Acts 28

1 And when we were safe, we made the discovery that the island was named Melita.
2 And the simple people living there were uncommonly kind to us, for they made a fire for us, and took us in, because it was raining and cold.
3 But when Paul had got some sticks together and put them on the fire, a snake came out, because of the heat, and gave him a bite on the hand.
4 And when the people saw it hanging on his hand, they said to one another, Without doubt this man has put someone to death, and though he has got safely away from the sea, God will not let him go on living.
5 But shaking off the beast into the fire, he got no damage.
6 But they had the idea that they would see him becoming ill, or suddenly falling down dead; but after waiting a long time, and seeing that no damage came to him, changing their opinion, they said he was a god.
7 Now near that place there was some land, the property of the chief man of the island, who was named Publius; who very kindly took us into his house as his guests for three days.
8 And the father of Publius was ill, with a disease of the stomach; to whom Paul went, and put his hands on him, with prayer, and made him well.
9 And when this took place, all the others in the island who had diseases came and were made well.
10 Then they gave us great honour, and, when we went away, they put into the ship whatever things we were in need of.
11 And after three months we went to sea in a ship of Alexandria sailing under the sign of the Dioscuri, which had been at the island for the winter.
12 And going into the harbour at Syracuse, we were waiting there for three days.
13 And from there, going about in a curve, we came to Rhegium: and after one day a south wind came up and on the day after we came to Puteoli:
14 Where we came across some of the brothers, who kept us with them for seven days; and so we came to Rome.
15 And the brothers, when they had news of us, came out from town as far as Appii Forum and the Three Taverns to have a meeting with us: and Paul, seeing them, gave praise to God and took heart.
16 And when we came into Rome, they let Paul have a house for himself and the armed man who kept watch over him.
17 Then after three days he sent for the chief men of the Jews: and when they had come together, he said to them, My brothers, though I had done nothing against the people or the ways of our fathers, I was given, a prisoner from Jerusalem, into the hands of the Romans.
18 Who, when they had put questions to me, were ready to let me go free, because there was no cause of death in me.
19 But when the Jews made protest against it, I had to put my cause into Caesar's hands; not because I have anything to say against my nation.
20 But for this reason I sent for you, to see and have talk with you: for because of the hope of Israel I am in these chains.
21 And they said to him, We have not had letters from Judaea about you, and no one of the brothers has come to us here to give an account or say any evil about you.
22 But we have a desire to give hearing to your opinion: for as to this form of religion, we have knowledge that in all places it is attacked.
23 And when a day had been fixed, they came to his house in great numbers; and he gave them teaching, giving witness to the kingdom of God, and having discussions with them about Jesus, from the law of Moses and from the prophets, from morning till evening.
24 And some were in agreement with what he said, but some had doubts.
25 And they went away, for there was a division among them after Paul had said this one thing: Well did the Holy Spirit say by the prophet Isaiah to your fathers,
26 Go to this people and say, Though you give ear, you will not get knowledge; and seeing, you will see, but the sense will not be clear to you:
27 For the heart of this people has become fat and their ears are slow in hearing and their eyes are shut; for fear that they might see with their eyes and give hearing with their ears and become wise in their hearts and be turned again to me, so that I might make them well.
28 Be certain, then, that the salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles, and they will give hearing.
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30 And for the space of two years, Paul was living in the house of which he had the use, and had talk with all those who went in to see him,
31 Preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ without fear, and no orders were given that he was not to do so.

Acts 28 Commentary

Chapter 28

Paul kindly received at Melita. (1-10) He arrives at Rome. (11-16) His conference with the Jews. (17-22) Paul preaches to the Jews, and abides at Rome a prisoner. (23-31)

Verses 1-10 God can make strangers to be friends; friends in distress. Those who are despised for homely manners, are often more friendly than the more polished; and the conduct of heathens, or persons called barbarians, condemns many in civilized nations, professing to be Christians. The people thought that Paul was a murderer, and that the viper was sent by Divine justice, to be the avenger of blood. They knew that there is a God who governs the world, so that things do not come to pass by chance, no, not the smallest event, but all by Divine direction; and that evil pursues sinners; that there are good works which God will reward, and wicked works which he will punish. Also, that murder is a dreadful crime, one which shall not long go unpunished. But they thought all wicked people were punished in this life. Though some are made examples in this world, to prove that there is a God and a Providence, yet many are left unpunished, to prove that there is a judgment to come. They also thought all who were remarkably afflicted in this life were wicked people. Divine revelation sets this matter in a true light. Good men often are greatly afflicted in this life, for the trial and increase of their faith and patience. Observe Paul's deliverance from the danger. And thus in the strength of the grace of Christ, believers shake off the temptations of Satan, with holy resolution. When we despise the censures and reproaches of men, and look upon them with holy contempt, having the testimony of our consciences for us, then, like Paul, we shake off the viper into the fire. It does us no harm, except we are kept by it from our duty. God hereby made Paul remarkable among these people, and so made way for the receiving of the gospel. The Lord raises up friends for his people in every place whither he leads them, and makes them blessings to those in affliction.

Verses 11-16 The common events of travelling are seldom worthy of being told; but the comfort of communion with the saints, and kindness shown by friends, deserve particular mention. The Christians at Rome were so far from being ashamed of Paul, or afraid of owning him, because he was a prisoner, that they were the more careful to show him respect. He had great comfort in this. And if our friends are kind to us, God puts it into their hearts, and we must give him the glory. When we see those even in strange places, who bear Christ's name, fear God, and serve him, we should lift up our hearts to heaven in thanksgiving. How many great men have made their entry into Rome, crowned and in triumph, who really were plagues to the world! But here a good man makes his entry into Rome, chained as a poor captive, who was a greater blessing to the world than any other merely a man. Is not this enough to put us for ever out of conceit with worldly favour? This may encourage God's prisoners, that he can give them favour in the eyes of those that carry them captives. When God does not soon deliver his people out of bondage, yet makes it easy to them, or them easy under it, they have reason to be thankful.

Verses 17-22 It was for the honour of Paul that those who examined his case, acquitted him. In his appeal he sought not to accuse his nation, but only to clear himself. True Christianity settles what is of common concern to all mankind, and is not built upon narrow opinions and private interests. It aims at no worldly benefit or advantage, but all its gains are spiritual and eternal. It is, and always has been, the lot of Christ's holy religion, to be every where spoken against. Look through every town and village where Christ is exalted as the only Saviour of mankind, and where the people are called to follow him in newness of life, and we see those who give themselves up to Christ, still called a sect, a party, and reproached. And this is the treatment they are sure to receive, so long as there shall continue an ungodly man upon earth.

Verses 23-31 Paul persuaded the Jews concerning Jesus. Some were wrought upon by the word, and others hardened; some received the light, and others shut their eyes against it. And the same has always been the effect of the gospel. Paul parted with them, observing that the Holy Ghost had well described their state. Let all that hear the gospel, and do not heed it, tremble at their doom; for who shall heal them, if God does not? The Jews had afterwards much reasoning among themselves. Many have great reasoning, who do not reason aright. They find fault with one another's opinions, yet will not yield to truth. Nor will men's reasoning among themselves convince them, without the grace of God to open their understandings. While we mourn on account of such despisers, we should rejoice that the salvation of God is sent to others, who will receive it; and if we are of that number, we should be thankful to Him who hath made us to differ. The apostle kept to his principle, to know and preach nothing but Christ and him crucified. Christians, when tempted from their main business, should bring themselves back with this question, What does this concern the Lord Jesus? What tendency has it to bring us to him, and to keep us walking in him? The apostle preached not himself, but Christ, and he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Though Paul was placed in a very narrow opportunity for being useful, he was not disturbed in it. Though it was not a wide door that was opened to him, yet no man was suffered to shut it; and to many it was an effectual door, so that there were saints even in Nero's household, ( Philippians 4:22 ) . We learn also from ( Philippians 1:13 ) , how God overruled Paul's imprisonment for the furtherance of the gospel. And not the residents at Rome only, but all the church of Christ, to the present day, and in the most remote corner of the globe, have abundant reason to bless God, that during the most mature period of his Christian life and experience, he was detained a prisoner. It was from his prison, probably chained hand to hand to the soldier who kept him, that the apostle wrote the epistles to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Hebrews; epistles showing, perhaps more than any others, the Christian love with which his heart overflowed, and the Christian experience with which his soul was filled. The believer of the present time may have less of triumph, and less of heavenly joy, than the apostle, but every follower of the same Saviour, is equally sure of safety and peace at the last. Let us seek to live more and more in the love of the Saviour; to labour to glorify Him by every action of our lives; and we shall assuredly, by his strength, be among the number of those who now overcome our enemies; and by his free grace and mercy, be hereafter among the blessed company who shall sit with Him upon his throne, even as He also has overcome, and is sitting on his Father's throne, at God's right hand for evermore.

Acts 28 Commentaries