As the book of Acts comes to a close we see Paul finally arrive in Rome. After a harrowing journey in danger from the Jewish leaders seeking his life to shipwreck, being bitten by a venomous snake to being lost at sea in storms that lasted many days, his journey comes to an end.
In the closing scriptures of Acts 28 we see a few insights into how Paul was treated as a prisoner and Los his ongoing impact as a preacher and teacher of the gospel. We see too that his fame had spread as Christianity had spread for in a number of the ports the ship called into, there were Christians who heard he had come and came to see him.
He probably did not know it at the time, but the work he was to do and the letters he wrote would lay the foundations of much of what we now know as the New Testament. It is in the words of Paul that we under stand the mechanics of the gospel. It is in Paul's writings that we begin to understand not just what the gospel is, but how it works. And we will see the beginnings of the teachings of the fulness of truth in the gospel explained in the next letter of Paul to the Romans.
One of the things we see in these last verses is that Paul was clearly a model prisoner. He was not kept under lock and key in the depths of a dungeon or a jailhouse cell, but he was allowed to live out in the free and to receive visitors with only one soldier as his guard. He was accorded many freedoms that most prisoners could not have even contemplated.
Why was this so? No doubt the many things he said and did in the journey to Rome showed the centurion and soldiers guarding him that he was trustworthy. And this is apart from the advice he gave that The Lord had shown him concerning matters that were unfolding and the healings he carried out in the name of Jesus amongst the people they met.
There is a principle here that we can learn from. Paul wrote that we must respect the authorities appointed here on earth for there is no authority except what has been given and allowed by God. Paul showed we are to pay all of them their dues, whether in taxes, respect, honour or subjection. As long as it does not conflict with the teachings of Christ Jesus that is.
It is clear that he was following his own advice here and so the authorities, seeing his compliance and that he was no trouble gave him a very loose rein to continue his work of preaching and teaching.
It is evident also that he must have been permitted to work as a tent maker for we see also right at the end of the chapter that he lived at his own expense for two years in Rome in his own hired dwelling.
Paul's Ministry in Rome
But it is his ministry that commenced when he first came to Rome that we see the most important aspects of these last verses.
He immediately met with the Jews in the city of Rome to discuss his plight and the reasons for why he was there, having appealed to Caesar due to the threats to his life from the leaders in Jerusalem.
The local Jews had not heard of the trumped up charges laid against Paul by the leaders, but they had heard of Christianity and sought to know more for it was much spoken against. And so Paul met with them to discuss and argue about the truth both from his experiences and testimony and through his knowledge of the prophecies concerning the gospel in the law and prophets.
Some of the Jews were convinced and would form the core of the Roman Christian church, while others were not convinced as they discussed and argued the scriptures at length. In the end the people departed still discussing and considering what Paul had to say, and Paul then makes the statement that set the path of the work in the knowledge of what The Lord was doing for all mankind. He said in verses 25-28 quoting the prophet Isaiah,
25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: 26 “'Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” 27 For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.' 28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
Salvation had indeed come to the Gentile nations and it continues to impact down to this day as people from every nation across the world learn about and come to see Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.
But as in those days there are people today who still will not listen and still will not see. They refuse to listen to the words of The Lord and to find salvation and release from sin in His teachings. They continue to revel in their sins and to do evil even calling evil to be good. The moral decline of this world begun so many years ago is again in steady and increasing free fall as the world falls deeper and deeper into darkness.
And yet the light that would lift the world from this darkness is still shing as brightly as it ever did. The light of the knowledge of Jesus Christ that brings salvation and comfort to a world suffering from the foolishness of false teaching, lies and sin.
The freedom that Jesus offers all mankind, whether Jew or Gentile was defined and discussed in the bible many, many years ago and the writings of Paul show us a clear pathway to find the salvation of Jesus Christ.
It is perhaps for this very reason how Paul opened up and explained the fulness of the pathway in the gospel that Paul has often been maligned. Even today I have seen many on the internet who consider the writings of Paul and the man himself to be quite evil. But nothing could be further from the truth for it is in Paul's writings that the truth is fully revealed and the pathway is made clear.
And we see the progression of a Christian and the pathway clearly defined in the first of Paul's letters to appear in the New Testament, which is the book of Romans and it is that book which we will look at next.
This now completes my study of the book of Acts and I hope you will continue to follow me as we move into the meat of Romans as we unravel Paul's pathway to truth.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Ali Taylor)
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