Devotional # 73. 2/10/14. Paul gives a Final Testimony to His People.
This week’s Reading: Acts 28:16-30.
Introduction. Last week we talked about Paul’s ministry on Malta and how he was welcomed as he moved towards Rome. Now he will enter Rome and the book of Acts ends, rather abruptly.
vv. 16-20. Paul is brought into Rome and, although still a prisoner, he’s allowed to live in a house by himself (with a guard). Once he was established (after 3 days) he asked for the Jewish religious leaders to meet with him. He talks with them about why he is a prisoner, what he was accused of and what he has actually done. Paul spends most of his time explaining that he has done nothing against God’s law but the crucial part is how he concludes. In verse 20 he says “for the HOPE of Israel I am bound.” Just like in Acts 24:15, the most important hope that Israeli’s had was the resurrection from the dead! Jesus was the resurrection and we’ll see Paul talk about Him in the next section.
vv. 21-22. It is interesting that the Roman Jews hadn’t received any communications from their bloodthirsty comrades in Jerusalem. Not only that but they hadn’t heard anything bad about Paul from anyone. Beyond that they wanted to hear about this new “sect” of Judaism, so they decide to let him talk about Christianity. Initially Christianity was considered a “sect” or offshoot from Judaism because they read the Old Testament and believed in all of the things Israelites did except that the Messiah had come. Even at this time Christianity was becoming more than just a subsidiary of Judaism, it was becoming its own movement (as evidence that it was “spoken against everywhere”).
vv. 23-29. When the Jews show up Paul talks to them from morning until night, explaining how Jesus fulfilled everything the believed in. But the fact of the matter is that some believed and some did not. The same is true today, some people we talk to accept what Jesus did for them and some do not. God always gives everyone a choice.
Paul quotes from Isaiah 6:9-10, showing them that 760 years before God said this would happen. Although the Israeli’s may have been physically healthy, spiritually they were very sick. They did not recognize their personal doctor (Matthew 9:12-13) when He stood in front of them. The fact that they were under foreign bondage also proved that they were spiritually corrupt. All through the Old Testament God used Gentile nations to rule over Israel when they were disobedient to Him. This would drive them to repent and come back to Him and He would rescue them. In my morning devotions I have been reading through Isaiah and chapters 9 & 10 stood out to me. I count the phrase “For all His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still” 4 times. This means that He doesn’t just allow people to get away with sin (“His anger is not turned away”) but He is always merciful and longsuffering holding out His hand to save anyone who will grab it.
vv. 30-31. So Paul concludes that Jesus came for them but if they don’t accept Him then it was still worth it because He offers His sacrifice to Gentiles also. In Romans 1:16, Paul explains that Jesus came first for His people (Israel) then to everyone else (Gentiles). Then it says Paul was able to live in the house having a ministry for two years. The book ends abruptly here because Luke wrote it before Paul was released from prison (Source 1). So they didn’t know what else would happen and a writer has to stop a history book somewhere.
Conclusion: I think you’ll agree with me that Acts has been an amazing book to study! It is powerful because it is the Word of God, able to explain spiritual mysteries. But it is also intriguing because it gives us facts of people, places and dates of how the early church started. It fit especially well after our study of the life and ministry of Jesus when we went through the book of Mark. In the coming weeks we will go over several different sections of Scripture, not just from one book. If you have any ideas or questions that you would like me to concentrate on please just ask. I would love to go over some of the things that you are wondering about or areas that you need help explaining to people that you are sharing the gospel with!
Source 1: John MacArthur, the John MacArthur Study Bible, pp. 1687.