ACTS STUDY -  SESSION 35

The Captivity of Paul – Part 3: Rome

Acts 28:1-15

 

 

The proposed forty mile trip from Fair Havens to Phoenix on Crete had turned into a two week journey of approximately 600 miles...

 

Ended up shipwrecked on the island of Malta.  The events on Malta fall into three general categories:

 

The hospitality of the inhabitants (28:1-2)

 

“Malta” - About a day’s voyage from the great Sicilian port of Syracuse...however, had to stay three months on Malta (cf. v.11) because it was winter and the shipping lanes were closed...

 

“natives” - Some translations say “islanders” and others say “barbarians”...the actual Greek word is barbaroi from which our word barbarian comes...used to describe all people who did not speak Greek...natives of Malta spoke a Phoenician dialect...the word barbaros came out of the fact that the speech of foreigners sounded like “bar-bar” to the Greeks...

 

“extraordinary kindness” - The people from the ship were exhausted and obviously vulnerable...instead of taking advantage of their condition, the natives came to their aid...

 

Paul’s recovery from the bite of a viper (28:3-6)

 

“viper” - Has caused some difficulty for scholars...on present day Malta are vipers which stick to their victims, but they are not poisonous...if this is the species being referred to, difficulty to understand why islanders would expect Paul to swell up and die...its been suggested that first-century Malta had a poisonous species of viper which has since been exterminated by the islanders...would certainly be possible on such a small, densely populated island...

 

“justice has not allowed him to live” - Word “justice” used almost in sense of a person...reflects thinking of superstitious people who interpret all suffering as being cause by and being a penalty for sin...book of Job written to dispel that myth...

 

Healing of the father of Publius and of many others (28:7-10)

 

As was typical of Paul, he ministered to the people with whom the Lord brought him in contact...neither his personal situation (stranded on strange island) or the condition of the people (being physically ill) hindered Paul’s ministry...praying and laying on hands is similar to other healing miracles in the Bible...even though Luke does not tell us, no doubt Paul used the physical healings as an opportunity to tell the people about spiritual sickness and the cure available to them through the gospel of Jesus...


 

“supplied us with all we needed” is indicative of the gratitude the people of Malta had for the ministry of Paul...Did they supply just Paul and his traveling companions or all 276 people who were shipwrecked?...probably a combination of both...basic needs for all the people but extra supplies for Paul and his companions...

 

 

The journey to Rome continues: (Acts 28:11-15)

 

“Alexandrian ship” - A grain ship, like the one which had been shipwrecked...perhaps felt some responsibility for the stranded passengers since were traveling on a sister ship...

 

“the Twin Brothers” - Reference to Castor and Pollux, the twin sons of Zeus... regarded as special protectors of sailors...their constellation, Gemini, was considered a sign of good fortune in a storm...

 

Stopped briefly at “Syracuse” on island of Sicily then at “Rhegium” on the toe of Italy... from their sailed to “Puteoli”...

 

--principal harbor south of Rome...this is where the Egyptian grain ships regularly unloaded...

 

--about 125 miles from Rome...location of modern Naples...

 

--”found some brethren” - Indication of how the gospel had spread across the first century world and of fact that Acts tells only small part of the story...

 

--”seven days” - Perhaps Julius had business in Puteoli...or perhaps he went on to Rome with the other prisoners and left a single soldier in charge of delivering Paul to Rome...

 

The trip to Rome

 

--Traveled on Appian Way, the oldest, straightest, and most perfectly made of all Roman roads...

 

--”Market of Appius” - A trading town about 43 miles from Rome...

 

--”Three Inns” - A popular stopping place about 10 miles closer to Rome...

 

APPLICATIONS:


Must be careful about stereotyping people...those the Greeks called “barbarians” showed “extraordinary kindness” to Paul and his companions...in parable of Good Samaritan Jesus makes this point...

 

The best kind of leadership is servant leadership...even though he was no doubt exhausted from the ordeal, Paul joined in and “gathered a bundle of sticks” for the fire...William Barclay - “It is only the little man who refuses the little task.”

 

We must not live or die by the approval or disapproval of others...at one point the islanders viewed Paul as a “murderer” and shortly thereafter they viewed him as a “god”...neither assessment was correct...if find your self-worth in the opinions of others, will constantly be living on an emotional roller coaster...

 

There is great value in a “ministry of presence”...the people who came from Rome just to be with Paul lifted his spirits tremendously...sometimes the best thing we can do for people is just walk along side them...(Job’s friends - Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar)

 

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