Acts 28 - Outline of Acts (MENU page)
As chapter 27 closed, God had preserved the life of Paul, and of all his shipmates, from a terrible storm at sea, and through a harrowing shipwreck, upon an unknown island (Acts 27:27-44).
1. And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita.
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.
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.
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.
5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.
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.
They had landed upon Melita (Malta).
The term "barbarous," as applied to the island's occupants, did not mean they were uncivilized.
Rather, their civilization was not based on the Greek culture or language.
When Paul was bitten by a venomous snake, the people thought "vengeance" {GK=dike, justice} would not allow him to live,
though he had escaped the sea. After all, he was among the prisoners headed to their deaths in Rome.
     Paul's poor eyesight may have contributed to his picking up a snake with his bundle of sticks.
     Paul's humility is demonstrated in his personal effort to help the others. He was not above dirtying his hands in common work, as some great preachers may think themselves.
     Paul's lack of harm, from the snake bite, is the only NT example of 'snake handling' (Mark 16:17,18). It was not something that he sought. But the Lord used the circumstances as a sign to give credence to His message in this place. Paul would have quickly corrected their thought that he was a god, and told them about the true God. (In Lystra, when Barnabas was called 'Jupiter,' and Paul was called 'Mercurius,' their response had been quick and clear. See Acts 14:11-18)
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.
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.
9 So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed:
10 Who also honoured us with many honours;
and when we departed, they laded [us] with such things as were necessary.
Note the order, when Publius' father was healed: Paul entered, prayed, laid hands on him, healed him.
Modern "healers" would first lay hands on, then pray, hoping for healing. Paul prayed first, to determine whether it was the Lord's will to heal, in this situation. Healing was another confirming sign of Paul's message.
Some question why there is no mention of the preaching of the Gospel in this place.
Paul lived and breathed the Gospel. So, we can be certain that he presented it to the people of Malta. Perhaps Luke felt that by this time, his readers should understand Paul's heart.
Publius... lodged us three days...-
Apparently, this hospitality was shown while long term housing was being arranged (perhaps on another ship) for those who had escaped the sea.
11. And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria,
which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.
12 And landing at Syracuse, we tarried [there] three days.
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:
14 Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days:
and so we went toward Rome.
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.
Here is the final leg of the journey.
They departed from Malta on another ship from Alexandria, for the short (60 mile) voyage north to Syracuse on the island of Sicily.
The ship's markings were of Castor and Pollux {GK=dioskouri, the twin sons of Zeus}
which were regarded to be the protectors of seafaring men. They were represented by the two stars in the constellation Gemini. Sailors who glimpsed those stars through a stormy sky would take it as a good omen. But Paul's companions had seen "neither sun nor stars" in the many days of their stormy ordeal (Acts 27:20). They had been delivered by the unseen but living God, whose Paul was, and whom he served.
They "fetched a compass" means that the ship made its 'circuit' between ports,
from Syracuse to Rhegium, and finally to Puteoli, on the western coast of Italy. From there, they would travel the last 125 miles to Rome via the Appian Way. A group of believers came out from Rome, about 20 miles, to meet Paul and his companions at the Three Taverns. For Paul, these believers, were a great source of encouragement and a cause for gratitude toward God. Two or three years prior to his coming, he had written of his longing to minister among the believers in Rome. Apparently, they also had been praying for his 'prosperous journey' and eagerly anticipating his arrival (Rom 1:9-15).
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.
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.
18 Who, when they had examined me, would have let [me] go,
because there was no cause of death in me.
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.
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.
Paul asked for an audience with the Jewish leaders in Rome.
They came to him, because he was under house arrest and could not go to them.
He explained the circumstances that brought him there:
  • He had been imprisoned in Jerusalem, though he had done nothing to oppose the Jewish people or customs.
  • The secular Roman authorities had found no charge worthy of death, and would have released him.
  • He was forced to appeal to Caesar, when the Jewish leaders opposed his release.
  • He had not come to Rome to press any kind of charge against the Jews.
  • The underlying cause for his imprisonment was that he proclaimed "the hope of Israel" (as he had told King Agrippa, in Acts 26:6,7). This hope was centered on the resurrection of the dead, the future eternal kingdom anticipated by the Jewish fathers, and the Messiah who scripture foretold would suffer, die, arise from the dead, and bring in that Kingdom.
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.
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.
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.
24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.
The Jewish leaders profess that they were unaware of any charges against Paul,
but they have an interest in learning more about "this sect" {ie., "this heresy"}. Regarding the teachings concerning Christ to be erroneous and "everywhere... spoken against," they were interested in understanding the issues better, so that they also could speak against it more intelligently.
Again, as he had done in the many synagogues, Paul sought to convince them,
by carefully expounding (laying out before them) from the Hebrew scriptures, the hope of Israel, the future kingdom, and the identity of the Messiah. ("...This Jesus, whom I preach unto you is the Christ..." Acts 17:3)
The response, as always, was mixed: some believed, and some believed not.
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,
26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say,
Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand;
and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:
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.
28 Be it known therefore unto you,
that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and [that] they will hear it.
Paul answered their unbelief, quoting God's Word through the prophet Isaiah (in Isaiah 6:9,10).
This prophecy occurs seven times in Scripture (Isa 6:9,10; Mat 13:14,15; Mark 4:12; Luk 8:10; Joh 12:40; Acts 28:26,27; and Rom 11:8). The context of the final occurrence (in Romans ch. 11) shows that this 'judicial blindness' is not final or permanent, and does not overthrow the covenants of God toward Israel, for that chapter speaks of Israel's future recognition and reception of the Messiah, whom they had rejected (Rom 11:7-8, 11-12, 26-29).
As this prophecy is quoted, in the text before us (Acts 28:26-28), the blindness of Israel is beneficial to the Gentiles.
Notice, what is sent (or, 'extended') to the Gentiles, and what is not extended to them...
  • Salvation is extended to them (v.28; in order to provoke the Jews to jealousy, Rom 11:11).
  • The earthly Kingdom of the Messiah (mentioned relative to the Jews, in v.23) is not given to the Gentile church, for God promised it to Israel, and "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance" (Rom 11:29; ie., God will not turn from His fore-ordained purposes).
29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed,
and had great reasoning among themselves.
30. And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,
31 Preaching the kingdom of God,
and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ,
with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
Today, there is still great disputing among the Jewish people about Jesus.
The book of acts is a book of transition, between the offer of the Kingdom to the Jewish nation, and the offer of salvation to all nations (Jew and Gentile alike) through the crucified, risen, and returning King. In the opening chapters of Acts, the Gospel of Christ, was presented first to the Jewish nation, in their capital city, Jerusalem. In the closing chapter, it is presented to representatives of the Jewish nation, in the Gentile capital city, Rome. Throughout the book, the Gospel message was reinforced with miraculous signs, given for Israel's benefit. But with the close of the book, visible signs fade into the background. The prominent characteristic of the Church Age is the "preaching and teaching of the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ" (v.31). Today, the Gospel of Christ is presented as the way of salvation, for all who will believe, without distinction between Jew and Gentile.
We have come to the end of the book of Acts. But, obviously, it is not the end of the story.
There is evidence to suggest that after Paul's two years of house arrest, he enjoyed a year or more of freedom... allowing him to travel as far as Spain, before again being arrested and then, executed by Nero in Rome. Although the activities of Paul and other apostles were given prominence, in "the Acts of the Apostles," the book is best viewed as "the acts of the Holy Spirit," who began working in and through the apostles, and continues to work in and through all believers who followed them... including you and me, brothers and sisters. The Lord, Himself, is still adding daily to His church, such as should be saved (Acts 2:47). The account will not be completed, until the Lord comes to take His 'called out ones' to Himself, in the Rapture (1The 4:14-18).

This concludes the study in Acts.
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