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Paul and the Viper on Malta Beach (Acts 28)

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Acts 28

Paul on Malta
And when we had escaped, then we knew that the island was called Malta. 2 And the natives showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold. 3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself onto his hand. 4 And when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to each other: No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped from the sea, yet Justice has not permitted to live. 5 However he shook off the creature into the fire and was unharmed. 6 But they expected that he would have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly; but when they had waited a long time in expectation and saw nothing amiss came to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.
   7 Now in the neighbourhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us courteously for three days. 8 And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. Paul came in to him and prayed, and laying his hands on him, healed him. 9 And when this was done, the rest also that had diseases in the island came and were cured. 10 They also honoured us with many honours; and when we sailed away, they put on board such things as we needed.

Paul in Rome
   11 And after three months we set sail in a ship of Alexandria which had wintered on the island, whose sign was Castor and Pollux. 12 And landing at Syracuse, we stayed there three days; 13 and from there, we circled round and arrived at Rhegium; and after one day a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli, 14 where we found believers and were encouraged to stay with them seven days. And so we came towards Rome. 15 And from there the brothers, when they heard of us, came to meet us as far as The Market of Appius and The Three Taverns. Whom when Paul saw, he thanked God and took courage.
16 And when we entered into Rome, Paul was permitted to live by himself, with the soldier that guarded him. 17 And it came to pass, that after three days he called together those that were the leaders of the Jews; and when they came together, he said to them: Brothers, though I had done nothing against the people, or the customs of our fathers, I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 Who, when they had examined me, desired to set me free, because there was no cause for putting me to death. 19 But when the Jews spoke against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar. Not that I had something of which to accuse my nation. 20 Therefore, for this reason did I request you see me and speak with me. For because of the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain. 21 And they said to him: We neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor did any of the brothers come here and report or speak any evil of you. 22 But we desire to hear of you what you think. For as concerning this sect, it is known to us that everywhere it is spoken against.
   23 And when they had appointed him a day, they came to him into his lodging in great number. To whom he expounded the matter, testifying of the kingdom of God, and persuading them concerning Jesus, both from the law of Moses and from the prophets, from morning until evening. 24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved. 25 So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed; after Paul had made this final statement: The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, saying: 26 Go to this people and say, By hearing you shall hear and shall in no way understand, and seeing you shall see and shall in no way perceive. 27 For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart; and should repent, and I should heal them. 28 Therefore, let it be known to you that this salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles; and they will hear. 29 When he had said these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves.
   30 And he stayed two whole years in his own hired dwelling, and welcomed all that visited him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness, no one forbidding him.


28:3 Paul, a relatively old man afflicted by a “thorn in the flesh”, was the one out there gathering firewood- a wonderful example of service.

28:20 The true Christian hope is “the hope of Israel”, based upon the promises made to Abraham which include the essence of the Gospel of the Kingdom (Gal. 3:8).

28:21 The Jewish synagogue system ‘disfellowshipped’ people and then acted as if they didn’t even exist; this would explain why nothing had been said about Paul. Some extreme Protestant groups behave similarly, but such behaviour shows a complete lack of appreciation of the value of the human person- even those with whom we disagree.

28:25 The Holy Spirit spoke... through Isaiah- The Bible writers were inspired by God, through the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16).

28:31 Paul preached ‘boldly’, but he had asked others to pray for him, that he would preach boldly (Eph. 6::19). We all find it hard to be bold in witness; Paul even asked others to pray for him, that he would be more bold; and the inspired record shows us that these prayers were heard, and Paul’s desire was granted. We probably need to pray for the same boldness.