Acts 28

Safe at Malta

1 When 1they had been brought safely through, 2then we found out that 3the island was called Malta.
2 4The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and 5received us all.
3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand.
4 When 6the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, "7Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live."
5 However * 8he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm.
6 But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and 9began to say that he was a god.
7 Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us courteously three days.
8 And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had 10prayed, he 11laid his hands on him and healed him.
9 After this had happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured.
10 They also honored us with many marks of respect; and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed.

Paul Arrives at Rome

11 At the end of three months we set sail on 12an Alexandrian ship which had wintered at the island, and which had the Twin Brothers for its figurehead.
12 After we put in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days.
13 From there we sailed around and arrived at Rhegium, and a day later a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli.
14 There we found some 13brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days; and thus we came to Rome.
15 And the 14brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us; and when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.
16 When we entered Rome, Paul was 15allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.
17 After three days Paul called together those who were 16the leading men of the Jews, and when they came together, he began saying to them, "17Brethren *, 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 "And when they had 20examined me, they 21were willing to release me because there was 22no ground for putting me to death.
19 "But when the Jews objected, I was forced to 23appeal to Caesar, not that I had any accusation against my nation.
20 "For this reason, therefore, I requested to see you and to speak with you, for I am wearing 24this chain for 25the sake of the hope of Israel."
21 They said to him, "We have neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of 26the brethren come here and reported or spoken anything bad about you.
22 "But we desire to hear from you what your views are; for concerning this 27sect, it is known to us that 28it is spoken against everywhere."
23 When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at 29his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly 30testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, 31from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening.
24 32Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe.
25 And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, "The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers,
28 "Therefore let it be known to you that 36this salvation of God has been sent 37to the Gentiles; they will also listen."
29 [When he had spoken these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves.]
30 And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him,
31 38preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ 39with all openness, unhindered.

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 39

  • 1. [they] Acts 16:10; Acts 27:1
  • 2. Acts 27:39
  • 3. Acts 27:26
  • 4. Acts 28:4; Romans 1:14; 1 Corinthians 14:11; Colossians 3:11
  • 5. Romans 14:1
  • 6. Acts 28:2
  • 7. Luke 13:2, 4
  • 8. Mark 16:18
  • 9. Acts 14:11
  • 10. Acts 9:40; James 5:14
  • 11. Matthew 9:18; Mark 5:23; Mark 6:5
  • 12. Acts 27:6
  • 13. John 21:23; Acts 1:15; Acts 6:3; Acts 9:30; Acts 28:15; Romans 1:13;
  • 14. Acts 1:15; Acts 10:23; Acts 11:1, 12, 29; Acts 12:17
  • 15. Acts 24:23
  • 16. Acts 13:50; Acts 25:2
  • 17. Acts 22:5
  • 18. Acts 25:8
  • 19. Acts 6:14
  • 20. Acts 22:24
  • 21. Acts 26:32
  • 22. Acts 23:29; Acts 25:25; Acts 26:31
  • 23. Acts 25:11, 21, 25; Acts 26:32
  • 24. Acts 21:33
  • 25. Acts 26:6
  • 26. Acts 3:17; Acts 22:5; Acts 28:14; Romans 9:3
  • 27. Acts 24:14
  • 28. 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 3:16; 1 Peter 4:14, 16
  • 29. Philemon 22
  • 30. Luke 16:28; Acts 1:3; Acts 23:11
  • 31. Acts 8:35
  • 32. Acts 14:4
  • 33. Isaiah 6:9
  • 34. Matthew 13:14
  • 35. Isaiah 6:10
  • 36. Psalms 98:3; Luke 2:30; Acts 13:26
  • 37. Acts 9:15; Acts 13:46
  • 38. Matthew 4:23; Acts 20:25; Acts 28:23
  • 39. 2 Timothy 2:9

Footnotes 24

  • [a]. Or "Melita"
  • [b]. Lit "barbarians"
  • [c]. Or "from the heat"
  • [d]. Lit "barbarians"
  • [e]. Or "Justice," i.e. the personification of a goddess
  • [f]. Lit "honors"
  • [g]. Or "put on board"
  • [h]. Lit "the things pertaining to the needs"
  • [i]. Gr "Dioscuri;" i.e. Castor and Pollux, twin sons of Zeus
  • [j]. Lit "Where"
  • [k]. Lat "Appii Forum", a station about 43 miles from Rome
  • [l]. Lat "Tres Tabernae", a station about 33 miles from Rome
  • [m]. Lit "he"
  • [n]. Or "forefathers"
  • [o]. Lit "of death in me"
  • [p]. Lit "spoke against"
  • [q]. Or "invited you to see me and speak with me"
  • [r]. Lit "you think"
  • [s]. Lit "with a hearing"
  • [t]. Lit "and"
  • [u]. Lit "seeing you will see"
  • [v]. Early mss do not contain this v
  • [w]. Or "at his own expense"
  • [x]. Or "proclaiming"

Acts 28 Commentaries

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