III ESCAPE TO MELITA
Cp v27-44. The modern name of the island is Malta.
There is a short period of time when the promised deliverance is worked through. It does not happen instantly. In that time faith in the promises of God was tested.
- Renewed fear, v27-29. There are still circumstances that will cause fear to be worked through. The storm still raged, uncertainties loomed. These are a challenge to faith in the word of God!
- Complete reliance of the Lord is demanded. Cp v30-32; v38; v40. In these various ways Paul is instrumental in teaching the ship’s company that there is no other way to safety than God’s way.
- Encouraged, v33-36. He urges on them to eat and so shake off their fast. That fasting and self-denial could not accomplish anything now as the work of deliverance had been done. He is simply urging confidence in the promise of God.
- Further danger, v41, 42. The storm still rages strongly enough to break the ship up. The last refuge they have had disintegrates beneath their feet. There is a last minute death threat from their soldier guards!
- All safe, v44. God keeps His word, v27. In spite of the difficulties, dangers and threats, all were safe. This is an illustration of the security of the believer in Christ and the promises of the gospel. Cp Jn 6:37, 39, 17:12, 18:9. Though these men reaped the natural consequences of their folly in pursuing a course that led to a storm, they all were spared according to God’s word.
IV PAUL’S WORK ON MELITA.
Even on his journey to Rome as a prisoner, Paul has opportunity to be a missionary preacher.
- He laboured to gather firewood, v3. He is contributing what he can to the common good and comfort of the ship’s company. No doubt he still felt the weight of the words of v24. Despite the weather conditions and even advancing years, Paul engaged in this menial work. He did not leave it for others to do! Cp John 13:14-15.
- The serpent strikes, v3. Even such service can become deadly. How fragile is life, how prone to the physical/natural dangers of life we are. No doubt we can also trace the handiwork of the devil here! Yet Paul knew that he was immortal till his work was done. Cp 23:11. In the event, Paul shakes the attack off and shows no harm, v6. In fact, the attack became fatal for the serpent!
- The effect on the people, v4. Though barbarians they were made conscious of vengeance. There is an undefined/uncertain sense of justice, Rom 2:14-15. they were convinced of his wickedness and that he would die. Yet they quickly changed their minds! Paul’s trauma was used to produce an initial effect that prepared them to receive his witness concerning Christ. The long term effect of his visit is seen in v10.
- More miracles, v7-8. The healing of Publius’ father was further evidence of Paul being the servant of God among them. The miracle was in answer to prayer! This led to a more general interest among the people, v9, who came to be healed. Since the universal rule of Paul’s ministry was to give prominence to the preaching of the gospel over the signs that accompanied it, we can assume that for the months of his stay on Melita he preached widely.