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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
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)