Preaching In Rome
Book of Acts Chapter 28
We have reached the last chapter in this great Book of Acts. We have seen so many things that caused the beginning of the early church.
We need to get back to many of the basics we have learned in these chapters!
But most of all, we must realize that the message of the Church is still the "Gospel" of the Lord Jesus Christ and that will never change!
The Church grows as the "Gospel" is spread.
This is our only job!
Last week when we left off, 276 men, including the Apostle Paul were swimming for their life in hope of reaching the shore of the island we now know of as Malta.
Let’s pick up where we left off:
*****Act 28:1 And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita.
It was not until everyone was safely on the island that they realized they were at a place called Melita. This island of Melita is now known as Malta.
We also need to realize that where ever God places us, that is to place where we are to begin a work for God and represent Jesus Christ as His ambassadors.
We already know that God was sending Paul to Rome, so this stopover in Melita was surely the providence of God.
We should never forget this verse and we can believe that Paul never did:
Rom 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! [how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!]
*****Act 28:2 And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.
It is probable that the people of Melita were probably descendent of Phoenician sailors who first used this island.
They were considered barbarous simply because they did not speak Greek nor Latin as their native language.
The Greeks, and after-wards the Romans, called all nations "but themselves" barbarians!
This reminds us of how people felt about each other at the tower of Babel back in the Book of Genesis.
But the people of Melita did treat these shivering survivors with great kindness by building a bonfire on the beach to warm them up.
*****Act 28:3 And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.
It’s very interesting to note that, out of more than 300 people who were enjoying this fire, it was Paul who took it upon himself to gather sticks to keep it burning.
Among the sticks, however was a venomous snake. The snake itself was stiff from the cold and must have look much like another stick.
The heat energized the snake so that it suddenly bit the Apostle Paul.
And this did not go unnoticed!
There are always eyes on God’s people!
It is said today that you cannot find a venomous snake on the island of Malta.
*****Act 28:4 And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet "vengeance" suffereth not to live.
In this short time these people of Melita had already realized that some of these men including Paul were prisoners bound for Rome.
They looked on Paul is a doomed man and as good as dead.
They concluded that if it was murder he was guilty of, and had escaped the death of the sea, then the gods had punished him in this way.
That word "vengeance" comes from the Greek word "Dice" which is also the name of a Greek goddess said to be the daughter of Jupiter.
*****Act 28:5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.
Act 28:6 Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.
Many eyes were watching as Paul shook the snake off into the fire. They were amazed that his hand had not swollen nor had he fell over dead, so they watched him for a great while.
But, to their amazement no harm had come to Paul.
There are two things we should note here:
1.) We have the fulfillment of Scripture.
Mar 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
Mar 16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
This promise of protection, was not for show and was not intended to apply indefinitely. This experience of Paul’s is the only actual example of such a thing recorded in the New Testament and we should not expect for these things to happen today.
2.) We have the superstitions of the lost.
Since Paul could not be killed by the poison from this Viper then he to must be a god.
This is not the first time that this happened to Paul.
We should remember the things that happened in Athens.
Act 14:11 And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.
Act 14:12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.
There are still many pagan worshipers whom are still waiting on the return of their own false gods.
So, we can see that only one explanation will work here, "the direct intervention of the Living God"!
*****Act 28:7 In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously.
Act 28:8 And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.
Act 28:9 So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed:
God would not only provide for Paul and his shipmates, but he would also show His true power to the people of Melita.
Publius, was the chief man of the island who was very sick at that time. Paul went to this man without being asked and through the healing power of God, healed this man of his sickness.
When this was done for Publius, many others of the island came to him, were healed also.
We must also realize Paul also had Luke, the physician, with him at this time.
And we can know that Paul was not a man who would let opportunities to witness for Christ to slip by without taking advantage of them.
It is also very possible that a church began during the time Paul was on this island.
*****Act 28:10 Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.
Act 28:11 And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.
That word "honors" means what ever those things that were given to Paul were "things of value".
Everyone on that ship had lost all their personal possessions so it seems that "these barbarians" were in actuality, "very hospitable".
Those three months were probably November through February, the same three months when sailing ceased because of severe weather conditions!
They found another ship from Alexandria, which was probably carrying wheat to Rome, and obtained passage.
Those names Castor and Pollux came from the figurehead on the bow the ship.
These names were so chosen because of the astrological sign of Gemini or, "The Twins".
These names of pagan deities were regarded as maritime patrons.
To every seaman of that time, these were the gods that steered the ship safely to each port.
This shows again the pagan world at the time of the early church!
Christians are still commanded to shine as lights in this dark world!
*****Act 28:12 And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days.
Act 28:13 And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli:
Act 28:14 Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome.
Syracuse is the city on the southeast coast of Sicily and about 90 miles from the island of Malta.
That phrase "fetched a compass" means they could not sail in a straight line to Puteoli but had to use tacking.
It was not until a south wind started blowing that they were able to continue sailing and then reached Puteoli the next day which was about 200 miles.
Puteoli was the harbor for the ancient city of Neapolis which today is called Naples.
Julius allowed Paul to spend some time with Christian brethren here in this city.
From here their journey to Rome would be over land.
*****Act 28:15 And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.
Act 28:16 And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.
It seems that as Paul traveled toward Rome a delegation from the Christian church "in Rome not of Rome" traveled to meet Paul, which they did at a place called "three taverns".
There were also others that met Paul at Appii Forum.
Appii Forum was a "market place".
The "three taverns" was a place to get refreshment.
These were road junctions on the road to Rome.
These brothers and sisters in Christ gave Paul encouragement as he neared the end of his journey.
It seems that Paul was placed under house arrest and that Luke could no longer stay with Paul but was at least allowed to visit him, as were many others.
We can read of some of these things in the Book of Philemon and the Book of Colossians which were written while Paul was in Rome.
We know that Nero was the Emperor at this time but he had not yet shown his true character.
And we know that Paul was treated with courtesy and allowed many privileges.
*****Act 28:17 And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
Act 28:18 Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me.
Act 28:19 But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of.
Act 28:20 For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.
Soon after his arrival Paul assembles the local Jewish leaders to explain who he was and why he is in Rome appealing to Caesar.
Paul wanted to emphasize to his Jewish brethren that he was not guilty of any roles against his people or of their customs customs.
He told them that he had been apprehended in Jerusalem by the Jews and then came under the custody of the Romans and this had continued until that day.
The Romans had determined that there was no reason for his execution but the Jews were determined that he should not be released and therefore he had appealed to Caesar as a Roman citizen.
He informed them that he had no intention of accusing his Jewish brethren and had no charges to bring against his own people.
Some things we should realize is, that every Roman citizen deserved and often demanded a Roman trial.
An appeal to Caesar most often guaranteed the trial to be in Rome.
In Paul’s mind making his defense in the highest court in the known world at that time, could possibly result in Christianity being recognized in the Roman Empire as an acceptable religion and different from Judaism.
And it was the Living God that had put these things in place for this to happen.
*****Act 28:21 And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee.
Act 28:22 But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.
Any news of these things that had happened in Jerusalem had not made it to Rome. They had not received any communication of these things from Jerusalem and were therefore "neutral" in their feelings toward Paul, after all Paul was also a Jew.
Those words "we desire" means that they thought it was appropriate to hear of the Christian movement.
So they made arrangements to hear Paul preach.
And Paul was always ready to Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
*****Act 28:23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.
Act 28:24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.
Paul always seemed to find some way to reach out to the Jews with the gospel of Jesus!
Since he could not go to the synagogues in Rome he got the Jewish leaders to come to him.
The epistle to the Romans had already reached the brethren in Rome and in it Paul had written these words:
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
So again, Paul preached the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ by using the laws of Moses and the words of the prophets, all from the Old Testament.
Paul began with the Book of Genesis and continued through all the Scriptures proving that Jesus had fulfilled the promises to the fathers!
And we can see that they remained attentive from morning till evening.
And as always, when Jesus Christ is presented all His fullness, some will believe but most will not!
*****Act 28:25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,
Act 28:26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:
Act 28:27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
To these unbelieving Jews, Paul uses a quote that had been used by Jesus Christ and by the Apostle John.
Isa 6:9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.
Isa 6:10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
Paul applied the prophecy of Isaiah to the Jews rejection of Jesus as their Messiah!
Those words "well spake the Holy Ghost" in Isaiah, meant that these were the words of God Himself.
And this also meant that Paul had been obedient to the will of God!
They did not understand because they rejected God’s Word!
To reject the truth does not change the truth into a lie!
The truth is always the truth!
In Paul’s day the refusal of the Jews to receive the message of Jesus, would ultimately result in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple that the hands of the Roman army in 70 A.D.
Then Paul gave this warning to those Jews which stands even until today and will stand until the Rapture of the Church!
*****Act 28:28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.
Paul announced that the offer of salvation would go to the Gentiles since it the Jews had rejected it.
Paul had again and again went to the Jews first, only to find that again and again it was only the Gentiles that responded to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We must remember these words of the apostle John:
Joh 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
Joh 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Joh 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Gentiles, in practically in every nation have received the Gospel gladly and in great numbers.
Though the Christians of the first century were largely Jews, this has since changed and it has been the Gentile churches and the Gentile missionaries who have been spreading the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We know that after the Rapture the church, it will again be those 144,000 Jews, of the Book of Revelation, who will be the missionaries of the Gospel to this lost world.
*****Act 28:29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.
Act 28:30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,
Act 28:31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
According to Roman law, it was necessary to wait about two years for the prosecution to come forward in their case. There is no indication that the Jews ever did this and certainly not within the two-year period as Luke would certainly have mentioned it if they had.
Many Bible scholars believe that Paul was released at this point and was able to continue his missionary activities for a few more years.
And that it was a few years later that Paul was arrested and executed by Nero following the burning of Rome, which he blamed on the Christians and history has shown that it was probably he who started that fire.
It is also believed that during this time that Paul wrote the epistles to the Ephesians, the Colossians, Philemon, and to the Philippians.
It is also believed that after Paul was released from Rome and before he was finally executed that he wrote the epistles to first and second Timothy and to Titus.
To every Christian we have a tremendous example in the life of the Apostle Paul.
In the Book of Acts, Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, has shown us how a small group of disciples dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ began the early church by spreading the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It began with this command:
Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Which is the same command we have today!
And we should all have this same attitude of the Apostle Paul:
Eph 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
Eph 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Eph 3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
Eph 3:11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: