It may seem like an odd title for the meeting between The Apostle Paul and the Jewish leadership at Rome. However, we find that by the end of the day (and the Bible says “from morning till evening”) Paul testifies with all of the love in his heart that Jesus is the One who fulfills both the Law of Moses and the Prophets. In other words, Jesus is indeed the long-awaited Messiah!
Yet some believe and some doubt. As they prepare to leave his house, Paul delivers a tender message straight from the Holy Spirit through the prophet Isaiah:
‘Go to this people and say:
“Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand;
And seeing you will see, and not perceive;
27For the hearts of this people have 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 hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’ ~Acts 28:26-27 NKJV
Notice that not Paul, but The Holy Spirit, mentions that the people’s hearts have turned away from God. Praise God that some of the Jews receive Jesus that day; while the remainder depart to argue the matter.
28”Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!”29And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves. ~ Acts 28:28-29 NKJV
Paul continues to preach about the Lord Jesus Christ from his own rental house for two more years. No one forbids Paul, and we have no idea how many lives are brought into God’s kingdom through Paul at Rome. Whatever the number, PRAISE THE LORD! – for each and every heart that softens, brightens, and turns to Jesus.
Long, Long ago the Lord said His love is everlasting, unfailing, and His heart is drawn toward His people. God’s Valentine’s Day message to you is Turn, TURN your heart to Jesus. Repent and receive salvation today.
Firstly, God bless you for reading and following Jesus!
So after waiting out the winter storms at the island of Malta, it’s time for departure. The Apostle Paul and two hundred seventy-five other prisoners, Roman soldiers, and crew begin the last leg of the journey to Rome.
And landing at Syracuse, we stayed three days. ~ Acts 28:12 NKJV
Syracuse is only 80 miles or so from Malta, so this is only a day trip out. Being a trading vessel, The Twin Brothers puts into Syracuse, the ancient capital of the island of Sicily. Cargo is offloaded, and new merchandise is brought aboard. Then the captain of the ship awaits a favorable south wind for immediate departure to the next port …
Not happening …
My heart says that if Paul can manage permission to go ashore, he is anxious to evangelize at Sicily. Indeed, modern Sicilians claim that their present day church was founded by the Apostle Paul. On the surface, that may sound like a walk in the park, but not necessarily. Ancient Syracuse is a city of great commerce, wealth, beauty, and splendor. The city is full of grand marble structures, statues and fountains. Temples to Jupiter, Fortune, Diana, and Minerva evidence the idolatry at Syracuse. There must be resistance to Paul’s Gospel if the centurion, Julius, allows Paul shore leave.
Finally after three days the winds turn around, the captain barks departure orders, and the crew casts off.
13From there we circled round and reached Rhegium. And after one day the south wind blew; and the next day we came to Puteoli, 14where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days.And so we went toward Rome. ~Acts 28:13-14 NKJV
How encouraging to meet up with brethren! The week is certainly full of mystery about who these believers are. There has long been a Jewish colony at Puteoli, but nothing is said here about the history of this group of believers. Imagine how warm the greetings are at Paul’s arrival! Perhaps they host the entire ship of people with food and celebration while Paul makes new disciples and teaches about Jesus.
Then everyone aboard The Twin Brothers disembarks at Puteoli, as the remaining journey to Rome is overland. Julius organizes his soldiers and prisoners for the 129-mile march to Rome.
Excited believers in Rome hear that Paul is getting close. They rush out to meet the group of travelers as they arrive forty miles outside of Rome. Luke states that Paul is very encouraged by this gesture and thanks God for the love shown to him by the believers of Rome.
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. ~Acts 28:16 NKJV
Ah, that Julius! He surely cares for Paul’s well-being. And the Lord provides for Paul’s needs through Julius!
So what is to be gleaned from retelling this story of Paul’s Voyage to Rome? I see God’s divine guidance upon this journey. The Lord mapped out the route and the timing; mastered the weather, and selected kindly authority – namely the centurion, Julius. God placed Luke there as physician and recorder of the events. Nothing happens by chance with Almighty God. He let it be known to all people on and off both ships of His Supreme Power juxtaposed to the impotency of pagan idols encountered on the voyage.
And God is just getting started! Paul remains at Rome for two more years while God prepares Roman authority to hear Paul’s legal case. Roman and Jewish leadership is moved around by God as on a chessboard. Paul meets with the Jewish leadership in Rome right away in order to explain about his reason for being there and about Jesus, Who fulfills both the Law of Moses and the Prophets. Paul preaches from his rented house to any and all who come to hear the Gospel of Christ. During that time God’s powerful plans for the spreading of the Gospel press forward, with Paul standing up for Jesus as the Messiah against powerful worldly opposition.
The best thing about Paul is that he is willing to do God’s work. He focuses on the prize, and not his surroundings. He trusts the Lord. Isn’t that exactly what our Lord expects from Jesus’ followers today?
“Father God, today I trust that Your will be done as it was for Paul; that Your hand will direct the route, the timing, the means, weather, and favorable authority over my steps. Forgive me for passing up opportunities to share Your Gospel in favor of my own vain materialistic pursuits. Give me the heart of a servant, so I may grow by Your Holy Spirit to become more like Jesus; and increasingly share Your Word in the time remaining. In the Blessed Name Above All Names, Yeshua (Jesus) Messiah, Amen.”
We may have to check in on that meeting between Paul and the Jewish leadership at Rome. In the meantime, thank you for following
Three months on the island of Malta and Julius must be anxious to get going. During this time does he becomes a believer? We know he cares for Paul, but Luke does not reveal Julius’s heart for Jesus. We do know that the centurion makes sure this voyage resumes.
When everyone who was sick was healed, Luke says, “this was done.” That tiny phrase packs a wallop with me. Besides rest, healing, and many new converts (I believe), what else was done? Throughout the journey from Jerusalem; the Euroclydon and shipwreck on Malta; I somehow sense that the Lord is slowing down Paul’s arrival at Rome. Despite the storm and shipwreck, castaways, snakebite, and massive healings on Malta; this is a very productive trip so far. We know the heart of Paul is to hurry to the new congregation in Rome, but Paul takes advantage of the many opportunities to preach¹. Does Paul write any letters to any churches during this time? I can’t find evidence, but possibly he did and they were destroyed during times of church persecutions.
God never does anything without a reason. Besides all His miracles and Paul’s preaching, what is going on over at Rome? What was done to prepare the way for Paul to stay there a few years while his legal case slowly grinds through the Roman court system? Our Lord works supernaturally behind the scenes while humans deal with daily routines of life. While three months of winter storms blow themselves out across the Mediterranean Sea, God is preparing a house for Paul, and the hearts of spiritual newborns at the church in Rome. No doubt God is already working out the legal case pending against Paul, too. And not any small thing, the Holy Spirit has been changing the hearts of the Maltese toward Paul and the rest of the sailing group. You gotta know that new relationships have been formed during the past three months – both spiritual and carnal. Think of the tears as new friendships are feeling the sadness of parting … I just smile thinking that God uses these sort of events to work his love and tenderness in the hearts of people.
As Julius gets the ship ready to go, here come the natives with gifts of every sort to sustain them on their voyage to Rome. It is a huge send-off and probably takes two or three days to stow all the cargo plus secure the prisoners aboard. Big feasts and tearful goodbyes may end up with friends launching canoes in order to follow the ship out a little way; maybe some cast flowers onto the surface of the sea.
They also honored us in many ways; and when we departed, they provided such things as were necessary. ~ Acts 28:10 NKJV
Finally, the voyage to Rome resumes! Click on the ship to link to an interactive map of Paul’s journey ↓
“Thank you, Lord, for helping us to get done what is Your will during our life’s journey. May it be pleasing to You, in the Matchless Name Above All Names, Jesus (Yeshua). Amen.”