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Scripture reading – Acts 28
Today’s Scripture reading brings us to the conclusion of our study of The Acts of the Apostles. Our study in this book has taken us from the historic proofs of Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead, and His public appearances (Acts 1:1-3), to the commissioning His apostles (1:4-8), before His ascension to heaven (1:9). With the angelic promise that Jesus would return (1:10-11), the disciples had returned to an “upper room” (1:12-13) and waited for the fulfillment of the promised coming of the Holy Spirit. With the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), fifty days after the Passover and the death of Christ on the Cross, the evangelistic thrust of the 1st century church began.
There have been many other events recorded in the Book of Acts that were essential to the historical narrative of the early church, including the death of Stephen, the first of many martyrs (7:55-8:1). The salvation of Saul, the persecutor of the early church (Acts 8:1; 9:1-9) was a great milestone, who became Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9:10-16). We have followed Paul and his three missionary journeys, and the spread of the Gospel throughout Asia, Greece, and Europe (reaching as far west as Spain).
Assailed by the religious leaders of the Jews who would have killed him (Acts 21-26), Paul appealed to Caesar for judgment, and arrangements were made for him to be taken to Rome. As a prisoner on a ship sailing for Rome, Paul turned the occasion of a great storm and shipwreck into an opportunity to share God’s revelation that all lives on the ship would be saved, for he “must be brought before Caesar” (27:23-25).
The ship ran aground on the island “called Melita” (modern-day Malta, Acts 28:1). As Paul and the others warmed themselves around a fire, God miraculously spared the apostle’s life when a poisonous viper took hold of his hand (28:3). Those who witnessed the viper’s attack wondered if Paul was being punished for some wicked deed, but then they marveled he did not perish (28:4-6). God spared Paul’s life as a testimony that the power of God rested upon him (28:6).
Acts 28 concluded with Paul’s safe travel and arrival in Rome (28:11-31), where he had secured private lodging with Roman guards permitting him to receive fellow believers (28:11-16). In an incredible testimony of God’s providence, and Paul’s passion for preaching the Gospel, the apostle’s “house” imprisonment in Rome opened the door for him to not share his own conversion and calling with Jewish leaders (28:17-22). He boldly declared to all who would listen that Jesus is the Christ, the long-awaited, suffering Messiah foretold by the prophet Isaiah (28:23-31; Isaiah 53).
Closing thoughts (28:30-31) – Our study in the Book of Acts concludes with Paul being a prisoner of Rome, but dwelling two full years in his own rented house (28:30). Though confined, Paul used the opportunity to be a witness to all his guests, as well as to the guards assigned to him. We read, Paul continued “Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him” (28:31).
Tomorrow, our chronological reading of the Scriptures will bring us to Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians, a letter he wrote while a prisoner in Rome.
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