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ACTS
The continued Life of Jesus through the Apostles

CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT

"Rome Reached"
Key Verse = Acts 28:28


  1. Paul's Ministry in Malta
  2. Paul's Journey to  Rome
  3. Paul's Ministry in Rome



PAUL'S  MINISTRY  IN  MALTA

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Acts 28:1 & 2
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(1)  Now when they had escaped, they then found out that the island was called Malta.

And when we had escaped, then we knew that the island was called Melita. But the barbarians shewed us no small courtesy.

(2)  And the natives showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold.

For kindling a fire, they refreshed us all, because of the present rain, and of the cold.


Malta
Malta (ancient Melita) was on the shipping route from Rome to Egypt, whereby empty ships would sail quickly to Alexandria to load up more cargoes. It was the stop immediately after Syracuse in Sicily. The alternative proposed site for this island near Dalmatia (Meleda, modern Mljet) is based on a misreading of "Adria" in 27:27 and has no merit; winds from the north could not have driven them there.
(From IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press.)

This is the modern Malta, an island south of Sicily, described by Diodorus as a Punic or Phoenician colony, and once a famous seat of Carthaginian manufacturers, especially of cloth.

The positive reasons for this common belief as to the place of the ship wreck are:
1. Malta lies in the track of a vessel driven by a northeast wind.
2. The reputed locality of the wreck agrees with Luke’s account.
3. The Alexandrian ship in which they re-embarked would very naturally winter there.
4. The subsequent course of the voyage to Puteoli is that which a vessel would pursue in going from Malta.

Now called "Malta." It was celebrated formerly for producing large quantities of honey, and is supposed to have been called Melita from the Greek word signifying honey. It is about
20 miles in length from east to west, and
12 miles in width from north to south, and about
60 miles in circumference.
It is about 60 miles from the coast of Sicily. The island is an immense rock of white soft freestone, with a covering of earth about one foot in depth, which has been brought from the island of Sicily. There was also another island formerly called "Melita," now called "Meleda," in the Adriatic Sea, near the coast of Illyricum, and some have supposed that Paul was shipwrecked on that island. But tradition has uniformly said that it was on the island now called "Malta." Besides, the other "Melita" would have been far out of the usual track in going to Italy; and it is further evident that Malta was the place, because from the place of his shipwreck he went directly to Syracuse, Rhegium, and Puteoli, thus sailing in a direct course to Rome. In sailing from the other Melita to Rhegium, Syracuse would be far out of the direct course.

The Maltese were of Phoenician descent, and commoners there spoke and read only Punic (the late Phoenician dialect of the Carthaginians). But Roman citizens and retired soldiers also lived there, and the island was certainly not considered culturally primitive. Anyone who did not speak Greek was called a "barbarian," and Greeks did not expect kind treatment from them. But Luke's use of the term translated "barbarous" (KJV) in this context (cf. "natives" - NASB; "islanders" - NIV) is not derisive; he indicts Greek racial prejudice at the same time that he displays God's providential care through them.
(From IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press.)

The same word that is rendered “barbarians” in KJV, and applied by the Greeks, and afterwards by the Romans, to all nations but themselves, with reference rather to a difference of language rather than civilization. The Greeks regarded all as barbarians who did not speak their language, and applied the name to all other nations but their own. It does not denote, as it does sometimes with us, "people of savage, uncultivated, and cruel habits, but simply those whose speech was unintelligible." The island is supposed to have been populated at first by the Phoecians, and afterward by a colony from Carthage. The language of the Maltese was that of Africa, and hence it was called by the Greeks the language of "barbarians." It was a language which was unintelligible to the Greeks and Latins.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

This must have been sometime in October; and, when we consider the time of the year, the tempestuousness of the weather, and their escaping to shore on planks, spars, etc., wet of course to the skin, they must have been very cold, and have needed all the kindness that these well disposed people showed them. In some parts of Christianized Europe, the inhabitants would have attended on the beach, and knocked the survivors on the head, that they might convert the wreck to their own use! This "barbarous" people did not act in this way: they joined hands with God to make those sufferers live.
(from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

From the Amplified Bible
(1)  After we were safe on the island, we knew and recognized that it was called Malta.
(2)  And the natives showed us unusual and remarkable kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed and received us all, since it had begun to rain and was cold.

Acts 28:3-6
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(3)  But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand.

And when Paul had gathered together a bundle of sticks, and had laid them on the fire, a viper coming out of the heat, fastened on his hand.

(4)  So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, "No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live."

And when the barbarians saw the beast hanging on his hand, they said one to another: Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, who though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance doth not suffer him to live.

(5)  But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.

And he indeed shaking off the beast into the fire, suffered no harm.

(6)  However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

But they supposed that he would begin to swell up, and that he would suddenly fall down and die. But expecting long, and seeing that there came no harm to him, changing their minds, they said, that he was a god.


Paul gathered a bundle of sticks
God had brought them to the Isle of Malta (which means "refuge"), where the native people welcomed all 276 of them (Acts 27:37) and did their best to make them comfortable. To the Greeks, anybody who did not speak Greek was a "barbarian." These people proved to be kind and sympathetic. The storm abated, but the weather was cold; so the natives built a fire. After all he had done for the passengers, Paul could well have requested a throne and insisted that everybody serve him! Instead, he did his share of the work and helped gather fuel for the fire. No task is too small for the servant of God who has "the mind of Christ" (Philippians 2:1-13 "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, ... made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant").

One rainy day, a man accompanied by two women arrived at Northfield, hoping to enroll his daughter in D. L. Moody's school for young women. The three needed help in getting their luggage from the railway depot to the hotel, so the visitor "drafted" a rather common-looking man with a horse and wagon, assuming he was a local cabby. The "cabby" said he was waiting for students, but the visitor ordered him to take them to the hotel. The visitor was shocked when the "cabby" did not charge him, and was even more shocked to discover that the "cabby" was D. L. Moody himself! Moody was a leader because he knew how to be a servant.


(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of
Cook Communication Ministries.)

A viper ... fastened on his hand
In cold weather some snakes can look like twigs until the heat of a fire stirs them.

Echidna (NT:2191). The old word used by the Baptist of the Pharisees (Matthew 3:7) and by Jesus also (Matthew 12:34). It is objected that there is little wood in the island today and no vipers, though Lewin as late as 1853 believes that he saw a viper near Paul's Bay. But the island now has 1,200 people to the square mile and snakes of any kind have a poor chance. (Knowling).
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)

Ancients argued in courts that their survival of troubles at sea proved their piety and hence innocence. In some stories, the impious escaped one form of terrible death (e.g., at sea) only to face something worse (besides Greek stories, see Amos 5:19). "Justice" was a goddess who executed the will of Fortune or the Fates; although the Maltese observers refer to some Punic deity, Luke translates their idea into the idiom of Greek poets. Several groups of Jewish catacombs dating between the second and fifth centuries A.D. have been found on the island; but if Jewish people were on the island in the first century, this narrative does not mention them.

Adam's rule over the beasts (Genesis 1:26) was cut short by the Fall, but Jewish interpreters of Isaiah 11:6-9 believed that this rule would be restored in the messianic time, and a few holy men were believed to have that power in the present age. Some Greek initiates to mystery cults may have practiced snake handling. Paul simply deals in faith with a situation thrust upon him.
Genesis 1:26

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."    (NIV)

Isaiah 11:6-9

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.    (NIV)


From the Amplified Bible
(3)  Now Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and he was laying them on the fire when a viper crawled out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand.
(4)  When the natives saw the little animal hanging from his hand, they said to one another, Doubtless this man is a murderer, for though he has been saved from the sea, Justice [the goddess of avenging] has not permitted that he should live.
(5)  Then [Paul simply] shook off the small creature into the fire and suffered no evil effects.
(6)  However, they were waiting, expecting him to swell up or suddenly drop dead; but when they had watched him a long time and saw nothing fatal or harmful come to him, they changed their minds and kept saying over and over that he was a god.

Acts 28:7-10
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(7)    In that region there was an estate of the leading citizen of the island, whose name was Publius, who received us and entertained us courteously for three days.

Now in these places were possessions of the chief man of the island, named Publius, who receiving us, for three days entertained us courteously.

(8)    And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him.

And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever, and of a bloody flux. To whom Paul entered in: and when he had prayed, and laid his hands on him, he healed him.

(9)    So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed.

Which being done, all that had diseases in the island, came and were healed:

(10)  They also honored us in many ways; and when we departed, they provided such things as were necessary.

Who also honoured us with many honours, and when we were to set sail, they laded us with such things as were necessary.


Publius
The name might be derived from the Greek rendering of the Roman title Popilus since inscriptions have been found near Malta using it to designate leading citizens of the island. Luke uses it as the name of the chief man of Malta who received Paul and gave him lodging for three days following a shipwreck. As the leading man of the island, a Roman official, he was responsible for the prisoners, but he extended hospitality to Paul and was richly rewarded by Paul's action in healing his father of a fever. Jerome says that Publius was martyred (De vir. ill. xix ).
B. H. AND P. C. PATTEN
(International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, revised edition, Copyright © 1979 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)

Since this man's father was still alive, he himself would hardly be so called if this distinction was that of the family. It must, therefore, have been his official title. Accordingly, two inscriptions have been discovered in the island-the one in Greek, the other in Latin-containing the same words here employed, and proving that this was the proper official title of the Maltese representative of the Roman Praetor of Sicily, to whose province Malta belonged.
(Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

The chief man, probably the governor of Melita, or Malta, who received and lodged Paul and his companions on the occasion of their being shipwrecked off that island. Publius possessed property in Melita: the distinctive title given to him is "the first of the island;" and two inscriptions — one in Greek, the other in Latin — have been found at Civita Vecchia, in which that apparently official title occurs. An inscription found in Malta designates the governor of the island by the same title. Publius may perhaps have been the delegate of the Roman praetor of Sicily, to whose jurisdiction Melita, or Malta, belonged. The Roman martyrologies assert that he was the first bishop of the island, and that he was afterwards appointed to succeed Dionysius as bishop of Athens. Jerome records a tradition that he was crowned with martyrdom (De Viris Illust. xix; Baron, Annal. 1, 554).
(McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

For the Greeks and Romans hospitality was a mark of culture. Principal motivations were fear of the gods and human fellow-feeling (philanthrœpia) as well as the expectation of reciprocity. That hospitality was regarded as a basic aspect of civilized behavior is reflected in the recurrence of the motif in the Homeric sagas (Finley, 99-103). In this vein is the story of Paul's shipwreck at Malta. Hospitality is extended to the apparently ill-fated travelers both by the natives (barbaroi) of the island and by the Roman "first man," Publius.
(from Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments © 1997 by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA.)

Fever and dysentery
Fever = puretos (poo-ret-os') (NT:4445) inflamed, fiery heat, fever

Dysentery = dusenteria (doos-en-ter-ee'-ah) (NT:1420) a "dysentery"
An infectious disease of the intestinal tract, usually involving severe pain and diarrhea.
Literally, "fevers." This peculiarly medical use of the plural is confined to Luke in the New Testament. It denotes successive and varying attacks of fever.

In subsequent times the Maltese were affected by a special sickness due to a microbe in the milk of the goats there; although such organisms would have mutated over the centuries, perhaps a similar illness is in view here. The attacks are intermittent, and the sickness described here is similar to malaria.
(IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press.)

Paul went in to him and prayed and laid his hands on him
In accordance with the promise of the Savior, Mark 16:18.

Either like the laying on of hands in
James 5:14 Prayer of faith  Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well;
  - OR -  
1 Corinthians 12:9 The gift of healing To another gifts of healing by that one Spirit.

 (Verse 8)  Healed =  iaomai (NT:2390)  to heal, cure: Luke 4:18
 (Verse 9)  Healed =  therapeuoo (NT:2323)  1. to serve, do service:  Acts 17:25
 2. to heal, cure, restore to health:
     Matthew 12:10
(from Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

Some suggest that the
"iaomai" in verse 8 indicates miraculous healing by Paul, and
"therapeuoo" is used of the cures by Luke the physician

However, in Luke 6:18 & 19 both words are used to describe Jesus healing the people.

 (Luke 6:18)  Healed =  therapeuoo (NT:2323)  "And they were healed"
 (Luke 6:19)  Healed =  iaomai (NT:2390)  "power went out from Him and
 healed them all"

If both words were used to indicate the healing power of Jesus, then it follows that both indicate that it was the power of God through His vessel Paul that was the source of healing on Malta. It could well have been, in some cases, that healing was not instant, as with the 10 lepers of Luke 17:11-19: "So when He saw them, He said to them, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed."
(Paul the Learner)

Yeshua often laid his hands on the person to be healed (Mark 5:23, 6:5, 16:18; Luke 4:40).
Hananiah Ananias laid his hands on Sha’ul that he might regain his sight (Acts 9:12, 17). See also Acts 5:12.
(from Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern.)

Honored
Timais (NT:5091)  As Dr. Pearce has remarked, it is often used to signify a pecuniary recompense, or present. The Greek word seems to be thus used in 1 Timothy 5:17. "Let the elders which rule well be accounted worthy of double HONOUR,"  which Chrysostom, on the place, explains thus: teen toon anangkaioon choreegian (a supplying them with all necessary things.)  Diodorus Siculus, and Xenophon, used the word in the same way.
(from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

This was not taking hire for the miracles performed among them (Matthew 10:8), but merely accepting such grateful expressions of feeling - particularly in providing what would minister to their comfort during the voyage - as showed the value they set upon the presence and labors of the apostle among them, and which it would have hurt their feelings to refuse. Whether any permanent effects of this three months' stay of the greatest of the apostles were left at Malta, we cannot certainly say. But though little dependence is to be placed upon the tradition that Publius became Bishop of Malta, and afterward of Athens, we may well believe the accredited tradition, that the beginnings of the Christian Church at Malta sprang out of this memorable visit.
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

Four remarkable things: --
I That Paul Should Have Healed And Not Luke
Luke was a physician; t the diary, and said nothing about his own professional talent.
II That The Poorest Should Have Rendered Help To The Richest
Publius was the first man in the island, and Paul the poorest; yet he, the penniless apostle, healed the father of the first man. "The Son of Man had not where to lay His head." What, then, did He give? Himself! He gives who gives life. That is what Paul did here: he gave life; virtue went out of him.
III That The Ministry Upon The Island Was All Healing And No Preaching
That is the glory of the Christian ministry --  it can begin anywhere, at any time, and with any man. Christianity has no dignities to put on, no ceremonies or processes of etiquette through which to pass. It meets men everywhere and says, "All hail! What is your burden, your sorrow, your most urgent need?" One day with Paul would do much towards rearranging and enlarging Christian influence. Did Paul not preach, then, when he healed? Every healing is a sermon; every visit to the poor, paid in the right spirit, is a prayer. Whatever good you do in the name and for the sake of Christ, is a proclamation of Christ.
IV That Grateful Response Which Was Made By The Islanders
How musically the verse reads! Mark the redundancy of the thankfulness! It was not a fee that was claimed; it was a benefaction that was conferred under the inspiration of gratitude.
(from The Biblical Illustrator Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006 Ages Software, Inc. and Biblesoft, Inc.)

HISTORICAL OUTLOOK FROM 400 A. D. BY ARCHBISHOP JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
Homily 54 - Acts 28:1-10
>"Showed," he says, "no little kindness to us-barbarians" (as they were )-"having kindled a fire:" else it were of no use that their lives be saved, if the wintry weather must destroy them. Then Paul having taken brushwood, laid it on the fire. See how active he is; observe how we nowhere find him doing miracles for the sake of doing them, but only upon emergency. Both during the storm when there was a cause he prophesied, not for the sake of prophesying, and here again in the first instance he lays on brushwood:-nothing for vain display, but (with a simple view) to their being preserved, and enjoying some warmth. Then a viper "fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffered not to live." (v. 4.) Well also was this permitted, that they should both see the thing and utter the thought, in order that, when the result ensued, there might be no disbelieving the miracle.
Observe their good feeling (towards the distressed), in saying this (not aloud, but) among themselves-observe (also) the natural judgment clearly expressed even among barbarians, and how they do not condemn without assigning a reason. And these also behold, that they may wonder the more. "And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god." (v. 5, 6.) They expected him, it says, to fall down dead: and again, having seen that nothing of the kind happened to him, they said, He is a god. Again (viz. as in ch. 14:11), another excess on the part of these men.
"In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously. And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him." (v. 7, 8.) Behold again another hospitable man, Publius, who was both rich and of great possessions: he had seen nothing, but purely out of compassion for their misfortune, he received them, and took care of them. So that he was worthy to receive kindness: wherefore Paul as a requital for his receiving them, "healed him. So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed: who also honored us with many honors; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary" (v. 9, 10), both us and the rest.
See how when they were quit of the storm, they did not become more negligent, but what a liberal entertainment was given to them for Paul's sake: and three months were they there, all of them provided with sustenance. See how all this is done for the sake of Paul, to the end that the prisoners should believe, and the soldiers, and the centurion. For if they were very stone, yet from the counsel they heard him giving, and from the prediction they had heard him making, and from the miracles they knew him to have wrought, and from the sustenance they by his means enjoyed, they must have got a very high notion of him. See, when the judgment is right, and not preoccupied by some passion, how immediately it gets right judging’s, and gives sound verdicts. (Archbishop John Chrysostom of.
(from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 1, Volume 11, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

From the Amplified Bible
(7)   In the vicinity of that place there were estates belonging to the head man of the island, named Publius, who accepted and welcomed and entertained us with hearty hospitality for three days.
(8)   And it happened that the father of Publius was sick in bed with recurring attacks of fever and dysentery; and Paul went to see him, and after praying and laying his hands on him, he healed him.
(9)   After this had occurred, the other people on the island who had diseases also kept coming and were cured.
(10)  They showed us every respect and presented many gifts to us, honoring us with many honors; and when we sailed, they provided and put on [board our ship] everything we needed.



PAUL'S  JOURNEY  TO  ROME

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Acts 28:11 & 12
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(11)  After three months we sailed in an Alexandrian ship whose figurehead was the Twin Brothers, which had wintered at the island.

And after three months, we sailed in a ship of Alexandria, that had wintered in the Island, whose sign was the Castors.

(12)  And landing at Syracuse, we stayed three days.

And when we were come to Syracusa, we tarried there three days.


Paul and the party remained on Malta for three months; and, thanks to Paul, they were treated graciously and sent on their way with generous gifts. Since they had lost everything in the shipwreck the passengers were grateful to have their needs supplied. Luke says nothing about evangelism on the island, but we must believe that Paul shared the Gospel with anybody who would listen. His miraculous deliverance from the sea and from the viper, and his power to heal, would certainly arouse the interest of the people; and Paul would want to give the glory to the Lord (Matthew 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.").
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of
Cook Communication Ministries.)

Alexandrian ship
This was another grain boat from Africa sailing for Italy, which had wintered in Malta until it was more safe to sail again.

Twin Brothers
In Greek mythology, "Castor and Pollux" were the names of the twin sons of Zeus and were revered as the protectors of men on the sea. Many Roman slips bore their image as a Plea for safety. Whether all 276 people boarded the Alexandrian ship, or just Julius and his guard and prisoners, we do not know; nor do we know why Luke took such care to identify the ship.
(The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of
Cook Communication Ministries.)

Castor and Pollux were two semi-deities. They were reputed to be twin brothers, sons of Jupiter and Leda, the wife of Tyndarus, king of Sparta. After their death, they are fabled to have been transported to heaven, and made constellations under the name of Gemini, or the Twins. They then received divine honors, and were called the sons of Jupiter. They were supposed to preside over sailors, and to be their protectors; hence it was not uncommon to place their image on ships.
(Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

The seas opened as early as February 8 or as late as March 10, depending on the weather; in the year in view here they seem to open toward the earlier date. Like most ships, this one would have harbored on the other side of the island.
(IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S.
Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press.)

Syracuse
Syracuse was the capital of the island of Sicily, on the eastern coast. It was in the direct course from Malta to Rome. It contains about 18,000 inhabitants.

From the Amplified Bible
(11)  It was after three months' stay there that we set sail in a ship which had wintered in the island, an Alexandrian ship with the Twin Brothers [Castor and Pollux] as its figurehead.
(12)  We landed at Syracuse and remained there three days,

Acts 28:13 & 14
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(13)  From there we circled round and reached Rhegium. And after one day the south wind blew; and the next day we came to Puteoli,

From thence, compassing by the shore, we came to Rhegium: and after one day, the south wind blowing, we came the second day to Puteoli;

(14)  where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome.

Where, finding brethren, we were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went to Rome.


Circled round
They did not have a compass as we do today, so they perielóntes (literally "fetched a compass"). So they followed a zigzag movement technically known as "tacking," or a more irregular course caused by an unfavorable wind as they sailed along the eastern side of Sicily.

It was 80 miles to Syracuse, another 70 to Rhegium, and about 180 to Puteoli, the port of Naples. This time the "south wind" was exactly what they needed in order to make the voyage quickly and safely. In Puteoli, Paul and his friends, along with Julius and the other prisoners and guards, were urged by the believers to stay and rest for a week; and Julius gave his consent. The centurion knew that Paul had saved their lives, and perhaps he was even getting interested in what these Christians had to offer.
(The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook
Communication Ministries.)

Proceeded circuitously, or (in nautical phrase) tacked, working probably to windward (as Mr. Smith thinks), and availing themselves of the sinuosities (bends or curves) of the coast, the wind not being favourable.
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

Rhegium
Rhegium was the Italian harbor closest to Sicily. In the first century, mercantile vessels, including the Alexandrian grain fleet, put in at Puteoli just west of Naples; to have reached it in two days meant that they had made optimum time (about ninety miles a day). It is now called "Reggio."

Puteoli
The wells. This place was celebrated for its warm baths, and from these and its springs it is supposed to have derived its name of The Wells. It is now (circa 1880's) called "Pozzuoli," and is in the Campania of Naples, on the north side of the bay, and about 8 miles northwest from Naples. The town contains at present (circa 1880's) about 10,000 inhabitants.
(Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

The Jewish community in Puteoli had been there a long time, as had Egyptian and Phoenician cults. As the regular port receiving visitors from the East, it naturally received foreign religions as well as goods. Thus it is not surprising to find Christians there; but readers of Luke's day might be more surprised that these Christians offer hospitality to Paul's captors, who accept it from them.
(IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S.
Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press.)

Puteoli had a strong colony of Jews, so it is not surprising that some of them were Messianic.
(Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern.)

From the Amplified Bible
(13)  And from there we made a circuit [following the coast] and reached Rhegium; and one day later a south wind sprang up, and the next day we arrived at Puteoli.
(14)  There we found some [Christian] brethren and were entreated to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome.

Acts 28:15 & 16
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

15 And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.

And from thence, when the brethren had heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum, and the Three Taverns: whom when Paul saw, he gave thanks to God, and took courage.

16 Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him.

And when we were come to Rome, Paul was suffered to dwell by himself, with a soldier that kept him.


Appii Forum and Three Inns
Probably the greater part of the company of Christians remained at Three Inns while the remainder went forward to meet Paul, and to attend him on his way. The Christians at Rome had doubtless heard much of Paul. His Epistle to them had been written about the year of our Lord 57 AD, or at least five years before this time. The interest which the Roman Christians felt in the apostle was thus manifested by their coming so far to meet him, though he was a prisoner.

Appii Forum
Market of Appius, was a town situated at the forty-third milestone on the Appian Road (39 ½ English miles from Rome, a single day's journey for energetic travelers) according to the imperial itineraries (Ant, 108; Hierosol. 611; Geog. Rav. 4,34). Its existence probably dates from the time of Appius Claudius Caecus (Suet. Tib. 2; compare Mommsen, Rom. Forsch., I, 308), who laid out the famous highway from Rome to Capua in 312 B.C.. In the 1 st century it had the rank of a municipality (Pliny, iii.64). Its importance as a highway station is due chiefly to the canal which ran by the side of the road from there to within a short distance of Tarracina (at the sixty-second milestone), affording an alternative means of conveyance (Strabo v.3,6).
(from International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

Three Inns
This place was about 8 or 10 miles nearer Rome than the Appii Forum (Cicero, ad Art., ii. 10). It undoubtedly received its name because it was distinguished as a place of refreshment on the Appian Way. In older times, isolated inns had grown into larger settlements that retained the names of the inns.

Along the Appian Way, Paul and the others would enter Rome's Porta Capena. Paul was loosely chained by the wrist to a soldier (28:20), who would be a member of the Praetorian Guard, Caesar's elite personal guard in Rome, which consisted of nine or twelve cohorts. The Praetorian Guard was commanded by the Praetorian prefect, one of the most powerful men in Rome, who was at this time Afranius Burrus. Burrus was officially responsible for all prisoners from the provinces to be tried by Caesar's court, although the task itself was probably delegated to a lower officer, the princeps castrorum, who administered the Praetorian Guard's officium. Burrus later died with Nero's philosopher-tutor Seneca during Nero's purges ( A.D. 62).
(IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S.
Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press.)

Took courage
Tharsos (NT:2294) - to become confident or courageous in the face of real or possible danger

Jesus himself had exhorted Paul to be of good courage tharsei (Acts 23:11) as he had done the disciples (John 16:33 "be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."). Paul had passed through enough to cause depression, whether he was depressed or not, but he deeply appreciated this kindly sympathy.
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)

Captain of the guard
The Praetorian Guard was commanded by the Praetorian prefect, one of the most powerful men in Rome, who was at this time Afranius Burrus. Burrus was officially responsible for all prisoners from the provinces to be tried by Caesar's court, although the task itself was probably delegated to a lower officer, the princeps castrorum, who administered the Praetorian Guard's officium. Burrus later died with Nero's philosopher-tutor *Seneca during Nero's purges ( A.D. 62).
(from IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press.)

Paul was permitted to dwell by himself
He was permitted to live in a house outside the prison, at his own expense.

This privilege was allowed in the case of the better class of prisoners, not accused of any flagrant offence, on finding security-which in Paul's case would not be difficult among the Christians. The extension of this privilege to the apostle may have been due to the terms in which Festus wrote about him; but far more probably it was owing to the high terms in which Julius spoke of him, and his express intercession in his behalf. Since the soldiers who kept him were relieved periodically, he would thus make the personal acquaintance of a great number of the Praetorian guard; and if he had to appear before the Prefect from time to time, the truth might thus penetrate to those who surrounded the emperor, as we learn from Philippians 1:12-13 that it did (But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ;).
(Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

HISTORICAL OUTLOOK FROM 400 A. D. BY ARCHBISHOP JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
Homily 54 - Acts 28:11-16
"And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux. And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days. And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli: where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome. And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and the Three Taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage." (v. 11-15.) Already the preaching has reached to Sicily: see how it has run through (even to those lands): at Puteoli also they found some: others also came to meet them. Such was the eagerness of the brethren, it nothing disconcerted them, that Paul was in bonds.
But observe also how Paul himself also was affected after the manner of men. For it says, "he took courage, when he saw the brethren." Although he had worked so many miracles, nevertheless even from sight he received an accession (of confidence). From this we learn, that he was both comforted after the manner of men, and the contrary. "And when we came to Rome, Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him." (v. 16.) Leave was given him to dwell by himself. No slight proof this also of his being held in much admiration: it is clear they did not number him among the rest.
(Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 1, Volume 11, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

From the Amplified Bible
(15)  And the [Christian] brethren there, having had news of us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and received new courage.
(16)  When we arrived at Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard, but Paul was permitted to live by himself with the soldier who guarded him.



PAUL'S  MINISTRY  IN  ROME

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Acts 28:17 - 20
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(17)  And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to them: "Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans,

And after the third day, he called together the chief of the Jews. And when they were assembled, he said to them: Men, brethren, I, having done nothing against the people, or the custom of our fathers, was delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans;

(18)  who, when they had examined me, wanted to let me go, because there was no cause for putting me to death.

Who, when they had examined me, would have released me, for that there was no cause of death to me;

(19)  But when the Jews spoke against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar, not that I had anything of which to accuse my nation.

But the Jews contradicting it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had any thing to accuse my nation of.

(20)  For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain."

For this cause therefore I desired to see you, and to speak to you. Because that for the hope of Israel, I am bound with this chain.


The "leaders of the Jews" are leaders of different synagogue communities; no single body ruled over the whole Jewish community in Rome. The Jewish congregations in Rome were all autonomous, and Christians could spread their views among the various synagogues with relative freedom. The Jewish community there had also made many Roman converts and sympathizers (to the chagrin of many male Roman aristocrats). Many of these sympathizers would be happy to embrace a version of the Jewish faith that accepted them fully without circumcision.

Imprisonment and chains were not used as punishments but as a means of detention until trial. Paul continues to emphasize the continuity between the Old Testament message and his own; this point would be important to Jewish leaders and also to Roman readers, who needed to understand that the Jesus movement was rooted in an ancient religion worthy of toleration.
(IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S.
Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press.)

He probably had two objects in this:
one was to vindicate himself from the suspicion of crime, or to convince them that the charges alleged against him were false;
and the other, to explain to them the gospel of Christ.
In accordance with his custom everywhere, he seized the earliest opportunity of making the gospel known to his own countrymen; and he naturally supposed that charges highly unfavorable to his character had been sent forward against him to the Jews at Rome by those in Judea.

As usual Paul first spoke with the Jews (cf. 9:20; 13:5,13:14; 14:1; 17:2,17:10,17:17; 18:4,18:19; 19:8). In this case he called the leaders to meet with him because he could not go to their synagogues.

In his presentation Paul made several significant points:
(1) He was innocent of damaging the Jews or their customs (28:17).
(2) The Roman authorities in Judea thought Paul was innocent (v. 18; cf. 23:29; 25:25; 26:31-32).
(3) Paul's only recourse was to appeal to Caesar because the Jews refused to deal with Paul justly ( cf. 25:11)
(4) This fourth point is a major one: he was not pressing charges against Israel; he only wanted to be acquitted (28:19).
(5) His primary objective in calling the leaders was to talk with them about the hope of Israel. This term and concept was used by Paul a number of times in the last part of Acts (cf. 23:6; 24:15; 26:6-7). The hope of Israel was more than a resurrection; it meant fulfillment of the Old Testament promises to Israel (cf. 26:6-7). Paul firmly believed Jesus is the Messiah of Israel who will return someday and establish Himself as the King of Israel and Lord of the nations (cf. 1:6).
(Bible Knowledge Commentary/Old Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries; Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries.)

The local Jewish leaders. In his three days Sha’ul had arranged with the brothers in the Roman community, of whom he knew many (see Romans 16), to draw up a list of Jewish community leaders; for he would quickly have ascertained what these leaders later said themselves (vv. 21-22), that they knew very little about the Gospel. Thus Sha’ul saw an evangelistic opportunity. The believers in the Roman congregation had apparently not done much to evangelize the 10,000 or more Jews living in Rome (Encyclopedia Judaica 14:242), or they had tried but been ineffective. Perhaps they wished to avoid the sort of persecution some of them might have already experienced in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) when they came to faith at or shortly after Shavu‘ot (2:10), or after the martyrdom of Stephen (8:1-3). Or the persecution alluded to in 18:2&N might have shocked them into silence.

When the Judeans (Greek Ioudaioi) objected. At 26:2, 26:7, 26:21 the same word is rendered “Jews,” because there the contrast is between Jews and Romans. Here, speaking to Jews, Sha’ul is referring specifically to the Jews of Judea, not “the Jews” in general. See John 1:19 ("when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem" ).
(Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern.)

From the Amplified Bible
(17)  Three days after [our arrival], he called together the leading local Jews; and when they had gathered, he said to them, Brethren, though I have done nothing against the people or against the customs of our forefathers, yet I was turned over as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
(18)  After they had examined me, they were ready to release me because I was innocent of any offense deserving the death penalty.
(19)  But when the Jews protested, I was forced to appeal to Caesar, though it was not because I had any charge to make against my nation.
(20)  This is the reason therefore why I have begged to see you and to talk with you, since it is because of the Hope of Israel (the Messiah) that I am bound with this chain.

Acts 28:21 & 22
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(21)  Then they said to him, "We neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren who came reported or spoken any evil of you.

But they said to him: We neither received letters concerning thee from Judea, neither did any of the brethren that came hither, relate or speak any evil of thee.

(22)  But we desire to hear from you what you think; for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere."

But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest; for as concerning this sect, we know that it is every where contradicted.


Unable to win their case in Judea, Paul's accusers would have even less chance in Rome. By A.D. 62 A.D., the Jewish community in Rome had an advocate with the emperor in his wife (former mistress) Poppaea Sabina — until Nero kicked her to death while she was pregnant. It is by no means clear that the Roman Jewish community was uniformly hostile to the Christian movement (28:24), but they naturally had questions, especially if their previous expulsion in was due to Christian teachings.
(IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S.
Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press.)

Paul's greatest concern was his witness to the Jews in Rome. They had received no special word about Paul, but they did know that the "Christian sect" was being spoken against in many places (Acts 28:21-22). When you read Paul's letter to the Romans, you get the impression that the Jews in Rome had misunderstood some of his teachings (Romans 3:8; 14:1 ff.)
(The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook
Communication Ministries.)

Why the Jews in Judea had not forwarded the accusation against Paul to their brethren at Rome, that they might continue the prosecution before the emperor, is not known. It is probable that they regarded their cause as hopeless, and chose to abandon the prosecution. Paul had been acquitted successively by Lysias, Felix, Festus, and Agrippa; and as they had not succeeded in procuring his condemnation before them, they saw no prospect of doing it at Rome, and resolved, therefore, not to press the prosecution any further.
(Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

These Jewish leaders were very open-minded, more so than today's usually are. The situation in Rome was different from the others described in the book of Acts, where very quickly the non-Messianic Jewish community took a hostile position against the Messianics. Somehow the Roman believers avoided such a clash with the non-Messianic synagogues, so that at Sha’ul's arrival they were willing to listen and not immediately opposed.
(Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern.)

A saying of Justin Martyr casts some light on this saying of the Jews: he asserts that the Jews not only cursed them in their synagogues, but they sent out chosen men from Jerusalem, to acquaint the world, and particularly the Jews everywhere, that the Christians were an atheistical and wicked sect, which should be detested and abhorred by all mankind. Justin Martyr, Dial. p. 234.
(Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

Three great factors in Paul's favor:
1. No letters of complaint from the Jews in Judea. This proves that the Jews in Judea knew that their case against Paul was hopeless. Being frustrated in killing him with their own hands, they decided to let the matter drop. They had no real case to present to Caesar.
2. All that came from Judea on the journey with Paul were for him.
3. The law and the prophets supported Paul's teachings (Acts 28:23-24).
(Dake Annotated Reference Bible © 2007 by Dake Publishing. All rights reserved in U.S.A. and Other Countries.)

From the Amplified Bible
(21)  And they answered him, We have not received any letters about you from Judea, and none of the [Jewish] brethren coming here has reported or spoken anything evil about you.
(22)  But we think it fitting and are eager to hear from you what it is that you have in mind and believe and what your opinion is, for with regard to this sect it is known to all of us that it is everywhere denounced.

Acts 28:23 & 24
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(23)  So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.

And when they had appointed him a day, there came very many to him unto his lodgings; to whom he expounded, testifying the kingdom of God, and persuading them concerning Jesus, out of the law of Moses and the prophets, from morning until evening.

(24)  And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved.

And some believed the things that were said; but some believed not.


The apostle made it clear that his appeal to Caesar must not be interpreted as an indictment against his nation. Actually, he was a prisoner on behalf of his nation and "the hope of Israel." On the day appointed, Paul spent "from morning till evening" explaining the Scriptures and revealing Christ in the Law and the Prophets. He had "dialogued" this way with the Jews in one synagogue after another, and now he was sharing the Word with the leaders of many synagogues in Rome.
(The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook
Communication Ministries.)

Surely this all-day session in which large numbers of “local Jewish leaders” (v. 17) of the capital of the world came to visit the world's leading evangelist in order to hear about Messianic Judaism must be unique in world history. Sha’ul's procedure with them was the same as with Jewish people everywhere: he appealed to the Tanakh Old Testament, making use of both the Torah of Moshe and the Prophets to persuade them about Yeshua. Sha’ul could use the Scriptures freely, since many of the Jewish leaders probably knew them by heart.

But Sha’ul's central topic was the Kingdom of God. This term (and its equivalent, “Kingdom of Heaven”) is used frequently in the Gospels (see Mt 3:2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!").

At 15:10 a paragraph from the Mishna was cited in which Jews are enjoined to accept “the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven” (acknowledging God and who he is) even before accepting “the yoke of the mitzvot.” Rather than presenting the Gospel as something alien or superior to Judaism, Sha’ul discusses a topic well known to his audience of Jewish leaders; and his object is to expand their conception of it by his thorough witness. Sha’ul must have spent hours explaining what the whole New Testament teaches, namely, that at this point in history accepting “the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven” implies accepting the entire Gospel. God's active and present ruler-ship is expressed through the Messiah-ship and Lordship of Yeshua, the salvation he brings to humanity, and the improvement he brings to the inner lives and outward behavior of believers through the continuing work of the Holy Spirit (“sanctification”).

Some were convinced by what he said, while others refused to believe (Greek apisteœ, “disbelieve, refuse to believe, be unfaithful”). Of the “large numbers” of Jewish leaders present,
“some” Greek oi men, “these, on the one hand” — were persuaded and
“some” Greek oi de, “these, on the other” — disbelieved, refused to believe.
The “some” and the “some” are correlative, of comparable size, of more or less the same order of magnitude. What may reasonably be concluded, therefore, is that the whole leadership of Rome's Jewish community was well represented by the “large numbers,” and that a sizeable proportion of them, though not necessarily half, were persuaded of the truth of Messianic Judaism then and there. This is why I say that the meeting must be unique in world history — I know of no other reported instance of a sizeable proportion of a major Jewish community's leadership coming to faith in the Gospel in one day.
(Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern.)
 
From the Amplified Bible
(23)  So when they had set a day with him, they came in large numbers to his lodging. And he fully set forth and explained the matter to them from morning until night, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
(24)  And some were convinced and believed what he said, and others did not believe.

Acts 28:25-29
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(25)  So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: "The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers,

And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed. Paul speaking this one work: Well did the Holy Ghost speak to our fathers by Isaias the prophet,

(26)  saying,
'Go to this people and say:
'Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand;
And seeing you will see, and not perceive
;


 

Saying,

'Go to this people, and say to them:
With the ear you shall hear, and shall not understand:
and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive.
(27)

For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them
."'


For the heart of this people is grown gross,
and with their ears have they heard heavily,
and their eyes they have shut;
lest perhaps they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears,
and understand with their heart, and should be converted,
and I should heal them
.'

(28)  "Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!"

Be it known therefore to you, that this salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it.

(29)  And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves.

And when he had said these things, the Jews went out from him, having much reasoning among themselves.


Paul's citation of Isaiah 6 climaxes a theme throughout Acts: that most of God's own chosen people reject their Messiah while Gentiles accept him is not amazing but the fulfillment of Scripture.
(IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S.
Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press.)

One word = one declaration

From the Jewish New Testament Commentary:
So they left, disagreeing among themselves. The Gospel properly proclaimed always causes division, because those who believe it and those who do not have different world-outlooks (see 20:3, Matthew 10:34-36, John 7:43 N). Since those who were persuaded were leaders, they surely returned to their synagogues and communicated the Gospel themselves; so that in due time, especially with Sha’ul's continued teaching over the next two years (v. 30), entire synagogues must have become Messianic. A “people-movement” took place in Rome, a movement in which entire families and communities were won to the Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Though we are not told this directly, the indications are present: an openness to the Gospel rather than a predisposition against it, leaders being persuaded, substantial numbers being involved, broad community participation, respect for the evangelist and Spirit-blessed ministry.
Sha’ul's final statement quoting Isaiah 6:9-10 is not an imprecation, an anathema, or a curse, but a warning to the some who refused to believe, a last word of persuasion recalling the events that took place in Yesha‘yahu's day and which are repeated whenever people harden their hearts. Like Pharaoh, who hardened his heart too often, God eventually seals and makes final the hardening, so that it becomes impossible for the person to do t’shuvah (in earlier editions of the JNT, return to God), that is, “repent”; see Matthew 3:2 N, 13:13-15 N, John 12:40 N, Romans 9:17-21&NN. Heeding the quotation prevents suffering its consequences.
This salvation of God has been sent to the Goyim (Gentiles) and they will listen! From 1:8&N we have seen that one purpose, perhaps the main purpose, of the book of Acts has been to show that the Gospel would spread “to the ends of the earth” and permeate the Gentile peoples. Some Christians have gone beyond this and claimed to see in the book of Acts the rejection of the Gospel by “the Jews,” so that God rejected them and turned to the Gentiles, who gladly received the message. It is a fact that God's truth and his promises became available to Gentiles in a new way as a result of what God did during the early years of the Messianic Community, as reported in the book of Acts; for it was decided that Gentiles did not have to become Jews in order to become Christians (10:1-11:18&NN, 15:1-29&NN, 21:20-27&NN). Also it is a fact that Gentiles in substantial numbers believed the Gospel. Nevertheless, as we have just seen, Jews continued accepting Yeshua as Israel's Messiah right up to the very day on which the words of this verse were spoken. God had not rejected Jewish people as unworthy of the Gospel (see Romans 11:1 ff.).
Some argue that the destruction of Yerushalayim in 70 C. E. closed the age of God's dealings with the Jews, and that Rome, the Gentile capital of the world, was to be the new center for propagating God's truth. Cited as evidence is that the book of Acts starts in Yerushalayim and ends in Rome. Certainly Rome became and remains the center for the largest Christian denomination, the Roman Catholic Church. But Jerusalem has never ceased to be the holy city, “beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth” (Psalm 48:3(2)), reverenced by three monotheistic religions. Now, after being “trampled down by the Goyim” for 1,897 years, it is at last once more in the hands of the Jewish people (since 1967); and with the apparent fulfillment of Yeshua's prophecy concerning this (Luke 21:24&N "And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.") it should, at the very least, be clear to all that God is continuing his work with the Jewish people.
The proper perspective is this: the Gospel was to move out from Jerusalem and the Jews to the Gentiles in “the ends of the earth,” that is, to Rome and beyond. This was a new work of God, though not without antecedents, since Jews had been making proselytes for centuries (see Esther 8:17, Mt 23:15&N). It is not that “the Jews” were rejected but that the Gentiles were accepted (Ephesians 2:11-16&NN). This message shocked many Jews, and some Jews today still look down on Christianity as an “easy religion” not worthy of Jewish credence. This is why it was necessary to have the longest book in the New Testament deal with the question; and the answer of the book of Acts is that despite some Jewish resistance, God is bringing his truth to Gentiles and they are being included in the people of God without converting to Judaism. Yet the Jews are no less God's people—“with respect to being chosen they are loved for the Patriarchs' sake, for God's free gifts and his calling are irrevocable” (Romans 11:28-29).
This verse, not found in the best manuscripts, adds little, since we know that “they left, disagreeing among themselves” (v. 25), and obviously Sha’ul's parting shot did nothing to mute the debate!
(Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern.)

From the UBS New Testament Handbook
In Greek, verse 26 begins a participle (literally "saying"), which the TEV has rendered for he said. The Old Testament passage cited in these verses is Isaiah 6:9-10, and, as quoted here, it is almost word-for-word agreement with the Septuagint. Both in Isaiah and in its use in Acts the phrase to this people is a specific reference to the Jewish people.
Listen and listen...look and look (JB "hear and hear...see and see") translate Hebraic idioms which indicate intensive action. The contrast between listening and understanding, and between looking and perceiving, may be rendered in some languages as
"though you listen and listen you will not understand, and
though you look and look you will not perceive."
In Hebrew thought the heart was the center of the intellectual activity. One should not translate the term dull in this type of context to mean that the people's minds are simply below normal in intelligence. It is not their lack of intellectual capacity, but their stubborn refusal to understand what their senses tell them. Basically what is required here is an idiom which indicates refusal to comprehend. In some languages this is rendered as "because these people do not wish to understand."
The Hebraic idiom "they hear with ears of heaviness" has been transformed into an English idiom: they have stopped up their ears. This expression stopped up their ears may be rendered as "covered over their ears," "have put something in their ears," or even "have closed their ears."
Two other Semitic idioms, "lest they should see with their eyes...hear with their ears," have also been transformed into more natural English expressions: otherwise, their eyes would see, their ears would hear.
In some languages it is necessary to specify the relationship of the last two lines of verse 27 to what has preceded. This can be indicated as "and as a result they might turn to me."
The verb heal should be understood in the broadest possible sense, since it should include not just physical healing but spiritual transformation as well-for example, "cause them to be well again."
(UBS New Testament Handbook Series. Copyright © 1961-1997, by United Bible Societies.)

From the Amplified Bible
(25)  And as they disagreed among themselves, they began to leave, [but not before] Paul had added one statement [more]: The Holy Spirit was right in saying through Isaiah the prophet to your forefathers:
(26)  Go to this people and say to them, You will indeed hear and hear with your ears but will not understand, and you will indeed look and look with your eyes but will not see [not perceive, have knowledge of or become acquainted with what you look at, at all].
(27)  For the heart (the understanding, the soul) of this people has grown dull (stupid, hardened, and calloused), and their ears are heavy and hard of hearing and they have shut tight their eyes, so that they may not perceive and have knowledge and become acquainted with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their souls and turn [to Me and be converted], that I may heal them. [Isaiah 6:9,10.]
(28)  So let it be understood by you then that [this message of] the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen [to it]! [Psalms 67:2.]
(29)  And when he had said these things, the Jews went away, arguing and disputing among themselves.

Acts 28:30 & 31
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(30)  Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him,

And he remained two hole years in his own hired lodging: and he received all that came in to him.

(31)  preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.

Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, without prohibition.


At the end of two years, if no accusers had arrived and no charges had been sent against him (28:21), Paul would normally be automatically released. Paul was later arrested again and beheaded, but Luke wishes to end on a note of positive legal precedent, before the corruptions of Roman law introduced by Nero's tyranny.

That Paul could preach under the very nose of the Praetorian Guard suggests that, before Nero instituted his persecution against Christians for political reasons, they were tolerated under Roman law. Luke's defense of Christianity on legal and philosophical grounds paved the way for second-century defenders of Christianity and points the way for Christian lawyers, statespersons and others to work in society today.
(IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S.
Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press.)

It is said that during his two years' residence here he became acquainted with Seneca, the philosopher, between whom and the apostle an epistolary correspondence took place. In an ancient manuscript of Seneca's epistles in my own possession, these letters are extant, and are in number fourteen and have a prologue to them written by Jerome.
(Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

Paul kept "open house" and received anybody who wanted to discuss the flings of the kingdom of God. He was chained to a guard who was relieved every six hours, but who was forced to listen as Paul preached and taught and prayed. No wonder some of them were saved! (Philippians 1:12-14; 4:22)
Philippians 1:12-14

But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
NKJV)

Philippians 4:22

All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household.
(NKJV)

He expected to be released (Philippians 1:23-27; 2:24; Philemon 22)
Philippians 1:23-27

For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again. Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,
(NKJV)

Philippians 2:24

But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.
(NKJV)

Philemon 22

But, meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you.
(NKJV)

and most students agree that he was. During this time, he had Timothy with him (Philippians 1:1; 2:19; Colossians 1:1)
Philippians 1:1

For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again. Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,
(NKJV)

Philippians 2:19

But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.
(NKJV)

Colossians 1:1

But, meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you.
(NKJV)

as well as John Mark, Luke, Aristarchus: Epaphras, Justus, and Demas (Colossians 4:10-14; Philemon 24).
Colossians 4:10-14

Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him), and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me.
Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis. Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you.
(NKJV)

Philemon 23, 24

Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.
(NKJV)

He also met Philemon's runaway slave Onesimus and led him to faith in Christ (Philemon 10-21).
Philippians 1:12-14

But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
(NKJV)

Philippians 4:22

All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household.
(NKJV)

Epaphroditus brought a gift to him from the Philippian church and almost died ministering to Paul (Philippians 2:25-30; 4:18).
Philippians 2:25-30

Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.
(NKJV)

Philippians 4:18

Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.
(NKJV)

Tychicus was Paul's "mailman" who delivered Ephesians (Ephesians 6:21), Colossians, and Philemon
(Colossians 4:7-9).
Ephesians 6:21, 22

But that you also may know my affairs and how I am doing, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make all things known to you; whom I have sent to you for this very purpose, that you may know our affairs, and that he may comfort your hearts.
(NKJV)

Colossians 4:7-9

Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts, with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you all things which are happening here.
(NKJV)


The majority of theological authorities agree that it was during these 2 years in Rome that Paul wrote the "Prison Epistles:"
Philippians,
Ephesians,
Colossians, and
Philemon
However, Barnes (Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database by Biblesoft) suggests that during this time, according to Lardner, the following epistles were written:
Ephesians April of 61 AD
2 Timothy May of 61 AD
Philippians before the end of 62 AD
Colossians 62 AD
Philemon 62 AD
Hebrews Spring of 63 AD
Matthew Henry (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary, Electronic Database by Biblesoft) suggests that during this time the apostle wrote the epistles to:
Ephesians,
Philippians,
Colossians, and
Hebrews.
David H. Stern (Jewish New Testament Commentary) says that these were written during this time:
Philippians,
Ephesians and
Colossians

HISTORICAL OUTLOOK FROM 400 A. D. BY ARCHBISHOP JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
Homily 54, 55 - Acts 28:16-31
Leave was given him to dwell by himself. No slight proof this also of his being held in much admiration: it is clear they did not number him among the rest. "And it came to pass, that after three days he called together them that were the chief of the Jews." After three days he called the chief of the Jews, that their ears might not be preoccupied. And what had he in common with them? for they would not (else) have been like to accuse him. Nevertheless, it was not for this that he cared; it was for the teaching that he was concerned, and that what he had to say might not offend them. He wished to exculpate both himself and others; himself, that they might not accuse him, and by so doing hurt themselves; and those others, that it might not seem that the whole thing was of their doing. For it was likely that a report was prevalent, that he had been delivered up by the Jews; and this was enough to alarm them.
He therefore addresses himself to this, and defends himself as to his own conduct. "How then is it reasonable," it might be said, "that they should deliver thee up without a cause?" The Roman governors, he says, bear me witness, who wished to let me go. "How was it then that they did not let (thee) go?" "When the Jews spake against it," he says. Observe how he extenuates (in speaking of) their charges against him. Since if he had wished to aggravate matters, he might have used them so as to bear harder upon them. Wherefore, he says, "I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar:" so that his whole speech is of a forgiving nature. What then? didst thou this, that thou mightest accuse them? No, he says: "Not that I had aught to accuse my nation of:" but that I might escape the danger. For it is for your sakes "that I am bound with this chain."
So far am I, he says, from any hostile feeling towards you. Then they also were so subdued by his speech, that they too apologized for those of their own nation: "And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came showed or spake any harm of thee." (v. 21.) Neither through letters, nor through men, have they made known any harm of thee. Nevertheless, we wish to hear from thyself: "But we desire to hear of thee what thou Thinkest" (v. 22): and then forestalled him by showing their own sentiments. "For as concerning this sect, it is known to us, that everywhere it is spoken against. And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the Law of Moses and out of the Prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not." (v. 23, 24.)
They said not, we speak against it, but "it is spoken against." Then he did not immediately answer, but gave them a day, and they came to him, and he discoursed, it says, "both out of the Law of Moses, and out of the Prophets. And some believed, and some be-believed not. And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: for the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them." (v. 25-27.) But when they departed, as they were opposed to each other, then he reproaches them, not because he wished to reproach those (that believed not), but to confirm these (that believed).
"Well said Esaias," says he to them. So that to the Gentiles it is given to know this mystery. No wonder then, if they did gainsay: this was foretold from the first. Then again he moves their jealousy (on the score) of them of the Gentiles.
"Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves. And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him. Amen." (v. 28-31.) It shows the freedom he had now: without hindrance in Rome, he who had been hindered in Judea; and he remained teaching there for two years.
from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 1, Volume 11, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

The rather abrupt ending of the book of Acts has been variously explained. Some have maintained that Luke had intended to write a third volume to record the trial and release of Paul and his subsequent missionary travels, but for some reason was prevented from carrying out his purpose. Another possible explanation is that Acts was written during the two-year imprisonment, for we know from Philemon 24 and Colossians 4:14 that Luke was with Paul during this interval in Rome. It is likely that Luke had gathered material for his narrative about the early church during the two years of Paul's detention in Caesarea and composed the book of Acts during these two years in Rome. In this case, the narrative ends as it does because it had caught up with history, and at the moment there was nothing more to record.
(from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1962 by Moody Press. All rights reserved.)

As always, Sha’ul supported himself and did not rely on others, especially not on young and struggling Messianic congregations. In this respect he was like other rabbis of his day. See 18:3. Openly and without hindrance proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Yeshua the Messiah (see v. 23&N). The perfect note on which to end the book, whose purpose is secondarily historical and primarily inspirational. Even though under house arrest awaiting trial, Sha’ul was free—free for the one thing that gave meaning to his life, proclaiming the Gospel. By his life as well as his words he showed forth the Messiah in him; he was
“a light to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 49:6)
and to Jews too.
(Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern.)

From the Amplified Bible
(30)  After this Paul lived there for two entire years [at his own expense] in his own rented lodging, and he welcomed all who came to him,
(31 Preaching to them the kingdom of God and teaching them about the Lord Jesus Christ with boldness and quite openly, and without being molested or hindered.


THE END ... AND YET ... THE BEGINNING




(End of Chapter Twenty Eight)

 

Bibliography
 

 


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