What does Acts chapter 28 mean?In Acts 28, Paul finally reaches Rome.
Due to political pandering, Paul had been under house arrest in Caesarea Maritima for two years (Acts 24:22–27). When Governor Festus seemed just as unlikely to give him justice as Felix; Paul appealed his case to Caesar (Acts 25:1–12). Festus charged Julius the centurion to take Paul and Aristarchus to Rome; Luke came along as well. After a harrowing sea voyage that included a furious tempest, malicious sailors and soldiers, and a violent shipwreck, the survivors have landed on the small island of Malta, just south of Sicily (Acts 27).
In Acts 28:1–6, God quickly establishes Paul's credentials with the local people. Through his experience with sea voyages and his connection with the Holy Spirit, Paul has already saved the crew and passengers of the ship. Now, God shows the islanders that he is something special. While putting wood on a fire, he's attacked by some type of snake. Luke's account is less detailed than traditional interpretations would suggest. Through some combination of superstition and surprise, the locals anticipate Paul will drop dead thanks to the snake. Instead, he shakes it into the flames and continues his work.
In Acts 28:7–10, Paul uses his newfound respect to both help the locals and elicit help from them. He heals the father of the chief of the island, and then many others who were sick from among the people. In response, the grateful islanders give the shipwreck survivors everything they need.
Acts 28:11–16 records the continuation of the voyage to Rome. The survivors spend the three months of winter on Malta before catching another Alexandrian ship. It takes them as far as Puteoli where Paul, Aristarchus, and Luke find a group of believers. These friends host them for a week before the trio finish their trip to Rome; more friends from Rome escort them the final few miles. Once in Rome, Paul is again placed under house arrest, this time with a soldier on guard.
In Acts 28:17–22, Paul is finally introduced to the Jews in Rome. They haven't heard anything negative about Paul but have serious doubts about Jesus of Nazareth. Like Jews in every city Paul has visited, they wish to know more about Jesus and set a time to meet.
Acts 28:23–28 records that disappointing meeting. Paul explains how Jesus fulfills the Mosaic law and the prophecies of Jewish Scriptures, but only some believe. Paul has already mentioned in his letter to the Romans how he would rather be condemned to hell than watch his countrymen reject their Messiah (Romans 9:1–5). Now, he watches his hopes dashed. He quotes a passage from Isaiah about those who refuse to hear or see the truth and reaffirms his mission to reach the Gentiles.
Acts 28:30–31 is a very short synopsis of Paul's two-year stay in Rome. Ironically, he is safer than he has been in decades, and he is able to preach freely to his many visitors so long as he doesn't leave.
Luke concludes Paul's story here, but Paul's letters give more information. He probably writes the prison epistles during this time: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. After two years, Paul regains his freedom and embarks on another missionary journey. At some point, he is again imprisoned in Rome under much harsher conditions. Church tradition says he is executed in AD 67, three years before the Romans destroy the temple and sack Jerusalem.