Acts 28 Paul Arrives in Rome
Summary

As is true of every chapter in the book of Acts, opportunities to spread the gospel are seized upon by those who are believers. Following the shipwreck, Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus are stranded on Malta, but they see this as an occasion to confess the name of Jesus. Notable miracles were done when Paul suffered no harm after having been bitten by a viper and when he healed the father of Publius. After three months they sailed again and having landed went up to Rome. In Rome Paul lived by himself for two years receiving all who came and preaching Christ to many, including leaders among the Jews. The book ends without telling of Paul’s further work, but the gospel had been spread to the capital of their world.

Paul on Malta

28After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. 2The native people[1] showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. 3When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. 4When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice[2] has not allowed him to live.” 5He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. 6They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

Question 1

What nice thing was being done for Paul when he was bitten by a viper?

7Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. 8It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him. 9And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. 10They also honored us greatly,[3] and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed.

Question 2

Who was Publius and what happened as a result of the healing of his father?

Paul Arrives at Rome

11After three months we set sail in a ship that had wintered in the island, a ship of Alexandria, with the twin gods[4] as a figurehead. 12Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. 13And from there we made a circuit and arrived at Rhegium. And after one day a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. 14There we found brothers[5] and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. 15And the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage. 16And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier that guarded him.

Question 3

How was Paul treated while a prisoner in Rome?

Paul in Rome

17After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had 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. 18When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. 19But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation. 20For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” 21And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. 22But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”

Question 4

How did the Jews consider those who were Christians and what did Paul say to them?

23When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:

26“‘Go to this people, and say, You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 27For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

28Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”[6]

30He lived there two whole years at his own expense,[7] and welcomed all who came to him, 31proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

Question 5

How does the book of Acts conclude?

People
  • Paul
  • Continued preaching the gospel all the way to and in Rome

  • Luke and Aristarchus
  • Paul’s companions throughout these events

  • Publius
  • A leading citizen of Malta.Jews in Rome

Places
  • Malta
  • Where Paul had been shipwrecked

  • From Malta to Rome via Syracuse, Rhegium, Puteoli, and a 33 mile trip by land to Rome.

Paul on Malta

28After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. 2The native people[1] showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. 3When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. 4When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice[2] has not allowed him to live.” 5He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. 6They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

Acts 26:1

Melitē (now called Malta) was located about 58 miles south of Sicily. (18 miles long, 8 miles wide).


Acts 28:2

The natives were friendly to Paul providing a fire for warming.


Acts 28:3

The viper appears to have been a poisonous snake which bit Paul and clung to his hand. How ironic it would have been to have survived the shipwreck only to be killed by a snake hours later.

They initially thought that he was a murderer and justice was being done in death by snakebite.


Acts 28:6

Of course their mind is changed when Paul survives. Then they reasoned that he was a god.

7Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. 8It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him. 9And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. 10They also honored us greatly,[3] and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed.

Acts 28:8

Publius may have been an official (perhaps procurator). His father suffered from fever, the result of dysentery (an inflammation of the large intestine).

Paul Arrives at Rome

11After three months we set sail in a ship that had wintered in the island, a ship of Alexandria, with the twin gods[4] as a figurehead. 12Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. 13And from there we made a circuit and arrived at Rhegium. And after one day a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. 14There we found brothers[5] and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. 15And the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage. 16And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier that guarded him.

Acts 28:11

“After three months” would probably place the time in February. This is their third ship.

The “Twin Brothers” are Zeus’ sons, Castor and Pollux, Roman legends.


Acts 28:12

Syracuse was located on the eastern coast of Sicily.


Acts 28:13

Rhegium was located at the southern end of the toe of Italy. Puteoli was a port 200 miles north.


Acts 28:14

Paul had apparently gained the respect of his military escort to allow this seven day travel delay.


Acts 28:15

There were Christians in Rome who came down to the Appii Forum 35-40 miles south of Rome.


Acts 28:16

The entire trip from Caesarea to Rome had taken about four months.

Paul in Rome

17After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had 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. 18When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. 19But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation. 20For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” 21And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. 22But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”

Acts 28:17

Eleven different synagogues of Jewish worshippers are identified in Rome by ancient sources.

23When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:

Acts 28:23

There are two meetings: 1) Paul is introduced to them and they discuss the occasion of his coming to Rome; 2) Paul is allowed to discuss the Old Testament Scriptures with them.

26“‘Go to this people, and say, You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 27For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

Acts 28:26

This Scripture is found in Isaiah 6:9,10.

28Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”[6]

Acts 28:28

Again the cause of dispute between Paul and the Jews is his teaching that Gentiles are proper subjects of the gospel in fulfillment of their own Scriptures.

30He lived there two whole years at his own expense,[7] and welcomed all who came to him, 31proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

Perspectives

God used special miraculous events to create an atmosphere for acceptance of the gospel in the first century church before the written word was available to them.

All of us should use every opportunity, even under adverse circumstances, to obey and preach Christ.

All mankind (Jews and Gentiles) are granted God’s grace and admission to Christ’s church.