Paul’s Witness on Malta
Verse 1 – Now when they had escaped, they then found out that the island was called Malta.
Verse 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.
Verse 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 on his hand.
Verse 4 – So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow him to live.
Notice that the Scripture says, “Hanging from his hand.” It doesn’t say it bit him and held on. The snake didn’t bite him. But for a venomous snake to not bite when threatened is a miracle all by itself.
Verse 5 – But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.
Verse 6 – However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead; but after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.
These natives were very superstitious and believed in many gods. They had watched Paul for a while to see if he was going to be swollen or die. When they saw that the viper hadn’t even bitten him or it bit him and he wasn’t affected, they presumed he must be one of the gods.
Verse 7 – Now in that region there was an estate of the leading citizen of the island, whose name was Publius, who received us and entertained us courteously for three days.
Verse 8 – And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him.
Publius’ father may have suffered from drinking impure goat’s mile.
Verse 9 – So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed.
What can we understand from pagan idolaters’ being healed? Do you have to be a Christian, a follower of Christ, to be healed? These people on this island had been kind to Paul and all who were with him. When God healed these people through Paul, it opened the door for the Gospel of God’s kingdom. Sometimes we have to meet others physical needs and then they are more apt to listen to what we have to say about Christ.
Verse 10 – They also honored us in many ways; and when we departed, they provided such things as were necessary.
Verse 11 – After three months we sailed in an Alexandrian ship whose figurehead was the Twin Brothers, which had wintered at the island.
Verse 12 – And landing at Syracuse, we stayed there three days.
Syracuse was the capital of the island of Sicily, on the eastern coast. It was a direct course from Malta to Rome.
Verse 13 – From there we circled round and reached Phegium. And after one day the south wind blew; and the next day we came to Puteoli,
Puteoli was a major port in southern Italy. It was a shipping harbor for transporting grain from Egypt to Rome.
Verse 14 – where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome.
Verse 15 – And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appi Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.
Paul had written his letter to the Romans before he arrived in Appi, so there were Christians there. Appi was about 56 miles from Rome.
Verse 16 – Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him.
Verse 17 – And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to hem: “Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans,
Verse “who, when they had examined me, wanted to let me go, because there was no cause for putting me to death.
Verse 19 – “But when the Jews spoke against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar, not that I had anything of which to accuse my nation.
Verse 20 – “For this reason therefore I have called for you to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.”
It kind of sounds like Paul was constantly chained to this one soldier, literally.
Verse 21 – And they said to him, “We neither received letters from Judea concerning you nor have any of the brethren who came reported or spoken any evil of you.
These Jews knew nothing of the accusations against Paul. After all, Paul had been acquitted successively by Lysias, Felix Festus, and Agrippa, so perhaps they thought it useless to pursue it any further.
Verse 22 – “But we desire to hear from you what you think; for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere.”
Verse 23 – So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.
Verse 24 – And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved.
The Book of Roman’s written ten years earlier, reveals the ongoing dialogue that Paul had with the Jews in Rome.
Verse 25 – So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers,
Verse 26 – “saying, ‘Go to this people and say: “Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you will see, and not perceive;
Verse 27 – for the heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their heart and return, so that I should heal them.”
Paul is literally telling those who did not believe, that the Jews would reject the coming Messiah, and they had, even though it was foretold by the prophets.
Verse 28 – “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!”
verse 29 – And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves.
Verse 30 – Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him,
Verse 31 – preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concerned the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.
The Book of Acts, ends abruptly. Paul wrote letters at this time to the Ephesians, Colossians, and to the Philippians. He also wrote letters, such as the one to Philemon. Historians say, he was released and then arrested again and while in prison was beheaded, but what a testimony and a man of God he was while he lived!!