Acts 28:21

ESV And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you.
NIV They replied, 'We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of our people who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you.
NASB They said to him, 'We have neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor has any of the brothers come here and reported or spoken anything bad about you.
CSB Then they said to him, "We haven't received any letters about you from Judea. None of the brothers has come and reported or spoken anything evil about you.
NLT They replied, 'We have had no letters from Judea or reports against you from anyone who has come here.
KJV And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee.

What does Acts 28:21 mean?

Though it has taken a long time to work out, Paul's strategy (Acts 28:19) has succeeded. He is in Rome, waiting for his trial to come before Caesar. He's completely innocent of all charges, but Judaean politics have made him a prisoner. If he were free, he would visit the synagogue and wait to be invited to speak. He would then show how Jesus of Nazareth fulfills the Messianic prophecies. In this case, he can't leave his apartment, but he can have visitors. So, within three days of his arrival, he invites the Jews he would normally meet in the synagogue (Acts 28:17).

Paul needs to establish his authority. The first thing he does is explain why he is a prisoner despite the charges against him being false. Fortunately, the Roman Jews have not heard anything of the rumors flying around Jerusalem. That they have had no letters is interesting. Paul was first charged two years prior. He left Jerusalem several months ago, got caught in a ferocious storm, and had to stay on the island of Malta for three months before finally making it to Rome. The Sanhedrin had plenty of time to send word about Paul, but apparently didn't think it worth their effort.

Even so, the Roman Jews probably heard of Paul. Priscilla and Aquila have since returned to Rome after their eviction (Acts 18:2), and Paul knows several Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome (Romans 16).

The Jews have heard about the sect Paul is a part of, and they're curious but dubious. They agree to meet with Paul again so he can explain. Paul is desperate for all Jews to recognize Jesus as their Messiah (Romans 9:1–5) and gladly shows how Jesus fits within the Law and the Prophets. Jews are a communal people, and Paul hopes the community in Rome will accept Christ. Only some do, and Paul sees no difference between a partial rejection and a whole rejection. He scolds them with references to the prophet Isaiah and recommits his ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 28:22–31).
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