Acts 28 Bible Study
Where is "Malta" (Acts 28:1)?
Malta is 60 miles south of, and was a part of the Roman province of Sicily, the large southern-most island of Italy.
How was the weather?
It was "cold" (Acts 28:2), "winter" (Acts 27:12) and the storm hadn't lifted: "the rain that was falling" (Acts 28:2).
After being bitten by the viper, why did Paul shake
"off the creature into the fire" (Acts 28:5)?
Had it let the viper live, someone else risked getting bitten.
Why didn't Paul immediately turn to Doctor Luke for medical attention?
The Lord Himself had told him, "Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome" (Acts 23:11), which means he wasn't going to die in Malta. Paul trusted the Lord to deal with the viper venom.
Why would the Maltese call Paul "a god" (Acts 28:6)
and why would God let a viper bite Paul?
The original Greek word translated "justice" (Acts 28:4) is Dike (pronounced "dee-kay"), who in pagan mythology was the daughter of Jupiter and the goddess of justice. The Maltese were especially into goddess worship and thought their goddess of justice isn't allowing Paul "to live" (Acts 28:4). When they realized that their goddess couldn't kill Paul, they "changed their minds and said that he was a god" (Acts 28:6). The Lord apparently had a ministry lined up for the Maltese and was setting the platform for Paul, who undoubtedly told them about the true God over the "three months" (Acts 28:11) that he spent in Malta.
Besides "the natives" (Acts 28:2), who else should have been paying homage to Paul on the shore?
Everyone who had been on the ship. Since Paul had prayed for and led all 276 passengers safely through the storm and the shipwreck so that "they all escaped safely" (Acts 27:44), he easily could have been at the 'best seat' by the fire receiving their gratitude and adulation.
What was Paul doing?
He was out gathering wood for the fire to warm everyone else: "Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire" (Acts 28:3), displaying the servant leadership that Jesus taught and exemplified: "Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded... So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you." (John 13:3-5,12-15)
If you are a church pastor or elder, when is the
last time you cleaned your church toilets, which are cleaner today than feet were back then?
Who was "Publius" (Acts 28:7)?
He was "the leading citizen of" (Acts 28:7) Malta.
Who are the "us" (Acts 28:7,10)?
Unless Publius was exceptionally rich and "entertained" (Acts 28:7) and "provided" (Acts 28:10) for all 276 passengers from the ship, it is likely to have been just Paul, about whose bout with the viper Publius may have heard about, and Paul's companions, Luke and Aristarchus.
Who didn't heal Publius' father "of a fever and dysentery" (Acts 28:8)?
Luke, who was a doctor.
Why did God have Paul heal him?
So that "the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came to be healed" (Acts 28:9). The Lord was expanding Paul's ministry to the Maltese.
What happened after "three months" (Acts 28:11)?
Spring arrived and the wind changed so that they could sail northward to Italy.
Where are "Syracuse" (Acts 28:12) and "Rhegium" (Acts 28:13)?
Syracuse is a port city on the east coast of Sicily and is about 90 miles northeast of Malta. Rhegium is a port city at the extreme southern tip - right on the toe of the 'boot' - of Italy, another 90 miles north of Syracuse.
Where is "Puteoli" (Acts 28:13)?
Puteoli is 250 miles north of Rhegium and right next to the modern Italian city of Naples. "Puteoli" literally means "little wells", in reference to the many hydrothermal wells that were in the city. Puteoli was also the cargo port for Rome and the nearby Roman naval base at Misenum housed the largest naval fleet in the ancient world. Earthquakes since have sunk most of Puteoli under water.
Where are "Appii Forum and Three Inns" (Acts 28:15)?
Three Inns and Appi Forum were 30 and 40 miles, respectively, south of Rome. When the Christians in Rome "heard" (Acts 28:15) that Paul was headed their way from Puteoli, 140 miles to the south, they walked 30-40 miles to greet him. "When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage." (Acts 28:15)
Who established the church in Rome?
God used someone other than Paul, since this was Paul's first visit to Rome. But Paul and the church in Rome weren't strangers. Before heading to Jerusalem, most probably from Corinth - "But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem." (Romans 15:25-26) - Paul wrote to the church in Rome and shared his prayers, now granted: "To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established - that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me." (Romans 1:7-12)
How many Christians did the Roman Christians greet?
Since the "centurion" (Acts 28:16) was with Paul, so were his soldiers and the other prisoners bound for Rome, as well as perhaps other passengers from the ship who were bound for Rome. After what they had witnessed, lived through and heard from Paul since leaving Caesarea, it is highly likely that the Roman Christians greeted far more Christians than just Paul, Luke and Aristarchus. The Lord most likely saved many if not all passengers on the ship in more ways than one.
To whom did the centurion deliver the prisoners upon arrival in Rome?
The head of the Praetorian guards - "captain of the guard" (Acts 28:16) - who guarded Caesar and his palace.
Why was Paul "permitted to dwell by himself with the
soldier who guarded him." (Acts 28:16)?
For one, he was an uncondemned Roman citizen. For another, the centurion may have vouched for Paul, who was hardly a flight risk. After all, he had requested to come to Rome.
Why then did the Lord have "soldiers" guard Paul?
To protect him during his ministry in Rome: "Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him." (Acts 28:30-31)
What happened to the soldier guarding Paul?
God turned them into Christians, as Paul later wrote to the church in Philippi: (the original Greek word translated "household" is oikia, which can mean either "household" or "house", which for the Caesar is his palace): "Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household." (Philippians 4:21-22)
What did Paul's guard do in turn?
Spread the gospel to the "whole" Praetorian guards, as Paul also wrote: "But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ." (Philippians 1:12-13)
Who did Paul call after "three days" (Acts 28:17) in Rome?
"The leaders of the Jews" (Acts 28:17). Being under house arrest, he couldn't go to them, so he had them come to him.
Hadn't "Claudius ... commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome" (Acts 18:2)?
Claudius expelled Jews from Rome in 49 AD and died, allegedly from poisoning, in 54 AD, when a new reign began under Nero, the son of Claudius' fourth wife and alleged murderer. Those Paul called were the leaders of the Jews who had either hidden through Claudius' expulsion order or moved (back) to Rome after his death.
What "chain" (Acts 28:19) was Paul talking about?
Being under Roman house arrest, Paul's right wrist would have been chained to a Roman guard.
What did Paul first establish to the leaders of the Jews in Rome?
His innocence: "I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers ..." (Acts 28:17)
Then why was he a prisoner?
"For the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain." (Acts 28:19)
What is the "hope of Israel"?
The Messiah - i.e., Jesus.
What did Paul want the leaders of the Jews to do?
Go and bring the Jews so that he can preach the Gospel to them: "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." (Acts 28:23)
Why did the leaders bring the Jews?
While they had heard nothing negative concerning Paul, they had heard negative things about Christianity, so they wanted to hear Paul's opinion on the matter: "We neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren who came reported or spoken any evil of you. But we desire to hear from you what you think; for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere." (Acts 28:21-22)
To whom did Paul turn after this sermon, which lasted "from morning till evening" (Acts 28:23)?
As has been typical for Paul in a new city, he first brought the good news of Jesus Christ to those who knew the "Law of Moses and the Prophets" (Acts 28:23) and had been waiting for the Messiah. Thereafter, he turned to the Gentiles: "Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!" (Acts 28:28)
What did the Gospel do to the Jews who heard it?
It split them: "Some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved." (Acts 28:24)
What will the Gospel do to you?
It will put you into one of two camps. Either you will believe it and be saved for eternity, or you will disbelieve and end up in hell for eternity. If you have yet to consider the Gospel, please (re)start with John 1.
What should you do if you know the Gospel but don't believe it?
Cry out to Jesus to open your mind, heart, eyes and ears so that you will be among those who "see with their eyes and hear with their ears ... understand with their hearts and turn" (Acts 28:27) to Him.
What should you do if you know and believe the Gospel?
Share it with those who don't, and never cease giving all credit, thanks, praise, honor and glory to Jesus.