The journey to Rome was long and treacherous, but God protected Paul and his fellow passengers throughout. Finally, Paul arrived at Rome, accompanied by the brethren in Italy who greeted him on the way to Rome. The final passage of Acts records Paul’s witnessing at Rome, first to the Jewish leaders, then to all who came to him.
Did You Know...?
1. “In the late forties Jews at Rome had been so sharply divided about Christianity that the Emperor Claudius banished them all from the city to stop the riots there… Having been expelled from Rome in 49 or 50 because of riots about Christianity in their community, and having only recently returned to their city after Claudius’s death in 54, [the Jewish leaders] were simply not prepared in 61 to become involved in Paul’s case one way or another.” [ref]
How is this passage an appropriate conclusion to Acts?Hide Answer
At the beginning of Acts, the Lord promised the apostles that they would be His witnesses from Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (1:8). By the power of the Holy Spirit, the apostles did bring the good news of Jesus Christ from Jerusalem all the way to the remotest regions of the earth. At the end of Acts, we see the fruition of the great commission in the apostolic era, although this commission was to be continued by believers in succeeding generations until the Lord comes again.
Why did Paul gather the leaders of the Jews in Rome?Hide Answer
He gathered them to make clear to them that he did not appeal to Caesar because he had something against his own people but because he had no choice but to defend himself from false accusations.
He did not want them to only hear one side of the story and allow prejudice to be built up against the gospel message and against him. If they had already been brainwashed by the Jews from Judea, they would have opposed Paul’s ministry at Rome as well.
What can we learn from Paul in this?Hide Answer
Whenever people have misunderstanding about us or our beliefs, we do not need to be afraid to communicate to them and clarify the misunderstanding. By establishing a channel of communication, we can avoid a lot of unnecessary conflict and opposition.
How were the Jewish leaders in Rome different from those in Jerusalem?Hide Answer
Unlike the murderous leaders in Jerusalem, they were quite openminded and were willing to hear what Paul had to preach (22). Even when they did not all accept Paul’s message, they did not try to hinder or suppress the Christian faith. Perhaps their non-confrontational attitude was due to the recent expulsion from Rome (see Did You Know 1).
What was the subject of Paul’s preaching?Hide Answer
The kingdom of God and the things concerning Jesus (23)
How does Luke describe how eager and serious Paul was in his preaching?Hide Answer
Paul explained, solemnly testified, and persuaded. We can see how earnest he was in winning souls. He was so diligent that he spoke from morning till evening (23).
Do you have the same fervor when witnessing to others? What would motivate you to have such a fervor?
Paul persuaded them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and the Prophets. How would you use the Old Testament to show that Jesus is the Savior?
What were the Jewish leaders’ reaction to Paul’s preaching?Hide Answer
Some were persuaded by Paul’s words, but some disbelieved (24). As a result there was a great dispute among them (25,29). The gospel can create two extreme reactions and conflict (cf. Mt 10:34-36).
Paul stated, “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah….” What does this say about the Scriptures?Hide Answer
The Scriptures are the voice of God’s Holy Spirit. Even though the words were spoken or written down by the men of God, they were the inspired words of God given through the Spirit of God (2Pet 1:21;
What was Paul’s point in quoting from the book of Isaiah?Hide Answer
Paul pointed out that they were exactly like what the prophet Isaiah had predicted. They heard the truth, but did not understand nor perceive because their hearts were hardened.
What did Paul say about the new direction of Christian ministry?Hide Answer
Because the Jews did not accept the gospel, the gospel of salvation had been sent to the Gentiles (28).
What did Paul do after the Jews dispersed?Hide Answer
He was undeterred as usual, and continued to preach to those who were willing to listen.
What can we learn from this in our preaching?Hide Answer
We shouldn’t stop preaching just because some people reject the gospel. We also shouldn’t be discouraged. We ought to continue to preach because there are many others who have not yet heard of the truth.
Where was Paul’s preaching and teaching ministry based? Why? How does this inspire you?Hide Answer
Paul’s ministry at Rome was based in his own rented house (30) because he was under house arrest. Even though he could not go out to the people to preach to them as he used to do, he altered his approach and got the truth seekers to come to him at his house! Paul said that although he is in chains the word of God is not chained (2Tim 2:9). Paul used all means to preach the gospel in every circumstance (1 Cor 9:19-23). He also preached in season and out of season (2Tim 4:2). He even preached in chains and made the gospel known to everyone who came into contact with him (cf. Php 1:12 14). If we have a strong faith in God and a heart to fulfill the Lord’s work, we can witness for the Lord even in the most difficult situations.
How are the words “with all confidence” and “no one forbidding” significant?Hide Answer
These words show how the gospel was victorious despite all the oppositions and hardships along the way. Paul the preacher was not defeated, but grew all the more confident because He trusted in God. With no one forbidding Paul preached to as many people as he possibly could.
At the conclusion of the book, the gospel had been brought from the Jewish city of Jerusalem in the east to the Gentile capitol city of the Roman empire in the west, and it was still being preached even as the book of Acts came to a close. This is how the Lord would continue to do what He had begun to do, until the end of the age. Just as the Lord had prophesied, the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations before the end will come (Mt 24:14).
How do believers today continue where the apostles left off in Acts?