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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Acts 28

 

 

Verses 1-6

Acts 28:1-6. The Inhabitants of Malta.—The inhabitants of Malta were of Phoenician extraction; they are called barbarians in Acts 28:2, as they spoke another language than Greek; inscriptions in two languages are found in the island. The date of the landing was before the middle of November (Acts 27:9; Acts 27:27), and the weather was cold, a miserable situation but for the kindness of the inhabitants. For Paul's sentiments on such an occasion, see 2 Corinthians 1:4 and that epistle generally, written about a year before this. But all that is told us of him is that he gathered some sticks, and what came out of them (cf. Mark 16:18). Ramsay (Luke the Physician, pp. 63-65) identifies the snake as Coronella Austriaca, a constrictor without poison fangs, similar in size and appearance to the viper. It was not the first time that Paul had been taken for a god; cf. Acts 14:11 f.


Verses 7-10

Acts 28:7-10. Visit to Publius.—The "chief" man of the island is in the Gr. the "first" man, an official title, found on inscriptions in Malta (p. 614). The cure of his father by Paul is effected by prayer and imposition of hands (cf. Acts 9:12; Acts 9:17). Paul believed in his own power to do such things (2 Corinthians 12:12), and in the gift of healing given to other believers (1 Corinthians 12:9); see also James 5:14. It is not necessary to suppose that there was a physician in the party.


Verses 11-15

Acts 28:11-15. Journey from Malta to Rome.—"Three months" brings us to the middle of February, which is before the opening of navigation. They had doubtless seen the Dioscuri, Heavenly Twins, a ship like that in which they were wrecked, and making the same voyage from Alexandria to Italy. A day's sail would bring them to Syracuse. From Syracuse to Rhegium they had not a S. wind, and if the text is correct they had to tack. The mg., "they east loose," adopted by WH, is too trivial a statement. After a day at Rhegium (now Reggio), the wind sprang up which they wanted, and they sailed in a day to Puteoli, where the passengers landed.

The journey is not like that of a prisoner on his way to trial, as Preuschen remarks, but like that of a missionary whose time is at his own disposal. The centurion has disappeared out of the story, and only comes forward again in Acts 28:16 (mg.). Paul is twice said to have come to Rome (Acts 28:14 and Acts 28:16). Ramsay suggests that the first time it is to the "Ager Romanus" that he comes, the Roman territory, marked, no doubt, in some way at its border. But Acts 28:15 is against this; the brethren did not come from the Roman territory to meet Paul, but from Rome itself, we must presume. The writer seems to be working from two sources, the one telling of Paul's coming to Rome as Acts 28:14 f. does, and the other which presents him as a prisoner in Acts 28:16. Appii Forum on the Appian Road is 40 miles, "Three Taverns" 30 miles, from Rome. We may suppose Paul to have been glad to meet some of those he had lately addressed in the greatest of his letters, but the narrative is abbreviated. We find the centurion again (Acts 28:16), who in some codices (mg.) hands over his prisoners to the stratopedarch, i.e. not the commander of the prtorian guard but the officer in charge of the communications between the legions of the provinces and headquarters. Paul's confinement is easy; he must have been in command of resources (p. 772). He lives in a lodging of his own, chained, no doubt to the soldier who guarded him.


Verses 17-21

Acts 28:17-21. Interview with the Jews at Rome.

Acts 28:30 is continuous with Acts 28:16. In Acts 28:17-29 the programme ascribed to Paul in Ac., that he addresses the Jews first, the Gentiles when the Jews have proved unbelieving, is exhibited in a conspicuous instance. The relations of Paul with the Christians at Rome (Acts 28:15) are not mentioned again. On his arrival he at once (Acts 28:17) summons the principal Jews and defends himself to them as he had done in Acts 24:12 against the charge of attacking the Law. The end of Acts 28:17 is a perversion of the facts as placed before us in ch. 21; the Jews are represented as arresting Paul at Jerusalem and handing him over to the Romans at some other place. Claudius Lysias is quite forgotten. The verdict of the Roman officials on his case is correctly reflected in Acts 28:18, and his appeal to Csar is stated as in Acts 25:11. Speaking to Jews he forgets the plot made against him (Acts 25:2 f.). Acts 28:20 repeats the claim (Acts 23:6, Acts 24:15, Acts 26:7) that it is for believing in the Resurrection that he is a prisoner. Cf. p. 777.

The reply of the Jews in Acts 28:21 is curious in view of the charges made by Jews since the beginning of his European mission (Acts 17:6 f., Acts 21:20 f., Acts 21:28, Acts 24:5) against which he constantly defends himself. Their politeness must have put a strain on their conscience if they spoke as here reported; or is it the writer of Ac. who thus prepares the scene which is to exhibit them as deliberately rejecting the Gospel? Though they have heard no evil of Paul, they have heard of his sect, but for Paul's sake they are willing to listen to its doctrine.


Verses 23-28

Acts 28:23-28. The Jews are Hardened.—It was a numerous meeting; we can scarcely understand the words to mean that more came the second time than the first. "The kingdom of God" is a wide phrase for the Christian doctrine which began with the announcement of the nearness of God's rule (cf. Acts 1:3). The doctrine about Jesus, supported by texts from the Law and the Prophets, is appropriate to the audience, and sums up what the writer considered to be the essence of Christian preaching (cf. Luke 24:44). But they must have heard it all before; the occasion could not have such tragic importance for them as Paul's quotation of Isaiah 6:9 f. (LXX) suggests. The passage appears in the Gospels in controversy with the Jews; see Mark 4:12*, John 12:40; also 1 Clem. 3:3, Justin, Dial. 12 and 28. The words added in mg. (Acts 28:29) are a repetition of Acts 28:24 f., and are out of place after the verdict on the Jews given in the quotation. In Romans 1:14 Paul does not profess himself debtor to the Jews; the word "first" in Romans 1:16 is given by WH in brackets.


Verse 30

Acts 28:30 f. Conclusion.—These verses take up Acts 28:16 and show us Paul carrying on his mission in Rome undisturbed, preaching as in Acts 28:23. Here the book ends: if the writer has information about the trial and the death of Paul, he does not enter upon it. If Ac. appeared in the reign of Domitian, the closing words are very effective. Cf. p. 772.

(See also Supplement)

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Acts 28:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/acts-28.html. 1919.

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Thursday, December 5th, 2019
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