Day 28, Acts 28.
The last chapter of the book of Acts of the Apostles begins with the realization that Paul has washed up on the isle of Malta. Paul was bitten by a viper, and the islanders thought he was being punished for being a murderer or something, even though he had been saved from the turbulent sea. But when Paul didnt die from the viper, they thought he was a god.
The leader of Malta was named Publius. Paul healed his father, who was sick with recurrent fever and dysentery. Afterward, the rest of the people on the island who were sick came to get healed.
Once they arrived at Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with his guard. After three days, Paul called together the leaders of the Jews to explain why he was there. Having heard Paul’s explanation, they said they had received no notice about him – either in writing or verbally. But they wanted to hear from Paul concerning the new sect, which was spoken against everywhere.
Paul explained using the the Law of Moses and from the Prophets from morning to evening. I find it interesting that Luke chose to record what happened this way:
24 Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe.
Some WOULD NOT believe. This makes it sound like they chose to not believe – in spite of the facts.
Because of that, Paul stated,
“The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, 26 saying,
‘Go to this people and say,
“You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
27 For the heart of this people has become dull,
And with their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes;
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.”’
And if it wasn’t enough that Paul insulted them, he then said the unthinkable – that God’s salvation was sent to the Gentiles, who would listen.
28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.” 29 [When he had spoken these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves.]
God had chosen the Jews – they were the “chosen people”. So it was not just unthinkable that God would send His salvation to the Gentiles, but insulting. This finished any discussion – at least for the day.
The book ends abruptly with this:
30 And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.
Paul spent two years in house arrest. Yet he was not alone – he had the guards, plus he had visitors. And he openly preached and taught about the kingdom of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, unhindered. Can you imagine – openly talking about who God is, what God has done, what God will do, what God wants from us and for us? And more than just openly speaking about it, but doing so for two years in the capital of the largest empire in the known world, unhindered. Wow. He was in prison, yet he was busy preaching.
How often do we convince ourselves that we are not able to talk about God to people around us, because of our job, or our friends or our family? What is it we are told about what NOT to speak about? Politics and religion. While our society says we are not to speak about God, but Paul was in prison and openly speaking about God.
What’s your excuse?