The End of Acts (Acts 28)
Overview (verses 1-10)
God had promised Paul that he would arrive safely, and Luke makes sure to confirm that the Lord kept that promise. It’s important to notice that this promise was for Paul regarding a particular situation at a specific time. We cannot take and “claim” it for ourselves when times get difficult. We can, however, trust God and His sufficiency in the midst of our own circumstances, believing that His will is being accomplished in us.
Sailing and Fellowship (verses 11-15)
After a few months, Paul and the crew set sail once again. No storm or shipwreck, or anything else, could separate Paul either from the love of God, or from His will for Paul. Like all Christians, Paul was “protected by the power of God through faith” (1 Pet 1:5). As they came to Puteoli, Paul was intentional about fellowshipping with other Christians, and when he arrived in Rome and saw the believers, “he thanked God and took courage” (verses 14-15). By his reaction, the chief Apostle reveals his own dependency on fellow Christians.
Background Details (verses 16-22)
Paul had an ongoing concern for the Jews. His “heart’s desire and [his] prayer for them is for their salvation” (Rom 10:1). Even though they had falsely accused him, arrested him and attempted to murder him, Paul still called the Jewish leaders together. As Paul engages them, he avoids unnecessary issues—not complaining of ill treatment, not accusing them of wrong—but instead was committed to keeping irrelevant and unnecessary distractions away. He simply explains to them that he had in fact done nothing to violate their religious customs (vv.17-18). Loving the lost requires sensitivities to their susceptibilities. And because of the way Paul proceeded with the conversation, he had the privilege of being able to preach to them. Sometimes, pre-evangelism is necessary if actual evangelism is going to happen. It’s important to notice, too, that Paul was in the capital of the “gentile world,” and yet he goes to the Jews. Why would he do that, knowing that they have rejected him and his message over and over? He did it because he believed the Scriptures, that the gospel is “the power of God for salvation…to the Jew first” (Rom 1:16). Paul did not let his immediate context determine his methods. He was committed to the sufficiency of the Scriptures. Certainly, Paul would preach the gospel to the Gentiles also, but first, he summoned the Jews to come so that he could preach to them.
Kingdom and Christ (verses 23-29)
Paul gave the whole day to preaching Christ from the Old Testament (v.23). Some where persuaded, others were unconvinced. The latter group was evidently the majority based on the following statements from Paul, quoted from Isaiah 6:1-10. Paul is essentially saying, “You are putting yourselves in the same category as your unbelieving forefathers who rejected God and His prophets.” In response to their rejection, Paul declares that salvation will now be sent to the Gentiles. As Charles Simeon puts it: “If you who call yourselves Christians will not value the gospel as you ought, it will be taken away from you, and will be given to others who will bring forth the fruits thereof with gladness.”
Acts 1:8 (verses 30-31)
Though Paul’s hands were bound, his mouth was open for Christ’s sake. He welcomed all who came and he preached the kingdom and its Christ openly and unhindered. Christ cannot be contained, the gospel cannot be silenced, the salvation of sinners cannot be stopped! The work of God is unfinished. Rome was simply on the way to the rest of the world. The proclamation of the gospel will continue until the end of the age, just as the Lord promised in Acts 1:8.
The followers of Jesus obeyed and we watched as they took the gospel from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria, then further to Rome. We witnessed an Ethiopian saved, along with a Roman Jailer, and a business woman down by the river in Philippi. But the task is still incomplete! What motivation does the book of Acts give you to continue making Christ known? Why can we be confident that God’s mission will continue to succeed and sinners will be saved? How are you participating in that mission?