Acts 28

* Paul kindly received at Melita. (1-10) He arrives at Rome.

(11-16) His conference with the Jews. (17-22) Paul preaches to

the Jews, and abides at Rome a prisoner. (23-31)

1-10 God can make strangers to be friends; friends in distress.

Those who are despised for homely manners, are often more

friendly than the more polished; and the conduct of heathens, or

persons called barbarians, condemns many in civilized nations,

professing to be Christians. The people thought that Paul was a

murderer, and that the viper was sent by Divine justice, to be

the avenger of blood. They knew that there is a God who governs

the world, so that things do not come to pass by chance, no, not

the smallest event, but all by Divine direction; and that evil

pursues sinners; that there are good works which God will

reward, and wicked works which he will punish. Also, that murder

is a dreadful crime, one which shall not long go unpunished. But

they thought all wicked people were punished in this life.

Though some are made examples in this world, to prove that there

is a God and a Providence, yet many are left unpunished, to

prove that there is a judgment to come. They also thought all

who were remarkably afflicted in this life were wicked people.

Divine revelation sets this matter in a true light. Good men

often are greatly afflicted in this life, for the trial and

increase of their faith and patience. Observe Paul's deliverance

from the danger. And thus in the strength of the grace of

Christ, believers shake off the temptations of Satan, with holy

resolution. When we despise the censures and reproaches of men,

and look upon them with holy contempt, having the testimony of

our consciences for us, then, like Paul, we shake off the viper

into the fire. It does us no harm, except we are kept by it from

our duty. God hereby made Paul remarkable among these people,

and so made way for the receiving of the gospel. The Lord raises

up friends for his people in every place whither he leads them,

and makes them blessings to those in affliction.
11-16 The common events of travelling are seldom worthy of

being told; but the comfort of communion with the saints, and

kindness shown by friends, deserve particular mention. The

Christians at Rome were so far from being ashamed of Paul, or

afraid of owning him, because he was a prisoner, that they were

the more careful to show him respect. He had great comfort in

this. And if our friends are kind to us, God puts it into their

hearts, and we must give him the glory. When we see those even

in strange places, who bear Christ's name, fear God, and serve

him, we should lift up our hearts to heaven in thanksgiving. How

many great men have made their entry into Rome, crowned and in

triumph, who really were plagues to the world! But here a good

man makes his entry into Rome, chained as a poor captive, who

was a greater blessing to the world than any other merely a man.

Is not this enough to put us for ever out of conceit with

worldly favour? This may encourage God's prisoners, that he can

give them favour in the eyes of those that carry them captives.

When God does not soon deliver his people out of bondage, yet

makes it easy to them, or them easy under it, they have reason

to be thankful.
17-22 It was for the honour of Paul that those who examined his

case, acquitted him. In his appeal he sought not to accuse his

nation, but only to clear himself. True Christianity settles

what is of common concern to all mankind, and is not built upon

narrow opinions and private interests. It aims at no worldly

benefit or advantage, but all its gains are spiritual and

eternal. It is, and always has been, the lot of Christ's holy

religion, to be every where spoken against. Look through every

town and village where Christ is exalted as the only Saviour of

mankind, and where the people are called to follow him in

newness of life, and we see those who give themselves up to

Christ, still called a sect, a party, and reproached. And this

is the treatment they are sure to receive, so long as there

shall continue an ungodly man upon earth.
23-31 Paul persuaded the Jews concerning Jesus. Some were

wrought upon by the word, and others hardened; some received the

light, and others shut their eyes against it. And the same has

always been the effect of the gospel. Paul parted with them,

observing that the Holy Ghost had well described their state.

Let all that hear the gospel, and do not heed it, tremble at

their doom; for who shall heal them, if God does not? The Jews

had afterwards much reasoning among themselves. Many have great

reasoning, who do not reason aright. They find fault with one

another's opinions, yet will not yield to truth. Nor will men's

reasoning among themselves convince them, without the grace of

God to open their understandings. While we mourn on account of

such despisers, we should rejoice that the salvation of God is

sent to others, who will receive it; and if we are of that

number, we should be thankful to Him who hath made us to differ.

The apostle kept to his principle, to know and preach nothing

but Christ and him crucified. Christians, when tempted from

their main business, should bring themselves back with this

question, What does this concern the Lord Jesus? What tendency

has it to bring us to him, and to keep us walking in him? The

apostle preached not himself, but Christ, and he was not ashamed

of the gospel of Christ. Though Paul was placed in a very narrow

opportunity for being useful, he was not disturbed in it. Though

it was not a wide door that was opened to him, yet no man was

suffered to shut it; and to many it was an effectual door, so

that there were saints even in Nero's household, #Php 4:22|. We

learn also from #Php 1:13|, how God overruled Paul's

imprisonment for the furtherance of the gospel. And not the

residents at Rome only, but all the church of Christ, to the

present day, and in the most remote corner of the globe, have

abundant reason to bless God, that during the most mature period

of his Christian life and experience, he was detained a

prisoner. It was from his prison, probably chained hand to hand

to the soldier who kept him, that the apostle wrote the epistles

to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Hebrews; epistles

showing, perhaps more than any others, the Christian love with

which his heart overflowed, and the Christian experience with

which his soul was filled. The believer of the present time may

have less of triumph, and less of heavenly joy, than the

apostle, but every follower of the same Saviour, is equally sure

of safety and peace at the last. Let us seek to live more and

more in the love of the Saviour; to labour to glorify Him by

every action of our lives; and we shall assuredly, by his

strength, be among the number of those who now overcome our

enemies; and by his free grace and mercy, be hereafter among the

blessed company who shall sit with Him upon his throne, even as

He also has overcome, and is sitting on his Father's throne, at

God's right hand for evermore.
Copyright information for MHCC