Acts 28 Paul’s Ministry At Malta And Rome.
Paul, Luke and Aristarchus, along with the rest, eventually realized that they had come ashore on Malta (v. 1), and the residents welcomed them and started a fire to provide warmth from the rain and cold (v. 2). However, when Paul was placing sticks on the fire a viper fastened unto his hand, and the natives thought he would die, believing him to be a murderer receiving a just punishment (vv. 3-4). When Paul shook off the viper into the fire, with no adverse effects, they then supposed Paul to be a god (vv. 5-6). Furthermore, when a leading citizen of the island helped them, one Publius, Paul learning of the sickness of his father, went to him and through prayer and the laying on of his hands, healed him (vv. 7-8). As a result, all who had sick on the island brought them to Paul, and the people gave assistance to aid them on their way (vv. 9-10).
What was for Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus, God’s sovereign providential planning of their affairs, was for the pagans of this island proof that Paul must have been a god. Luke does not tell us whether they were converted, but would there have been all this healing without faith on their part? In any case, there was another Alexandrian ship wintering at the island, which would provide passage for the final leg of Paul’s journey to Rome. They stayed 3 days at Syracuse, 1 day at Rhegium, and then 7 days with brethren at Puteoli, and then finally arriving in Rome he was able to remain separate from the other prisoners with his own guard (vv. 11-16). After 3 days Paul called the Jewish leadership together so that he could explain his situation to them, how the leadership in Jerusalem had wrongfully charged him, and how the civil authorities saw no cause to put him to death (vv. 17-18)
In short, Paul made his case to the Jewish leadership that he had no choice but to appeal his case to Caesar (v. 19). They responded that they had received no communication from the leadership in Jerusalem, but they wanted to learn more about the new sect of Christianity (vv. 20-22). To this end, they gathered to Paul to hear about the kingdom of God, how Jesus had fulfilled those things written in the law and the prophets concerning the Messiah and his kingdom (v. 23). Some were persuaded and some were not, so they were not in agreement (v. 24). For Paul this was simply the fulfillment of what the LORD had spoken through Isaiah, that some would hear but not understand, and seeing they would not perceive (vv. 25-27; Is. 6:9-10). The dull of heart would not repent. It is important to note that this word came to Isaiah while he stood before the heavenly council and Glory Presence.
Finally, there was something further at work here, which was also spoken of in the law and the prophets, that when Messiah came there would be an expanded outreach to the Gentile nations, for his Father would grant unto him all nations through those whom he had chosen (Pss. 2, 110). There would be this dynamic, that with the apostasy of the nation of Israel, the gospel would extend to the Gentiles as a light in the midst of darkness, and many would hear (v. 28). When the Jews heard these parting words, they went their way still disputing among themselves (v. 29). In the providence of God this journey to Rome provided Paul with the occasion to have two years in a rented house where he could preach the word and the gospel to all who came to him, “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.” (vv. 30-31).