Acts 28:7-28:31

Acts 28:7-28:31

Paul’s miracle with the snakebite and subsequent healing of Publius’ father and many others authenticated his credentials and message. Publius was the governor of the island of Malta who kindly lodged and cared for the 276 shipwrecked folk. His father had acute dysentery or a bloody chronic bowel disease. Paul prayed for him, laid his hands on him and he was healed, causing many others to come for healing and undoubtedly opened up the way for Paul to preach for the three months he was on the island, waiting for winter (Oct-Dec) with its storms to pass. The Maltese showered them with honours and practical help.

They travelled on, on another Roman grain ship based in Alexandria, that docked in Valetta, with the sign Castor and Pollux (Gemini in the Zodiac, who were sons of Zeus and the gods of mariners) going first to Syracuse  on Sicily, then Rhegium on the tip of Italy and then Puteoli further up the west of Italy. Paul was given hospitality by brethren in Puteoli presumably with his guard. Believers from Rome must have heard of his approach and came to meet him/them in Apii forum. They encouraged Paul (Psalm 54:4) as he faced imprisonment and eventual execution. Note how keen he was to see them (Romans 1:10,11) and how many he knew by name (Romans 16:6-16). Paul was allowed to rent his own house where he was under house arrest with his guard for two years as he was still an un-convicted Roman citizen. He had access to many soldiers (9,000)  in the “palace” (actually barracks of the Praetorium, Caesars’s guard, Phil.1:12,13).Rome the capital of the Empire had a population of about 2 million at this time.

Paul called together the leaders of the Jews, and explained how he came to be there following accusations in Jerusalem, his deliverance to Roman jurisdiction and subsequent appeal. He spoke of the prophesied Messiah from the Jewish scriptures. His audience knew very little about him and seemed much more open than the Jews in Israel. They heard that Christianity was a sect, a breakaway religion from Judaism. Paul expounded the kingdom of God and its King Jesus based on the Old Testament, with the result some believed him and others did not. Whether any were truly converted is not clear, but Paul describes their reaction as fulfilment of Isaiah 6:9,10 but attributes their blindness not just to God but to themselves (no one is compelled to reject Christ or be reprobate). Paul concluded stating the message was now going to the Gentiles and his audience departed. He continued to preach and teach freely because that was allowed to (till Nero later in 2 Tim.4:16). There is evidence he was freed after these two years and travelled to Asia Minor and Greece. The evidence is as follows: In his prison epistles especially Titus 1:5 he says he left Titus in Crete and he never did any mission work in Crete in his previous missionary journeys (see maps at back of most Bibles. The visits to Crete on the voyage to Rome were fleeting. In Titus 3:12 he is in Nicopolis, a town to the west of Greece that he had never been to before. Furthermore in 2 Cor.13:1 written from Laodicea he says that he is proposing a third visit to the Corinthians and only twice before on his first and third  missionary journeys was he in Corinth. 2 Tim.2:14 mentions Alexander the coppersmith and it is surmised this man led to Paul’s being re-arrested in Ephesus during this last period of freedom after which he was returned to Rome and put in a common prison to await execution under Nero.

Summary of the book of Acts: How the Gospel came to the Gentiles.

  1. The work of the Holy Spirit in Acts is manifold: He anoints and empowers the apostles, he gives miraculous gifts, he converts multitudes, he guides a council, he calls men to leadership (elders and deacons), ministry and mission (evangelists and teachers) and he directs that mission.
  2. Acts gives us examples that flesh out the epistles’ teaching on the doctrine of the church e.g. election, calling, preaching, adding, sharing, calling of office bearers, the sacraments, church discipline etc
  3. The spread of the gospel as commanded in the great commission: Judea, Samaria, Syria and the ends of the earth (the full extent of the Roman Empire).

Next study (DV) is on Hebrews 1 from this booklet which I encourage you to purchase

Studies in Hebrews

and study so you will benefit more from the study and be able to contribute. It is on October 3rd at church and on line (Zoom link is: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/7189628817?pwd=U2lMUEFWRHRDdWE4dUJybnBUcmNQQT09)

Acts 27:13-28:6

Acts 27:13-28:6

Euroclydon, a powerful northeast wind caused a tempest that blew the ship for 14 days and about 500 miles  with them unable to navigate. They managed to get the lifeboat on board and then used prepared cables and ropes passed under the ship from the bow to hold it together to prevent the waves loosening the timbers, they took down the sails and let the wind drive them, also throwing more stuff overboard to make the ship lighter.

Paul had refrained from speaking but now broke his silence reminding them he had warned them before what would happen but he promised none would drown because Christ had assured him personally that for his sake he would save all on board. Paul believed this and told them they would be wrecked on an island. The sailors knew they were nearing land because their plummet measured 120 feet then 90 feet. The sailors threw 4 anchors out of the stern and then pretending to do the same at the bow intended to abandon ship but were stopped under Paul’s orders to the centurion that the safety of all depended on all staying on board, so they cut off the ropes and lost the boat.

Paul then, because they had fasted for 14 days encouraged them to eat and they followed his advice, then threw the cargo of wheat overboard. The Scripture records 276 people on board, presumably because heads were counted. The sailors then attempted to wedge the boat in a creek on the island but only the bow stuck and the stern was broken up. The centurion saved Paul and the other prisoners from the soldiers who were intent on killing them to save them escaping and probably causing their own execution as a result. Everyone got ashore swimming or clinging to parts of the ship.

When the ship finally ran aground it was on the island of Malta and the locals who did not speak Greek nor were Romans, helped them, but a venomous snake bit Paul who was unharmed causing the locals to believe he was divine rather than a murderer whom fate was not allowing to live. This fulfilled Christ’s word in Matthew 16:18 authenticating the authority of the apostle, who shortly after this is used to heal a sick man. Since communication would initially have been difficult it was also a powerful sign to the locals. As Paul stayed there three months we can assume he preached but we do not know if a church was founded.

Next (and Last study in Acts) Acts 28:7-31 Saturday September 19th 2020 8pm at church and ZOOM on line.

Please be prepared for subsequent studies (October 3rd ) in Hebrews (chapter 1:1-14) study book available from CPRC bookstall.

Acts 27:16-28:6 (Questions)

Questions for Sat. Sept 5th 2020.

Voyage to Rome (continued)

What was the crew’s problem (v16)?

What do the helps and undergirding the ship mean?

Why was this done?

What happened when sails taken down?

What else did crew do?

How severe was the storm?

What was the long abstinence of v21?

What promise did Paul make and how could he do this?

What reason did he give?

What assurance did he give?

What would happen?

How long and how far were they driven?

What did the sailors sense in the night?

How did they confirm this and how deep was the water?

What did they do to hold their position?

What was the sailors’ intention and how?

Why did Paul insist all stay in the ship?

To what abstinence did Paul refer?

Why had they fasted for 14 days?

Why did Paul give this advice?

What did he do and did they follow?

Why is the figure of 276 noted?

After lightening the ship what did the sailors intend?

Why did this fail?

What other intention did they have and why?

Why did the centurion stop them?

How did the prisoners get to shore?

Where did the ship finally land?

What does it mean that the inhabitants were barbarous?

How did they treat the ship’s occupants?

How did the natives interpret the viper bite?

How did they change their minds?

Why is this in the narrative?

 

 

Acts 26:22-27:15

Acts 26:22-27:15

Paul before Agrippa

These verses record Paul’s summary of the gospel in which his main point is that it is the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy. He explicitly mentions Moses and the prophets (which basically encompasses the whole of Old Testament) because many of the accusations levelled at him 9and also Stephen and Christ) were that they denigrated Moses. He states that the prophecies of Moses and the Old Testament state that Messiah should suffer, be resurrected and bring light to the Jews and the Gentiles. It is a worthwhile study to look at all these prophecies e.g. Gen.3:15, Deut.18:22, Psalm 16 and 22, Isaiah 53 etc.

We think Festus loudly interrupted Paul to get some attention and perhaps he was getting convicted. He accused Paul of madness caused by too much study. Paul denies this categorically saying his speech was true and serious, the gospel rooted in the Old Testament scriptures.

Paul believed that Agrippa knew about all the events concerning Christ because they were public, his teaching, miracles, trial, death and resurrection were known to multitudes in Israel. Paul asked and answered for Agrippa that he knew (historically and intellectually) what the prophets said though not with the knowledge of faith. I believe he honestly stated he was almost persuaded but both he and  the hymn titled by what he said manifest a man-centred false gospel where man’s persuasion or decision are decisive in salvation (Arminianism). Paul said he wished all present were fully persuaded so as to put their trust in Messiah because “almost” means to be lost.

The three discussed Paul out of earshot in private and correctly concluded he had done nothing worthy of death and indeed had done nothing worthy of any punishment because he could have been freed had he not appealed to Caesar, whose appeal must be upheld. We believe Festus now had substance to write to the emperor namely that Paul believed and preached that the Messiah, Jesus Christ, was the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy for which cause the leaders of the Jews wanted him dead.

The journey to Rome.

We believe the Spirit through Luke recounted the details of this journey because it was not only eventful but illustrated truth and teaches us many lessons, not least of God’s providential care (the preservation of the saints, the “P” in TULIP). Luke and Aristarchus were with Paul in the custody of Julius the centurion. Aristarchus from Thessalonica may have been heading home or just wanting to accompany Paul (he ended up with Paul in prison). See Acts 19;29, 20:4, Col.4:10 and Philem.24. Paul, undoubtedly respected by Julius was allowed freedom to visit friends in Sidon. They sailed to the north of Cyprus because of the prevailing winds, going along the coast of Asia for safety and perhaps seeking to meet another vessel to take on the cargo. Then they went south to Crete, where because they tarried in Fair Havens it was now Autumn (late September) and the season of storms. God had revealed to Paul that the journey would be dangerous and end in loss, not least of the wheat which they carried. Despite this the ship’s captain and owner had the last word and they left the unsuitable harbour at Fair Havens seeking to reach Phenice with a favourable south wind but a storm blew up blowing them southwest before which they had no alternative but to let the ship drive. Euroclydon is a cyclonic tempestuous northeast wind which blows in the Mediterranean, mostly in autumn and winter. It is the modern Gregalia (Gregale) or Levanter.

Next study (DV) Saturday September 5th Acts 27:16-28:6

 

Acts 26:23-32 and 27:1-9 Questions

Acts 26:23-32 and 27:1-9 Questions for Sat August 22nd 2020.

What is Paul’s main point in summarizing the gospel he preached (v22)?

Why did he cite Moses and the prophets?

What did he assert was the content of Moses and the prophets?

Who are the people (v23)?

Why did Felix loudly interrupt Paul? What did he say about Paul?

How did Paul respectfully contradict Festus?

What are the words of truth and soberness?

How did Paul characterize Agrippa’s knowledge of these events and why?

Speaking to Agrippa what question did Paul ask and answer and in what sense was his assertion true?

Was Agrippa’s response sincere?

Does this hymn “Almost persuaded” correctly interpret Agrippa’s words?

What was Paul’s response?

Why did the three reach their verdict privately?

What was their conclusion?

What was Agrippa’s conclusion, and could Paul’s appeal be undone?

Did Festus now have something to write to Caesar?

Why did the Holy Spirit through Luke recount the details of Paul’s lengthy journey to Rome?

How is this gospel? Do the details of Paul’s journey really matter?

How do we know Luke was with them at this time?

Whose custody was Paul under?

Who was Aristarchus and where was he going?

What opportunity was Paul given at Sidon? Why? Who were his friends?

What does sailing under Cyprus mean? Why?

Why did they sail along the coast of Asia?

What route did they take toward Fair havens?

 

Acts 26:1-22

CPRC Men’s BS

Acts 26:1-22

Paul’s address to Agrippa.

Paul straightaway says he will speak to answer the accusations against him. We think he sincerely meant it when he attributed expert knowledge of Judaism to the King as he had been in post about 10 years by this time and so should judge fairly. Paul was happy to testify, something the Lord had said he would (Acts 9:15). Paul recounts his early life in Jerusalem as a child and young man learning from Gamaliel, a reputable Pharisee showing he was a well-schooled Jew and held in reputation, the Pharisees also being orthodox in Old Testament faith believing in the supernatural including the resurrection of the dead. Paul had taken his religion seriously and was given authority to persecute Christians even outside Jewry in Damascus in Syria. He stated his faith was purely in the Old Testament promises and the “hope of the promise” which is Christ.  The background set the scene for his conversion when he was spiritually raised from the dead, believing that Christ’s death and resurrection were fulfilment of O.T. prophecy and proof of his Messiahship (Romans 1:4), something a conversant (albeit necessarily born-again) Jew ought to know (1 Cor.2:10). He recounted his zealous persecution of Christians hinting perhaps at their present persecution of him, admitting it was actually motivated by hatred of Christ Himself as he beat, imprisoned and even consented to the killing of God’s people. His compelling believers to blaspheme may mean just their confession of him as Messiah (for which Christ was condemned) or the breaking of other Pharisaic traditions like defaming the temple (the charge against Stephen) or just getting them to disparage the name of Christ or deny him. His madness, leading to sadistic hatred, we believe was satanically inspired, the opposite of the sound and sober loving mind of the Spirit (1 Tim.1:7).

Paul’s conversion.

In this account compared with Acts 9 (Luke’s) and Acts 22:6-16, Paul adds additional detail about his companions who heard a noise and all fell down, Christ speaking to him in Hebrew/Aramaic and the detail of his commission by Christ. Paul emphasized the purpose of his conversion so Agrippa would be clear as to his calling and motivation, including the conversion of the Gentiles which evoked such violent animosity from the prejudiced Jews. The things in which Jesus would appear to Paul subsequently were: firstly for revelation of the gospel during 3 years in Arabia (Gal.1:17),in Corinth (Acts 18:9,10) to encourage him, guidance (Acts 20:35), told to flee (Acts 22:18), more encouragement (Acts 23:11). The inheritance among those who are sanctified, which is every believer, is firstly God himself, glory in the new creation, and all the spiritual knowledge and blessings that are in Christ revealed more and more in better definition as we progress in our Christian lives.

Paul’s obedience to his commission.

Paul asserts that he obeyed the call of Christ. He more or less applied Acts 1:8 in his preaching outward from Jerusalem calling for converts to show fitting works of thanksgiving, sorrow for sin and repentance, confessing his name and delighting in God and his blessings. The Jews would murder him because of the accusation of sacrilege (a Greek in the temple-untrue) and his preaching to Gentiles.

Next study (DV) Acts 26:22-32 and 27:1-8 for Sat. August 22nd at 8pm (Zoom link later)

The Herods

The Herods 

  1. Herod the Great (ruled 37-4 B.C.) In the Christmas story. Super powerful client king answerable to Rome. Tried to trick the wise men. Killed the babies in Bethlehem (not to mention some of his own sons and wives).
  2. Herod Archelaus (ruled 4 B.C.-A.D. 6) He was one of Herod the Great’s three sons mentioned in the Bible. He received one-half of his father’s territory, the area surrounding and near Jerusalem (Judea and Samaria). Joseph was unwilling to move Mary and toddler Jesus to Bethlehem after fleeing to Egypt because Bethlehem was in this Herod’s territory and, like his father “the Great,” Herod Archelaus was nasty. He got replaced by a Roman procurator less than ten years into his reign; that’s why Pontius Pilate is the man in charge at Jesus’ crucifixion rather than one of the “Herods.” 
  3. Herod Antipas (ruled 4 B.C.-A.D. 39) Jesus called him “the Fox” (Luke 13:32). Received a quarter of his father’s territory (Galilee and Perea). Divorced his first wife and married Herodias, the wife of his brother (who was yet a different “Herod”). Killed John the Baptist. Pontius Pilate sent Jesus to see this Herod as part of Jesus’ trial since this Herod was visiting Jerusalem at the time Jesus was sentenced to death. Did you know that Pilate and Herod Antipas became friends that day (Luke 23:12)?
  4. Herod Philip the Tetrarch (ruled 4 B.C.-A.D. 34) Got the remaining quarter of his father’s territory (north and east of Galilee—mostly ruled over Syrians and Greeks). Married his niece, Salome, the daughter of Herodias (Herod Antipas’s wife-of-sin).
  5. Herod Agrippa I (ruled A.D. 37-44 [41-44 in Judea]) Grandson of Herod the Great and nephew of Herodias, Herod Antipas’s wife. Eventually ended up ruling over even more territory than did his grandfather, Herod the Great. In the book of Acts he is known as the one who put Peter in prison (Acts 12:1-5)…although he couldn’t keep him there (12:6-19)!  Also…“He did not give God the glory” when referred to as a god by the people of Tyre and Sidon and was thus struck by an angel and “eaten by worms” (Acts 12:20-23). 
  6. Herod Agrippa II (ruled A.D. 50s until long after the end of the Jewish war; died around A.D. 93) Like his father Herod Agrippa I and great-grandfather Herod the Great he ruled over a large territory. He’s the one who interviewed Paul along with the Roman procurator Porcius Festus when Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea (in Palestine) after Paul’s third missionary journey (Acts 25-26). Agrippa exclaimed to Paul (literal translation): “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian” (Acts 26:28). Or was his statement ironic? Either way, Paul ended up appealing directly to Caesar and so had no more contact after this with the final powerful “Herod.” 

 

Acts 26 (questions)

Paul’s address to Agrippa.

What does Paul’s spreading forth his hand signify?

With what words does Paul squarely face the issue at hand?

Was Paul flattering Agrippa?

Did he expect justice?

Why did Paul refer to his early life, that he had been a Pharisee and how did he relate that background to his present circumstances?

How did Paul define the issue?

What was the hope of the promise?

Why did Paul mention the resurrection from the dead?

How did he recount his persecution of Christians?

What does compel them to blaspheme mean?

How was he exceedingly mad?

To what extreme did he go?

Why the detail?

How does this account of his conversion differ from others (Acts 22)?

What aspect did he emphasize? Why?

What were the things in which Jesus appeared to Paul?

What is our inheritance?

Concerning his commission what did Paul assert?

Why did Paul mention the order in which he preached the gospel?

What are works meet for repentance?

Why did the Jews try to kill Paul?

 

Acts 25:7-27

Acts 25:7-27

Paul before Festus and his appeal to Caesar.

The Jews accusations, unspecified in this verse were previously listed as sacrilege (bringing a Greek into the temple, sedition (raising rebellion against rule of Rome with King Jesus) and sectarianism (starting a new sect).

Both Luke and history agree that these charges were not proven.

Paul denied breaking both Jewish law and Roman law.

Festus proposed he go to trial in Jerusalem which would please the Jews and be both dangerous (previous plot) and unfair to the Roman justice system.

Paul meant to appeal to the Emperor Claudius Caesar himself, as his right as a Roman citizen.

He sharply rebuked Festus saying that he ought to be referred to Caesar and sometimes we too, are correct to maintain our rights.

Paul asserted his innocence and even willingness to die if he had offended.

Festus consulted with the Jewish council and decided to send Paul to Rome, his own ineptitude and vacillation and the referral was blameworthy as he could have made a decision himself.

Herod Agrippa II (see sheet*) was puppet king of the Jews, Festus newly appointed was pretty ignorant of Jewish customs and religion. Bernice was his wife by incest (his actual sister in law married to Agrippa’s brother), hence morally they were poor judges. Festus, desiring to look good gives an account that differs from what actually happened. He admitted he was not well aquainted with Jewish law.

Agrippa may have been interested in hearing Paul because Paul had become well known and had made the ultimate appeal. Agrippa, Bernice, Festus, the chief Roman captains and principal men of Caesarea were all present. King and queen in their pride loved pomp. Festus said he had determined to send him because he had NOT determined justice in the case. His problem was he had no certain charge to write to the Emperor and he hoped Agrippa would help him formulate the charge.

* The Herods

Next study (DV) Saturday August 8th 2020 at 8pm on Acts 26:1-21 (questions posted here) at CPRC plus on Zoom.

Acts 25:7-26:8 Questions

Paul before Festus and his appeal to Caesar.

Of what did the Jews accuse Paul (v7)?

How do we know they could not prove their charges?

Paul’s response? What laws did he deny breaking?

What did Festus propose? Was this fair?

What was Caesar’s judgment seat and why did Paul have the right to be judged there?

What sharp comment did he make to Festus? Appropriate for us?

What did Paul assert (v11)?

What council did Festus consult? What was his final decision?

Who was Agrippa? King of what? Attitude to Jews?

Who was Bernice? Related to Agrippa? Could they judge rightly?

Festus’ account of events-accurate?

Do verses 19-20 match v 9?

Why did Festus exaggerate his role? What was his main concern?

Paul before Agrippa

Why was Agrippa interested?

Who was there?

Why did Agrippa and Bernice come with great pomp?

Was Festus statement in v25 true?

What was Festus ‘ problem and how did he hope Agrippa would help him?