What does Acts 28 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Acts 28:1–6 describes the people of Malta's impression of Paul. He and others traveling on an Alexandrian ship have wrecked on the shores of the small island. As soon as they reach land, the weather turns cold and rainy. Paul surprises the islanders by surviving a viper bite unharmed. The locals quickly surmise he must be a god, and the island's leader invites him to stay in his home. Paul heals the leader's father and several others from the island, and the locals see to the survivors' needs (Acts 28:7–10).
Acts 28:7–10 records how Paul, Luke, Aristarchus, and 273 other shipwreck victims find their situation greatly improved. Paul has survived a snake attack, drawing the attention of the leader of the island of Malta. The leader invites Paul's group to stay at his home for a few days and Paul heals the leader's sick father. Before long, every person on the island struck with a disease shows up. Paul heals them, and they provide for their guests for their three-month stay as well as their final voyage to Rome.
Acts 28:11–16 records the final steps of Paul's arduous journey to Rome. He, Aristarchus, and Luke survived a fierce tempest and a shipwreck before spending three months in the care of the people of Malta (Acts 27:1—28:10). Now Paul and his friends board another ship that takes them to Puteoli, Italy. There, Christ-followers provide a warm welcome. As they walk toward Rome, more believers meet them and give them encouragement for the last few miles. Paul spends two years in Rome, under house arrest, but free to teach anyone who will listen about Jesus (Acts 28:30–31).
In Acts 28:17–29 Paul finally receives his heart's desire: to witness to the Jews in Rome. Rome is a strategic city and if the Jews there accept Jesus as their Messiah, they will legitimize Jesus-worship to the other Jews in the Empire. As in every city Paul visits, however, some accept Jesus and others don't. Paul becomes frustrated and redoubles his efforts to reach the Gentiles. He spends two years under house arrest but with the freedom to write and to speak with whomever chooses to come through his door.
Acts 28:30–31 is Luke's epilogue to the book of Acts. Paul is under house arrest, awaiting trial before Caesar for crimes he didn't commit. He spends his time teaching anyone who is willing to visit him and writing to some of the churches he has planted over the years. Luke gives us no details. After two years, Paul is released. We have some of Paul's letters from after that time that infer he went on another missionary journey before being arrested again and condemned to die (2 Timothy 4:6–7). Tradition says he was beheaded in AD 67.
Chapter Summary:
Acts 28 records Paul's three-month stay on the island of Malta and two-year house arrest in Rome. On Malta, God empowers Paul to perform healing miracles which endear him to the locals. Once he reaches the shores of Italy, many other believers accompany him on his last leg to Rome. In Rome, he finds the Jews just as accepting of Jesus as elsewhere; some believe, but many don't. Paul reaffirms his mission to the Gentiles and spends his time preaching while under house arrest.
Chapter Context:
Acts 28 is the end of Luke's story of the witness of Jesus' story (Acts 1:8). After his wrongful imprisonment in Caesarea Maritima, Paul appealed his case to Caesar (Acts 25:1–12). He, Aristarchus, and Luke survived a raging winter storm before finally reaching Rome (Acts 27). Again under house arrest, Paul is able to share Jesus' offer of forgiveness with any who wish to visit. While there, he writes the letters Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. After two years, Paul is released; tradition says he takes one more evangelistic tour before being arrested and eventually martyred around AD 67.
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
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