Acts 28:1-31 – Paul Arrives in Rome and Lives under House Arrest
SummaryAfter enduring a long journey toward Rome to appeal his case to Caesar, Paul and other travelers spend time shipwrecked on Malta, where he heals the sick. He arrives in Italy and does not cease to speak the good news that God has acted through Jesus Christ.
AnalysisPaul's voyage to Rome, a trip made at his own request, is a terrible journey that includes shipwreck, snake bites, and dangers of all kinds. When Paul arrives in Italy he makes landfall in Puteoli, where he discovers a group of believers. This is noteworthy for two reasons. First, the faith has spread rapidly as far as Italy, a sign of its vitality. Second, Acts does not tell just how or through whom the faith gets to Italy before Paul arrives. This reminds us that Acts is not a complete history of the early church and does not pretend to be.
This passage is also intensely realistic in its description of Paul's effectiveness. In vv. 23-24 we are told that Paul spends all his time teaching, explaining, testifying, and trying to persuade through the study of Scripture the connection between Jesus and the kingdom of God. The realism lies in v. 24, which says, "Some were convinced by what he had said, while others refused to believe." They even "disagreed with each other" (v. 25). In spite of the gifts of the Spirit and Paul's unremitting and bold work, not all are persuaded that God's kingdom is at hand or that Jesus has anything to do with it. As human beings, our power to convince others is limited.
The passage again calls upon the Holy Spirit as the prophetic force behind Scripture, including the prophets, thus connecting the word of God firmly with the work of Jesus who had become the conduit of that Spirit after his ascension. At last, this passage brings us to the end of the story and is a kind of gospel proclamation in its own right. Paul's ongoing proclamation concerning the kingdom of God and Jesus as Messiah and Lord comes in spite of all that Paul endures. The proclamation happens at his own expense. It happens as he is held under guard. It happens with all boldness, that is, in freedom and confidence. And it happens "without hindrance" (v. 31). God's determination to bring news of God's kingdom and hope for a "universal restoration" (Acts 3:21) will not be denied.