A Bible Study Led By
Dr. Larry Reynolds
February 4, 2010

                                                             ACTS STUDY -  SESSION 36

The Captivity of Paul – Part 3: Rome

Acts 28:16-31

 

 

EXPERIENCES IN ROME (Acts 28:16-31)

 

ROME

When Paul entered Rome the city was already about 8 centuries old...

 

While the city was aging physically, was at zenith of imperial power...

 

Nero was emperor and about the time of Paul’s arrival Nero killed his own mother...

 

Was strategically located for commerce...attracted people from near and far...

 

Was cosmopolitan city marked by gigantic slums and obscene wealth...near end of first century one writer wrote of “the misery, poverty, and inhumanity of the slum-ridden city, and the cruel inequities between the inordinately rich and its shockingly poor...” [Juvenal quoted by Blaiklock, p.86]

 

In Revelation 18:2,3 John describes Rome this way: (read text)

 

CHURCH IN ROME

Do not know for sure when or how Christian community was established in Rome...

 

Acts 2:10 tells us there were visitors from Rome present in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost...not improbable that some of them were converted under the preaching of Peter and took their new found faith back to Rome....

 

By time Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans in about A.D. 57, there was a well established church in Rome...Paul spoke in Romans 1:8 of their faith being “proclaimed throughout the whole world...”

 

F.F. Bruce, the respected Bible scholar, thinks the church at Rome may have been the first church established outside of Palestine...

 

PAUL’S CIRCUMSTANCES IN ROME

Verse 16 points out Paul was allowed to stay by himself, accompanied by a soldier.  Verse 30 indicates the cost of Paul’s lodging was born by Paul, himself.

 

Probably either handcuffed or shackled to different soldier in four hour shifts.  Gave Paul a captive audience.  Paul viewed this arrangement as a great opportunity.   See Philippians 1:12-14...

The account of Paul’s activities in Rome focuses on three matters:

 

1.      Paul’s meeting with some local Jewish leaders (vv.17-22)

Occurred shortly after (3 days) Paul arrived in Rome...


Paul assumed they had heard of him and had misinformation about him...

 

Their denial of any prior knowledge of Paul is difficult to believe...perhaps didn’t want to get involved in the controversy between Paul and the Jerusalem Jewish leaders...

 

Did admit hearing of the Christian Way and that it was widely spoken against among the Jews...

 

2.      Paul’s preaching to a large gathering of Jews (vv.23-28)

“at his lodging” indicates was not in cramped quarters...

 

Began where they were (“from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets”) and moved to the gospel...

 

“from morning until evening” - All day sermon!!!

 

Reaction was mixed...some persuaded and others would not believe...

 

Verses 26-29 - Familiar theme of Acts...gospel taken first to Jews...they rejected it...then taken to Gentiles...

 

3.      Paul’s confinement in the city (vv.30-31)

Two years...

 

Teaching with “all openness, unhindered” - Was bold in presentation and no authority attempted to silence him...

 

During this two year period Luke probably wrote Acts...was to be used for Paul’s defense before Caesar...

 

This time known as “first Roman imprisonment”...many scholars believe it was during this time that he wrote prison epistles - Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon, and Philippians...the first three were delivered to same general area by same messenger, Tychicus...Philippians was probably last of the prison epistles written...

 

What happened to Paul?...widely held was released, continued missionary work... while he was free, wrote First Timothy and Titus...was arrested again around 67 A.D. on orders from Nero...was returned to Rome...this time placed in a dungeon...from there wrote Second Timothy, his last will and testament...shortly thereafter was executed by Roman authorities...

 

Lessons from Acts 28:16-31

 


1.      We must look for opportunities to evangelize others, not excuses to avoid evangelizing...

 

2.      The message we are to share with the world is “the kingdom of God, and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ...” (v.31)

 

3.      Reaction to the gospel will always be mixed...not everyone will respond positively... parable of the sower...beside road/rocky ground/among thorns/good soil...(Matt.13)

 

4.      Believing in the sovereignty of God gives us confidence to evangelize...

 

5.      Spreading the gospel (evangelizing) is to be our #1 priority...

 

“Luke’s decision to close his book with a report of ongoing evangelism reminds us that evangelism is the passion that ignites our activity.  God has acted decisively in Christ to save the human race.  Herein lies the ultimate answer to the problem of the human race.  If we love this world as God does, we will want to tell it of this liberating good news.  This business will consume our passion to the day we die.”

 

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