Acts 28


1 "And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called

Melita."  We for they, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus (twice). Was called.

It reads as if it was the answer to their question to the natives, "What is this island

called?" Melita. That Melita is the island of Malta, and not Meleda off the coast of

Dalmatia, is demonstrated in Smith's ' Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul,' and it is

not worth while here to consider the arguments in favor of Meleda. Melita appears

to be a Phoenician name, from the root in Hebrew מָלַט, to escape (Bochart,

'Canaan,' 1:26), meaning, therefore, a "refuge," a harbor of refuge so called

from sailors often running into Valetta during a gale; or possibly from מֶלֶ, clay,

in Italian malta, from the clay which forms the bottom of the sea as you approach

Malta, and which makes the anchorage so safe. It was originally colonized by

Phoenicians, whether from Tyre or Carthage cannot be pronounced with certainty,

though we know it was a Carthaginian possession at the time of the first Punic War.

It fell into the hands of the Romans B.C. 218, and at the time of Paul's shipwreck

was annexed to the province of Sicily. The population, however, was Phoenician

or Punic, and probably knew little Greek or Latin. The name of a fountain in St.

Paul's Bay, Ayn tal Razzul, "The Apostle's Fountain," is said (Smith, p. 24) to be

Phoenician. But this is extremely doubtful. It is far more probably, not to say

certainly, the corrupt Africano-Arabic dialect of the island, as I venture to affirm

on the high authority of Professor Wright. Gesenius is also distinctly of opinion

that there are no remains of Phoenician in the Maltese, and that all the words in

the Maltese language which have been thought to be Phoenician are really Arabic.

Four genuine Phoenician inscriptions have, however, been found in the island

('Monument. Phoenic,' pars prima, pp. 90-111,252, and 341).


2 "And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a

fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the

cold."  Barbarians for barbarous people, Authorized Version; common for little,

Authorized Version; all for every one, Authorized Version. Barbarians; i.e. not

Greeks or Romans, or (in the mouth of a Jew) not Jews. The phrase had especial

reference to the strange language of the "barbarian." See Paul's use of it

(Romans 1:14; I Corinthians 14:11; Colossians 3:11); and compare Ovid's saying

('Trist.,' 3:10, 37), "Barbarus hic ego sum, quia non intelligor ulli;" and that of

Herodotus (2, 158), that the Egyptians call all barbarians who do not speak the

Egyptian language (Kuinoel). The word is thought to be formed onomate-poetically,

to express the confused sound which a strange language has in a man's ears.

Kindness; φιλανθρωπία - philanthropia - fondness of humanity; philanthrophy,

here and Titus 3:4 (compare ch. 27:3).  Received us all. The whole party, numbering

two hundred and seventy-six. The present rain, and... cold; showing that the gale still

continued, and the wind was still north-east. The plight of the shipwrecked party must

have been lamentable, drenched to the skin, with no change of clothes, a cold wind

blowing. Probably the hearty meal they had taken on beard ship was the means of

saving their lives.



Humanity (v. 2)


“And the barbarous people showed us no little kindness.” How that

kindness found expression is further detailed. “Heavy showers had come

on, and the shipwrecked men were half benumbed with fatigue and cold.

Pitying their condition, the natives lit a huge fire of faggots and

brushwood, that they might dry their clothes, and gave them in all respects

a friendly welcome.” The “milk of human kindness” has ever made men

helpful to each other in circumstances of calamity and distress, and perhaps

the most painful instances of inhumanity the world has known may be

found in the doings of those “wreckers” who used to entice the ships

ashore, that they might plunder their cargoes. The term used here,

barbarous people,” is somewhat misleading. F.W. Robertson says, “By

barbarian’ was meant any religion but the Roman or Greek — a

contemptuous term, the spirit of which is common enough in all ages. Just

as now every sect monopolizes God, claims for itself an exclusive Heaven,

contemptuously looks on all the rest of mankind as sitting in outer

darkness, and complacently consigns myriads whom God has made to His

uncovenanted mercies, that is, to probable destruction; so, in ancient times,

the Jew scornfully designated all nations but his own as Gentiles; and the

Roman and the Greek, each retaliating in his way, treated all nations but his

own under the common epithet of ‘barbarians.’ The people of Malta were

really of Carthaginian descent, and they probably spoke their ancient

tongue, though mixed, perhaps, with Latin and Greek, since the island was

on a great highway of trade.


  • HUMANITY AS A NATURAL SENTIMENT. It is the common bond

uniting together mankind in helpfulness, sympathy, and charity. A

sentiment which we can see is based:


Ø      On the fact that God hath “made of one blood all nations to dwell upon

the earth.” This truth of fact is now scientifically accepted, and called the

solidarity of the human race;” but it is the earliest divinely revealed truth,

declared in the parentage of the race.


Ø      On the ties of brotherhood which follow the division of the race into

separate families. The bond which binds together the members of families,

binds together also tribes and nations, which are but God’s great family.


Ø      On the common image of God which men share, and which applies

chiefly to moral disposition. The most characteristic feature of God is His

care for others, and, apart from the mischief done by sin, this image of God

man still bears.


o        Charity is God’s image on man;

o        selfishness is the devil’s image on man.



strikingly marked in some nations than in others.


Ø      Usually found in those whose country is exposed to calamity, by reason

of a wide seaboard, or an unhealthy condition, or exposure to enemies.

Men are bound together when a common fate hangs over them all.


Ø      Also found in nations marked by the milder virtues, rather than those

energetic, active ones which so often lead to war. Peace-loving nations

build hospitals, asylums, etc., and care for the suffering members. War

tends to make men indifferent to suffering. England in later times has

striven to carry humanity into her war, limiting in every way possible the

distress it entails. Humanity strives for the day when war shall be a sound

that men may hear no more forever.



must be humane. They cannot be Christian and wholly fail of brotherly

duties. Those who are bound to God in the dear bonds of redeemed

sonship cannot fail to come nearer in sympathy to their brothers of the

common humanity. Illustrate fully the Christian teaching on the culture of

the spirit of humanity; the New Testament is full of counsels similar to this:

“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

(Galatians 6:2)


3  "And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire,

there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand."  But for and,

Authorized Version; a viper came for there came a viper, Authorized Version;

by reason of for out of, Authorized Version. Had gathered; συστρέψαντος -

sustrepsantos - of twisting together - only here and in the Septuagint of Judges 11:3

and Judges 12:4, for "to collect," "gather together." But συστροφή - sustrophae -

riot (ch.19:40; 23:12) means "a concourse," "a conspiracy." In classical Greek

συστρέφειν - sustrephein - is "to twist up together," to "form into a compact body,"

and the like. A bundle of sticks; φρυγάνων πλῆθος - phruganon plaethos - quanity

of kindling. The word only occurs in the New Testament here; it means "dry sticks,"

"kindlers," any combustible material. In the Septuagint it is used as the equivalent

of קַשׁ, straw or stubble (Isaiah 40:24;  41:2, etc.), and for "nettles" (Job 30:7).

Theophrastus seems to use it for plants smaller than a shrub ('Hist.,' Plant., 1:3, 1,

quoted by Hobart). Lewin (vol. it. p. 208) writes as follows: - "When in Malta

in 1853, I went to St. Paul's Bay at the same season of the year as when the wreck

occurred .... We noticed eight or nine stacks of small faggots, they consisted of a

kind of thorny heather, and had evidently been cut for firewood." This is a

conclusive answer, if any were needed, to the objection to Melita being Malta,

drawn from the absence of wood in the island. But besides this, it is not a fact that

even now there is no wood at all (see Lewin). A viper came out. It is objected that

there are no vipers in Malta. But it is obvious that the condition of Malta now, a very

thickly inhabited island (one thousand two hundred people to the square mile,

Lewin, p. 208), is very different from what it was with a sparse population in the

days of Paul. Vipers may well have been destroyed during one thousand eight

hundred and sixty years (add 160 more - CY - 2018) . Lewin mentions that his

traveling companions in 1853 started what they thought was a viper, which

escaped into one of the bundles of heather. Came out. Διεξελθοῦσα - Diexelthousa -

is the reading of Tischendorf, Alford, Meyer, eta., "came out through the sticks."

It is a frequent medical term. The heat; τῆς θέρμης - taes thermaes - of the warmth.

This form of the word is only used here in the New Testament, instead of the more

common θερμότης - thermotaes. It occurs, however, repeatedly in the Septuagint.

(Job 6:17; Psalm 19:7; Eccesiasticus 38:34, etc.), and was the usual medical word

for feverish heat. Fastened; κάθηψε - kathaepse - fastens on, here only in the Bible;

but not uncommon in classical Greek, and of general use among medical writers.      


4  "And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they

said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he

hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live."  Beast for venomous

beast, Authorized Version; hanging from for hang on, Authorized Version; one to

another for among themselves, Authorized Version; escaped from for escaped,

Authorized Version; justice for vengeance, Authorized Version; hath not suffered

for suffereth not, Authorized Version. The beast (τὸ θηρίον - to thaerion - the wild

beast). It is peculiar to medical writers to use θηρίον as synonymous with ἔχιδνα -

echidna - a viper. So also θηριόδηκτος - thaeriodaektos -  bit by a viper, θηριακή -

thriakae - an antidote to the bite of a viper (Dioscorides, Galen, etc.). Justice

(Δίκη - hae Dikae the justice). In Greek mythology Dice (Justitia) was the

daughter and assessor of Zeus, and the avenger of crime. In her train was Poena,

of whom Horace says," Rare antecedeutem scelcstum Deseruit pede Poena claude"

('Od.,' 3:2, 32). "The idea of Dice as justice personified is most perfectly developed

in the dramas of Sophocles and Euripides" (article "Dice," in 'Dict. of Greek and

Roman Biog. and Mythol.'). It does not appear whether the islanders had learned

the name and office of Dice from the Greeks in Sicily, or whether they had any

native divinity whose name Luke translates into that of Dice. The gods whose

names are found in ancient Maltese inscriptions are Melkarth, another name of

Hercules, the tutelar god of Tyre; Osiris, and Baal. Other Phoenician divinities

are named in the Carthaginian inscriptions (see Gesenius, 'Monument. Phoenic.').

Had not suffered. They assume that death will certainly follow from the bite.




The Superstitions of Ignorance (v. 4)


“The natives of Melita, seeing what they did, and ignorant of this prisoner’s

crime, and with their rough notions of the Divine government of the world,

rushed to the conclusion that they were looking on an example of God’s

vengeance against murder. It was in vain that such a criminal had escaped

the waves; a more terrible death was waiting for him.” These men

misinterpreted natural law into vengeance; yet there is a proneness in man

to judge so. We expect that nature will execute the chastisement of the

spiritual world. Hence all nature becomes to the imagination leagued

against the transgressor.


Ø      The stars in their courses fight against Sisera (Judges 5:20).

Ø      The wall of Siloam falls on guilty men Luke 13:4.

Ø      The sea will not carry the criminal, nor the plank bear him;

Ø      the viper stings;


everything is a minister of wrath. On this conviction nations construct their

trial by ordeal. The guilty man’s sword would fail in the duel, and the foot

would strike and be burnt by the hot ploughshare. Borne idea of this sort

lurks in all our minds. We picture to ourselves the specters of the past

haunting the nightly bed of the tyrant.  We take for granted there is an

avenger making life miserable. In the incident of this text, and the opinions

expressed, we find the thoughts of vengeance which are cherished by those

who do not know the true God.  Superstitions are usually akin to truth, and

contain within them some measure of truth; but they are exaggerations,

fashioned by men’s fears, which too often wholly distort and misrepresent

the truth. Estimating the superstitious fears and sentiments of these

barbarous people,” we note that they were:



ESCAPES PUNISHMENT. Their idea was that Paul was a criminal, guilty

of some great crime, and justice was pursuing him; if he had escaped the

doom of shipwreck, he could not get away from the avenger, who now

struck at him in the viper’s bite. Explain the early notion of the blood

avenger, and the classical ideas associated with the Furies. It is important

that men should have a deep and unquestioning conviction that the guilty

never escape; but it does not seem to be absolutely and constantly true so

far as this life is concerned. ("Some men's sins are open beforehand, going

before to judgment; and some men they follow after.  Likewise also the

good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise

cannot be hid."  - I Timothy 5:24-25)  Show the moral and social importance

of the assurance that punishment must follow sin, and impress that God’s

revelation wholly confirms the testimony of natural religion.




THING. They thought of it as a force ever working, blindly indeed, but

certainly. If baffled in one way, it set about gaining its end in another.

When heathen ignorance is changed to Christian knowledge, we find:


Ø      That the thing which we had called vengeance is but one of the modes

of the Divine working.


Ø      That mere calamities — the things that we call accidents — are not

necessarily Divine vengeance (see our Lord’s teaching, Luke 13:1-5).


Ø      That God’s wrath on sin need not find its entire expression in this life,

seeing that He has all the ages to work in. This our Lord figuratively

expressed when He said, “Fear him who can cast body and soul into

 hell.” (Luke 12:5)


Ø      That God’s avengings, being those of a holy Father, can never rest

satisfied in the suffering of the sinful creature, but must go on to secure

the creature’s redemption from the sin which issues in the suffering.

Blind vengeance can rest in the destruction of the criminal. Fatherly

love can never rest save in the recovery of the prodigal child. And

God alone can be trusted with the avenging work. “Vengeance is

mine: I will repay, saith the Lord.”  (Romans 12:19)


5  "And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm."  Howbeit

for and, Authorized Version; look for felt, Authorized Version.



Christ’s Promise Precisely Fulfilled (v. 5)


In sending forth His disciples on their first trial mission, our Lord had given

them this distinct assurance (Luke 10:19), “Behold, I give unto you

power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the

enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” And when about to pass

away from them in a surprising and glorious manner, our Lord commanded

them to “go and preach His gospel to every creature,” assuring them that

these signs should follow them in their labors, “They shall take up serpents,

and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.” (Mark 16:18) 

These may, indeed, be regarded as figurative Eastern promises that were only

intended to assure the disciples of a general Divine protection while they were

engaged in Christian service; but it cannot be uninteresting to notice that

these promises were precisely fulfilled in the experience of the apostles.

Paul, as narrated in our text, “shook off the beast,” the deadly viper, “and

felt no harm.” From the incident it is suggested to us to consider:



DIVINE PROMISES. We learn to speak of the “exceeding great and

precious promises.”  (II Peter 1:4)  They are stored for us in all parts of

God’s Word. It may be shown that they are:


Ø      abundant;

Ø      sufficient, since no conceivable Christian circumstance or need is


Ø      varied, so as to suit all occasions;

Ø      adapted, so as to gain gracious influence on all dispositions.


Nothing is more pleasantly surprising in a Christian life than the freshness

with which the promises appear in every new season of anxiety and

trouble. They come to us as if they were words just spoken by the all-

comforting Father. They are the “everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy

33:27), which hold us safe.  They are the wings that bear us up and

on and home to God. They are all true and faithful, “Yea and amen

in Christ Jesus.”



They assure, in large and comprehensive terms, that grace shall be given

according to need; but, at least in the case of the apostles, we find them

precise and definite. Illustrate from the case of taking up deadly serpents.

Christians may err in two ways — either by generalizing the promises too

much, or by particularizing them too much, and over-forcing their

adaptation to the individual. Still, if we had a fuller faith, we might

recognize a more definite character in God’s promises. Illustrate by such a

promise or assurance as this, “The prayer of faith shall save the sick.”

(James 5:15)




which we have to learn from the fulfillment of Christ’s definite promise in

the case of His servant Paul. It may be taken as a test case, by the help of

which we may know whether we may trust all the promises, even those

which do not seem easy to grasp, and those which seem to promise too

much for mortals and for sinners such as we are. (Seemingly, too good

to be true.  CY - 2018)  He who is true to His word in the little thing which

we can fully test will be true to the great words which assure to us both

grace and glory. And, as we see the viper falling harmlessly off the apostle’s

arm, we say, “Verily, He is faithful that promised.”   (Hebrews 10:23)


6  "Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead

suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come

to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god."  But they

expected that he would for howbeit, they looked when he should, Authorized Version;

when they were long in expectation for after they had looked a great while, Authorized

Version; beheld nothing amiss for saw no harm, Authorized Version. They expected;

προσεδόκων - prosedokon - they were apprehensive. This word is used eleven times

by Luke, twice by Matthew, and three times in the Second Epistle of Peter (see ch. 3:5;

Luke 1:21, etc.). It is also common in the Septuagint. But it is a word much employed

by medical writers in speaking of the course they expect a disease to take, and the

results they look for. And this is the more remarkable here because there are no

fewer than three other medical phrases in this verse, πίμπρασθαι καταπίπτειν -

 pimprasthai katapiptein - to be becoming inflamed; to be falling down, and

μηδὲν ἄτοπον - maeden atopon - nothing amiss, besides those immediately

preceding διεξέρχεσθαι  - diexerchesthai  - (according to several good

manuscripts and editions) θέρμη καθάπτειν  - thermae kathaptein , and θηρίον (beast).

So that it looks as if, having once got into a medical train of thought from the subject

he was writing about, medical language naturally came uppermost in his mind.

Have swollen; πίμπρασθαι - pimptasthai, only here in the Bible, and not found in

this sense in older classical writers. But it is the usual medical word for "inflammation"

in any part of the body. Fallen down; καταπίπτειν, only here and in ch 26:14, and

twice in the Septuagint; but common in Homer and elsewhere, and especially frequent

in medical writers of persons falling down in fits, or weakness, or wounded, or the

like. Nothing amiss (μηδὲν ἄτοπον - maeden atopon). Mr. Hobart quotes a remarkable

parallel to this phrase from Damocrites, quoted by Galen. He says that whosoever,

having been bitten by a mad dog, drinks a certain antidote (εἰς οὐδὲν ἄτοπον

ἐμπεσοῦται ῤᾳδίως - eis ouden atopon empesoutaai radios), "shall suffer no harm."

It is used in medical writers in two senses - of" unusual symptoms," and of fatal

consequences. In the New Testament it only occurs elsewhere in Luke 23:41,

"Nothing amiss;" and II Thessalonians 3:2, Ἀτόπων καὶ πονηρῶν ἀνθρώπων -

Atopon kai ponaeron anthropon - unreasonable and wicked men. It is also used

in the Septuagint for wickedness, doing wickedly, etc. They changed their minds;

as in an opposite direction the Lycaonians did (ch. 14:11, 19). It is a graphic picture

of the fickleness of an untutored mind yielding to every impulse. The impunity with

which Paul endured the bite of the viper was a direct fulfillment of our Lord's

promise in Mark 16:18 (see further note on v. 8).




A Strong Family Likeness (vs. 1-6)


This short episode is, in its proportion, as refreshing to the reader as to

those who played the actual part in it. It is the oasis of narrative. It reads

like a brief parable of the human heart. Or we may be impressed by it, as by

some portrait, which presents to our view features with which we seem to

be very familiar, and half hiding, half revealing a likeness to some one well

known. They are the features that “half conceal and half reveal” the

likeness of the human heart. And throughout the family of human heart,

very strong indeed is the family likeness, above what can be found

anywhere else. Notice these features, so characteristic of it.




Ø      The heart loves kindness — to receive it.

Ø      The heart loves kindnessto do it. Both of these are deep facts of

the heart, and speak not obscurely of Him who made it.

Ø      The kindness that is in the heart is touched towards bodily want, cold,

hunger, thirst, shelterless exposure; and this tells the tale of all the rest

(Matthew 25:35-45).

Ø      The kindness of the heart contravenes in human life the bare action of

the principle of natural selection; it tempers it with irresistibly modifying

and irresistibly elevating moral influences; it determines and regulates in

a way all its own “the survival of the fittest,” and it is the thing on earth

likest what is habitual in heaven!

Ø      The kindness of the human heart is found everywhere, and in every age

of the world.




Ø      The superstition that is so often betrayed by the human heart is an

unerring sign of the sense of God and the instinct of the infinite

present in it.

Ø      It means that sense unguided, that instinct baffled.

Ø      It evidences deep conviction of moral distinctions inside man, and of

presiding moral judgments outside men, and authoritative over them,

all unfed as these may be from truth’s own springs, and unpointed

to their infinitely worthy objects.

Ø      It is a constant rehearsal of judgment to come.


  • ITS SWIFTNESS TO TURN. Hence come:


Ø      The worse uses of such versatility and such swiftness, fickleness, and

caprice, and waywardness, and love of mere variety; but

Ø      the better uses, readiness to forgive, swiftness to run and even meet the

returning prodigal;

Ø      the thoroughness of contrition and conversion, that need but a moment

like those of Paul himself; and

Ø      the power to recover, after sorest stricken griefs, and most fearful

storms of sorrow or of passion.


  • ITS ADDICTEDNESS TO EXTREMES. The people of Melita began

with simplest, most unaffected kindness. They saw no instructing

providence, but when the occasion came superstition filled their heart, and

Paul is “no doubt a murderer, whom vengeance suffereth not to live,

though he hath escaped the sea.” This is their short and summary theology.

But it is not altogether so stiff and unopen to conviction. They are changed

to the opposite pole when they find, “after a great while,” i.e. what seemed

a great while for eyes fixed in one direction, but which was indeed a very

little while, that vengeance does not make an end to the life of Paul. And

from a pursued murderer, they exalt him to the skies of the gods! Happy if

the history of every erring heart had as much of the kindness as was here,

and no more of the error and the mischief and the disaster than were here.

Kindness began the scene, and, when fear clouded it over awhile, the last

change of mind” was not from better to worse, but from worse to better.

Yet still how mournfully plain it is that nature’s light alone, leaves the

barbarian! For so he must be called justly who exalts the child of God into

a god himself.


7  "In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island,

whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days

courteously" Now in the neighborhood of that place for in the same quarters,

Authorized Version; lands belonging to for possessions of, Authorized Version;

named for whose name was, Authorized Version; entertained for lodged,

Authorized Version. Lands (χωρία - choria - freeholds); so John 4:5; ch. 1:18-19;

4:34; 5:3,8. The chief man of the island (τῷ πρώτετῆς νήσου - to prote taes

naesou - the foremost man of the island). It appears that, with his usual accurate

knowledge gained on the spot (see ch. 16:22. note), Luke here gives to Publius

his peculiar official title of primus. For Ciantar (1. 215), quoted by Smith, gives

a Greek inscription on a marble, which in his day was standing near the gates

of Citta Vecehia, in Malta, in which are the words, Προύδενς ἵππευς Ρωμ πρῶτος

Μελιταίων κ.τ.λ. - Proudens hippeus Rom protos Melitaion k.t.l. -, "Prudens, a

Roman knight, chief of the Maltese, etc. Latin inscription, which was discovered

in 1747, has the same title, MEL PRIMUS. "chief of the Maltese." It may not

improbably be the Greek and Latin translation of the old Phoenician title of the

"headman," in Hebrew הָרלֺאשׁ, in Chaldee ראֵשׁ, as in the title ראֵשׂ הַגְלוּתָה,

the chief of the Captivity. When the Romans succeeded the Carthaginians in the

possession of the island, they would be likely to perpetuate the title of the chief

magistrate. In this case the chief was also a Roman, as his name of Publius indicates.

Alford says that he was legatus to the Praetor of Sicily, and so 'Speaker's

Commentary,' Kuinoel, Meyer, ere.' Received us; ἀναδεξάμενος - anadexqamenos -  

receiving - only here (and Hebrews 11:17 in a different sense) for the more common

ὑποδέχομαι  - hupodechomai - . Kuinoel quotes from AElian, 'Var. Hist.,' 4, 19,  

the similar phrase, Υπέδεξατο αὐτοὺς. . . φιλοφρόνως - ???: and from II Maccabees

3:9, Φιλοφρόνως ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀρχιερέως ὑποδεχθείς - Philophronos hupo tou archiereos

hupodechtheis. Entertained us (ἐξένισεν - exenisen - lodges); see ch. 10:6, 18, 23, 32;

21:16; and in the active voice in Hebrews 13:2. Courteously; φιλοφρόνως -

philophronos - aimably, only here in the New Testament, but we find φιλόφρων -

philophron - courteous, in I Peter 3:8. We must understand the "us" probably to

include the centurion, Paul, Luke, Aristarchus, and possibly one or two others,

but not the whole two hundred and seventy-six. "Be not forgetful to entertain

strangers:  for thereby some have entertained angels unawares"  (Hebrews 13:2)

had a striking fulfillment here. During the three days they would have opportunity

to procure suitable winter quarters.


8  "And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a

bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him,

and healed him." It was so for it came to pass, Authorized Version; fever for a fever,

Authorized Version; dysentery for of a bloody flux, Authorized Version; unto for to,

Authorized Version; and laying, etc., healed for and laid, etc., and healed,

Authorized Version. The father of Publius. The fact of the father of Publius being

alive and living in Malta is a further indication that the term πρῶτος τῆς νήσου

(foremost man of the island) is an official title. Lay sick. Συνέχεσθαι - Sunechesthai -

is also the usual medical expression for being taken sick of any disease (see the

numerous passages quoted by Hobart, pp. 3, 4, from Galen and Hippocrates).

It is used by Luke, with πυρετῴ (συνεχομένη πυρετῴ - sunechomenae pureto -

being pressed to fever - Luke 4:38), and in the same sense in Matthew 4:24. Lay.

Κατακεῖσθαι - Katakeisthai - to be lying down is used especially of lying in bed

from sickness (see Mark 1:30; 2:4; Luke 5:25; here ch. 9:33). It answers to decumbo

in Latin. Sick of fever and dysentery (πυρετοῖς καὶ δυσεντερία συνεχόμενον - puretois

kai dusenteria sunechomenon - to fevers and to dysentery being pressed). The terms

here used are all professional ones. Πυρετός - puretos (fevers), in the plural, is of

frequent occurrence in Hippocrates, Aretaeus, and Galen, but elsewhere in the

New Testament always in the singular; δυσεντερία (dysentery), only found here

in the New Testament, is the regular technical word for a "dysentery," and is

frequently in medical writers coupled with πυρετοί or πυρετός, as indicating

different stages of the same illness. Laying his hands on him. So Mark 16:18,

"They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover" (see also Matthew 9:18;

19:13, 15; Mark 5:23; 6:5; 7:32;  8:23, 25; Luke 4:40;  13:13; here ch. 9:12).

It is also spoken of as an accompaniment of prayer in confirmation, ordination,

etc. It has been remarked as curious that the two actions of taking up serpents

and healing the sick by the laying on of hands should be in such close juxtaposition

both here and in Mark 16:18. It suggests the thought whether Luke had seen the

passage in Mark; or whether the writer of Mark 16:18 had seen this verse. Or is

the coincidence accidental, arising out of the facts?   (I would say consequential

of the prophetic or a natural result of the promised! - CY - 2018)




Christian Returns for Kindness Shown (v. 8)


“Not far from the scene of the shipwreck lay the town now called Alta

Vecchia, the residence of Publius, the governor of the island, who was

probably a legate of the Printer of Sicily. Since Julius was a person of

distinction, this Roman official, who bore the title of πρῶτος - protos

first; foremost — a local designation, the accuracy of which is supported by

inscriptions — offered to the centurion a genial hospitality, in which Paul

and his friends were allowed to share. It happened that at that time the father

of Publius was lying prostrated by feverish attacks complicated with dysentery.

Luke was a physician, but his skill was less effectual than the agency of

Paul, who went into the sick man’s chamber, prayed by his bedside, laid his

hands on him, and healed him. The rumor of the cure spread through the

little island, and caused all the sick inhabitants to come for help and

tendance. We may be sure that Paul, though we do not hear of his

founding any Church, yet lost no opportunity of making known the gospel”

(Farrar). In this instance the order of St. Paul’s words have to be changed.

He had received their “carnal things,” and he gladly returned to them his

spiritual things.” We observe:



CIRCUMSTANTIAL BLESSINGS. These are all that the world has at its

command; but these Christians need. They may be illustrated under the



Ø      Hospitalities.

Ø      Charities.

Ø      Sympathies.

Ø      Practical aids.


So the barbarous people could light a fire and show kindness to Paul,

and Publius could offer to him and his friends generous hospitalities.

Especially dwell on the virtue of hospitality, noticing that it was a

characteristic excellence of ancient times; it is a virtue carefully cultivated

in the East, and more particularly among tribes, in the present day; and

that, while it is retained, it is set under very narrow limitations in modern

civilized nations, where class prejudices are strong.



SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS, They have the common powers of brotherhood

and helpfulness which belong to men as set in human relations; but they can

also do for their fellows what no other class of men can do. They have a

new life; that life finds its own peculiar and characteristic expression. It

exerts both


Ø      an unconscious and

Ø      a conscious influence for good.


Illustrate that Christians can save a city, as ten righteous men would have

saved Sodom. (Genesis 18)  They may preserve from temporal calamity

by their calmness in the hour of danger, through their faith in God; as

may be seen in times of shipwreck. They may have actual power to heal,

as the apostles had. They can certainly witness for the living God;

commend the service of the Lord Jesus Christ; carry healing balm to

sin-sick souls; comfort the weary and heavy-laden; and minister truth

and sympathy and love where these are needed. They can be “preserving

salt; uplifted light-bearers; and upon them may hang, in full clusters,

the rich ripe fruits which the world so greatly needs for its refreshing

and its spiritual health. Impress that what the Christian man can be

he ought to be and should strive to be. “Herein is my Father glorified,

that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”  (John 15:8)


9 "So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came,

and were healed:"  And for so, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; the

rest for others, Authorized Version; cured for healed, Authorized Version.


The mission of Christianity to heal both body and soul.






10 "Who also honored us with many honors; and when we departed, they

laded us with such things as were necessary."  Sailed for departed, Authorized

Version; put on board for laded us with, Authorized Version; we needed for were

necessary, Authorized Version. Honored us with many honors. Kuinoel understands

this in the sense of "gifts, presents," which of course their destitute condition, after

losing all they had in the ship-wreck, would make very acceptable. But there is

nothing in the words to suggest this meaning, and, had it been so, Luke would

have simply stated it, as he does immediately afterwards, when he says that they

put on board such things as we needed. When we sailed (ἀναγομένοις -

anagomenois - to one setting out); see ch. 13:13; 16:11; 18:21;  20:3, 13;

21:1-2, 4, 12, 21, and notes. It is touching to see the kindness of the Maltese,

and we may hope that they had to thank God for light and grace and life

through the ministry of Paul and his companions.




Kindness (vs. 1-10)


Genuine kindness is a pleasant thing to see by whomsoever and under

whatsoever circumstances it is exercised. God has planted it in the human

breast, and it is one of the distinctive attributes of man. Too often, indeed,

the indulgence of bad passions is suffered to choke it, and rival interests to

interfere with its action. Still, there it is, a faint reflection, it is true, of the

love of God, but nevertheless a remnant of God’s image in man; pleasant

to behold, sweetening the relations of man with man, and capable, if

allowed to exercise its rightful sway over human actions, of increasing to

an almost infinite extent the happiness of the human race. Kindness shows

itself, mainly, in two ways. First, in a general inclination to promote the

well-being of others. But secondly and chiefly, in sentiments of sorrow and

compassion for the misfortunes of others, and in active endeavors to

relieve their sufferings and supply their wants. Such was the kindness of

these simple Maltese peasants. They saw before them nearly three hundred

persons in the extremest destitution. Houseless, without food, drenched

with wet from the sea and from the rain, without any change of raiment,

shivering with cold, exhausted with fatigue, their plight was most

miserable. When the kind islanders saw them they were touched with their

misfortunes, nor did they rest in pitiful feelings only. They set actively to

work to alleviate their sufferings. They opened their humble dwellings to

receive them. They supplied them with what food they could. They helped

them to dry their dripping clothes; they collected fuel to kindle fires by

which to warm them; they gave themselves no little trouble and labor to

give them every comfort within their reach. And what enhances the

kindness is that there could be no hope of reward. The men whom they

were helping had lost everything they possessed. Their whole property had

gone down to the bottom of the sea. They could give nothing in return for

what they received. All the more was the uncommon kindness which they

showed them pure and unalloyed with selfishness. They were

unconsciously obeying the precept of Paul’s Master, “Do good, hoping for

nothing again.”  (Luke 6:35)  May we not hope that they found the truth of

His promise, Your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of

the Highest”?  It is a great confirmation of this hope that we read in the following

verses how the hand of the Lord was stretched out in signs and wonders. The

miracles of Scripture are never useless or gratuitous displays of power. The

most obvious purpose of those wrought in Malta was the conversion of the

natives; and it is very pleasant to think that those kind men who were

privileged to minister to the necessities of Paul and Luke and their

companions in the faith, reaped a rich and unexpected reward, when they

learned at their mouths the blessed promises of God’s grace, and were

received into the number of the children of God through faith in Christ




Occurrences at Malta (vs. 1-10)


  • THE HOSPITALITY OF THE HEATHEN. The instinct of kindness is

God-implanted in the human heart. Hospitality was not so much a virtue in

heathendom as the refusal of it a crime. So much the more must any

“shutting up of the bowels of compassion” against the needy brother or the

stranger be an offence against the Son of man (I John 3:17). The great charge

which He, in His depiction of the scene of judgment, brings against the

unfaithful is the neglect of the common offices of love.



the love of God in his heart, no coast can be foreign land, no color or

custom of men repel. It was a heathen who said, “I am a man, and nothing

human is foreign to me.” The Christian may translate the saying, “I am a

follower of the Son of man, and nothing that is dear to Him is strange to




How quickly do the open brows of hospitable kindness change into

scowls and frowns as the viper fastens on Paul’s hand! They reason he

must be a murderer. Occurrences are full of effects without visible causes.

The untrained mind makes out of coincidences chains of cause and effect

which do not exist. The afflicted man is supposed to be a wicked man. In

propagating Christianity we need to take the sword of the Spirit, which

owes its bright temper to Divine intelligence. We must meet unreason with

reason, and cast out superstitious darkness by the clear light of all

accessible knowledge.



OTHERS. As Paul casts off the serpent harmless, he is seen to be under

the Divine protection. Here is a man who leads apparently a charmed life.

The waves could not swallow him, nor the serpent sting him (compare

Psalm 91:11; Mark 16:18). The heathen mind revolts from one extreme of

superstition to another. Now Paul must be a god! “The common mass

know no measure; they raise a man to heaven or thrust him into hell”

(ch. 14:12, 18). The Christian may rapidly pass from the extreme of

depreciation or shame to that of honor, feeling equally that he deserves

neither. Yet both in the one and the other the business of the Christian is

not to defend himself from misunderstandings, but “through good report

and evil report,” as Paul said, to go on with his work and witness, leaving

Providence to show the kind of work the hour and the place demand. Here

Paul is entirely devoted to the healing activity of the body. There are times

of silence; and the spectacle of the servant of Christ busy in doing good

during his stay in the island may have wrought more on the memory of the

people than many sermons would have done.




A Picture of the Human (vs. 1-10)


In these few verses we have a graphic picture of some of the experiences of

our life and of the instincts or intuitions of our nature.




Ø      Human suffering.


o        Trouble. Doubtless the first sentiment on escaping death by shipwreck

is intense gladness and gratitude, But the next is the consciousness of

loss. The man who lands on the island after battling with the waves first

congratulates himself and (if he be a devout man) thanks God that his

life is preserved; then he realizes what he has left behind him; and he

soon becomes conscious of the exposure to which he is subjected —

he allows himself to be troubled because of the present rain, and

because of the cold” (v. 2). It is not shipwreck only, but many other

kinds of wreck which plunge men “into the cold,” into adversity, into

bereavement of the good which they had enjoyed.

o       Sickness (v. 8).


Ø      Unspoiled human nature. Such is the dire effect of long-continued, sin

upon the soul, that it often happens that nearly every vestige of the

goodness with which our Creator first endowed us disappears. As God

made us, it was natural that we should compassionate our fellows in

misery, and that we should be grateful to them for their help. Only too

often, however, man is found pitiless and thankless. The shipwrecked

mariner is murdered as he strikes the shore; the benefactor reaps no

blessing, no honor for his kindness. Not so, however, here. Here was:


o       pity, “the barbarous people showed no little kindness” (v. 2).

Here, also, was

o       gratitude (v. 10).


Ø      An ineradicable human conviction. Underlying the conclusion to which

these natives of Malta came (v. 4), was the conviction, common to our

kind, that sin merits punishment and will be overtaken by it. This is a

fundamental and ultimate principle; we need not try to account for it or to

get behind it.” It is sufficient in itself; it is a conviction that comes from

the Author of our spiritual nature, which will not be dislodged, which

itself accounts for much that we think, say, and do — that sin deserves

penalty, and sooner or later must bear it.

Ø      A human error, common to the unenlightened. A narrow mind and one

unillumined by the teaching of God makes a great mistake in applying the

truth just stated; it infers that any particular misfortune is referable to

some special sin (v. 4; see John 9:3; 7:24). It also falls into error of a

similar kind, though conducting to an opposite conclusion — it infers

that a man who has an extraordinary escape is a special favorite of

Heaven (v. 6). Taught of God, we know that, while sin brings penalty,

inward and circumstantial, and while righteousness brings Divine regard

and honor, God often permits or sends suffering and sorrow in fatherly

love for the promotion of the highest well-being (Hebrews 12:5-11).

We have also here:



Ø      In the person of his apostle. That teacher of truth who had been so

influential a passenger on board ship (ch. 27.), and who makes himself

so useful now (vs. 3, 8=9), is there in his Master’s Name, and on his

Master’s work.


Ø      In the exercise of benignant power:


o        protection from harm (v. 5, and Mark 16:18);

o        exercise of healing power (ibid and vs. 8-9,). We may:


§         That true dignity is never above usefulness, even of the

humblest kind; a Paul may gather sticks in time of emergency

without losing honor.

§         That Christian generosity must not be behind native kindness.

§         That bodily benefit is an admirable introduction to spiritual help.

Who can doubt that Paul used the gratitude and honor which

he reaped (v. 10) to find a way for the truth of Christ to the

minds and hearts of the Maltese?




A Type of the Beneficent Action of Christianity  (vs. 7-10)


Christian truth embodied in Christian men had not long been in an island to

which it was quite strange before it found its footing, made its mark, and

left behind it memories equally lasting and fragrant. Amid the wide group

of suggestions offered by these verses, we may especially note the

following as particularly worthy of a place in connection with this history:



TO BE WELL TRUSTED. God had guided Paul and his companions, after

a fierce voyage at all events, to a safe haven at last. But here also they



Ø      in common with all the company, for very humanity’s sake, kindness,

and “no common kindness” either; and


Ø      they found also for themselves honored and distinguished

entertainment. How often since has this been seen true! What kindness,

what entertainment, has been heartily given to men as the servants of

Christ, which nothing else personal to themselves would have either

earned for them or entitled them to!

ACT THAT CHRISTIANITY PROMOTES. Publius showed kindness,

doubtless not imagining any reward for himself. But most surely he

received abundant recompense of reward. The prospect of any such return

undoubtedly is not to be waited for or reckoned upon, but the bountiful

hand of Jesus, whose generosity will never be outdone, ought to be noted.

Generous, indeed, are the acknowledgments of Christianity. It repays

kindness of heart and kindness of act with an inner satisfaction and with a

practical beneficence “heaped up and flowing over,” yea, a thousandfold.



TO SPREAD. It might be uttered as a taunt against Christian action, or at

all events against this illustration of it, that the benefits were those of

miraculous help to the body. But the taunt would be most unjust, for if

there be one thing plainly written on the historic pages of Christianity now

these twenty centuries, it is this, that wherever its works are found — not

simply its profession — life and inquiry and devotion are found. Whenever

souls are being saved, and wherever, there and then are found a life and

spirit of inquiry and — the multitude athirst.




STRONGEST AND MOST PRACTICAL. It is quite true that there is “all

the world’s” difference between the blessings that Christianity gives and

the returns that it receives from those most deeply, truly, touched by it. Yet

none the less is it true that, when these bring of their best, though that best

may be far as earth below heaven, it is to be accepted as a true testimony

of their gratitude, “well pleasing to God.” For what Paul had done the

islanders returned “many honors,” and actually “laded him with such things

as were necessary.”





Probably the special reference of v. 10 is to Paul and his immediate

collaborators, who had lodged with him at the house of Publius, and had

come to be known as particularly belonging to him, as he taught or worked

miracles among the people. Yet, at any rate, we are certainly not told of a

single thing these said or did, till we are told how they came in for a share

of all the bountiful, generous things given by the islanders, “Who also

honored us with many honors; and when we departed, laded us with such

things as were necessary.” There were none ever in the company of Jesus

but had the opportunity of taking infinite advantage from it. And there are

none in the company of the thorough, honest uncompromising servant of

Christ, but get some share of the advantage.


11 "And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had

wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux."  Set sail for departed,

Authorized Version; island for isle, Authorized Version; The Twin Brothers for

Castor and Pollux, Authorized Version. After three months. At the very earliest

period when the sailing season began after the winter. It would be, perhaps, about

the middle of February, or, as Alford thinks, about March 10. If the weather was

fine, having so short a voyage before them, they would venture to sail without

further delay. Set sail (see preceding verso, note). A ship of Alexandria. Some

ship, better fated than that one (ch. 27:6) which was wrecked in St. Paul's Bay,

which had weathered or avoided the gale, and probably got into the harbor of

Valetta in good time. One would have thought that this ship wintering at Malta

on its way from Alexandria to Italy, via Sicily, would be of itself a sufficient proof

that Melita was Malta. Which had wintered (παρακεχειμακότι - parakecheimakoti -

having wintered); see ch. 27:12, note. Whose sign was The Twin Brothers

(Δίοσκουροι - Dioskouroi - Zeus juveniles; dioscuri, Latin the constellation

Gemini). The twin sons of Jupiter and Leda, Castor and Pollux, brothers of Helena

("fratres Helenis, lucida sidera," Horace, 'Od.,' 1:3, 2), were called by the Greeks

Dioscuri, the sons of Jove. It was their special office to assist sailors in danger of

shipwreck. Hence Horace, in the ode just quoted, prays that Castor and Pollux,

in conjunction with other deities, would carry the ship in which Virgil sailed

safe to Attica. And in Ode 12:27, etc., he describes the subsidence of the storm,

and the calming of the waves, at the appearance of the twin stars, of Leda's sons.

It was, therefore, very natural to have the Dioscuri for the παράσημον - parasaemon -

the sign of the ship. Every ancient ship had a παρασήμῳ, "a painted or carved

representation of the sign which furnished its name on the prow, and at the stern

a similar one of their tutelary deity." (Alford), which was called the tutela. These

were sometimes the same, and perhaps were so in this instance. Ovid tells us that

Minerva was the tutela of the ship in which he sailed, and that her painted helmet

gave it its name ('Trist.,' 1 9:1), Galea, or the like. We may notice the continual

trial to Jews and Christians of having to face idolatry in all the common actions of life.


12 "And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days."  Touching for landing,

Authorized Version. Touching (καταχθέντες - katachthentes - landing); ch. 21:3;

27:3, note. The way in which Syracuse is here mentioned is another redundant

proof that Melita is Malta. "Syracause is about eighty miles, a days' sail, from

Malta" (Afford). Tarried there three days. Perhaps wind-bound, or possibly

having to land part of their cargo there.


13  "And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after

one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli:"  Made a

circuit for fetched a compass, Authorized Version; arrived at for came to, Authorized

Version; a south for the south, Authorized Version; sprang up for blew, Authorized

Version; on the second day we came for we came the next day, Authorized Version.

We made a circuit; περιελθόντες - perielthontes - tacking about. Luke only uses this

word in one other passage, ch. 19:13, "The strolling [or, 'vagabond'] Jews;" and it

has the same sense of "wandering" in the only other passages where it occurs in the

New Testament (I Timothy 5:13; Hebrews 11:37). If it is the right reading here,

the meaning must be "tacking," the wind not allowing them to sail in a direct course.

"I am inclined to suppose that the wind was northwest, and that they worked to

windward, availing themselves of the sinuosities of the coast. But with this wind

they could not proceed through the Straits of Messina .... They were, therefore,

obliged to put into Rhegium But after one day the wind became fair (from the south),

and on the following day they arrived at Puteoli, having accomplished about one

hundred and eighty nautical miles in less than two days" (Smith, p. 156). But Meyer

explains it, "after we had come round," viz. from Syracuse, round the eastern coast

of Sicily. Lewin thinks they had to stand out to sea to catch the wind, and so arrived

at Rhegium by a circuitous course. The other reading is περιελόντες - perielontes -

taking from about it, as in Acts 27:40; but this seems to give no proper sense here.

A south wind sprang up. The force of the preposition in ἐπιγενομένου -

epigenomenou - of coming on shows that there was a change of wind. The south

wind would, of course, be a very favorable one for sailing from Reggio to Puzzuoli.

Hobart remarks of ἐπιγίνεσθαι - epiginesthai -  (which is also found in Acts 27:27,

according to some good manuscripts) that it "was a favorite medical word constantly

employed to denote the coming on of an attack of illness." It occurs nowhere else in

the New Testament, but is common in Diodorus Siculus, Xenophon, Herodotus,

Thucydides, etc., for the coming on of a storm, wind (adverse or favorable), or any

other change. On the second day; δευτεραῖοι - deuteraioi). This particular numeral

occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, but the analogous τεταρταῖος - tetartaios -

fourth day is used in John 11:39. And Herodotus has τριταῖος ἀφίκετο - tritaios

aphiketo - he went away on the third day. Τριταῖος - Tritaios  is also common in

medical writers with πυρετός - puretos - a tertian ague, a fever that recurs on the

third day; τεταρταῖος - tetartaios, a quartan fever; πεμπταῖος - pemptaios - one

recurring on the fifth day; ἑβδομαῖος - ebdomaios - on the seventh day;

ἐνναταῖος - ennataios - , on the ninth day. The forms δεκαταῖος πεντηκοσταῖος -

dekataios pentaekostaios - , etc., "doing anything on the tenth, the fiftieth day,"

also occur. Puteoli; now Puzzuoli. The Italian port to which ships from Alexandria

usually came. Smith quotes a passage from Seneca (Epist., 77) describing the arrival

of the Alexandrian wheat-ships at Puteoli. The whole population of Puteoli went out

to see them sail into harbor with their topsails (supparum), which they alone were

allowed to carry, in order to hasten their arrival (p. 157), so important to Italy was

the corn trade with Alexandria.


14  "Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days:

and so we went toward Rome."  Entreated for desired, Authorized Version;

came to for went toward, Authorized Version. Brethren. It is very interesting to

find the gospel already planted in Italy. The circumstances of Puteoli as the great

emporium of African wheat made it a likely place for Christianity to reach, whether

from Rome or from Alexandria (see ch. 18:24). Luke calls them ἀδελφοί - adelphoi -

brethren, not Ξριστιανοί - Christianoi - Christians (ch. 11:26). Perhaps the name

of Christian was still rather the name given by those without, and that of "brethren,"

or "disciples," the name used by the Christians among themselves. What a joy it

must have been to Paul and his companions to find themselves among brethren!

Seven days. Surely that they might take part in the service and worship of the

next Sunday (see ch. 20:6-7). It is implied that the philanthropy of Julius (ch. 27:3)

did not now fail. So we came to Rome. The Revised Version is undoubtedly right.

'We can trace in the anticipatory form of speech here used by Luke, simple as the

words are, his deep sense of the transcendent interest of the arrival of the apostle

of the Gentiles at the colossal capital of the heathen world. Yes:


Ø      after all the conspiracies of the Jews who sought to take away his life,

Ø      after the two years' delay at Caesarea,

Ø      after the perils of that terrible shipwreck,

o       in spite of the counsel of the soldiers to kill the prisoners, and

o       in spite of the "venomous beast,"


 Paul came to Rome. The word of God, "Thou must bear witness also at Rome"

(Acts ch. 23:11), had triumphed over all "the power of the enemy" (Luke 10:19).

And doubtless the hearts both of Paul and Luke beat quicker when they first

caught sight of the city on the seven hills.



A Week with Brethren (v. 14)


It cannot be that this one verse was written for nothing. Like a waif and

stray on the wide waters of Scripture, to the careless eye, it is anything but

really such. We may notice touching the events the verse records:




Ø      They included the heightening pleasure of a very agreeable surprise.


Ø      They speak the affection of a hearty invitation. Invitations are often as

superficial and insincere and abased to ill purpose as many other good

things. But the genius of them is good. They mean care and regard,

respect and love, willingness and an anticipation of what may be in

brethren’s hearts.


Ø      They are tinted with a certain sacred hue. Did not a “seven days’”

pressing invitation mean to make sure of one “day of the Lord” together?

Those who gave that invitation longed for the opportunity it would bring

for themselves and others. They wanted what the memory of it would give

them to lay up as though “precious store.” Those who received that

invitation would read respect to themselves in it, and what was better, the

sign of religious life and love.


Ø      They were a most welcome contrast to the scenes and the dangers, the

strife and the talk and the company of all the time since Paul and his

companions set sail from Caesarea (ch.  27:1).



the loving, longing, purposing communion of brethren. They stamp the

genuineness and even superior sort of Christian brotherhood. The

communion of Christian brethren is:


Ø      Distinctly honoring to the Master, even Him who Himself once said, “One

is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren” (Matthew 23:8).


Ø      It is distinctly adapted to be useful at the time to those brethren

themselves, for reminding them of the relation of all of them to One; and of

their mutual relations; for comparing experiences, for imparting instruction,

for joining in the quickening exercises of united worship, so stirring to

deepest feelings of the heart, and so stimulating to faith and love.


Ø      It is, further, in one particular direction especially inspiring. While by

nature it takes out the painfulness of many a strong present impression, it

also supersedes these by the materials and the very scenery, which are sure

to abide, full of the resources of comfort and encouragement for “the

future distress.” How much we live on memory! What a force holy

memories have proved themselves! Those that have come out of the silence

and the solitude of the closet have had their peculiar mission. Certainly not

less powerful for good have those holy memories been which have seemed

to come borne by “a cloud of witnesses,” the former companions of our

thoughts, our prayers, and our praises.  (Hebrews 12:1)


Ø      It is entitled to expect special influences from above, and the special

presence of the Holy Spirit (ch. 1:4; 2:1). Those who meeting

together seek by all means within their reach and by prayer, light, and

knowledge, love and grace, will be those most abundantly rewarded. Light

will be reflected from face to face, and love will glow from heart to heart.

("For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath

shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of

God in the face of Jesus Christ."  - II Corinthians 4:6)


Ø      It is not vainly added, “So we went toward Rome.” The weeks, the days,

the hours, were numbered of Christian converse for Paul — of Christian

help and enjoyment, whether given or received. And the surprise the

Master had graciously prepared is gratefully received. It assists Paul, body,

mind, and soul, in his journey “toward Rome.”


15 "And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet

us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw,

he thanked God, and took courage."  The brethren, when, etc., came for

when the brethren, etc., they came, Authorized Version; The Market of Appius

for Appii forum, Authorized Version. The brethren, when they heard of us.

During the seven days' stay at Putcoli, the news of the arrival of the illustrious

confessors reached the Church at Rome. The writer of that wonderful Epistle

which they had received some three years before, and in which he had

expressed his earnest desire to visit them, and his hope that he should come

to them in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:11-12, 15;

15:22, 24, 28-32), was now almost at their gates as a prisoner of state, and they

would soon see him face to face. They naturally determined to go and meet him,

to honor him as an apostle, and show their love to him as a brother. The younger

and more active would go as far as Appii Forum, "a village on the Via Appia,

forty-three miles from Rome" (Meyer). The rest only came as far as The Three

Taverns, ten miles nearer to Rome. Alford quotes a passage from Cicero's letters

to Atticus (it. 10), in which he mentions both "Appii Forum" and the "Tres

Tabernae;" and refers to Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 17. 12:1) for a similar account

of Jews at Rome, who, on hearing of the arrival of the pretended Alexander

at Puteoli, went out in a body to meet him (πᾶν τὸ Ιουδαίων πλῆθος ὑπαντιάζοντες

ἐξῄεσαν - pan to Ioudaion plaethos hupantiazontes exaesan). He also quotes

from Suetonius the passage in which he tells us that, on Caligula's return from

Germany, "populi Romans sexum, aetatem, ordinem omnem, usque ad

Vicesimum lapidem effadisse se" ('Calig.,' c. 4). Appii Forum was not far

from the coast, and was a great place for sailors and innkeepers

(Horace, 'Sat.,' 1:5, 3). The Via Appia was made by Appius Claudius,

B.C. 442. It led from the Ports Capena in Rome through the Pontino

marshes to Capua.




Refreshment (vs. 11-15)


What a weary time had Paul’s three last years of life been! Incessant

fightings with his hard-hearted, virulent countrymen; a pitiless storm of

hatred and persecution and false accusation raging incessantly against him;

trial succeeding trial, yet bringing no respite from injustice; weary prison

hours, while the active spirit was bound by the chain which kept him

prisoner at Caesarea; and then the furious tempest, and the labors and

anxieties of that terrific voyage, and the threats of the savage soldiery, and

the loss of all he had in the shipwreck, and the hardships to be endured by

his frail body in the cold wintry season. Save the kindness of the

barbarians, there had been no rest to mind or body since he arrived at

Jerusalem. And now his face was set towards Rome. But who could tell

what awaited him there? He was going there as a prisoner. He was going

to another trial. He was going to stand before Nero, with no protection but

his innocence. He had countrymen at Rome. Would they behave towards

him as his countrymen in Judaea had done? And what had he to expect

from the populace at Rome? He had never seen Rome. But for a poor lone

prisoner there was plenty in that city of blood and lust and unbounded

power to awaken vague fears and undefined anxieties, and to trouble the

firmest spirit. And so he walked on toward the goal, hopes and fears

perhaps struggling within him for the mastery. And now they were just

arriving at Appii Forum, when, lo! a considerable crowd advanced to meet

him. Who could they be? and what was their errand? A moment or two

soon explained it. They were brethren, Christian brethren, issuing from the

foulness of the great heathen city in all the purity of faith and love, to come

and greet and welcome the apostle. There, at a thousand miles from his

native land, he was not among strangers; he was surrounded by those who

had never indeed seen his face, but who loved him fervently in Christ Jesus.

There, in the land of idolatry, amidst heathen temples and every form of

wickedness flourishing in that hot-bed of corruption, he was in the midst of

saints, by whom the Name of Jesus was loved and adored. In that

stronghold of Satan there was a chosen band not ashamed to confess the

faith of Christ crucified, not ashamed of Paul his prisoner — a band of men

to whom Paul’s arrival was a joy and a glory, and who were come upwards

of forty miles, in all the warmth of love and admiration, to honor him and

welcome him, and to give him proof of their obedience and devotion to

him. Their presence was like a bright gleam of sunshine upon the apostle’s

way. His heart leaped up in response to that welcome greeting. His bruised

and wearied spirit revived. Love and joy and hope made music in his soul,

and his first thought was to give God thanks for this refreshment. Then

with fresh courage he went on his way like a giant refreshed with wine,

ready to work or to suffer, to contend, to bear witness, to preach, to travel,

to write, to spend and be spent, to live or to die for Christ, as his heavenly

Father should appoint, till the set time should come when all his toil would

be over, and the cross would be exchanged for the glorious crown of

righteousness and of life.




The Passage from Malta to Rome (vs. 11-15)


  • BLESSINGS BY THE WAY. Christian fellowship is enjoyed. Unity and

relationship in Jesus Christ make the unknown as known. The heart

dissolves distance and strangeness. God has everywhere hidden children.

(I Kings 19:18)  The discovery of them is the discovery of a dear bond of

brotherhood, and this fills the heart with joy (compare Romans 1:12). The

coming forth of the brethren from Rome to meet the party showed that his

letter to them had not been without result. So he thanked God and took heart.

This slight word seems to allude to a certain failing of heart and dejection,

such as the greatest souls are liable to in critical moments. His life was

passed in cloud and sunshine, and the record of both has been faithfully

left behind. In both there is deep encouragement for us.


  • THE ARRIVAL AT ROME. It was an epoch:


Ø      For him. His life-goal is at last reached. He comes, a homeless stranger,

yet escorted by loving friends; as an evildoer in bonds, yet with the grace

of God in his heart; as a victim doomed to sacrifice, yet as a victorious

conqueror, to plant the banner of the cross in the citadel of heathendom.


Ø      For heathendom it was a critical moment. It is the signal for the wane of

its glory and pride. For the next three centuries it was to lead a struggling

existence, until all that was good in it should be absorbed into the kingdom

of God, and the rest be cast away with THE REFUSE OF TIME!


Ø      For Judaism. Paul turns for the last time to his people. Exclusiveness is

decaying; the priest and the doctor and their followers, who refuse to come

to terms with Christ, must fold their garments about them and pass into

solitude amidst the life of civilization. Rome is to replace Jerusalem.


Ø      For Christianity. Bloody struggles await her in Rome, but in the end

a glorious victory.



Human Kindness (v. 15)


A striking and touching instance is this of valuable human kindness. It is a

positive relief to our minds to think that the faithful veteran soldier of Jesus

Christ, bearing in his body such marks of lifelong conflict, worn with toil

and care and suffering, having escaped from one kind of affliction and on

his way to another, met with such considerate kindness as greatly

comforted and cheered him. The text may remind us:



DISPOSITION. As God created us “in His own image,” we were made:


Ø      to feel and show kindness one to another;

Ø      to rejoice in one another’s success;

Ø      to promote one another’s prosperity;

Ø      to sympathize with one another in sorrow;

Ø      to be willing to deny ourselves,

Ø      to run risks,

Ø      to make sacrifices, and

Ø      to help others in their time of need.



FROM THE SOUL; e.g. pirates, wreckers, thugs, etc.



CULTURE. Kindness, like all other graces, needs regular cultivation, or it

will decline or even perish. It needs:


Ø      The nurture which comes from the utterance of truth; the reception of

right thoughts into the mind.

Ø      The strengthening which proceeds from daily illustration; that which is

derived from the practice of slight and simple acts of considerateness

and good will.

Ø      The confirmation of larger acts of self-sacrificing love; such acts as

cause trouble, as involve difficulty, as entail risk, as necessitate






Ø      To the great King Himself; for shall we not say that much of the ministry

of those women who waited on him so kindly, and something of the

attendance granted by the men who tendered him their aid, was the

offering of human kindness rather than of Divine service? Yet it

was not on that account unacceptable or unserviceable.

Ø      To His apostles. Here is one instance in which human kindness greatly

comforted and heartened a valued servant of Christ, and helped him on

his useful and fruitful course.

Ø      To His servants in all succeeding centuries. Who shall tell how much

the cause of Christ has been furthered by the opportune kindness shown

by tender hearts and gentle hands to those who have been its

representatives and champions?



esteemed of God (Hebrews 13:16; Ephesians 3:32); one that is beautiful in

the sight of man, that adorns the doctrine, that is to the character what the

bloom is to the plant; one that has a general and precious reflex influence

on those that exercise and exhibit it.



GRATEFUL TO GOD. Paul “thanked God” as well as “took courage.”

We have reason to thank God for human kindness as much as for any

blessing we receive. For though this does not come as perceptibly from Him

as the sunshine and the rain, yet ultimately and actually it is as much His gift

as they are. Only the loving God can originate love in the human heart and

in the human life. “God is our Sun” (Malachi 4:2), from whom streams

every ray of human kindness that falls on our path and cheers our soul.

Let us, too, thank God for it, while we take courage from it.



Gratitude and Courage Well Linked Together (v. 15)


Paul speaks elsewhere of the severity in some sort, at all events of the

stress, laid upon his spiritual sympathies at times (II Corinthians 11:28-30).

We can well understand that any severity, any pain, felt from the claim

set up by such sympathies lay not in the act of sympathizing, but in the

consideration of the state of things, the sins, the errors, the inconsistencies

in “all the Churches,” or in the members of them that called for both

care,” on the one hand, for the erring, and on the other sympathy with the

aggrieved. The sympathy which he so ungrudgingly gave, however, at

whatever expenditure, he had a wonderful heart to receive when proffered

to himself. And it is among the signs of his large and susceptible heart that

it was so, and that he made so much of it. Here we read of another help of

this kind given him by the way. How gratefully and with what appreciation

he received it! He felt it was a token of the Divine presence and the Divine

goodness, and that as such it must be used and improved. Therefore first

he “thanked God,” and then “took courage” afresh. Let us notice the

following implications of this verse:





Ø      This is great testimony to the real character of Christianity.


Ø      It is one of its great safeguards against superciliousness (patronizing

haughtiness) and other temptations to affect separateness from or

superiority to ordinary humanity.











Ø      How often help coming at the exact crisis of need ought to count with

all as great moral force as a physical miracle, for our persuasion, that a

heavenly Friend is observantly and graciously watching our every step!


Ø      What an incentive to religious life the network of hope and fear, joy and

sorrow, and all the play of light and shade, because such constitution of

life finds the prized opportunities of Divine interposition, as no mere

equable life, were it all light or all shade, could possibly find.





INTEREST IN HIS OWN WORK. How many the ways are in which

Jesus does this!


Ø      By the occasional manifest blessing upon it that He gives.


Ø      By the Spirit he puts into the hearts of many to uphold the hands

and arms of those who do the actual work.


Ø      By such more delicate methods as that now before us, when the help

that the many bring to the one is seen, ay, and felt, to lie in the life

and the love that the Divine work has wrought in their heart. They

can bring nothing except, perhaps, that all to bring, themselves.





obedience to any hollow professionalism that Paul “thanked God.” Nor did

his courage lack the energy that came from sincere acknowledgment of

dependence on God. This was surely betokened by his “thanking God.”

16 "And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners

to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself

with a soldier that kept him."  Entered into for came to, Authorized Version

and Textus Receptus; the words which follow in the Textus Receptus and the

Authorized Version, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the

guard: but, are omitted in the Received Text and Revised Version, following

א, A, B, and many versions; Alford retains them, Meyer speaks doubtfully;

abide for dwell, Authorized Version; the soldier that guarded him for a soldier

that kept him, Authorized Version. The captain of the guard (Authorized Version);

τῷ στρατοπεδάρχῃ - to stratopedarchae - to the chief of the encampment: in Latin

praefectus praetorio (Στρατόπεδον Stratopedon, was the Greek name for the

castra praetoriana). There were usually two great officers so called, and it was

their special duty to take charge of prisoners sent from the provinces to be tried

at Rome. 'Vinctus mitti ad praefectos praetorii met debet" (Pliny, 'Epist.,' 10:65).

It has been argued, from the mention of "the captain of the guard," that Paul's

imprisonment must have occurred when Burrus was sole prefect, as related by

Tacitus ('Annal.,' 12:42, 1), and that hence we get a precise date for it (so

Wieseler, 'Chronologic de Apostolisch. Geshichte'). But this can hardly be

depended upon. Luke might speak of "the prefect," meaning the one to whom

the prisoners were actually committed, just as we might speak of a magistrate

writing to "the secretary of state," or an ambassador calling upon "the secretary

of state," the matter in hand determining which of the three secretaries we meant.

With the soldier that guarded him. It appears from v. 20 that Paul was subjected

to the custodia militaris, i.e. that he was fastened by a single chain to a praetorian

(στρατιώτης - stratiotaes - soldier), but, as a special favor, granted probably on

the good report of the courteous Julius, was allowed to dwell in his own hired

house (v. 30); see ch. 24:23.  



                        Paul, the Prisoner of Jesus Christ (v. 16)


Conybeare and Howson give very full details of the journey of the apostle

and his company from Malta to Rome; reaching their destination, the

following description of the place of imprisonment is given: — “Here was

the milliarium aureum, to which the roads of all the provinces converged.

All around were the stately buildings, which were raised in the closing

years of the republic and by the early emperors. In front was the Capitoline

Hill, illustrious long before the invasion of the Cauls. Close on the left,

covering that hill whose name is associated in every modern European

language with the notion of imperial splendor, were the vast ranges of the

palace‘the house of Caesar’ (Philippians 4:22). Here were the

household troops quartered in a praetorium attached to the palace. And

here Julius gave up his prisoner to Burrus, the praetorian prefect, whose

official duty it was to keep in custody all accused persons who were to be

tried before the emperor.” There we see the great apostle still a prisoner, in

bonds for CHRIST’S SAKE.   His bondage was of that kind technically known

as a castodia libera (house arrest), but the prisoner was fastened by a chain to a

soldier who kept guard over him. For the apostle’s references to his imprisonment,

see Philippians 1:7, 13, 17; Ephesians 3:1; 4:1; 6:20; Colossians 4:18, etc.

The constant changing of the guard no doubt brought all the soldiers under his

personal influence, and enabled him to witness for Christ in the palace and in

other places.




Ø      A prisoner.

Ø      A sufferer.


So all Christian workers still find themselves set under limitations of:


Ø      ability,

Ø      time,

Ø      means,

Ø      physical strength.

And the question constantly recurs — Will we be mastered by our limitations,

or will we master them in the power of a sanctified will? No man works for

God on earth with an absolute and perfect freedom. The limitations are sent

to give quality and character to our service. A man’s credit lies, not so much

in what he does, as in what he overcomes in order that he may do.


  • THE LIMIT OF PAUL’S LIMITATIONS. They bore relation:


Ø      Only to body; to restraint of bodily action, and to pain of body.

Ø      Not to mind; since no shackles have ever been framed that can bind this.

Ø      Not to character; which no sort of earthly persecutions or calamities

need affect.

Ø       Not to will; which can maintain its set purposes, even when it is

rendered helpless to carry them out.

Ø       Not to life-work; which the earnest man will surely carry on somehow.


The Christian mastery of bodily disabilities, infirmities, and limitations, may

be illustrated from the Apostle Paul, from J. Bunyan the prisoner in

Bedford jail, or from such sufferers from bodily infirmity as R. Baxter, R.

Hall, H. Martyn, F. W. Robertson, etc. There are martyrs who did not die,

whose service for Christ has been noble and heroic.



Illustrate and impress that, with all his bonds and sufferings upon him, he



Ø      Still live Christ.

Ø      Still work for Christ.

Ø      Still write of Christ.

Ø      Still speak for Christ.

Ø      Still personally meeten for the inheritance of the saints in the

light.”  (Colossians 1:12)


17  "And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews

together:  and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and

brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs

of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands

of the Romans"  He for Paul, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; called

together those that were the chief for called the chief... together, Authorized Version;

I, brethren, though I had done for men and brethren, though I have committed,

Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; the customs for customs, Authorized

Version; was I for was, Authorized Version. After three days. He could but just

have got into his hired house, but he would not lose a day in seeking out his

brethren to speak to them of THE HOPE OF ISRAEL.  What marvelous activity!

what unquenchable love! The chief (τοὺς ὄντας... πρώτους - tous ontas…..protous -

the ones being foremost). The expression οἱ πρῶτοι - hoi protoi - for the principal

people of the district or neighborhood, occurs repeatedly in Josephus. The Jews.

They had returned to Rome, after their banishment by Claudius (ch. 18:2), some

time before this (Romans 16:3, 7). I had done nothing against the people, or

the customs (compare 24:14-16, 20-21; 25:8; 26:6-7, 22-23).


18 "Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there

was no cause of death in me."  Desired to set me at liberty for would have let me go,

Authorized Version. Had examined me (ἀνακρίναντές με - anakrinantes me -

examining me); see ch.4:9; 12:19; 24:8;  25:26. Desired to set me at liberty

(see 25:18-19, 25; 26:31-32).


19 "But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto

Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of."  When the Jews spake

against it. This is a detail not expressly mentioned in the direct narrative in ch. 25,

but which makes that narrative clearer. It shows us that Festus's proposal in


. 9 was made in consequence of the opposition of the Jews to the acquittal

which he was disposed to pronounce. I was constrained to appeal. Nothing

can be more delicate, more conciliatory, or more truly patriotic than Paul's

manner of addressing the Jews. Himself a Hebrew of the Hebrews,

devoted to his kinsmen according to the flesh, never even putting forward

his own privilege as a Roman citizen till the last necessity, he shows

himself the constant friend of his own people in spite of all their ill usage.

Undazzled by the splendor of Rome and the power of the Roman people,

his heart is with his own despised nation, "that they might be saved."

(Romans 10:1)  He wishes to be well with them; he wants them to understand his

position; he speaks to them as a kinsman and a brother. His appeal to Caesar had

been of necessity - to save his life. But he was not going to accuse his brethren

before the dominant race. His first desire was that they should be his friends,

and share with him the hope of the gospel of Christ.

Paul and the Roman Jews (vs. 16-19)

manly courage and simplicity. It was no subversive teaching or conduct

that had brought him into his present position. No definite charge had ever

been proved against him. Like the Master, it was as a fulfiller, not as a

destroyer, that he had wrought. It was for the “hope of Israel” he had

suffered. Great teachers are always fulfillers. But because they see that

truth is not stagnant, but living, they are accused of innovation. When we

accuse others of innovation, let us ask whether it be not that our own garb

of thought has grown old. The whole New Testament story is one long

protest against imposing fetters on the freedom of the living spirit and the

course of truth.

argument with his countrymen. To point back to Moses and the prophets in

evidence of this was to show that the doctrine of the cross and the

resurrection was the fulfillment and consummation of the ancient faith of

Israel. But this was no cold statement, no perfunctory statement. From

morning till evening Paul labored with his countrymen’s souls. Men are

never weary of speaking of that of which their hearts are full. It is not the

argumentative side of Christian truth on which every preacher or teacher

can dwell. But whatever be the aspect of truth and life he conceives with

force and which possesses his soul, let him speak and not be weary. The

result will be the same as with Paul, and cannot be expected otherwise.

Some will be persuaded, others will disbelieve. The clear expression of any

positive truth will be echoed in assent and resisted in negation. Perhaps we

can never be sure that we have spoken the truth until we have met


after telling them of the enmity and persecution he had experienced at the

hands of their fathers in Palestine, he still knocks once more at the door of

their hearts. The prophetic words of his close are full of a solemn pathos.

The audience, disunited, falls to two sections. It is not that division begins

with the preaching of the gospel, but the hidden disunion of the heart is

brought to light. The sun does not produce difference, but only reveals

difference, which could not be recognized in darkness. Hardness of heart is

both a natural consequence of contempt of the truth, and a Divine

judgment upon it. But the aurora of the future shines brightly against this

dark background of Israel’s rejection. No sin, no ingratitude of man, can

dim the splendor of that eternal heaven of grace. If the Jews will not come

to the great supper of God, the Gentiles shall fill His house.

20 "For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak

with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain."

Did I entreat you to see and to speak with me for have I called for you, to see you,

and to speak with you, Authorized Version; for because of for because that for,

Authorized Version. To see and to speak with you.  Meyer, followed by Alford,

rightly prefers the rendering of the Authorized Version and the margin of the

Revised Version. Παρακαλεσα- Parakalesa - I call beside is here in its primary

sense of calling any one to come to you, and the two infinitives express the object

for which he called them, viz. to see and speak with them. Because of the hope of

Israel (see ch. 23:6;  24:14-15, 21;  26:6, 22-23). I am bound with this chain

(περικεῖμαι - perikeimai - I am being laid about). In Mark 9:42 and Luke 17:2

the millstone 'hangs about' (περικεῖται - perikeitai ) the neck. But here and

Hebrews 5:2 the construction is different, and the subject and the object are

reversed. Instead of the chain encompassing Paul, Paul is said to be bound

with the chain. (For the chain, see v. 16, note, and ch.24:23.) The force of this

saying seems to be this, "I have asked you to come to me because this chain

which binds me is not a token of a renegade Israelite who has come to Rome to

accuse his nation before the heathen master, but of a faithful Israelite, who has

endured bondage rather than forsake the hope of his fathers."

21 "And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea

concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake

any harm of thee."  From for out of, Authorized Version; nor for neither,

Authorized Version; did any of the brethren come hither and report or speak

for any of the brethren that came showed or spake, Authorized Version. Nor

did any of the brethren come hither, etc. This is no improvement on the

Authorized Version; for it implies that they denied that any special messenger

had been sent to speak harm of Paul, which nobody could have thought had

been done. What they meant to say is exactly what the Authorized Version makes

them say, viz. that, neither by special letters, nor by message nor casual information

brought by Jews coming to Rome from Judaea, had they heard any harm of him.

This seems odd; but as the Jews had no apparent motive for not speaking the truth,

we must accept it as true. The expulsion of the Jews from Rome by Claudius

(Acts 18:1) may have slackened the intercourse between Judaea and Rome;

the attention of the Jews may have been absorbed by their accusation of Felix;

there had been a very short interval between Paul's appeal and his departure for

Rome; he had only been at Rome three days, and so it is very possible that no

report had yet reached Rome concerning him at this early season of the year.

22 "But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this

sect, we know that every where it is spoken against."   It is known to us for we

know, Authorized Version. We desire (ἀξιοῦμεν - axioumen - we are accounting

it worthwhile); or, we are willing; literally, think it right (so ch. 16:38). Ηξίου -

Aexiou - followed by a negative, means "was unwilling." It has this sense frequently

in Xenophon, AElian, Josephus, and other Greek writers (see Kuinoel, on  ch. 16:30).

This sect (τῆς αἱρέσεως ταύτης - taes haireseos tautaes - the sect this); see ch. 24:5,14,

notes. It is known to us; i.e. though we have heard nothing against you Paul, we have

heard of the sect of the Nazarenes and have heard nothing but harm concerning it.

Spoken against (ἀντιλέγεται - antiloegetai - it is being contradicted); see ch.13:45;

v. 19; Romans 10:21; Titus 1:9.

 “As concerning this sect,” etc.   The reproach must be borne.  The disciples of

Jesus supported by His example. “Despised and rejected of men.”  (Isaiah 53:3)

To be spoken against tries faith, but strengthens principle. Individually, socially,

the reproach of Christ MUST BE BORNE!

23  "And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his

lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading

them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets,

from morning till evening." They came to him into his lodging in great number

for there came many to him into his lodging, Authorized Version; expounded the

matter for expounded, Authorized Version; testifying for and testified, Authorized

Version; and persuading for persuading, Authorized Version; from for out of

(twice), Authorized Version. His lodging; ξενίαν - xenian - lodging, elsewhere

only in Philemon 1:22. It may well be the same as the "hired dwelling" in v. 30.

Expounded (ἐξετίθετο - exetitheto - he explained). The verb governs the accusative

τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ - taen basileian tou Theo - , as in ch.18:26, and is not

intransitive, as in ch. 11:4. Testifying; διαμαρτυράμενος – diamarturamenos –

through witnessing; certifying, a favorite word of Luke's, most commonly intransitive,

and so to be taken here. It qualifies the verb (see Luke 16:28; ch. 2:40; 8:25; 10:42;

20:23; 23:11). It is transitive in ch. 20:21, 24; doubtful in ch. 18:5. The kingdom of

God. The great subject-matter of the gospel in all its parts - grace, righteousness, glory,

through JESUS CHRIST (see v. 31; ch. 20:25). From the Law of Moses and from

the prophets (see Luke 24:27, 44). From morning till evening. So do the Jews

frequent the houses of the missionaries to this day, and listen with great interest

and apparent earnestness to their teaching.

“Concerning Jesus.”

Ø      The righteousness of God set forth, instead of man’s righteousness.

Ø      The priestly office of Christ abolishing ritualism, and opening the

gates of the spiritual temple.

Ø      Jesus:

o       the promised King,

o       the Lifter-up of the fallen people,

o       the Desire of all nations,

o       the Renovator of the world.

Compare with such a setting forth of Jesus, the state of the Jews and Romans:

Ø      in  faith,

Ø      worship, and

Ø      hope, both:

o       in the individual and

o       in society, both

§         for time and

§         for eternity.

The essential point in all preaching is the presentation of an object of faith.


No one taught better “the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ” than

the Apostle Paul!

A Unique Prisoner (vs. 16-23)

With the masterliness of inspired history, exceeding brevity itself in the

passage before us seems to reveal rather than conceal. A few powerful

strokes of the pen portray and very strikingly a hero, and one at the same

time as real and unusual as ever lived. Great, indeed, must have been the

length and the fullness of detail given, if the method of detail had been the

one chosen, in order to attain the result of leaving with us an equally

correct and complete apprehension of the position of Paul now, the manner

of man he was, and the scope of Divine providence. The intense interest for

Paul of reaching Rome is lost, lost indeed without a moment’s mention of

it on the part of the history, in the intenser interest that gathered round, and

which he helped to make gather round, the object of his coming there. Of

the one the history says nothing, but it says all of the other. And no sooner

are we told the bare fact that Paul had reached Rome, than these following

facts find prominent mention. We are told:

Ø      No one there wanted to put him in. He had found favor too certainly


Ø      There was no need to put him in. His word could be trusted, and “one

soldier” was considered enough to save appearances.

Ø      Prisons and “jailors” and authorities had already had too much of

having him and others of the same sort in prison (ch. 5:19; 12:8; 16:26),

in Judaea; and perhaps, for the present at all events, the Romans and

even the Jews in Rome were wiser for their own interest.






JURY. “A great door and effectual” was now at once opened for the

apostle. (I Corinthians 16:9)  His Lord’s promises and his own heart’s deepest

wishes begin to be fulfilled (ch. 23. 11). With abounding zeal Paul uses his

opportunity; he draws from all “the Scriptures;” he testifies “from morning

till evening;” he interests his hearers, is the means of the conversion of some,

and the awakener of much inquiry and “great reasonings” among others. Nor

withholds the faithful and searching rebuke. It is again “the whole counsel

of God” which he does not shun to declare.   (ch. 20:27)

24 "And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not."

Disbelieved for believed not, Authorized Version. The usual division of the hearers

of the Word.

The Leading Results Following upon Preaching (v. 24)

As Jesus went before us all, in our sorrows, difficulties, and holiest joys,

so, even if in less degree, His first apostles went before us in very many

experiences of the first preaching of the gospel with which we are now

perfectly well acquainted. The successes and the bitter disappointments of

the Christian preacher are at this very time keenly felt by Paul, and other of

the solemn phenomena lie open before him, and observed by him evidently

with very pained observation, were treated by him in a way full of

instruction for ourselves. The short but speaking comment of this verse, on

Paul’s first preaching of the gospel of Christ in Rome, though no doubt on

this occasion almost exclusively to his own people the Jews, is exceedingly

worthy of our notice. We may notice these typical effects of the gospel of


life of mind alone. It is not like the interest that gathers quickly round the

finest discoveries and investigations of science. It has another unmistakable

element, and one that refuses to be at all ignored, a certain moral element.

Very quickly does it beg to be informed whether men “believe” or do “not

believe.” And it states that on this everything turns.


TAKE IT, OTHERS REFUSE IT. It is then that the Christian preacher,

and the Christian man whoever he is, stands in the presence of the

grandest, deepest, most inscrutable mystery beneath the sun — this, that

the gospel of God’s love in Christ presumably to be eagerly and

intelligently seized by every man, sooner than the bread on which he feeds,

is taken by some, is rejected by others. “Some believed… and some

believed not!” To one it is “the savor of death unto death” – “to the other

the savor of life unto life!”  (II Corinthians 2:16)

25  "And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that

Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet

unto our fathers,"  Isaiah for Esaias, Authorized Version; your for our,

Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. When they agreed not; ἀσύμφωνοι ὄντες

asumphonoi ontes – disagreements being, only here in the New Testament; but

συμφωνέω - sumphoneo - to agree, occurs repeatedly (ch. 5:9;  15:15;  Luke 5:36;

and Matthew, pass.); also σύμφωνος - sumphonos – of agreement  and συμφώνησις

sumphonaesis – agreement; concord  (I Corinthians 7:5; II Corinthians 6:15).

Ἀσύμφωνος  - Asumphonos ill according,  occurs in Wisdom of Solomon 18:10

and in classical  writers. Probably the disagreement led to some altercation, and to

the exhibition of the usual bigotry and prejudice and bitter opposition on the part

of the unbelieving Jews. They departed; ἀπελύοντο - apeluonto – they have

dismissed, the proper word for the breaking up of an assembly (Matthew 14:15,

22-23; 15:32, 39; ch. 15:30; Acts 19:41, etc.). Well spake the Holy Ghost.

Note the distinct assertion of the inspiration of Isaiah. Compare the words of the

Creed, "Who spake by the prophets;" and for similar statements, see Mark 12:36;

Hebrews 3:7;  10:15-16, etc. Note also how resolutely Paul maintains his own

standpoint as the faithful and consistent Israelite in accord with Moses and the

prophets, while his adversaries, with their boasted zeal for the Law, were really

its antagonists. The attitude of the true Catholics, in protesting against the

corruptions and perversions of the Church of Rome, and showing that they

are the faithful followers of Scripture and of apostolic tradition, and the true

up-holders of the primitive discipline and doctrine of the Church, is very similar.

26 "Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not

understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:"  Go thou for go,

Authorized Version; by hearing for hearing, Authorized Version; in no wise for not,

Authorized Version; shall in no wise for not, Authorized Version. Go thou, etc.

The quotation is all but verbatim from the Septuagint of Isaiah 6:9-10. This

particular chapter was evidently deemed one of great importance, since our

Lord quotes from it (Matthew 13:14-15), and John (John 12:37-41), as

well as Paul in the passage before us. By hearing (ἀκοῇ - akoae – to hearing).

Why the Septuagint translated שָׁמועַ by the substantive (ἀκοῇ) instead of by

the participle (ἀκούοντες - akouontes - ), as in the precisely similar phrase

which follows - βλέποντες βλέψατε - blepontes blepsate – observing ye

shall be observing -  does not appear. The Hebrew reads, as it is rendered in

the Luke 5:36;, “Hear ye,... and see ye," etc., in the imperative mood, not

differing much in sense (in prophetical language) from the future. It is

impossible to give the force in English exactly of the repetition of the verb

in the infinitive mood שְׁמְעוּ שָׁמועַ, and רְאוּ רָאו by a very common Hebrew

idiom. It is done imperfectly by the word "indeed." Rosenmuller quotes from

Demosthenes ('Contr. Aristogit.,' 1.) the proverbial saying, Ὁρώντας μὴ ὁρᾳν

καὶ ἀκούονσας μὴ ἀκούειν - Horontas mae horan kai akouonsas mae akouein - .

27  "For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of

hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes,

and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be

converted, and I should heal them."  This people's heart for the heart of this

people, Authorized Version; they have for have they, Authorized Version;

lest haply they should perceive for lest they should see, Authorized Version;

turn again for be converted, Authorized Version. This people's heart, etc.

So the Septuagint. But the Hebrew has the imperative form, "make fat.,"

"make heavy.... shut," in the prophetical style (compare Jeremiah 1:10).

They have closed (ἐκάμμυσαν - ekammusan they shut). The verb καμμύω

kammuo - , contracted from καταμύω - katamuo - close  (μύω - muo, to close,

from the action of the lips in pronouncing the sound μυ - mu - , means "to shut"

or "close" the eyes. It is found repeatedly in the Septuagint, and, in the form

καταμύω, in classical writers. The word "mystery" is etymologically connected

with it. The word here expresses the willfulness of their unbelief: "Ye will

not come to me that ye might have life."  (John 5:40)

28  "Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto

the Gentiles, and that they will hear it."  This salvation for the salvation,

Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; they will also hear for and that they

will hear it, Authorized Version. The Authorized Version. gives the sense better

than the Revised Version. This salvation; τὸ σωτήριον - to sotaerion – the

salvation. This form, instead of the more common σωτηρία – sotaeria - salvation,

is found in Luke 2:30; 3:6; and Ephesians 6:17. The Gentiles (see ch.13:46; 18:6;

22:26; 26:17, 20, 23). But even at Rome the apostle of the Gentiles was faithful

to the rule, "To the Jew first."  (Romans 1:16)

The Christian and the Jew (17-28)

Here we have the Christian and the Jew brought into close contact; and

there seems to have been as fair an opportunity for the latter to understand

and appreciate the former as could ever have been granted. With calmness,

with the wisdom and fullness of long study and mature experience, the

most enlightened Christian apologist presented the case of Christianity to

these men of the Jewish faith. We may look at:

open to misunderstanding on the part of his fellow-countrymen, and he

resolved on a free and full explanation. In this we recognize:

Ø      his constant faithfulness; for it was in discharge of his duty to his Divine

Master that he sought to conciliate those who were his enemies; also;

Ø      his habitual courtesy; for the whole strain of his address to the “chief of

the Jews” was suave and courteous in a high degree (vs. 17-20).

o        In their reply (vs. 21-22) we recognize

            a formal impartiality combined with

o        a real prepossession of mind decidedly against the cause

of which he was the advocate.

Ø      Christian earnestness confronting Jewish curiosity. Paul “expounded and

testified the kingdom of God, persuading them,” etc., evidently with

characteristic zeal. They listened, curious and wondering what he had to

say. “We desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest.” Christian fervor on the

one side, Jewish eagerness on the other.

Ø      Christian truth striving with Jewish prejudice. Paul marshaled his facts

and his arguments, we cannot doubt, to the full height of his fervor and his

practiced ability, maintaining his plea at great length (v. 23). But he

spoke to men whose minds were occupied with prejudice. The “sect was

everywhere spoken against,” they said to him. They probably used much

stronger language in speaking to one another.

Ø      Christian truth prevailing over Jewish prejudice. But seldom do we read

of men being “convinced against their will;” but we are glad to read here

that “some believed,” etc. (v. 24).

Ø      But we have the old sad story of Jewish prejudice prevailing over

Christian truth. “Some believed not.”

Ø      Finally we have Christian indignation uttering itself freely (vers. 25-27).

We turn to:

Ø      That it is right for us to invite and address the curious as well as the

devout. We should summon to the sanctuary not only those who are

wishful to worship God, but those also who are solicitous to learn what we

have to say on any subject with which we deal.

Ø      That we should exert ourselves to present truth in all its phases and with

all our force. As Paul made his appeal to the Law and to the prophets, and

developed and illustrated his argument at full length, so we should present

THE TRUTH AS IT IS IN JESUS CHRIST, in all its fullness and in all

its force; not being satisfied until we have “declared the whole counsel

of God.”  (ch. 20:27)

Ø      That we may reasonably hope for some measure of success. We have to

contend, not indeed with Jewish prejudice, but with human obduracy. Yet

armed with Divine truth and aided by the Divine Spirit, we should look for


Ø      That we need not be surprised at partial failure. Where apostles were

baffled we may be beaten.

Ø      That the hour of rebuke sometimes comes in the ministry of Christ.

Ø      That one sphere failing, another will open to the earnest worker (v. 28).


those who “will hear it,” if there are many who WILL NOT!

29  "And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great

reasoning among themselves."  (Authorized Version). This verse is entirely

wanting in the Received Text and Revised Version. It is omitted in many good

manuscripts and versions. It is condemned by Grotius, Mill, Tischendorf,

Lachmann, and others; but is not absolutely rejected by Meyer, Alford,

Plumptre, and others. Great reasoning (πολλὴν ... συζήτησιν – pollaen...

 suzaetaesin – much discussion - see ch. 6:9; 9:29; 15:2, 7;  and Luke 22:23;

24:15). The phrase is in Luke's style, and the statement seems necessary to

complete the narrative.

30 "And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received

all that came in unto him,"  He abode for Paul dwelt, Authorized Version and

Textus Receptus; dwelling for house, Authorized Version; went for came.

Authorized Version. Two whole years. Διετίαν - Dietian – two years - occurs also

in ch. 24:27, and διετής - dietaes - in Matthew 2:16; τριετίαν - trietian -  for three

years in ch. 20:31. These forms are frequent in the Septuagint. His own hired dwelling;

ἰδίῳ μισθώματι - idio misthomati – own hired house, only here. The word properly

means "hire," the price paid for the use of anything, and then by metonymy "the

thing which is hired." It occurs frequently in the Septuagint in the sense of “hire" or

"wages;" e.g. Hosea 2:12; Deuteronomy 23:18, etc. This may be the ξενία - xenia -  

lodging-place spoken of in v. 23, or he may have removed from thence into some

house more commodious for gathering Jews and Christians around him.

31  "Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern

the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him."  The things

for those things, Authorized Version; concerning for which concern, Authorized

Version; boldness for confidence, Authorized Version; none for no man,

Authorized Version. Boldness (παρρησίας - parraesias); see above, ch. 4:13, 29, 31.

The verb παρρησιαζόμενοι - parraesiazomenoi -  speaking boldly  also occurs

frequently (ch. 9:27; 13:46; 14:3, etc.). The boldness and freedom with

which he spake the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ would naturally increase

more and more, as he found himself day by day unchecked by enemies, and

encouraged by the number and earnestness of his hearers. None forbidding him;

ἀκωλύτως - akolutos - unforbidden, only here in the New Testament; but the

adjective is found in Symmachus's version of Job (Job 34:31), and in the Septuagint

of Wisdom of Solomon 7:22; and both adjective and adverb are occasionally used

in classical Greek. But the most common use of the adverb is by medical writers,

who employ it "to denote freedom, unhindered action, in a variety of things, such

as respiration, perspiration, the pulse, the muscles, the members of the body"

(Hobart). In two passages quoted from Galen ('Meth. Med.,' 14:15; 'Usus Part.,' 2:15)

the sentence ends, as here, with the word ἀκωλύτως.   Some derive the word "acolyte"

hence, from their being admitted to holy functions, though not in full orders.

And so ends this lively and beautiful and most faithful sketch of one of the greatest

men, and one of the greatest works, the world has ever seen. "In labors more

abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft"

(II Corinthians 11:23) is seen, as we read this history, to be no empty boast, but a

simple statement of the truth. The springs of that mind and of that zeal were ever

ready to rise to fresh work, however crushing a strain had been put upon them.

"I count not my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy,

and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus to testify the gospel

of the grace of God" (ch. 20:24) is the true description of that life as delineated

by the beloved physician. And yet how remarkable it is that in the whole of the Acts

there is not one single word of panegyric! The portraiture is a bare photograph,

without a single additional touch to enhance its beauty. Nor must we forget the

singular brevity with which some episodes are passed over. Had we only Luke's

history, we should not know that the apostle was an author - an author whose

writings have moved the world of mind and spirit more than all the writings of

Plato, and Aristotle, and Cicero, and Bacon combined, through a period of

two thousand years. Thus, to glance at the "two whole years" with the record

of which the book closes, think of the work done in that time. What gatherings

of holy men and women within the walls of that "hired dwelling" are we sure

must have taken place!

Ø      Prisca and Aquila,

Ø      Epaenetus,

Ø      Mary,

Ø      Urban,

Ø      Apelles,

Ø      Persis,

Ø      Hermas, 

Ø      Olympas, and

Ø      all their compeers,

we  may be sure were often there. What wrestlings in prayer, what expositions of

the  Scriptures, what descriptions of the kingdom of God, what loving exhortations,

what sympathetic communings, must have made that "hired dwelling" a very

Bethel in the stronghold of heathenism! We think of the praetorian soldiers to

whom he was successively chained; perhaps of the courteous Julius; of the

inmates of Nero's palace (Philippians 4:22); perhaps of Eubulus, and Pudens,

and Linus, and Claudia (II Timothy 4:21); of Epaphras and Epaphroditus,

and of Luke, and Mark, and Timothy, and Aristarchus, and we know not how

many more besides; and there rises before our minds a crowd of agencies and

sober activities directed by that master mind to the advancement of the kingdom

of God. We feel, indeed, that, though he was chained, "the word of God was

not bound"  (II Timothy 2:9); but that through the marvelous energy and unfailing

wisdom of the great prisoner, his prison turned out rather to the furtherance of

the gospel. And then we turn to the Epistles written at this time. What a contribution

to the literature of the kingdom of heaven!  The Epistles:

Ø      to the Ephesians,

Ø      to the Colossians,

Ø      to Philemon,

Ø      to the Philippians, and

Ø      probably much help given to Luke in the composition of the Acts

      of the Apostles.

Truly they were two years of infinite moment to the Church of God. What followed

those two years, what became of Paul, and what of his saintly biographer, we shall

never know. It has pleased God to draw a curtain ever the events, which we cannot

penetrate. Here our history ends, because nothing more had happened when it was

given to the Church. Instead of vain regrets because it reaches no further, let us

devoutly thank God for all that this book has taught us, and strive to show

ourselves worthy members of that Gentile Church, whose foundation by Peter

and Paul, and whose marvelous increment, through the labors of him who once

laid it waste, has been so well set before us in the Book of THE ACTS OF


The Fall (vs. 16-31)

The main feature in these concluding verses of the Acts of the Apostles, as

it is one of the most momentous incidents in the history of God’s dealings

with mankind, is the fall of Israel from their proper place in the Church of

God. For nearly two thousand years, if we date from the call of Abraham,

this one family had been separated from the rest of mankind, and eventually

received institutions of such wonderful strength and vitality as to keep

them separate through centuries of extraordinary vicissitudes, that they

might be depositaries of God’s great promise, and his witnesses in the

world. But when at length the great promise made by God to the fathers

had its fulfillment in the birth of Jesus Christ into the world, and the time of

rest and glory to Israel would seem to have arrived, another event

happened, also foretold by the prophets, viz. the rejection of their Messiah

by an unbelieving and stiff-necked generation. He came to His own, and His

own received him not. (John 1:11)  “Who hath believed our report?” (Isaiah 53:1)

was the prophetic announcement of this unbelief. “Hearing ye shall hear, and

shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive” was the prophet’s

description of the gross heart of the people when the glad sound of the

gospel should come unto them. And so now it came to pass. We have seen

in the preceding narrative how the most gifted of men, with a profusion of

love and eloquence and power which has never been surpassed, went about

from country to country, and from city to city, proclaiming to his Jewish

brethren the unsearchable riches of Christ. We have seen how everywhere

to the mass he spoke in vain. The blessed Word of life fell on ears dull of

hearing. They resented the message when they should have hailed the

messenger with delight. They sought to silence that tongue in death which

spoke to them of Jesus and the resurrection. And now once more a chance

is given them. The generous prisoner has no sooner set his foot in Rome

than he calls to him all his fellow-countrymen. Forgiving all the wrongs and

injuries and violence which had embittered his life, he once more lays

before them the blessed news of the kingdom of God and exhorts them to

enter in. The exhortation is in vain. They judge themselves unworthy of

ETERNAL LIFE;  they will not have God’s Christ to reign over them. And so

THEY SEAL THEIR OWN DOOM!. The time of their fall is come — the time

when the kingdom of God must be taken from them and GIVEN TO A


riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. See how unsearchable are

His judgments, and his ways past tracing out. (Romans 11:33)  This fall of Israel,

so sad in itself, so sad in relation to the great fathers of the house of Israel, so fatal,

one would have thought, to the interests of the kingdom of Christ, BECOMES

THE RICHES OF THE WORLD!   (see Romans 9-11)  From that fall emerges

the great mystery of God, which had lain concealed through ages and generations,

that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs and partakers of the great Messianic

promise. Through that fall of Israel salvation came to the breadth and length of

the heathen world.  “The salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles,” and they

were READY TO HEAR IT!   The light that had been shut up within the four walls

of the commonwealth of Israel, and only shining as it were through the chinks and

crannies of those walls, now that those walls were broken down blazed


The voice of Divine truth, of which only faint echoes had been heard outside

those walls, now went out through all lands in all the fullness of its converting

power. Now were the heathen given to Christ for His inheritance, and the utmost

parts of the earth for His possession. (Psalm 2:8)  The fall of Israel was become

the riches of the Gentiles, and their loss the world’s gain. (Romans 11:12)

But the mystery of God was not yet worked out. That had yet to be unfolded and

shown to the world, which Paul told the Roman Church, “The gifts and calling

of God are without repentance.” (ibid. v. 29)  Israel has not stumbled to his final

fall. The eternal hand still holds him up through centuries of darkness; and the

eternal voice will yet say to him, “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the

glory of the Lord is risen upon thee!”  (Isaiah 60:1)  THE TIME WILL COME,

FOR GOD HAS SPOKEN IT, when the heart of stone, which denied the Lord

of glory, will be exchanged for a heart of flesh, which will love and adore Him.

The time will come when the long-lost sheep will return to the good and loving

Shepherd who is waiting to receive them, “and so all Israel shall be saved.”

(Romans 11:26)  How or when that promised time will come we know not.

But we know that it will come.  And when it does come it will be to the whole

human race as life from the  dead. WATCH FOR IT! O ye Gentile Christians!

WATCH FOR IT!   O ye sons of Israel! Pray for it, all ye that love Christ!

for it will be the day of the fullness of His glory, and the consummation of your

bliss.  (“.....and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the

times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” – Luke 21:24 – Israel repossessed Jerusalem

in 1967 – “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and

lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”  -  ibid. v. 28  - CY –


Concerning Christ and His kingdom (vs. 30-31)

“The kingdom of God,” which Paul preached in his own hired house for

two years, was none other than the “kingdom of Christ,” or the “kingdom

of heaven” which Jesus announced, and concerning which He said so much

when He was on earth (see Matthew 6:33; 13:24-50, etc.; Luke 22:29; John

18:36). Christ came for the purpose of establishing, or rather re-establishing,

the kingdom of God on earth, of reinstating the Divine Father on the throne

of the human world. This was the end and aim of His mission; therefore

“those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ” are the same things which

concern “the kingdom of God” (text and also v. 23). We look, then, at this


distinctness that His kingdom is “not of this world.” We gather from all that

He said and did that it is none other and nothing lower than the spiritual and

universal sovereignty which God, the Divine Father, which He Himself, the

Divine Savior, would exercise over mankind; the domain of righteousness

and love over the willing minds, the rejoicing hearts, of a redeemed and

regenerated world — a kingdom in which God is to be the one Sovereign,

righteousness the only accepted law, love the pervading and prevailing

spirit, joy the abounding and abiding issue.

the condition is that of regeneration (John 3:3). From that point of

view which is open to us, and from which our action is possible, the

conditions are humility (Matthew 5:3; Luke 18:17), and faith in

Jesus Christ himself, “By faith… in me” (ch. 26:18; John 6:29,

35, 40, 53, etc.).

Ø      Docility (Matthew 18:4).

Ø      Love (John 13:35).

Ø      Continued obedience to the will of Christ (John 8:31).

Ø      Faithfulness unto suffering.

Ø      Peacefulness of spirit (Matthew 5:9; Romans 14:17).

Ø      Sacred joy (Romans 5:11; 14:17).

(John 8:36).

Ø      It assails spiritual evils. It does battle with sin in all its forms and in all

its consequences.

Ø      It employs spiritual weapons (II Corinthians 10:4); these are:

o       truth,

o       love,

o       faith,

o       consistency, etc.

great ostentation, with sound of trumpet, with announcement of herald,

with “pomp and circumstance;” but “the kingdom of God cometh not with

observation.” (Luke 17:20)  He “did not strive nor cry, nor cause his voice

 to be heard in the streets”  (Matthew 12:19), when He lived below. And

now He comes in gospel privilege, in gracious invitation, in benignant

influences, in Divine prompting; not as the storm comes, but as the dew;

not in the great and strong wind that rends the mountains, but in the still

small voice that touches the heart and makes all things new.

concerning the “kingdom of God”, or one thing which “concerns the Lord

Jesus Christ” which is a more true and faithful saying than another, which

is more valuable and precious to the human world than another, it is this —

that the gates of that blessed kingdom stand open night and day, are wide

open to receive the most unworthy if they will pass through in sincere

humility and simple faith; that the Lord Jesus Christ stands ever waiting to

receive the heart which is looking for a Savior from sin; that He is not only

prepared, but eager to welcome to His side and His service every human

soul that is hungering after righteousness, that will accept His mercy, that

will take His yoke; that unto all of these He will give, not only present and

abiding rest, but future and EVERLASTING JOY!

A Type and a Model of the Christian Preacher (vs. 30-31)

These striking, closing words of a history, than which, take it all in all,

there is not a more impressive to be found — always excepting the one

history of Jesus Christ — show the performing in right earnest of the parting

injunction of the ascending Lord of the Church. For Rome is the scene, that

metropolis and type of the world. “All” the various inhabitants of it, not Jews

only, are now both sought and found. To these “the gospel” is preached. And

the crucified but now risen Lord is the one central theme. We have, therefore,

in Paul, at this most touching, most amazing episode of his career, a living

example, and “by the grace of God” a truly worthy example, of “the faithful

fulfilling” of the work belonging to the minister of Christ. These are the

leading marks of him, as here instanced.


MAY BE PLACED OF PROVIDENCE. Paul cannot now go out to the

highways and byways. But “his own hired house” is one kept, as very few

others are kept in any analogous circumstances, with open doors. And

doors open impartially to “ALL” who would come.


Ø      His message is to his hand. He has discovered its sum and substance

long ago. He keeps to this theme.

Ø      This is his forte. And he does not profess another. The mind of the

Christian preacher is abundantly open to any, or, if possible, to all, “arts

and sciences and philosophies;” but these are not his sterling coin.

They are not the matters for the pronounced deliverances of his voice.

He may be beholden to them in his education, and it is a shame if he is

not. He may lay them under any amount of contribution for purposes

of illustration. But they are not the subject-matter of his preaching

and teaching.

SOUND, EVEN WITH BOLDNESS. This is the more remarkable,


Ø      What he has to say is not that for which there is at first any very large

spread desire.

Ø      It is what is sure to be rejected by many contemptuously, by other

many indifferently, while it will stir strong opposition in the heart and in the

action of not a few.

But, on the other hand, the clear ring of his voice and the unstammering

declaration of his thoughts result from:

Ø      Strong personal convictions as to what he proclaims.

Ø      Determined personal attachment to it.

Ø      The spirit of loyal fidelity to it — that be it what it may, in the esteem

of a thousand to one, yet he will lay it open before all as its due.

o        It shall not suffer prejudice from suppression or

o        from a timid partial disclosure of it.

Ø      Honest and not merely boastful upliftedness above regard to the

personal consequences to self. The genuine preacher of the truth of Christ

is not, indeed, to hold his life in his own hand, but he is “rather” to hold

this — and unmistakably — that God holds, that his Master Christ holds,

that life in their hand respectively.

Ø      An irresistible impulse to confront the people with his proclamation,

and bring them by all means possible into such contact with it that they can

no longer be ignorant of it, even if they flee from it and reject it.



beyond doubt, stand in this blessed contrast with all other work, even the

most necessary and the most innocent:

Ø      It rewards confidence.

Ø      It merits devotion.

Ø      Its manifest and felt value grows with age and experience and

power to gaze beyond the limits of sense.

And when the use of all other work dwindles to the truer dimensions that

belong to it, this justly magnifies itself and shines with brighter luster.

Paul must have often addressed himself and his own soul in the words in

which he addresses Christians generally, in the most inspiring connection,

“Therefore.... be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of

the Lord; forasmuch as… your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

(I Corinthians 15:58)

Paul’s Preaching at Rome (vs. 30-31)

ruled from Rome; though often through corrupt forms, the Spirit of Christ

has gone forth from her to heal and to civilize. Slowly the dominion of

Rome must melt to give place to the idea which she has represented — the

world-wide dominion of the kingdom of God.

Ø      There is a welcome for all. Nothing inaccessible, forbidding, hard to