Acts 28 July 24, 2017
The final chapter of Acts easily divides into two sections. The first section explains Paul’s witness on Malta and the second his witness in Rome. In the first section, Paul recovers from the shipwreck, survives a viper bite, and heals many diseases. In the second section, he preaches Jesus to the Jews in Rome. On Malta, the miracles validate his preaching. In Rome, it is his reasoning from Moses and the prophets that the Spirit uses to bring men to repentance. God always uses the right method to set the battlefield for the witness to be heard. The Gentiles on Malta were most impressed with signs and wonders. The Jews at Rome were well versed in the Law and prophets. They already knew of the power of God. They only needed to know how Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets.
It is rather interesting that the leading Jews of Rome had heard to the divisions within their ranks over the Gospel but had not heard of the accusations against Paul. It is also rather interesting that they would come in a large crowd to hear Paul. It is good for us to be reminded that although the Jewish religious leadership rejected Jesus, many of the countrymen received Him, Paul being one as well as the other 11 Apostles. The final chapter of Acts demonstrates Paul’s effective witness to both Jews and Gentiles.
Reflecting on the missionary efforts of Paul as recorded in Acts, reveals the seasons of his ministry. He spent time as a church planter, a church strengthener, and in the final season, he is one who simply receives those who would come to his place of arrest to hear him. He then devotes himself to writing. All the seasons of life are directed by the Lord. Following the example of Paul, every season of life is to be used to its fullness.
Many students of Scripture are inquisitive about the seemingly abrupt end to the book of Acts. Most all serious students of Scripture raise the question, what happened to Paul after his two years of house arrest. Legend has it that Paul was released after the two years recorded in Acts. There is some evidence in extra biblical writings that Paul may have gone to Spain. This line of speculative reasoning concludes with Paul being again arrested. His final arrest and execution are believed to have occurred at the hands of Nero. Historical records indicate Nero to have become especially violent toward both Jews and Christians. The exact truth will not be known this side of heaven.
While there are many unknowns surrounding the early church, our primary focus really should be on what we do know. We know Jesus ascended to Heaven and is preparing a place for His own. We know the Holy Spirit has come to indwell believers and to make them witnesses. We can follow that line of reasoning to understand, God is in the witness making business. If we are his servants and he is in the business of making witnesses, then it does follow, that is what he is doing in each of our lives. The words of the Apostle John in the opening verses of his first epistle serve to capture the heart of the lives of the Apostles including Paul, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands concerning the Word of Life — and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us — what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1-3).