ACTS CHAPTER 28
Acts 28:1-6 "Now when they had escaped, they then found out that
the island was called Malta. 2 And the natives showed us unusual kindness;
for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that
was falling and because of the cold. 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 on his hand. 4 So when the natives saw the creature hanging
from his hand, they said to one another, >No doubt this man is a murderer,
whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.=
5 But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 However,
they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead.
But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him,
they changed their minds and said that he was a god."
A. "Now when they had escaped, they then found out that the
island was called Malta."
Acts 28:7-10 "In that region there was an estate of the leading citizen
of the island, whose name was Publius, who received us and entertained
us courteously for three days. 8 And it happened that the father of Publius
lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and
he laid his hands on him and healed him. 9 So when this was done, the rest
of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed. 10 They
also honored us in many ways; and when we departed, they provided such
things as were necessary."
1. Melita or Malta (NASB) is an island located 50 miles southwest
B. "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 on his hand."
2. Immediately the friendly residents of the island began gathering
wood for a fire, since the shipwrecked men were wet and it was raining
1. Paul was quite willing to help them gather wood. But when
he picked up an armful he did not realize that he had picked up a poisonous
snake as well.
2. The hot fire awakened the poisonous serpent and he struck at the
nearest thing, Paul=s hand.
3. The islanders were certain that Paul would die on the spot. They
had evidently discovered that he was a prisoner on the way to Rome. They
whispered a common held believe, that things that happen to people are
direct judgements from heaven for their actions.
4. Paul simply shook off the vicious creature into the fire, seemingly
without any harm. The natives were not so certain. They watched Paul for
a long time, expecting him to fall over dead.
5. When he did not they decided that Paul must be a god. This was not
the first time when some had come to believe that Paul was a god. (Acts
14:8ff, Paul and Barnabas at Lystra. Notice that they opposite took place
here on Malta. Here Paul was first taken for a murderer, then thought as
a god. In Lystra he and Barnabas was first taken for a god, then stoned).
A. "In that region there was an estate of the leading citizen
of the island, whose name was Publius"
1. For a number of years many stated a doubt in Luke's record
based on the title of Publius. The term "leading citizen" or "chief man
of the island" (KJV) was not know in more modern times. It has, however,
been found in inscriptions on the island and is beyond doubt accurate.
Thus fall all statements of doubt about the veracity of Luke's record.
B. "And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and
2. This Publius (literally, "pertaining to the people.") was evidently
a very generous and hospitable man. He saw to the comfort of the shipwrecked
men himself. Being in a position of high authority and respect, he evidently
feel a responsibility to care for the men.
Acts 28:11-16 AAfter three months we sailed in an Alexandrian ship whose
figurehead was the Twin Brothers, which had wintered at the island. 12
And landing at Syracuse, we stayed three days. 13- From there we circled
round and reached Rhegium. And after one day the south wind blew; and the
next day we came to Puteoli, 14 where we found brethren, and were invited
to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome. 15- And from
there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as
Appii Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took
courage. 16 Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners
to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself
with the soldier who guarded him.
1. This was not an unusual occurrence in the ancient world,
as it is in the western world today. Even today in third world countries
dysentery can be fatal. It is quite likely that the father of Publius would
have died if Paul had not saved him.
C. "So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases
also came and were healed..."
2. Paul laid hands on him and healed him. Here we see Jesus' principle
found in Mark 9:41.
1. Word spread fast of Paul=s miraculous powers. Before long
others were coming to him for healing. Paul refused to turn away these
people in need.
2. While it is not specifically mentioned, there can be little doubt
that Paul and his friends remained silent about the one by whose power
Paul was healing. It is certain that there was preaching, or at least private
teaching concerning Jesus. One wonders if Publius or his father turned
to the Lord and became Christians.
3. At length provisions were made for a ship. The residents of Malta
treated Paul and his friends with every courtesy and honor that could be
bestowed before their departure.
A. "After three months we sailed in an Alexandrian ship whose
figurehead was the Twin Brothers, which had wintered at the island."
1. Paul and his companions spent the rest of the winter on
Malta, living comfortably.
B. Luke describes the final leg of the journey.
2. This made their last voyage at about the middle of February. They
were given passage on an Alexandrian grain ship which evidently had fared
better than they.
3. According to Greek mythology, Jupiter or Zeus had two sons by one
of the goddesses named Leda. These sons were supposed to have been translated
into the sky and as the Ashining stars@ had a good influence on the ocean
and hence were the patron gods of the sailors. The names of these two sons
were Castor and Pollux. The ship upon which Paul and the others embarked
was named after these gods. .
1. Syracuse -Major city on the island of Sicily. It was strong
enough to defeat an attack from Athens in 413 B.C. but was defeated by
Rome in 212 B.C. It became the residence of the governor of Sicily under
Roman government. It enjoyed great prosperity during the Roman years.
C. "And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet
us as far as Appii Forum and Three Inns."
2. Rhegium - Place name either derived from the Greek rhegnym (rent,
torn) or from the Latin regium (royal). Port located at the southwestern
tip of the Italian boot about seven miles across the strait of Messina
from Sicily. Rhegium was settled by Greek colonists and retained Greek
language and institutions into the first century.
3. Puteoli was located on the coast of Italy about 140 miles from Rome.
It was the Agranary for Rome.@ Here they found brethren who were eager
to welcome them. Paul enjoyed their hospitality for seven days.
4. From here Paul and his company began the final leg of their journey.
Have disembarked from their ship, they began the final journey, either
on horseback or on foot.
1. Appii Forum and Three Inns were two stops on the Appian
way which were forty and thirty miles away from Rome, respectively.
2. McGarvey states that there must have been groups of brethren who
set out from Rome to meet him separately and met him at each place.
Verses 17 24- "And it came to pass after three days that Paul called
the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said
to them: "Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people
or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem
into the hands of the Romans, 18- who, when they had examined me, wanted
to let me go, because there was no cause for putting me to death. 19- But
when the Jews spoke against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar, not
that I had anything of which to accuse my nation. 20 For this reason therefore
I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope
of Israel I am bound with this chain." 21 Then they said to him, "We neither
received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren
who came reported or spoken any evil of you. 22 But we desire to hear from
you what you think; for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken
against everywhere." 23 So when they had appointed him a day, many came
to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the
kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses
and the Prophets, from morning till evening."
3. These kind, courageous acts, served to encourage and strengthen
D. "Now when we came to Rome..."
1. Paul had finally reached his destination that he had earnestly
desired, Rome. Paul had desired to come to the brethren to Aimpart some
gift@ to them. See Roman 1:10-11.
2. Paul was once again favored above the rest of the prisoners. They
were delivered to the Praetorian Prefect (commander of the Praetorian Guard)
to be jailed until imperial hearing. But Paul was allowed to dwell in a
rented house with only one guard. Thus, Paul was able to serve as missionary
to the Praetorian Guard, since the one guard would be changed regularly.
3. This shows that Paul must have been a man of some means, since the
house he stayed in was likely one that he would pay for himself.
4. But a velvet cage still has it's bars. Paul was a prisoner. He was
not free to go where he chose. He was not able to travel to the great Forum
to preach, or reason in the synagogues.
A. "And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the
leaders of the Jews together."
1. It was a quite normal thing that Paul first call for the
leading citizens in the Jewish community, once he had time to settle in.
In spite of Claudius' edict ejecting all the Jews some ten year ago, there
was now a sizeable group of Jewish who were permanent citizens of Rome.
Rome was a metropolitan city, having a sizeable contingent of almost every
race found in the empire. Reese states that there were seven synagogues
located in Rome.
B. "And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of
the Jews together."
1. The first impression that Paul wanted to leave with the
leaders of the Jewish community was that he was an innocent man who had
done nothing against the Law or customs of the Jews.
C. The Jewish reaction to his introduction was honest and forthright.
2. Paul wanted to make it clear that he would have been released by
the Roman authorities, had it not been for the virulent hatred of certain
of the Jews. It was quite common to have such enmity among the Jews toward
each other in that day. They were deeply divided into various sects.
3. He made it clear that he had appealed to Caesar to escape his Jewish
enemies, not because he was a gross criminal trying to escape lawful sentence.
4. His final appeal was that he was a man of God who was being imprisoned
for the cause of the Lord.
1. They had not received any correspondence from the leadership
in Jerusalem concerning him, nor had they received a bad report from any
of the Jews who had recently traveled to Rome from Jerusalem. It seems
a bit surprising that they had heard nothing concerning him and the two
years that had transpired. Perhaps the Jewish leadership thought Paul was
gone and forgotten, never to be heard from again. They were wrong.
Verses 24 -31 "And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken,
and some disbelieved. 25 - So when they did not agree among themselves,
they departed after Paul had said one word: The Holy Spirit spoke rightly
through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, 26 "saying, 'Go to this people
and say: "Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; And seeing you
will see, and not perceive; 27- For the hearts of this people have grown
dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they
should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.=
28- Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been
sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it! 29- And when he had said these
words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves. 30 Then
Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who
came to him, 31 Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house,
and received all who came to him. 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching
the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no
one forbidding him."
2. They only thing they had heard was that the cause of Christ
had been spoken against everywhere. They would still consider it a sect
of Judaism. Their words show that the church, if it was organized, was
not very old or very strong and active in Rome. If the edict of Claudius
was given because of disturbances over Christian, which is not certain,
it had set back the cause of Christ immensely. But it does do them credit
that they were anxious to hear what Paul had to say about this sect.
D. "So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging..."
1. Before parting they arranged another day to come listen
to Paul's introduction of Christianity.
2. When the appointed time came Paul was ready. He spoke all day from
the Old Testament seeking to draw application for the work of Jesus. This
was the standard method of preaching, especially when speaking to a Jewish
audience. Paul could not hope to convert these persons if he did not convince
them that Jesus was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.
A. "And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken,
and some disbelieved"
1. Paul's preaching was persuasive to some, and it caused some
to disbelieve. The preaching of the word will react differently on individuals,
depending of the condition of their hearts. See 2 Corinthians 2:15-16.
This reaction reminds us of the Lord=s description of the reaction of people,
depending on the condition of their hearts. See Luke 8:4ff.
B. "So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul
had said one word..."
1. Coffman is sure that there was much give and taken during
the day, with debate on the merits of Paul's case. It is quite possible.
C. "Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been
sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!"
2. What was the one word that broke up their meeting? While it is not
given here it is very possible that it was the report that the Gentiles
were also chosen in Christ, as well as the Jews.
3. Paul concluded, upon the leading of the Holy Spirit that this was
a fulfillment of Isaiah's words in Isaiah 6:9-10. Many of them had become
hardened to the preaching of God's word. This was true in Isaiah's day.
It was true in Jesus' day (See Matthew 13:15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; John
12:37-41). It was true in Paul=s day. It should not be surprising that
it is true in our day.
4. It is likely that Paul used this because of some negative reaction
in the audience. We can rest assured that he would not have spoke so boldly
had there not been good reason for doing so.
1. This had happened before, in Antioch of Pisidia (See Acts
13:46). This also happened in Ephesus (See Acts 18:6). Paul did not mean
that he would no longer seek to teach someone who was a Jew, but simply
meant that his first and primary field of work would be among the Gentiles.
D. "And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great
dispute among themselves."
2. Paul said that the Gentiles would be eager to accept the message
when it would be presented to them.
1. Paul's words cut both ways. Some Jews were convinced of
the truthfulness of Paul's message, while some remained unconvinced. This
caused an uproar among the Jews.
E. "Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received
all who came to him"
2. See Matthew 10:34ff
Copyright 1999 by Grady Scott
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1. From previous information it seems clear that Paul wore
chains, likely bound by a chain to a Roman soldier. But outside of his
house arrest, he was able to receive anyone who came. We can rest assured
that Paul received a steady stream of visitors, interested persons, the
curious, and the indifferent, and many brethren. We can also rest assured
that Paul used his guard as an audience to hear about the truth that sets
me free. See Philippians 1:13.
2. We also know that Paul's influence was felt in the household
of Nero himself. See Philippians 4:22.
F. "preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern
the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him."
1. These were the days of unrestricted preaching and teaching,
early in the reign of Nero. This was before he carried out the bitter persecution
of the brethren.
2. Who knows what fruits Paul was able to bear for the Lord in those
3. Was Paul released at the conclusion of these two years? Most Scholars
believe that Paul was released when he appeared before Caesar's judgment,
due to the last of any evidence to support crimes. Some believe that Paul
was able to fulfill his earlier desire to travel to Spain. See Romans 15:24,
28. Was Paul then arrested and transported to Rome again to stand trial
for his life? It seems certain that Paul's imprisonment in 2 Timothy is
far different to his "house arrest" at the conclusion of the book of Acts.
4. We thus finish the book of Acts. It begins with twelve men in Jerusalem
and ends with it's penetration in the capitol city of the Roman Empire.
And we see the amazing transformation of Saul of Tarsus, persecutor and
murderer, to Paul the Powerful, apostle to the Gentiles.