Acts 28:17-31 While In Rome

Chains for his hands but not his tongue!

We have come to the last section of the book of Acts. Luke concludes by giving us a brief synopsis of Paul while in Rome. His first days speak loud and clear of what his time in Rome will be like. He DOES NOT go by the old adage, “When in Rome do as the Roman’s do.”

Everywhere Paul begins to preach he goes to the Jews first. That is true for his time in Rome too. Jews came from far and near when he got there. I’m not sure if it was because his imprisonment was well known, if he was famous, or if they were hungry for any news from their homeland.

Paul waited three days before holding his first “camp meeting.” He gave everyone who wanted to attend time to get there. After those three days he briefly set out the facts. He didn’t go into his beliefs or his defense. He simply stated that if it were not for the charges brought against him by the Jews he would not be there. The Romans had no charges against him and found him not deserving of the death the Jews wanted to inflict upon him. “I’m only here and wearing these chains because of the hope of Israel.”

After all that the Jews in Jerusalem did to try and kill Paul it is amazing that they didn’t send word to the Roman Jews about it. They had planned at LEAST two ambushes, had pledged their lives to his death, and appeared before the Roman governors on multiple occasions. Yet when they KNEW he was going to appear before Caesar they remained silent. Why was that? Did they believe Caesar would see right through their charges? Were they afraid Caesar would see them as trouble makers and come down hard on them if the Jews in Rome took up their cause?

By omitting informing the Jews in Rome of Paul’s “charges” they allowed him to present the gospel in the same manner as he had been doing all along. He didn’t have to argue that he was not telling fellow Jews to disregard the law. He didn’t have to defend his time in the temple. Instead, he got to explain the fulfilment of the law and the prophets through Jesus.

Being so far removed from Jerusalem they were, most likely, less acquainted with all the facts of Jesus’ life and resurrection. Paul brought them the first authoritative information on the rumors they had been hearing about it. “But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against” (verse 22).

As was typical, the audience was split on acceptance of Paul’s testimony. Many believed but many also didn’t. But all walked away when he quoted Isaiah regarding God giving salvation to the Gentiles. This was a sticky point for any Jew but those who truly listened to Paul’s teaching would accept that fact, eventually. Paul had two years there to convince them of the truth and he did not shy away from that challenge.

I wonder how Paul supported himself during those two years. Did he ever get his audience with Caesar? Was he ever released from his chains? The angel told him that he would have to stand before Caesar but was that to mean literally appearing before Caesar or simply testifying in Caesar’s home base of Rome? Mention is made later in Paul’s letter to the Philippians that those in Caesar’s household send them greetings. This would lead one to believe that Paul at least got to meet many of Caesar’s family. This matter may be another question we have to wait until we meet Jesus face to face to answer. Maybe He will let Paul share some more of his adventures with those who want to hear them.

Father God You don’t forget ANYONE when it comes to hearing about Your love. These Jews were as far away as the world in their time could imagine, yet You made a way for them to hear the truth. They weren’t left wondering and relying on rumors. YOU brought them Paul. YOU made a way for them to get their questions answered. Even questions that they hadn’t thought of themselves.

You have made it possible for ALL to hear Your gospel. That was one of the requirements Jesus said had to be fulfilled before He returned. Even before the time of our modern communication and transportation You still sent Your word out. Many people were like the Jews in Rome where they had some knowledge of You, but not the full scope before You intervened fully. Thank You for bringing us Your truth. Thank You also that even the heavens and earth testify of You. You draw us to Yourself even through nature. Thank You for not leaving some lost simply because no one had come yet to bring the redemption story of Jesus yet. Thank You for pricking my heart to listen and receive Your love when I first heard. I’m stubborn, like Israel, but my heart is NOT hardened to Your love and truth.

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