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Bible Commentaries
Acts 28

Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NTLuscombe's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

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

1. Meeting the natives of this island, they now learn where they are.

2. The island is called Malta. Malta is about 60 miles from the coast of Sicily. It is about 20 miles east and west and about 12 miles north and south.

3. The name of the island is from a word for honey. Malta is known for the sweet honey produced there.

Verse 2

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.

1. The KJV calls them "barbarians." This term was a reference to their language. All tribes or groups which did not speak Latin (Roman language) or Greek (common language of the empire) - then they must be barbarians. This word is used in Rom_1:14 , where Paul says he is a debtor to the Greeks and barbarians.

2. The storm is not over. It is still raining. It is still cold. And all the men from the ship are weak, hungry, exhausted, and cold. A fire is built to dry their clothes and warm their bodies.

Verse 3

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.

1. Of course this island had been in this storm. It was cold and wet.

2. Paul is helping to find sticks and wood that will burn.

3. Among the sticks is a poisonous snake. It is dormant because of the cold.

4. But when the snake is thrown into the fire, it quickly moves into action. It attaches itself to Paul's hand.

Verse 4

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. "

1. Everyone saw the snake. The natives are very aware of this snake and the danger it poses.

2. Their first reaction - Justice is served. Here is a murderer getting what he deserves. Even though he survived the storm and shipwreck, he will now die for his crimes.

Verse 5

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

1. He shook off the creature. This is the natural reaction to being bitten.

2. The snake is back in the fire - and apparently dies.

3. But Paul seems to suffer no illness or trauma from this snake bite.

4. NOTE: There are many things that "attack" us and are a source of pain. We must learn to "shake off" these things.

1. We must learn to shake off the unwarranted attacks against us.

2. We must learn to shake off the gossip and rumors about us.

3. We must learn to shake off the problems that are beyond our control.

4. We must learn to shake off the doubts that arise in times of crisis.

5. We must learn to shake off moments of fear.

6. We must shake off the anger that arises in our hearts.

Verse 6

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.

1. The natives are not in "wait and see" mode. They know that very quickly the venom from this snake will cause swelling, and death. Any minute now they expect Paul to show the effects of the poison.

2. Enough time passed that Paul should have died, and didn't. Now, the natives change their minds. They do a 180.

3. To survive this snake bite, he must be a god.

Verse 7

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.

1. We are now introduced to Publius. He is a "chief man" on this part of the island. This may refer to his wealth or to a position of power. Many believe he is the governor of this island, or at least this part of the island.

2. It is clear that he has enough room to house many, if not all of the shipwrecked soldiers and prisoners.

Verse 8

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 hands on him, and healed him.

1. The father of this prominent man is very sick. Luke, the physician, tells us that he has a high fever and dysentery. Adam Clarke suggests that this might be cholera - because of the storm and drinking contaminated water.

2. Paul learned of this very sick man, went to him. He laid hands on him, and healed him

3. "Laying on hands" has four meanings in the New Testament.

1. Laying on hands was used to empower early Christians. The apostles had the power to bestow some spiritual gift by the laying on of hands.

2. Laying on hands was also an act of blessing or wishing well. The brethren laid hands on Paul and Barnabas as they began their first missionary journey.

3. This term is also use of violence. When Paul was in Jerusalem, the Jews laid hands on him. That is, they grabbed him to hold him under arrest.

4. Here the term is used to bestow healing or help.

Verse 9

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

1. The word spread quickly. Others heard of this healing of a man that the natives had given up as dead.

2. Think about it. Paul was given up for dead with the snake bite. Now Publius' father was given up for dead. Both are now alive and well.

3. All with any illness now come to Paul for help and healing.

Verse 10

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

1. All were treated well - the crew of the ship, the Roman soldiers, and the prisoners.

2. When travel was arranged to continue on to Rome, the island people gave them the things necessary for their journey. Food, clothing, and other items that would be needed for the remainder of the trip were given freely.

Verse 11

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

1. They were on Malta for about 3 months. Winter is over and spring is coming.

2. Ships are now sailing again. The sea and the winds are more favorable for travel.

3. Here was another ship from Alexandria, Egypt. The ship that wrecked was also from Alexandria. ( Act_27:6 )

4. On the front of the ship was usually a carved figure - called the figurehead - that was thought to represent the god or image which would protect the ship. This ship had the figurehead of the twin brothers.

5. Albert Barnes says, " Castor and Pollux - These were two semi-deities. They were reputed to be twin brothers, sons of Jupiter and Leda, the wife of Tyndarus, king of Sparta."

Verse 12

12 And landing at Syracuse, we stayed three days.

1. Syracuse is the capital of the island of Sicily.

2. It was in the direct route from Malta to go up the western side of Italy.

3. It is thought that the three days were spent there to re-supply the ship with food and supplies. While the people of Malta gave them some supplies, this city would be able to provide all that would be needed for the rest of the trip.

Verse 13

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,

1. The KJV says they "fetched a compass." This is not accurate. The word here means one who goes around, a wanderer, one who strolls around, one who makes a circuit. (Thayer)

2. The meaning is that they went around the island of Sicily.

3. They reach the first city of Italy itself.

4. Now, instead of violent storms, they have a favorable wind. A wind from the south makes traveling north very easy.

5. They arrive at Puteoli, a city of wells. A city known for its warm water baths. These baths were sulfur water, with typical "rotten egg" aroma that goes with sulfur. The name of the city comes from the "putrid" smell of the sulfur baths.

Verse 14

14 where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days. So we went toward Rome.

1. There are brethren here. How did a church start here? We do not know. We know that there were Christians in Rome. It is assumed that as others, like Aquila and Prisilla, who left Rome, may have stopped and taught others as they traveled.

2. The entire party of soldiers and prisoners stay for a week. Then they head for Rome.

Verse 15

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

1. When the Christians at Rome heard that Paul was on his way, they came to meet him.

2. Appii Forum and Three Inns are towns about 20 to 25 miles south of Rome.

3. Both of these cities are on a major road called the Appian Way.

Verse 16

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.

1. Now, they arrive in Rome. The centurion that has overseen these prisoners from Caesarea - through all the travels, ships, stops, shipwreck, and final arrival is ready to be relieved of his duty.

2. All of the prisoners were secured in Rome.

3. However, Paul is allowed to live under "house arrest" outside the prison.

4. The indication is that a single soldier was guarding the house. Paul was not a flight risk.

Verse 17

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,

1. Paul, after three days of rest, is ready to resume his defense.

2. He calls a meeting of local Jews to discuss his situation.

3. Paul explains why he is now in Rome with a appeal to Caesar.

Verses 18-20

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

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

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.

1. The Romans were ready to let Paul go. There was no charge worthy of death.

2. But they Jews were going to kill Paul, anyway. His only choice was to appeal to Caesar.

Verse 21

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.

1. The Jews respond by saying they have no information, no letters, no communication with Jews from Jerusalem.

2. No one from Jerusalem has come waring them of Paul.

Verse 22

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

1. The Jews are interested in what Paul has to say about the sect to which he belongs.

2. It is identified as the sect that is "spoken against everywhere." While they do not know Paul or what charges the Jews in Jerusalem have against him, they do know about the church.

Verse 23

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.

1. A hearing was arranged. On the designated day many came to hear Paul speak about the kingdom of God and how he would defend his faith by the Law and Prophets.

2. The Jews were anticipating a coming Messiah. They want to know how this Jesus fulfills the prophecies of the Old Testament.

Verse 24

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

1. Not all will be converted. Some believed. Some were convinced and persuaded by the powerful use of Old Testament Scriptures.

2. Some did not. Nothing new here.

3. NOTE : Jesus did not command us to baptize everyone we teach. We are to teach all men. Then the burden shifts to them to believe and obey. Listen to Mar_16:15-16 - And he said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. WE must go to all the world. WE must preach the gospel. THEY must believe. THEY must be baptized.

Verses 25-27

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,

26 saying, " Go to this people and say; hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; And seeing you will see, and 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. "

1. The disagreement is now between those who accept and those who reject.

2. Paul quotes from the prophet Isaiah. ( Isa_6:9-10 )

3. What is the message? Paul is saying that Isaiah said that some would hear and not receive the message. Some will hear but not understand. They will see but not perceive.

Verse 28

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

1. Since many of the Jews will reject the message, God has sent Paul to the Gentiles. The Greek word here is for the word "nations" in the plural. It simply means all non-Jews. There were Jews and everyone else is Gentile.

2. Why go to the Gentiles? Because they will listen; they will believe; they will obey.

Verse 29

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

1. There was now more discussion than before.

2. Paul certainly peaked their interest and opened up some discussion.

Verse 30

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

1. Paul spent two years in Caesarea and now we are told he spent two more years in his own rented home in Rome.

2. He was not free to travel, but he was free to have friends come and visit him. He was able to see all who came to see him.

Verse 31

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

1. Paul was also free to teach and preach.

2. The kingdom of God - The kingdom and church are two terms for the same thing. Jesus said he would build his church and that Peter would be given the keys to the kingdom. ( Mat_16:18-19 )

3. Lord Jesus Christ - Paul also taught all things about Jesus, his life, death, resurrection, teachings, example, and presence with His people.

Bibliographical Information
Luscombe, Manly. "Commentary on Acts 28". Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mlc/acts-28.html. 2021.
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