1Once we were safe on shore, we learned that we were on the island of Malta. 2The people of the island were very kind to us. It was cold and rainy, so they built a fire on the shore to welcome us.
3As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand. 4The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.” 5But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. 6The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn’t harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god.
7Near the shore where we landed was an estate belonging to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us and treated us kindly for three days. 8As it happened, Publius’s father was ill with fever and dysentery. Paul went in and prayed for him, and laying his hands on him, he healed him. 9Then all the other sick people on the island came and were healed. 10As a result we were showered with honors, and when the time came to sail, people supplied us with everything we would need for the trip.
Paul Arrives at Rome
11It was three months after the shipwreck that we set sail on another ship that had wintered at the island—an Alexandrian ship with the twin godsa as its figurehead. 12Our first stop was Syracuse,b where we stayed three days. 13From there we sailed across to Rhegium.c A day later a south wind began blowing, so the following day we sailed up the coast to Puteoli.14There we found some believers,d who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome.
15The brothers and sisterse in Rome had heard we were coming, and they came to meet us at the Forumf on the Appian Way. Others joined us at The Three Taverns.g When Paul saw them, he was encouraged and thanked God.
16When we arrived in Rome, Paul was permitted to have his own private lodging, though he was guarded by a soldier.
Paul Preaches at Rome under Guard
17Three days after Paul’s arrival, he called together the local Jewish leaders. He said to them, “Brothers, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Roman government, even though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors. 18The Romans tried me and wanted to release me, because they found no cause for the death sentence. 19But when the Jewish leaders protested the decision, I felt it necessary to appeal to Caesar, even though I had no desire to press charges against my own people. 20I asked you to come here today so we could get acquainted and so I could explain to you that I am bound with this chain because I believe that the hope of Israel—the Messiah—has already come.”
21They replied, “We have had no letters from Judea or reports against you from anyone who has come here. 22But we want to hear what you believe, for the only thing we know about this movement is that it is denounced everywhere.”
23So a time was set, and on that day a large number of people came to Paul’s lodging. He explained and testified about the Kingdom of God and tried to persuade them about Jesus from the Scriptures. Using the law of Moses and the books of the prophets, he spoke to them from morning until evening. 24Some were persuaded by the things he said, but others did not believe. 25And after they had argued back and forth among themselves, they left with this final word from Paul: “The Holy Spirit was right when he said to your ancestors through Isaiah the prophet,
26‘Go and say to this people:
When you hear what I say,
you will not understand.
When you see what I do,
you will not comprehend.
27For the hearts of these people are hardened,
and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.’h
28So I want you to know that this salvation from God has also been offered to the Gentiles, and they will accept it.”i
30For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense.j He welcomed all who visited him, 31boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him.
It is such a sad thing when people refuse to see and believe the obvious. Paul, after all the trouble the Jews have given him, goes back to them again when he reaches Rome. He appeals to them with their own scripture and much logic, but they won’t believe. The Jews wanted a great warrior Messiah that would conquer the world and make the Jewish nation the ruling class. They got a Messiah that conquered sin and death and made everyone sons and daughters of God…and they didn’t like it.
Jesus, the true Messiah, was so much greater than the Messiah they wanted. But, like us, they refused to see how awesome what they had was. We humans think we know so much and know what is best for ourselves. We tenaciously hold on to our ideas and visions. But God told us in Isaiah 55:8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”
It is so sad to have such a closed mind.
Lord, help me to know you as you are and love you as you are. Help me to love your Word, and accept what it truly says and allow you and your Word to change my life.