SUMMARY.--Thrown on the Island of Malta. The Kindness of the People. A Viper Fastens on Paul's Hand, but Hurts Him Not. Paul Heals the Father of Publius. After Three Months Leave in the Castor and Pollux. Land and Meet Brethren at Puteoli. Met at Apii Forum by Brethren from Rome. Paul Suffered to Dwell by Himself Under Charge of a Soldier. Preaches to the Jews of Rome. Preaches with Full Liberty for Two Years in His Own Hired House.
17-22. After three days. We see indicated his restless activity. In three days after his arrival as a prisoner he begins his work. The first three days had probably been devoted to the brethren. Called the chief of the Jews. The leading Jews. Josephus says that fifty years earlier there were 8,000 Jews in Rome. A quarter of the city north of the Tiber was given up to them. In A. D. 49, they had been banished by decree of the Emperor Claudius, but shortly after were allowed to return. At this time they enjoyed favor, Poppæa, the wife of Nero, being a proselyte to the Jewish faith. These chiefs would include the rulers of the synagogues, the scribes, and the heads of the leading families. Men, brethren. In a short speech, of which we have only an abstract, he told them how he came to be there as a prisoner. No doubt he fully explained the ground of enmity and his appeal; so fully that when he said, For the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain. They knew that it was the hope of Christ and the resurrection. This chain is a reference to the one that bound him to the soldier. We neither received letters, etc. They mean official letters from the authorities at Jerusalem. They have no official tidings warning them against him. They must have known of him, and of the charges made against him. His fame was such that they desire to hear what he thinks, or holds; to hear him explain the gospel. For as concerning this sect, we know that it is every where spoken against. Everywhere the Jews "spoke against" the Christians with malignant hatred. Paul's treatment illustrates this. The Jews of Rome had known but little of the Christians, but they knew the odium of the church elsewhere. The Pagans also were beginning to regard the Christian religion as "a detestable superstition" (Tacitus), and matters were shaping for the bitter persecution of Nero, which came a few years later.
23-29. When they had appointed him a day. On the appointed day "many" came. The whole day was spent persuading them concerning Christ. Arguing from Moses and the prophets, that Jesus was he of whom the law and the prophets spoke. Some believed, . . . and some believed not. As usual, some accepted and some rejected, and this difference of opinion was openly expressed among themselves. Probably the majority expressed themselves with extreme bitterness. Paul's one word seems to imply this. Well spake . . . Esaias the prophet. The passage quoted is found in Isaiah 6:9 Isaiah 6:10 . It is quoted six times: in the Gospels Matthew 13:14 Matthew 13:15 Mk 4:12 Luke 8:10 John 12:40 , here in Acts, and in Romans . No other Old Testament passage is so often quoted in the New Testament, and it is always applied to Jewish unbelief. The terrible prediction of the stubborn, willful unbelief of the nation was fulfilled in Isaiah's time, in the time of Christ, in that of his apostles, and eighteen centuries of Jewish history illustrate the same fact to our times. For notes on the passage, see Matt. 13:14-17. These are the one final word of Paul to the Jews before beginning his work among the Gentiles in Rome. After the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves, we can hope that the result was that they believed and consorted with Paul and the church.
30, 31. Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house. His expense was met during this period by the church in Rome and elsewhere. See Phil. 4:18 , where the Philippian contributions are acknowledged. Here he was permitted to see and preach freely to all who came unto him. Here he wrote four of his epistles; the letters to the Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and the short letter to Philemon. Here, from notices in these epistles, we know that Luke, Timothy, Epaphros, Mark, Aristarchus and Tychius were with him at least part of the time. Nor is there doubt but these two years produced great results in Rome. It was at a later period, when Nero fell under the influence of the cruel Tigellinus, that he became a persecutor, and Paul had at this time full liberty. A few years after, at the time of the Neronian persecutor, the church embraced vast numbers in the city of Rome. The Roman historian, Tacitus says: "An immense multitude" were converted and put to death.
ACTS comes to an end with these two years, and was almost certainly completed during this time. Why it paused here is unknown. We cannot repress a regret that it was not continued to the end of the career of its great missionary hero. His subsequent life and work can only be learned from incidental allusions in his later epistles and from tradition. The testimony of the primitive church affirms that he was acquitted when his appeal, after long delay, came to trial, probably in A. D. 63; that for several years he labored earnestly in other lands, visiting the old scene of his labors in Asia Minor once more. Prior to this visit he is supposed to have gone west to Spain, and crossed from thence into North Africa, then one of the most flourishing parts of the empire. Somewhere about A. D. 65-67 he visited once more the Greek and Asiatic churches he had founded, and from Macedonia wrote the First Epistle to Timothy, then at Ephesus, and also to Titus at Crete. The incidental allusions in these epistles confirm the view that he had been acquitted, and was at work for Christ. At Nicopolis, in Epirus, he was again arrested and taken to Rome. See Tit. 3:12 . While in prison awaiting trial, he wrote Second Timothy, his last words, solemn with the shadow of death. From hence he was sent to the scaffold by Nero in A. D. 67 or 68, and entered his eternal rest. While we cannot be certain of the facts of this Post-Actian outline, they are so probable that they may be reasonably accepted as the outline of the last years of the greatest hero of the faith that ever fought the good fight and won the crown.