Paul on the Island of Malta
1After we had safely reached land, we discovered that the island we were on was Malta. 2The people who lived there showed us extraordinary kindness, for they welcomed us around the fire they had built because it was cold and rainy.
3When Paul had gathered an armful of brushwood and was setting it on the fire, a venomous snake was driven out by the heat and latched onto Paul’s hand with its fangs. 4When the islanders saw the snake dangling from Paul’s hand, they said to one another, “No doubt about it, this guy is a murderer. Even though he escaped death at sea, Justice # 28:4 The implication in the Greek text is that they were referring to a “goddess of justice,” perhaps a local deity. has now caught up with him!”
5But Paul shook the snake off, flung it into the fire, and suffered no harm at all. 6Everyone watched him, expecting him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. After observing him for a long time and seeing that nothing unusual happened, they changed their minds and said, “He must be a god!”
7The Roman governor of the island, named Publius, had his estate nearby. He graciously welcomed us as his houseguests and showed us hospitality for the three days that we stayed with him. 8His father lay sick in bed, suffering from fits of high fever and dysentery. So Paul went into his room, and after praying, placed his hands on him. He was instantly healed. 9When the people of the island heard about this miracle, they brought all the sick to Paul, and they were also healed. # 28:9 Although Paul was technically a prisoner, he was the one setting everyone free. No doubt he preached the gospel with signs and wonders, leaving the island healed in more ways than one. 10The islanders honored us greatly, # 28:10 Or “They honored us with many honors.” and when we were preparing to set sail again, they gave us all the supplies we needed for our journey.
Paul Reaches Rome
11After three months we put out to sea on an Egyptian ship from Alexandria that had wintered at the island. The ship had carved on its prow as its emblem the “Heavenly Twins.” # 28:11 These were the twin sons of Zeus, Castor and Pollux. The Aramaic is “flying the flag of Gemini.” This was a widespread cult in Egypt in that era.
12When we landed at Syracuse, # 28:12 This was the city on the eastern coast of Sicily. we stayed there for three days. 13From there we set sail for the Italian city of Rhegium. The day after we landed, a south wind sprang up that enabled us to reach Puteoli # 28:13 This was on the western coast of Italy, with a road leading to Rome, about 145 miles to the north. in two days. 14There we found some believers, who begged us to stay with them for a week. Afterward, we made our way to Rome.
15When the believers were alerted we were coming, they came out to meet us at the Forum of Appius while we were still a great distance from Rome. # 28:15 The Forum of Appius was about forty-three miles away from Rome. Another group met us at the Three Taverns. # 28:15 Three Taverns was about thirty-three miles from Rome. When Paul saw the believers, his heart was greatly encouraged and he thanked God.
16When we finally entered Rome, Paul was turned over to the authorities and was allowed to live where he pleased, with one soldier assigned to guard him.
Paul Speaks to Prominent Jews of Rome
17After three days Paul called together all the prominent members of the Jewish community of Rome. # 28:17 Some believe there could have been as many as fifty thousand Jews living in Rome at the time of Paul’s visit. When they had all assembled, Paul said to them, “My fellow Jews, while I was in Jerusalem, I was handed over as a prisoner of the Romans for prosecution, even though I had done nothing against any of our people or our Jewish customs. 18After hearing my case, the Roman authorities wanted to release me since they found nothing that deserved a death sentence. 19When the Jews objected to this, I felt it necessary, with no malice against them, # 28:19 Or “not that I had any feud against my own nation.” to appeal to Caesar. 20This, then, is the reason I’ve asked to speak with you, so that I could explain these things. It is only because I believe in the Hope of Israel that I am in chains before you.”
21They replied, “We haven’t received any letters from the Jews of Judea, nor has anyone come to us with a bad report about you. 22But we are anxious to hear you present your views regarding this Christian sect we’ve been hearing about, for people everywhere are speaking against it.”
23So they set a time to meet with Paul. On that day an even greater crowd gathered where he was staying. From morning until evening Paul taught them, opening up the truths of God’s kingdom. With convincing arguments from both the Law and the Prophets, he tried to persuade them about Jesus. # 28:23 That is, about the purpose of Jesus’ coming, which would include his life, ministry, death for our sins, and glorious resurrection. 24Some were converted, but others refused to believe. They argued back and forth, 25still unable to agree among themselves. They were about to leave when Paul made one last statement to them: “The Holy Spirit stated it well when he spoke to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah: # 28:25 The Aramaic can be translated “The Holy Spirit spoke beautifully through the mouth of Isaiah the prophet.” # 28:25 See Isa. 6:9–10.
26‘I send you to this people to say to them, “You will keep learning, # 28:26 Or “listening.” but not understanding. You will keep staring at truth but not perceiving it. 27For your hearts are hard and insensitive to me—you must be hard of hearing! For you’ve closed your eyes so that you won’t be troubled by the truth, and you’ve covered your ears so that you won’t have to listen and be pierced by what I say. For then you would have to respond and repent, so that I could heal your hearts.” ’
28“So listen well. This wonderful salvation given by God is now being presented to the non-Jewish nations, and they will believe and receive it!” # 28:28 Verse 29 is not included in the oldest and most reliable Greek manuscript, and it is omitted from almost every modern translation, including the Aramaic. Verse 29, if included, would read “After hearing this, the Jews left with a heated argument among themselves.”
30Paul lived two more years in Rome, in his own rented quarters, welcoming all who came to visit. 31He continued to proclaim to all the truths of God’s kingdom realm, teaching them about the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, speaking triumphantly and without any restriction. # 28:31 Tradition says that Paul was eventually released from house arrest and traveled to Spain. But the inspired account ends here, with Paul ministering to all who came to him. This completes the Acts of the Holy Spirit as recorded by Luke. Although the book of Acts is finished, the acts of God continue to be accomplished through his apostolic company of surrendered lovers. Every believer has the same Holy Spirit and can do the works of Jesus on the earth today.