Acts 28

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Paul on Malta

1 After we were brought safely through, 1we then learned that 2the island was called Malta.
2 3The native people[a] showed us unusual 4kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold.
3 When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand.
4 When 5the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, 6"No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, 7Justice[b] has not allowed him to live."
5 He, however, 8shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.
6 They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, 9they changed their minds and 10said that he was a god.
7 Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days.
8 It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and 11prayed, and 12putting his hands on him healed him.
9 And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured.
10 They also honored us greatly,[c] and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed.

Paul Arrives at Rome

11 After three months we set sail in 13a ship that had wintered in the island, a ship of Alexandria, with the twin gods[d] as a figurehead.
12 Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days.
13 And from there we made a circuit and arrived at Rhegium. And after one day a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli.
14 There we found 14brothers[e] and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome.
15 And 15the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, 16Paul thanked God and took courage.
16 And when we came into Rome, 17Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier that guarded him.

Paul in Rome

17 After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, "Brothers, 18though I had done nothing against our people or 19the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
18 When they had examined me, they 20wished to set me at liberty, 21because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case.
19 But because the Jews objected, I was compelled 22to appeal to Caesar--though I had no charge to bring against 23my nation.
20 For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is 24because of 25the hope of Israel that I am wearing 26this 27chain."
21 And they said to him, "We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of 28the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you.
22 But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this 29sect we know that everywhere 30it is spoken against."
23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening 31he expounded to them, testifying to 32the kingdom of God and 33trying to convince them about Jesus 34both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
24 And 35some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved.
25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: 36"The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:
26 37"'Go to this people, and say, 38You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.
27 39For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and 40turn, and I would heal them.'
28 Therefore let it be known to you that 41this 42salvation of God 43has been sent to the Gentiles; 44they will listen."[f]
30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense,[g] and 45welcomed all who came to him,
31 46proclaiming 47the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ 48with all boldness and 49without hindrance.

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.

Cross References 49

  • 1. [Acts 27:39]
  • 2. Acts 27:26
  • 3. ver. 4; Romans 1:14; 1 Corinthians 14:11; Colossians 3:11
  • 4. Acts 27:3
  • 5. ver. 2
  • 6. [Job 4:7; Luke 13:2, 4; John 9:2]
  • 7. [Numbers 32:23; Amos 5:19; Amos 9:3]
  • 8. Mark 16:18; Luke 10:19
  • 9. [Acts 14:11, 19]
  • 10. [Acts 8:10; Acts 14:11]
  • 11. Acts 9:40; [James 5:14, 15]
  • 12. See Mark 5:23
  • 13. Acts 27:6
  • 14. See John 21:23
  • 15. [See ver. 14 above]
  • 16. [Romans 1:9-12]
  • 17. [Acts 24:23; Acts 27:3]
  • 18. [Acts 25:8]
  • 19. Acts 6:14; Acts 15:1; Acts 21:21
  • 20. Acts 26:31, 32
  • 21. See Acts 23:29
  • 22. Acts 25:11; Acts 26:32
  • 23. Acts 24:17; Acts 26:4
  • 24. See Acts 23:6
  • 25. [Luke 2:25]
  • 26. Acts 26:29
  • 27. Ephesians 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:16; See Acts 21:33; Philippians 1:7
  • 28. Acts 22:5
  • 29. See Acts 24:5
  • 30. Luke 2:34; [1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 3:16; 1 Peter 4:14, 16]
  • 31. [Acts 17:2, 3]
  • 32. ver. 31
  • 33. [Acts 19:8]
  • 34. Acts 8:35; Acts 24:14; Acts 26:22
  • 35. [Acts 14:4; Acts 17:4, 5; Acts 19:9; Acts 23:7]
  • 36. Matthew 15:7
  • 37. Cited from Isaiah 6:9, 10
  • 38. Matthew 13:14, 15; Mark 4:12; [Luke 8:10]
  • 39. [John 12:40; Romans 11:8]
  • 40. See Luke 22:32
  • 41. Acts 13:26
  • 42. Psalms 67:2; Isaiah 40:5; Luke 2:30; Luke 3:6; [Romans 11:11]
  • 43. See Acts 13:46
  • 44. John 10:16; [Acts 13:48; Matthew 8:11; Matthew 21:43]
  • 45. [Philippians 1:13]
  • 46. [Acts 8:12; Acts 20:25]
  • 47. ver. 23; See Matthew 12:28; Matthew 13:19
  • 48. See Acts 4:29
  • 49. [Philippians 1:12, 13; 2 Timothy 2:9]

Footnotes 7

  • [a]. Greek barbaroi (that is, non - Greek speakers); also verse 4
  • [b]. Or justice
  • [c]. Greek honored us with many honors
  • [d]. That is, the Greek gods Castor and Pollux
  • [e]. Or brothers and sisters; also verses 15, 21
  • [f]. Some manuscripts add verse 29: And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, having much dispute among themselves
  • [g]. Or in his own hired dwelling

Acts 28 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.