Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 28:7-14
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 28:7
v7 (continued): Christian tradition states that Publius went on to become the bishop of Malta and later served as the bishop of Athens (Jamieson, Fausset, Brown, A Commentary, Eerdmans, reprinted March 1982, Vol. 3, p.184; and W. Robertson Nicoll, The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Eerdmans, reprinted August 1983, Vol. 2, pp. 540-541). This fact can’t be proved, but given all that took place on Malta, it would not be surprising if Publius became a believer. The miraculous healing of his father, followed by months of listening to Paul and watching him pray for the sick, would have a strong influence on anyone. Judging from the way he responded to these castaways, it appears that Publius was already a kind, generous man, as well as a natural leader, even before he met Paul.

Monday: Acts 28:8
v8: It so happened that Publius’ father was quite ill, experiencing fits of high fever and dysentery (severe diarrhea). Again, Luke uses medical terms to describe his condition. We’re not told how the man’s need was brought to the attention of Luke and Paul, but it’s possible that when Publius learned that Luke was a physician he informed him about his father and asked if he could help. Luke was apparently in the room before Paul arrived, because he specifically says the father was “lying down” when Paul entered. It’s easy to imagine a natural progression of events which began if Luke saw the man first, diagnosed his condition, and then said something to the effect, “There’s not much I can do beyond encouraging you to have him continue to drink water, however I am traveling with a man who has been powerfully used by God to heal the sick. Would you like for me to ask him to come and pray?” Whether or not this is how it occurred, Paul entered the room, went up to the man’s bedside and began to pray for him. Then, at some point he put his hands on him, and the man was healed.

Tuesday: Acts 28:9
v9: The report of this healing spread across the island, and while Paul remained on the island, those who were weak and sickly came to him and were healed. And it’s impossible to imagine that Paul, Luke and Aristarchus were not evangelizing at the same time. During those winter months, they were able to lay the foundation for a church, unhindered. They enjoyed the protection and support of the “protos” (“first man”) and were guarded by a security team of Roman soldiers. We don’t know if Paul wore a chain during those days, probably not, but almost certainly there was a Roman soldier stationed nearby at all times. And we shouldn’t overlook the spiritual impact this experience must have had on the soldiers themselves. As we noted earlier (Ac 27:1), the centurion was an officer of an elite group of soldiers who, at times, may have guarded even the emperor’s own household. In one of the letters Paul wrote during his imprisonment in Rome, he mentioned that the gospel had spread into the “praetorian guard” (Php 1:13) and to “those of Caesar’s household” (Php 4:22). What we’re watching take place here on Malta may help to explain how the gospel got a foothold in the Roman military.

Wednesday: Acts 28:10
v10: As God worked His wonders among them, the people who lived on the island showed their thanks in many ways. Luke doesn’t tell us exactly how they did this; he simply says, “…they honored us with many honors” which must mean they brought many gifts to them. Such “honors” probably included a meal or favorite food, a handmade item that held a special meaning or, given the fact these castaways probably lost everything in the shipwreck, some may have sewn warm clothing for them or woven a blanket. It’s easy to imagine what those moments must have been like. There may have been tears in the eyes of individuals or family members grateful beyond words for what God had done for them. When the time finally arrived for Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus to board a ship bound for Rome, the people provided everything they might need for the trip: food, clothing and possibly even some money for expenses. This level of generosity goes far beyond what people normally do when they’re merely being polite. It looks much more like a church saying goodbye to their pastor.

Thursday: Acts 28:11
v11: The shipwreck occurred along a rocky section of the island’s northeast coast. The main harbor lies several miles to the south (modern: Valletta). The harbor itself is actually a remarkable complex of harbors, and today is filled with marinas and docking facilities for large ships. The winter season that prevented navigation usually ended during the early weeks of February, so as that time approached, the centurion arranged for passage to Rome on another Egyptian ship, probably another wheat-freighter. It had spent the winter at Malta and would leave with the first signs of spring. At this point Luke does something very unusual: he tells us the name of the ship. On its prow there was a figurehead or painting, that depicted two mythological figures: Castor and Pollux. These gods were believed to be twin brothers born to a human woman named Leda and fathered by the god Jupiter (Greek: Zeus). Sailors would sacrifice to them, seeking favorable winds, and they had been given the “title” which means “sons of god” (Zeus) (Classic Myths in English Literature, Charles M. Gayley, ed., Gim and Co., second ed., Boston, 1894, pp.281-283). Why Luke mentions this isn’t clear, but he may have found it humorous (or prophetic) that they were escorted to Rome in a ship named “sons of god” (Gal 3:26).

Friday: Acts 28:12-13
vs12-13: Syracuse is an ancient Greek colony on the island of Sicily, about 80 miles north of Malta. The ship remained there three days, probably waiting for a wind that would allow them to sail up the straits between Sicily and the Italian mainland. When the ship left Syracuse, Luke says it had to “go around,” which probably means they had to zigzag back and forth up the straits to reach Rhegium (modern: Reggio de Calabria), a distance of about 80 miles. Rhegium was a harbor on the Italian side of the Strait of Messiona, and they stayed in that harbor for a day before a south wind came up to carry them through the strait and allow them to complete the final 200 miles in two days. Their final destination was Puteoli (modern: Pozzuoli, in the Bay of Naples), the main port for Alexandrian wheat ships (F.F. Bruce, Acts, Eerdmans, reprint 1974, p.526).

Saturday: Acts 28:14
v14: Then, somehow, while still in Puteoli they met Christians who lived there. You would have expected the soldiers to march their prisoners off the ship and either place them in a local jail, if they had to stay in the city for a while, or immediately begin walking the final 140 miles to Rome. But they didn’t. They stayed there for seven more days, apparently because these local Christians asked them to. Luke says, “Having found brothers [there] we were begged by them to remain seven days, and in this manner we went to Rome” (literal). This can only mean Julius, the centurion, agreed to let them stay an extra week, so Paul, Luke and Aristarchus could minister to the church. If that doesn’t indicate that by now he’s become a believer himself, it at least means he’s become very supportive of Paul. 

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