Monday, January 26, 2009

Acts Chapter 28

Paul Arrives on Malta and Then to Rome

After being shipwrecked on a unknown island, Paul and the crew came to recognize that they were shipwrecked on the island of Malta, a small island 60 miles south of Sicily. Malta had good harbors and was ideally located for trade. In two weeks the storm had carried them 600 miles west of Fair Havens, Crete. The term “Barbarous people” in verse 2 implies a Greek term used to refer to non-Greek speaking people. This does not mean the people were savages or uncultured, but that their civilization was not Greek oriented. They showed unusual kindness to Paul and the crew, building them a fire and welcoming them. As Paul was building a fire a viper (a poisonous snake) attached itself to the hand of Paul. Seeing that Paul was bitten by the snake the islanders concluded that indeed Paul was a murderer and he was getting due justice. But when Paul was unaffected by the snake bit, they decided that he was not a murderer, but a god.

The chief official of the island (Publius) in verse 7 welcomed the group into his home for 3 days. The father of the official became very ill, Paul prayed and laid hands upon him and he was healed. News spread quickly and all the sick of the island came to Paul and were healed. Paul and the crew were given much honor in many different ways and after 3 months the islanders furnished them with supplies when they were ready to depart via another ship. Since the crew and passengers left Crete in October or November (after the fast, 27:9) and were in the storm two weeks, their three months’ stay on Malta brought them through the winter to February or March. In that time they saw another ship docked at the island. Because it was a ship of Alexandrian origin, it too probably was a grain ship from Egypt that had spent the three months of winter, when it was to dangerous to sail at a seaport on Malta.

The twin gods Castor and Pollux on the ship’s figurehead were the heavenly twin sons of Zeus and Leda according to Greek mythology; supposedly they brought good fortune to mariners. It is at this point that Luke carefully traces Paul’s journey. They sailed north from the island of Malta to Syracuse, a Greek city on the southeast coast of the island of Sicily where they lodged for three days. They next sailed through the strait between Sicily and Italy at Rhegium, a seaport on the coast of southern Italy, across the strait of Messina from the island of Sicily. The next day a favorable wind came bringing them to Puteoli, a seaport on the western shore of southern Italy, 152 miles south of Rome and then on to Rome.

At Puteoli Paul and his companions found some brothers. This is very significant because it shows that the gospel had already spread from Rome to this Italian seaport. No doubt a church had been planted in Rome by Roman Jews who had gone to Pentecost in Jerusalem, heard Peter’s sermon, were saved, and returned home with the good news (Acts.2:10). Upon meeting these brothers Paul accepted the believers’ invitation to tarry with them for a week. The Christians at Rome soon heard of Paul’s coming so they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius (a market town about 43 miles from Rome) and the Three Taverns (33 miles from Rome, a place where that provided food and lodging for travelers), to meet him and his companions.

At the sight of these brothers Paul thanked God and was encouraged. At last God was bringing Paul to Rome and the welcome of fellow believers, whom he had never met, uplifted his spirit. Paul was delivered by Julius to the captain of the guard who took control of Paul and all the prisoners. Because Paul was a trusted prisoner he was allowed to live in a small rented house (vs.30) with one soldier to guard him. In accordance with his policy of witnessing to the Jews first, Paul sent an invitation to their religious leaders. When they came to his rented house he explained his case to them. He told them that although he had done nothing wrong against the Jewish people, or their customs, yet the Jews of Jerusalem had delivered him into the hands of the Romans for trial. The Gentile authorities could find no fault in him, and wanted to free him, but when the Jews cried out against it he was forced to appear before Caesar.

Paul stated that his appeal before Caesar was not to bring charges against the Jewish nation, rather it was to defend himself. It was because he was innocent of any crime against the Jewish people that he called the chief Roman Jews together. Actually it was because of the hope of Israel that he was in chains. The Jewish leaders professed to know nothing about Paul. They had not received any letters from Judea concerning him and none of their fellow Jews had brought reports to them against him. However, they did want to hear more from Paul. Some time later a great number of Jews came to Paul’s house to hear more from him.

Paul availed himself of the opportunity to testify to them concerning the kingdom of God and to persuade them concerning Jesus. In so doing he quoted to them from the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening. Some believed the message of Paul and some disbelieved. When Paul saw that once again the gospel was being on the whole rejected by the Jewish nation, he quoted Isaiah 6:9 and 10, where Isaiah was commissioned by God to preach the word to a people whose hearts were dull, whose ears were deaf, and whose eyes were blinded. Paul again felt the heartbreak of preaching the good news to those who did not want to hear it.

In view of their rejection of the good news, Paul announced that he was taking the gospel to the Gentiles and he expressed the assurance that they would hear it. The unbelieving Jews departed arguing among themselves. Paul’s quoting a prophecy against them irritated the ungodly element who rejected the Messiah. It whipped them into a fury against those Jews who accepted him (the Messiah). Paul remained in Rome under house arrest for two years continuing to minister to a steady line of visitors. He enjoyed a considerable measure of liberty, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.


1. In verse 8 what does the words “bloody flux means?

The Greek word is “Dysenterion” it comes from the word “Enteron” intestines, which implies disease of the intestines.

2. In verse 27 what does it mean to “wax gross”?
The words “Waxed gross” is the Greek word “Pachyno” which comes from the adjective “Pachys” which means “thick”, grow fat. Here in verse 27 it is used metaphorically of the spiritual heart and so it implies the heart has become calloused and dull.

Note: It is here while imprisoned in Rome that Paul wrote his letters to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. These letters are sometimes referred to as the “Prison Letters”. The word “Epistles” is used also which means “letters.”

It is my pray and hope that this Bible study on the Book of Acts has been a blessing for you as it was for me. Please feel free to leave comments or questions and I will do my best to respond to all comments and questions in a timely manner.

May the Lord add a blessing to this study!

In Christ,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just had to leave a word of encouragement for you my brother! Very glad others who are seeking (and will find) the Word rightly divided as you illuminate, by the Grace of God, online. I was blessed to have studied with you while living in Brooklyn. Thank God you are still at your post, magnifying the Gospel of Grace with the gift of faithful teaching He has given you! I love you in Christ, Toni