The End of Acts Doesn’t Stop God from Continuing to Change the World

We last left our hero Paul and company safe after a shipwreck and they discover they’re on the island of Malta. Paul’s mission to convert both Gentiles and Jews into Christians doesn’t stop. He is not deterred. He keeps going no matter what. Can we say that about ourselves?

This is also the chapter that inspired me to write my novel. I will go into more detail in the next post. Right now, let’s dig in to the last chapter of this wonderful book and the story of the Acts of the Apostles. Remember, Luke, the author is along for the adventure, and is writing this as an eye-witness.

Acts 28

Once we were safe on shore, we learned that we were on the island of Malta. The people of the island were very kind to us. It was cold and rainy, so they built a fire on the shore to welcome us.

As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand. The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.” But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn’t harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god.

Near the shore where we landed was an estate belonging to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us and treated us kindly for three days. As it happened, Publius’s father was ill with fever and dysentery. Paul went in and prayed for him, and laying his hands on him, he healed him. Then all the other sick people on the island came and were healed. 10 As a result we were showered with honors, and when the time came to sail, people supplied us with everything we would need for the trip.

Paul Arrives at Rome

11 It was three months after the shipwreck that we set sail on another ship that had wintered at the island—an Alexandrian ship with the twin gods (Castor and Pollux) as its figurehead. 12 Our first stop was Syracuse, where we stayed three days. 13 From there we sailed across to Rhegium. A day later a south wind began blowing, so the following day we sailed up the coast to Puteoli. 14 There we found some believers, who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome.

15 The brothers and sisters in Rome had heard we were coming, and they came to meet us at the Forum on the Appian Way. Others joined us at The Three Taverns. When Paul saw them, he was encouraged and thanked God.

16 When we arrived in Rome, Paul was permitted to have his own private lodging, though he was guarded by a soldier.

Paul Preaches at Rome under Guard

17 Three days after Paul’s arrival, he called together the local Jewish leaders. He said to them, “Brothers, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Roman government, even though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors. 18 The Romans tried me and wanted to release me, because they found no cause for the death sentence. 19 But when the Jewish leaders protested the decision, I felt it necessary to appeal to Caesar, even though I had no desire to press charges against my own people. 20 I asked you to come here today so we could get acquainted and so I could explain to you that I am bound with this chain because I believe that the hope of Israel—the Messiah—has already come.”

21 They replied, “We have had no letters from Judea or reports against you from anyone who has come here. 22 But we want to hear what you believe, for the only thing we know about this movement is that it is denounced everywhere.”

23 So a time was set, and on that day a large number of people came to Paul’s lodging. He explained and testified about the Kingdom of God and tried to persuade them about Jesus from the Scriptures. Using the law of Moses and the books of the prophets, he spoke to them from morning until evening. 24 Some were persuaded by the things he said, but others did not believe. 25 And after they had argued back and forth among themselves, they left with this final word from Paul: “The Holy Spirit was right when he said to your ancestors through Isaiah the prophet,

26 ‘Go and say to this people:
When you hear what I say,
    you will not understand.
When you see what I do,
    you will not comprehend.
27 For the hearts of these people are hardened,
    and their ears cannot hear,
    and they have closed their eyes—
so their eyes cannot see,
    and their ears cannot hear,
    and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
    and let me heal them.’ [Isaiah 6:9-10]

28 So I want you to know that this salvation from God has also been offered to the Gentiles, and they will accept it.” And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, greatly disagreeing with each other.

30 For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense. He welcomed all who visited him, 31 boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him.

Acts 28 NLT

Points to Ponder

  • You can clearly see the hand of God throughout this story. God used a storm and a shipwreck for good! That’s the problem. We can’t see the good in the middle of the storm. That’s why we MUST Trust God!
  • Once they reached Puteoli, they found believers there. (That’s what inspired me to write my novel. What would it have been like to meet Paul during his 7-day stay with them? I’ll tell you about that in the next post.)
  • Paul was headed into the unknown in Rome. He had no idea what was in store for him. When Christian believers from Rome heard that he was coming, they came down to meet him and escort him up to Rome. That encouraged him and he thanked God.
  • Then, he was in house arrest. So, he had rather comfortable accommodations. He met with local Jewish leaders. He couldn’t leave, but that didn’t mean that people couldn’t visit him.
  • What’s cool is that the Roman guards who were with him constantly, were a captive audience when he met and taught his visitors. He converted more people.

What Happened to Paul After This?

Luke leaves us hanging! What happened to Paul? Well, it seems he was released for a while. That’s probably when he went to Spain. Eventually, he came back to Rome, was arrested again and beheaded around 64-65 AD. As a Roman citizen, he could not be crucified.

Paul wrote the most books (or epistles) in the New Testament. Which makes you stop and think why Peter is considered the “first pope”. Read the truth about Peter here.

In another post, we’ll talk about when Paul wrote which letters. In one of those letters, Paul summarized all he lived through for Christ…

I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.

28 Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches.

2 Corinthians 11:23-28 NLT

Now, that’s devotion! I only wish I could have half his boldness and dedication! I pray to God for that type of self-discipline and courage.

Keep in mind that this was the Book of ACTS — not the book of good intentions, not the book of great ideas — the Book of ACTS of the Apostles. Born-again Christians are called to keep spreading the Good News.

Are you as dedicated to God as you should be?

First, are you truly born again?

If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven and that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, this is what you have to do…

Next Steps in Your New Walk with Jesus…

  1. Start reading the Bible daily to get to know God. If you don’t have one, I recommend the YouVersion, Bible.app and Through the Word app — both are free and have a lot of great Bible studies.
  2. Pray every day. Talk to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you daily.
  3. Find and join a Bible-believing church — preferably a non-denominational one and be baptized!

Top image from Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleImages.com (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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