Paul’s journey to Rome, Pt3 Acts 28:11-31
As the final phase of Paul’s journey to Rome begins in v11, we are introduced to a second ship that was to take him. There is here an interesting tale of two ships! This one and that which Paul had initially sailed on and which was wrecked. Both originated in the same port and were making for the same destination, 27:6. One made it, one didn’t! The one that arrived safely, and which was now the means of carrying Paul to Italy in pursuit of his heavenly calling, had taken shelter from the winter storms, v11. This was the very thing that the other ship had failed to do, 27:12. How many men follow such divergent paths! Cp Jacob and Esau. One lost and in hell, one safe and in glory.
The final stages of Paul’s last great missionary trip is recorded here.
I THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF THE SAINTS.
Several instances of this are recorded here.
- Fellowship in Puteoli, v14.
- Again the emphasis is on the fact that Paul looked for believers wherever he went. Here he found them. The company of God’s people is something we should desire and seek out.
- It is striking to see the reciprocated interest of those he found! They wanted him to stay for a time. This desire prevailed. Though Paul was a prisoner and under the guard of the centurion, yet this request was apparently granted. There is evidently a respect now for Paul’s desires there had not been at the beginning of the journey.
- This was a means to him continuing on his way to Rome. At this point in his life that was the great calling of God, 23:11. For some years it had dominated his life and progress in that direction had been slow and fitful—prison for 2 years, shipwreck, etc. But now it was reaching a climax. The saints played a role in this!
- Encouragement at Appii Forum and the Three Taverns, v15.
- Saints from Rome have heard of his approach and come to meet him. They are described as brethren—meeting on family terms, fellow children of God. They were drawn to go and meet Paul! The knew of him already through his epistle to the church at Rome, Rom 1:13-16, 15:28-33. Having prayed for him and expected him on the terms outlined, they come to meet him. How often such appetite is missing from our hearts and so there is little effort made of the kind seen here.
- Paul’s response to their support. The support of these saints meant something to him:
- Thanked God. This is the first response! His heart magnifies the Lord for His grace in the lives of these saints that has prompted their actions.
- Took courage. He was encouraged by their presence. He was made ‘bold’ and ‘daring’ by their actions. The encouragement of the saints is a much under-estimated ministry. Cp 1Cor 16:17-18, 2Cor 7:5-7, 3Jn 1:2-4.
II MEETING THE JEWISH LEADERS.
The facilities he had been granted in Rome made this meeting possible, v16, 23. Though they knew nothing of Paul, v21-22, their interest had been piqued by the reproach suffered by the saints. Even this can become a means of stirring interest in the truth.
- Paul still had a burden for his own people. Though their opposition had been the means of much trouble in his life and the reason for his presence in Rome, his heart yearned for them. Cp Rom 9:1-3, 10:1.
- His desire was to share the hope of Israel. Cp v20 || v23, 23:7, 24:14-15, 26:6. This was simply the hope of the gospel of Christ. This great truth is first and foremost the hope of Israel! Paul could speak to these men and say in effect, ‘this is your gospel, it is for you’.
- Division, v24-25, 29. Such division always occurs as the gospel is presented. Cp 2Cor 2:14-17.
- The solemn warning of Scripture, v25-28. Paul’s response to this division is seen to be Biblical. He agrees with Isaiah—a ‘good’ word. Their willful blindness to truth would be followed by judicial blindness and the gospel would be lost to them.
III AN ONGOING WITNESS.
- Two years, v30. While awaiting trial he used the time to spread the truth of God. He was sought out by those with a desire for truth. His house was open to all who came.
- His ministry and message, v31. He spoke of the kingdom of God—that great spiritual kingdom of which Christ is King. He taught the people of the lord Jesus Christ.
- He did so in confidence/boldness. Paul’s ministry was marked by boldness at this time. He had not become the craven cringing prisoner! None opposed him, he was able to speak ‘freely’ and ‘unhindered’. In part this is seen to flow out of his boldness. God can make a way for a bold witness to continue. The very thing that, according to natural logic, should have terminated his witness, was the means of it going on!
And so this great book closes. A bold witness made in Rome, the heart of the Gentile world, a pinnacle in obedience to the Saviour’s great commission and the wonderful conclusion to the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost. The citadel of paganism had been breached by the gospel, even at the expense of reproach and imprisonment.