Acts Chapter Twenty Eight,
In our study of Acts chapter twenty eight, we witness the
faithfulness of God in delivering His servant through struggles. We will see the purpose
for it and apply the promise of it to our lives.
Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called
The island was called Myletus or Melita at the time but it is what
is known as Malta today. Today, most of the population of Malta are Christians but, at
the time that Paul landed here, it was pagan natives. We see the faithfulness of God as
He has delivered Paul and the crew out of the waters and to the shores of this island
just as was promised. That same promise is for us as God's children on a mission in this
The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and
welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.
We all have pictured pagan natives as being blood-thirsty but,
here, we see the favor of God at work once again. The natives welcomed Paul and his
companions and made a fire for them. These natives (who had never even heard of Jesus
Christ) welcomed 276 people to their home.
Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a
viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand.
This one little verse tells us so much about the heart of the
apostle Paul. This great apostle was humble enough to get his hands dirty by picking up
firewood. There was more than enough people to pick up the wood but Paul did not kick
back like a big shot. Instead, he took on the role of the servant just as Jesus had
done. There are many people today that are using titles (even the title of apostle) as
an excuse for them kicking back and being served by those under them but that is not the
pattern that we saw demonstrated in Jesus or, here, in Paul. This verse has also been
wrongly used by many to promote the religious practice of snake handling but that is not
what happened here. Many, today, want to knowingly pick up a serpent as a demonstration
of their faith and use this verse to say that Paul was doing the same. These people are
yielding to the temptation of pride. This is the same sort of temptation that Satan used
against Jesus as he tried to get Him to throw Himself from the highest point of the
temple (see Luke 4:9). Jesus' answer was that we are not to put God to the test. In the
same way, we see that Paul did not intentionally pick up the snake as it was hidden in
the pile of sticks and only came out when it was close to the fire. The simple fact of
the matter is that Jesus told the eleven apostles that were left after his resurrection
that this was going to happen (see Mark 16:18). He did this to reassure them that, no
matter what, He was in control and they did not need to fear death and the things of
When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said
to each other, 'This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice
has not allowed him to live.'
When the native people saw Paul get bit by this poisonous snake,
they immediately thought that it was a god at work bringing justice to him for
wrongdoing. That is what happens even today as many people (even Christians) seem to
think that God is just waiting to send punishment on the people every time they do
something wrong. That is not the case for Christians as God does not condemn His
children. Once we are saved by the grace of God, it brings freedom. This freedom also
allows us to make mistakes without the fear that God is waiting to send a plague upon
Acts 28:5 & 6
But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill
effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a
long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he
was a god.
When Paul was not killed, they changed their minds and tried to say
he was a god. We see how quickly people change their opinions and how, if we chase after
their approval, we will always be disappointed. What we actually see in this passage is
the fact that God's people are not subject to death until He is finished with them here
on the earth. Another example of this is found in the two witnesses described in Revelation
11. Paul was on a mission from God and no snake had the power to interfere with
God's plan for him.
There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief
official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us
It would not have been normal for any official of the Roman Empire
to entertain a prisoner but Publius must have heard about Paul and the snake. The number
three is associated with the earthly expression of God's will and we see, here, that
God's will was for Paul to visit with this official and be a witness to him.
His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery.
Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him.
The man's father was sick and we see that God had sent Paul to heal
him. It is interesting to note that before healing the man Paul prayed to God for
guidance. This healing was important in showing Publius (a pagan) the power of the
living God and so Paul looked for guidance from God. Today, it seems that it is a
popular thing among "churches" to hold healing services and the like. Many times the
people are lined up and herded through like cattle and often the man performing the
healing is glorified instead of God. We can take a lesson from Paul as the people were
lifting him up as a god (in verse 6) but he made sure that it was obvious that it was a
work of the one true God and not of man.
When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and
The rest of the island heard about the healing and brought their
sick to be healed. It is obvious that Paul let them know that the healing was from God
and not of himself. The result is that, even today, the island of Malta is a "Christian
They honored us in many ways and when we were ready to sail, they
furnished us with the supplies we needed.
Once again, we see the favor of God at work with Paul and his
companions. This verse reminds us that God's provision may be in unexpected ways through
people that we would not normally expect to help.
After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in
the island. It was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and
In Greek and Roman mythology, Castor and Pollux were twin brothers
who were said to watch over sailors on the seas. In Latin, they were known as the Gemini
twins and that is where we get the name for the Gemini constellation in the sky. The
people with Paul must have known how ridiculous the idea of some false gods watching
over the sailors was as they had experienced the protection of the real God.
We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days. From there we
set sail and arrived at Rhegium. The next day the south wind came up, and on the
following day we reached Puteoli. There we found some brothers who invited us to spend a
week with them.
Syracuse was the capitol of the island of Sicily which is located
just to the south of Italy. The next stop was Rhegium which was located on the tip of
Italy and the twin gods were worshiped there. The final stop was at Puteoli which is
today named Pozzuoli and is located about five miles to the west of Naples. This was the
main port for grain ships at this time and so Paul's travel by sea comes to a close.
Paul and his friends were taken in and spent a week with fellow Christians there.
Acts 28:14b & 15
And so we came to Rome. The brothers there had heard that we were
coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet
us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged.
As Paul went on to Rome, he was met by his fellow Christians and
this comforted him and he praised God for them. The same thing can happen to us as we
walk in the purpose and plan that God has for our lives. Many times, it will seem that
we are alone and headed for the unknown but we find that God has already prepared His
workers to meet us and give us comfort.
When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a
soldier to guard him.
Once again, we see the favor of God at work in the life of Paul. He
is allowed freedom even though he is still a prisoner and so he is able to proclaim the
gospel of Jesus Christ and to strengthen the believers around him. We, too, shall see
this favor when we are listening to the Spirit and following God's plan for our
Three days later he called together the leaders of the Jews. When
they had assembled, Paul said to them: 'My brothers, although I have done nothing
against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem
and handed over to the Romans.'
It was the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem that had caused Paul to be
arrested and so he calls the Jewish leaders of Rome together to work out their
differences. This is the biblical pattern for settling disputes among men. It is the
same for us today in that, if we have a disagreement with someone, we are to go to them
and discuss it with them. Many times, this does not happen and instead gossip and rumors
They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty
of any crime deserving death. But when the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to
Caesar - not that I had any charge to bring against my own people. For this reason I
have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am
bound with this chain.
Paul explains to the local Jews how he came to be in chains in
their city. We notice that, in this attempt to settle the differences, he did not point
his finger at the Jews in Jerusalem and blame them. Instead, he sees and explains that
the reason he is being held is to further the gospel of Jesus Christ which is the hope
of all men. We, too, should remain focused on our goal of sharing the gospel instead of
whining about our circumstances and blaming others for them.
Acts 28:21 & 22
They replied, 'We have not received any letters from Judea
concerning you, and none of the brothers who have come from there has reported or said
anything bad about you. But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people
everywhere are talking against this sect.'
We see that this direct way of settling differences is effective as
Paul was asked to share his faith with the Jews of Rome. The Jews were used to lively
discussions of the scriptures and so invited Paul to share his point of view. There is
something that has been lost among Christians today and that is the ability to have this
type of discussion without judging the salvation of the people involved and condemning
They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even
larger numbers to the place where he was staying.
Because of Paul's open honesty, people were willing to listen to
him and so they came in large numbers to hear what he had to say. He knew that it was
the Word of God that drew people to hear and not anything about himself. Today, there is
a tendency for pastors/evangelists to get a "rock star" mentality. They get carried away
with themselves and forget that their whole purpose is proclaiming the gospel of Jesus
From morning to evening he explained and declared to them the
kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the
Paul met the Jews where they were in terms of their understanding.
They knew of the Law of Moses and the words of the prophets and so he tried to show them
that the promise of Jesus was contained in them. This is the same thing that Jesus did
with the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus after His resurrection (see Luke 24:27).
The same principle applies to us in our efforts to tell people about Jesus (we must meet
them where they are in their understanding).
Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not
Paul shared the Good News and some accepted it but others did not.
It is the same today but, like Paul, we are called to share the Word and trust God to
open the hears of those He has chosen.
They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had
made this final statement: 'The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he
said through Isaiah the prophet: "Go to this people and say, 'You will be ever hearing
but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.' For this
people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have
closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them."'
Here, we see that it is possible to reach a point where you are no
longer open to the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul uses this quote from Isaiah 6 and
we see that the people had closed their own eyes so that they could not see the plan of
God. The people could just not accept the fact that they could not work for their
salvation but merely had to accept it as a gift. The same type of struggle followed Paul
everywhere that he shared the good news and the same thing is happening today. This is
also the same struggle that will continue even to the end of the great tribulation
described in Revelation.
Acts 28:28 & 29
'Therefore I want you to know that God's salvation has been sent to
the Gentiles, and they will listen!' After he said this, the Jews left, arguing
vigorously among themselves.
Why was salvation sent to Gentiles (those that were not God's
people)? The simple answer is to shame Israel by letting them see that the gift they had
rejected (Jesus) would be gladly accepted by others. This fact brought controversy to
the Jews as they could not see the that it was God's plan all along.
Acts 28:30 & 31
For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and
welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom
of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.
In this final passage of the book of Acts, we see that God is
faithful and will deliver His people for His purpose. We might ask why God allowed Paul
to go through all that he did and we see the reason contained in this passage. He was
able to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ in the heart of the Roman Empire "without