Acts 28:15-31

Apr 5, 2020 // By:Dave // No Comment

today we close the book of Acts. the 2nd book of Luke.

Luke’s writings are those of a historian.
Book One: Acts of Jesus with His Disciples

Book Two: Acts of Jesus Through His Disciples 

Acts 28:15 And the brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us; and when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.

verse 15 seems to be a clarification of the seven days mentioned in verse 14 (since verse 14 ends with “thus we came to Rome”)

Acts 28:16 ¶ When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.

Roman guards worked in chained shifts of 6 hrs. (four per day)

four epistles written during his time in Rome.

Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon

Col 4:2 pray that God will open a door to preach the gospel for which I am chained

Paul does not consider himself a prisoner of men. He considers himself free (but a prisoner of the Lord who chooses to use him while he is wearing chains)

Acts 28:17 ¶ After three days Paul called together those who were the leading men of the Jews, and when they came together, he began saying to them, “Brethren, though I had 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.

Acts 28:18 “And when they had examined me, they were willing to release me because there was no ground for putting me to death.

Acts 28:19 “But when the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal to Caesar, not that I had any accusation against my nation.

Acts 28:20 “For this reason, therefore, I requested to see you and to speak with you, for I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel.”

what is the hope of Israel ? (the Messiah)

notice now, that he summons Jews to meet with.
does this seem like a contradiction  in his faith ? (why not summon christians)?

(Paul considers himself a Jew, a pharisee, who has accepted the Messianic prophecies fulfilled in Jesus Christ)

Acts 22 he called the sanhedrin “brothers” and himself a pharisee (he does not refer to his status as pharisee in past tense)

Acts 28:21 They said to him, “We have neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren come here and reported or spoken anything bad about you.

Acts 28:22 “But we desire to hear from you what your views are; for concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere.”

Acts 28:23 ¶ When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening.

  • Noticia  data, facts, figures
  • Ascensus  confirming opinion of the noticia (intellectual ascent)
    • James 2:19 the devil believes and trembles
    • Matt 7:22 did we not say “Lord, Lord”
  • Fiducia    change in thinking and acting as result of fiducia  (this is the critical missing stage)
    • (fruit of true faith in the facts) 
    • James 2:18 I will show you my faith by my works”

Acts 28:24 Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe.

Acts 28:25 And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers,

Acts 28:26 saying, 











Acts 28:28 “Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.”

Acts 28:29 [When he had spoken these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves.]

Acts 28:30 ¶ And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him,

Acts 28:31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.

Paul has quoted Isaiah 6:9

Matt 13;14-15
In them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.

Mark 4:10-12
so that, ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven.'”

Luke 8:10
He replied, “The knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, ‘Though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’

the synoptic gospels all record Jesus quoting Isaiah 9 prophecy in the context of the sower parables.
(as Jesus explains in Matt 13, that this prophecy is being fulfilled again at the time of His speaking)

John 12:39-41


John 12:41 These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him.

John 12:42 Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue;

John 12:43 for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.

John makes a unique connection here between non-belief and fear of persecution.

Since belief (Fiducia) requires action to express and validate itself, John is telling us, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the contradiction between saying one believes and not confession the belief in public.


Luke 9:26, Mark 8:38 (whoever is ashamed of me and my words, will the Son of Man be ashamed of before the Father)

God is giving them what they want, “if they want to dig in their heels, so be it”

Rom 1:27-29, 11:8

Many Romans were hearing the good news, and Christians were becoming bolder as a result of Paul’s witness. He was a man consumed with Jesus Christ. Let’s follow Paul’s example. Wherever the Lord has you, make him known!

In verse 17 Paul calls together the local Jewish leaders. Even in Rome he sought to minister to the Jews. 

Two points about Paul’s outreach efforts to the Jews in Rome stand out.

  1. while the apostle’s first encounter with the local Jews came at his request, the second happened because they requested to hear more. Perhaps part of their willingness to listen further can be linked to Paul’s assuring them of his innocence (28:17–19). He had done nothing wrong to the Jewish people, and he had not violated their customs. Still, however, he was handed over to the Romans and was mistreated (cf. 21:33; Luke 9:44; 18:32; 24:7). Nevertheless, Paul clarified that he had no charge to make against the Jews. This suggests that he wanted the Roman Jews to know that he had no desire for vengeance. In spite of their ill treatment of him, he had no countercharges to bring against the Jewish population.
  2. Paul does take issue with their rejection of the Gospel and responds by calling them deaf, blind, and without understanding.

Paul withholds personal sense of justice and/or vengeance, but stands firm for those who believe the gospel and stands firm in opposition to those who oppose the gospel.

Paul’s focus is spot on. He has 20/20 spiritual eyesight.

His physical eyes see persecution, affliction, beatings, stonings, shipwreck, chains … but his spirit see the will of the Father.

Let’s look at what he wrote, while in chains to get a sense of his perspective. (God’s perspective)

Eph 3:1

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles 

Eph 3:13-19

Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,

from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,

that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Phil 1:12-14, 19-23

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually advanced the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard, and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is because I am in Christ. Most of the brothers have gained confidence in the Lord from my imprisonment and dare even more to speak the word fearlessly.…I know this will lead to my salvation through your prayers and help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ. My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all courage, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. I am torn between the two. I long to depart and be with Christ—which is far better.

Col 4:2-6

Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains, so that I may make it known as I should. Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.

Don’t miss that in this passage Paul’s asking for prayer that he may make the message about Christ known effectively, not that he be released from prison! And he’s exhorting the believers not to think about him but to make the best use of their time, living with evangelistic sensitivity toward unbelievers. Importantly, Paul is living out his own advice. He’s seeking to make the most of his opportunity to minister the gospel in Rome. And he knows he needs God’s help to do it faithfully and effectively.

We know of at least one person who was converted during Paul’s house arrest in Rome. He was a runaway servant named Onesimus. Paul wrote a letter to Philemon, the servant’s owner, during this same imprisonment. He encouraged him to be reconciled to Onesimus:

Philemon 8-10, 17-18

Although I have great boldness in Christ to command you to do what is right, I appeal to you, instead, on the basis of love. I, Paul, as an elderly man and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus, appeal to you for my son, Onesimus. I became his father while I was in chains.…So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would me. And if he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.

I’m sure Onesimus was grateful that Paul didn’t quit ministering during his imprisonment. Because Paul kept his heart focused on the mission of sharing Jesus rather than allowing his circumstances to shut him down, Onesimus was able to hear the apostle teach the gospel and was gloriously converted.

Paul also made the most of his opportunity with the imperial guard. Paul was under a lenient form of military custody in which only one soldier guarded him (28:16). This soldier would probably be relieved every so often, creating a rotation of guardsmen who were essentially Paul’s captive audience while chained to him—if indeed they were chained. These guards, in my view, had to be the most privileged guards in human history. They were able to hear the greatest evangelist-expositor in the history of the church. They were in a position to ask him anything! And perhaps some of them were converted as a result.

A survey of the New Testament leaves us with the idea that Paul’s witness impacted more than just the particular soldiers who guarded him. His witness apparently became the talk of the guards and the palace officials. Some estimate that there were as many as nine thousand Roman guards in that day. Paul’s message became known to many of them, to officials, and even to pagans in the streets. In Philippians, also written during this imprisonment, Paul mentions how God was accomplishing his purposes through this incarceration:



How does it end ?

  • Paul appeared before Nero some time during his house arrest in Rome. (God had promised Paul in a vision in Acts 27:24 that he would stand before Caesar.)
  • Paul was released by Nero. (You see Paul expecting to be released in Philemon 22, and perhaps in Philippians 1:19–26. The early church historian Eusebius writing about AD 325 supported this with his claim that Paul’s martyrdom was not during the period described in the book of Acts, see H.E. 2.22.6).
  • Paul had planned to visit Philemon (Philemon 22). But since Colossae was the opposite direction from Spain, and since we have some reason to believe that Paul traveled to Spain right after Rome, my guess is that Paul decided to forgo the visit to Philemon until after he completed his mission to Spain.
  • So, Paul traveled to Spain. Such a ministry trip had been part of his original plan way back when he wrote Romans five or more years before (Romans 15:22–29). Clement, writing around AD 95 in Rome, tells us that after Paul “had preached in the East and in the West, he won the genuine glory for his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world and having reached the farthest limits of the West” (see 1 Clement 5.5–7). The “farthest limits of the West” in the mind of a Roman could occasionally refer to Gaul or Britain, but usually meant Spain. Would a church leader in Rome, writing only 30 years after Paul’s martyrdom in Rome have made a historical mistake about Paul traveling to Spain? It is far better from the standpoint of historiography to assume that Paul did, in fact, travel to Spain and minister there. (Compare also the Acts of Peter and the Muratorian Fragment, both possibly composed toward the end of the second century, and both of which also affirm a journey to Spain by Paul).
  • We cannot know for certain, but based upon Paul’s former plans (Romans 15:22–29), as well as because of the distance of Spain from Rome (4–10? days by ship), Paul probably stayed some time in Spain preaching and teaching.
  • Perhaps on his return from Spain, Paul sailed to the island of Crete where he engaged in ministry alongside Titus. When Paul departed Crete, he left Titus to appoint elders in the cities that held believing communities, some of which were probably planted by Paul and Titus (Titus 1:5).
  • The order of events after this gets increasingly difficult. I would suggest that after Crete, Paul traveled to Ephesus where Timothy was serving. During Paul’s time in Ephesus, the following events occurred: 
    • 1) Paul encountered strong opposition from someone named Alexander the coppersmith (2 Tim 4:14), 
    • 2) he faced a large-scale falling out with believers in Asia, including Phygelus and Hermogenes (2 Timothy 1:15), 
    • 3) he received help and encouragement from Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:18), and 
    • 4) he urged Timothy to remain in Ephesus to correct false doctrine (1 Timothy 1:3). It may be that Paul also followed through on his previously stated intention to visit Philemon in Colossae (Philemon 22). On this last point, there is no way to know.
  • After this, I think everything else may have happened in fairly rapid succession without any long stays anywhere. Paul left Ephesus with the intention of traveling to Macedonia (1 Timothy 1:3). But before Paul traveled to Macedonia, he wanted to visit Miletus for some reason, and so he (walked? took a ship?) south with Trophimus to the nearby port of Miletus. Trophimus unfortunately became too sick to travel any further (2 Timothy 4:20—at the time he wrote these words, Paul apparently still didn’t know what had become of Trophimus). Paul thus left Trophimus behind in Miletus when he booked passage (I’m assuming he traveled by sea) on a ship heading north toward Macedonia. The ship would have stopped at Troas, so Paul left some things there with Carpus, including his cloak and books (2 Timothy 4:13). Since Paul left his cloak, we may infer that it was summer or nearing summer.
  • We know almost nothing about his time in Macedonia, but, as with his previous visit there at the end of his third missionary journey, he likely worked his way through Macedonia, ministering and visiting with believers in places such as Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea, and eventually made his way down to Corinth. Somewhere along the journey either in Macedonia or Achaia, he started planning his winter months in the warmer city of Nicopolis on the west coast of Achaia (Titus 3:12). Paul wrote a letter to Titus (Titus 3:12), and perhaps his first letter to Timothy, while making plans to winter in Nicopolis. Corinth would have been the ideal place from which to send a letter to Crete (Titus) and a letter to Ephesus (1 Timothy), so my guess is that these letters were sent from Corinth. Paul sent Artemas or Tychicus to relieve Titus on Crete, an action Paul was hoping would make a way for Titus to join him during the winter months in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12).
  • Paul left Erastus in Corinth (2 Timothy 4:20; Erastus was anyway from Corinth, see Romans 16:23) and headed north and west toward Nicopolis, where he hoped Titus would join him.
  • Now, we really don’t have any idea where Paul was arrested. If the order of events after Crete are moved around on the timeline above (and even the placement of Crete on the timeline is not certain), Paul could have been arrested in any of the following: Ephesus, Troas, one of the cities of Macedonia, or Nicopolis. My suggestion is Nicopolis, since it comes at the end of all the other pieces of information I have tried to piece together. If he was, in fact, arrested soon after he arrived at Nicopolis as winter was setting in, this would explain how Paul found himself in prison in winter in Rome (2 Timothy 4:13, 21).

Thus ends Paul’s fourth missionary journey. Included in the journey is a mission to Spain, ministry on the island of Crete, ministry in Ephesus, stops at Miletus, Troas, various cities in Macedonia, Corinth, and probably Nicopolis.

What about after Paul’s final arrest?

After Paul’s arrest, he was taken to Rome and imprisoned, not in a house as during his former internment, but probably in the notorious and cold (2 Timothy 4:13, 21) Mamertine Prison around the time that Nero started to unleash a horrific wave of persecution against Christians in Rome. During his time in prison, Paul was visited by Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:16–17), abandoned by many Christians as he faced trial (2 Timothy 4:16), deserted by Demas (2 Timothy 4:10), but still somehow found a way to write a second letter to Timothy (2 Timothy). Paul was aided by the physician Luke, who sought to attend to his needs (2 Timothy 4:11).

Paul is believed to have been beheaded—rather than thrown to the wild beasts or killed in some other inhumane way—because he was a Roman citizen.

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