28:1-6 Paul bitten by viper on Malta.
28:7-10 Paul’s ministry to those on Malta.
28:11-15 Paul’s safe arrival in Rome.
28:1 Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta.
28:2 The islanders [of Phoenician ancestry; island of Malta (from Canaanite word for “refuge”)] showed [continued to show] us unusual kindness. They built a fire [to warm survivors who were chilled from being in the sea and because of the foul weather] and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.
Note: When was the last time you showed “unusual kindness” to someone?
28:3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand.
28:4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.”
28:5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects.
28:6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.
28:7 There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official [probably a political authority, like a governor] of the island [literally “first man of the island”]. He welcomed us [either only Paul (and Luke), Julius, and ship’s owner or the entire crew/passengers (276 people)] to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably.
28:8 His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands [only reference in Acts that mentions both prayer and laying on of hands] on him and healed him.
28:9 When this had happened [good news travels fast], the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured.
28:10 They honored us in many ways [a reminder that unbelievers do good deeds] and when we were ready to sail [after spending three winter months on the island (28:11)], they furnished us with the supplies we needed [islanders provided for the needs of their guests].
28:11 After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island. It was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux.
28:12 We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days.
28:13 From there we set sail and arrived at Rhegium. The next day the south wind came up, and on the following day we reached Puteoli.
28:14 There we found some brothers who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome.
28:15 The brothers there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged.
28:16 When [after spending three months on the island of Malta (Acts 28:11)] we [Luke was still with Paul] got to Rome [during this two-year period Paul wrote Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon], Paul was allowed to live by himself [Paul considered a low-risk prisoner], with a soldier [to whom Paul apparently was chained, at least some of the time (Acts 28:20)] to guard [“a captive audience”] him.
28:17 Three days later [after arriving in Rome] he called [since Paul could not go to the synagogue, he summoned members of the synagogue to visit him; Paul had freedom to invite people to visit him, but did not have freedom to move about city] together the leaders [capable of influencing others] of the Jews. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans.
28:18 They [the Roman authorities (cf. 23:29; 25:25; 26:31)] examined me and wanted to release me [cf. Acts 26:32], because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death.
28:19 But when the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—not that I had any charge to bring against my own people [Paul was a loyal Jew; although he had been falsely accused, he did not want to retaliate; Paul did not bring counter charges against his own people].
28:20 For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel [cf. 23:6; 24:15; 26:7; 28:20; Paul believed that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises to Israel] that I am bound with this chain.”
28:21 They replied, “We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of the brothers who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you.
28:22 But we [Roman Jews] want [indicates they were receptive to what Paul had to say] to hear [because they knew little about this movement] what your views [concerning the Jesus movement] are, for we know that people everywhere [indicates that the awareness of Christianity had spread throughout the Roman world] are talking against this sect [from Gr. word hairesis from which we get our word heresy; considered an illegitimate branch of Judaism].”
28:23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying [lodging; own rented quarters (cf. Acts 28:30)]. From morning till evening [shows intensity of Paul’s appeal and the depth of his concern for his own people (cf. Rom. 9:1-3; 10:1)] he explained [to lay out, to set forth] and declared to them the kingdom of God [the rule of God in the hearts of people] and tried to convince [persuade] them about Jesus [must always be the focus of our witnessing] from [cf. Acts 17:2-3; Paul’s message/witness was grounded in Scripture] the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
28:24 Some were convinced [but not necessarily converted] by what he said, but others would not believe [cf. parable of the sower in Matt. 13:1-8, 18-23].
28:25 They disagreed [out of harmony] among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement [a desperate warning]: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet [cf. Isa. 6:9-10: God told Isaiah that people would not heed his message; cf. Jesus’ use of this passage in Matt. 13:13-15, Mk. 4:12, and Lk. 8:10]:
28:26 “‘Go to this people and say, “You will be ever hearing [opportunity to hear] but never understanding [to comprehend]; you will be ever seeing [opportunity to see] but never perceiving.”
28:27 For this people’s heart has become calloused [to become fat, to become dull]; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’
28:28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent [to send as an authoritative representative] to the Gentiles, and they will [indicates receptivity] listen!”
28:29 After he said this, the Jews left, arguing vigorously among themselves.
28:30 For two whole years [may indicate that the time period for Paul’s accusers to appear had elapsed] Paul stayed there [cf. Phil 1:12-14 re: how gospel flourished during his imprisonment] in his own rented house and welcomed all [cf. 1 Cor. 9:19-23] who came to see him [indicates many opportunities to witness].
28:31 Boldly [candidly, forcefully] and without hindrance [the Romans did not hinder Paul from sharing the good news; implies that the Romans (at this time) did not see Paul’s message as subversive] he preached the kingdom of God and taught [strong tradition that Paul wrote the prison epistles at this time (his first Roman imprisonment): Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon / Paul released and wrote First Timothy and Titus / Paul arrested and wrote Second Timothy (his “last will and testament”) / Paul executed (beheaded) by Roman authorities in A.D. 67/68] about the Lord Jesus Christ.