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Bible Commentaries
Acts 28

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verses 1-6


The Island was called Malta. Also called Melita, but not to be confused with the Melita on the coast of Illyricum. This is the island south of Sicily. It is about sixty miles in circumference. The natives. BARBAROI does not mean barbarians as we use the word today, but simply means they could not speak Greek (compare note on Acts 21:37). “Natives” is the more accurate translation. [The modern people of Malta speak an Arabic pidgin, which has elements of Italian and English.] So they built a fire. This shows they were kind and considerate people. Paul gathered up. He did not stand and watch but helped. A snake came out. A poisonous snake, perhaps like the “stinging snakes” God sent among the Israelites (Numbers 21:6). This man must be a murderer. They believed God used poisonous snakes to punish the guilty. Therefore, they believe Paul to be guilty of some horrible crime. He is a god! This is the opposite of what happened at Lystra (Acts 14:18-19). They expected Paul’s hand to swell, and to see him fall dead. Paul had the special gifts from the Holy Spirit, and this showed his authority from God (compare Mark 16:17-18). Not every one was given the same gift (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-11), and probably only a few had them (Acts 8:15-18).

Verses 7-10


The chief of the island. Publius is probably the Roman governor of the island. It would be his duty to take care of the Roman officer, soldiers, and their prisoners as well. He was kind and generous to them. Publius’ father was in bed. Seriously ill. Paul uses his power to heal the man. [The apostles had the complete set of gifts from the Spirit. The power to heal the sick was one of these. Those not apostles received only one gift (2 Timothy 1:6).] When this happened. This brought all the people to Paul. He healed the sick, and certainly used this opportunity to preach Christ to them as well. They gave Paul and the others all the supplies they needed to continue on to Rome.

Verses 11-14


After three months. This would be either February or March. The worst weather would be over. The Twin Gods. This is the literal translation. Castor and Pollux were known as “The Twin Gods,” and were favorite sea-gods of the sailors. Their carved figures or images were mounted on the bow of the ship as figureheads. Syracuse. About eighty miles north, on the island of Sicily. Three days. Alexandrian ship usually stopped here, but they may have been waiting for a good wind. From there we sailed on. Some Greek manuscripts imply a wandering route to catch the shifting winds, but the best manuscripts say they simply lifted anchor and sailed on. Rhegium. On the point of the “toe” of Italy. They stayed one day, and then a south wind blew. Puteoli. On the bay, near Naples. This, and Ostia, near Rome, were where the grain ships came in. We found some believers there. There was a church at Rome and many believers in Italy at this time (compare Romans 16:0). This congregation is in a busy seaport on the route from Palestine to Rome. Who asked us to stay. To eat the Lord’s Supper. Compare note on Acts 21:4. Julius permits this.

Verses 15-16


The brothers in Rome heard about us. They already had Paul’s Letter to the Romans, and probably there were some of his own converts in this group. His week in Puteoli gives them time to hear and come to meet him on the road. Market of Appius is forty-three miles from Rome. Three Inns is thirty-three miles from Rome. From Puteoli to Rome is about 135 miles. He thanked God. Paul is a prisoner, traveling on the crowded Appian Way. He is happy to see the brothers from Rome. Paul was allowed to live by himself. He was not put in prison with the others. This was God’s providence!!! It is not likely Paul expected to come to Rome as a prisoner of the Roman government. But look at the results! He was permitted to live in the city, and he had an armed guard with him at all times (something he could not have bought). He was chained to the guard with a light chain, but he could and did talk freely with all who came to him. He could preach and teach, and those Jews who were his enemies could not touch him!!!

Verses 17-22


After three days. Notice he could not “sit still.” Likely the first three days had been spent visiting with the believers. Now he gets down to work! The local Jewish leaders. About the time Christ was born, there were 8,000 Jews in Rome. Emperor Claudius had ejected them in 50 A.D. (Acts 18:2), but they had been allowed to return in a short time. Just now, Nero’s wife Poppaea was a “Gentile converted to Judaism.” The leaders would include synagogue elders, teachers of the Law, and the heads of the most important families. My brothers! Luke may give us a condensed version of what Paul says, or Paul may have said it just like this. He explains why he is a prisoner. For the sake of him. The hope if Israel was the Messiah! See note on Acts 22:22. We have not received any letters. That is, any official word about Paul. They certainly knew of him and the charges made against him. But we would like to hear your ideas. What they have heard makes them want to find out more about Paul’s teaching. People speak against. Such people as those Jews who wanted to kill Paul. But the foundation was then being laid for the horrible things Emperor Nero would do to persecute the Christians in just a few years.

Verses 23-29


So they set a date with Paul. A large number came to hear what he would say. He tried to convince them. Paul used the Law of Moses and the writings of the prophets to preach Christ to them. Some of them were convinced. Faith comes through the message about Christ (Romans 10:17). Each of them responded – either to believe, or to disbelieve. After Paul had said this one thing. This seems to imply that most of them disbelieved. How well! This is from Isaiah 6:9-10. This quotation is found six times in the Gospels, here in Acts, and once in Romans. It is a horrible prediction of God’s judgment on those who refuse to believe. See notes on Matthew 13:14-17. These words are the one final thing Paul says to them before going to the Gentiles. The Jews left, arguing violently. Even those who disbelieved, could not put Christ out of their minds.

* Some MSS add Acts 28:29 : After he said this, the Jews left, arguing vigorously among themselves.

Verses 30-31


For two years Paul lived there. Christians in Rome and other places supported Paul during this time (compare Philippians 4:18 and note). Paul was able to do a great work here at Rome! This was God’s providence in action (see note on Acts 28:16). Paul’s career ends here in Acts. Traditional history says he was released from his imprisonment, and made touts of missions to Spain and to the East. But Scripture tells us nothing of this. Later he was again accused by his Jewish enemies, this time to be put in the common prison, during which time he wrote 2 Timothy. Just a few months after that, he was executed at Rome in 67 or 68 A.D. Ramsay says Paul had been a Christian for 35 years, and was sixty-eight years of age when he was executed.

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Acts 28". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/acts-28.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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