar as the angel had foretold (Act 27:23,24); an event which Luke would surely have recorded if it had taken place when he wrote. It can be assumed then that Paul remained a prisoner chained to a Roman guard during the two years" (Tes 50:71,72).

During these two years, Paul was constantly under Roman guard (Eph 1:20; Phi 1:7), enduring much privation and suffering (Col 1:24; Eph 3:13) -- being prematurely aged by extreme persecutions (Phm 1:8,9).

Apparently, some of the Praetorian Guard, assigned to guard Paul, were converted by his preaching (Phi 1:13).

Act 28:31

THE KINGDOM OF GOD: What the apostles had believed and preached at the beginning of Acts -- the restoration of the kingdom to Israel (Act 1:8) -- is the subject of Paul's preaching at the end of Acts: "the kingdom of God". We need not embellish the message; it strength is its simplicity.
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