Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 28:15-23 Reprint
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 28:15
v15: The city of Rome consumed as much as 150,000 tons of grain per year, so there was a constant flow of traffic between Rome and the port city of Puteoli where the grain ships docked (Paul Laurence, The IVP Atlas of Bible History, IVP Academic, 2006, p.167). During the week someone sent a notification ahead that Paul was in Italy and would leave Puteoli on a certain day. Word spread quickly among the churches, and groups of believers, probably some of Paul’s friends as well as church leaders, walked a day or two south along the main highway to meet him. They knew he would be traveling along the Via Appia (Appian Way), so some came out as far as the Appian Forum (modern: Tor Tre Ponti), 43 miles south, while others stopped sooner at a place called Three Inns (modern: Cisterna di Latina), about a day’s walk from the city.

Monday: Acts 28:15
v15 (continued): When they left Puteoli, the centurion would have led his group north and east along a highway called the Via Campana until it intersected with the Via Appia (Appian Way) at the town of Capua (modern: Santa Maria Capua Vetere; see Capua Porta Napoli) (Thomas V. Brisco, Holman Bible Atlas, Holman Reference, 1998, p.257). Luke tells us that when Paul looked up and saw the groups who were waiting for him he uttered thanks to God and was greatly encouraged. Clearly, believers in Rome were not going to reject him because of his chains or his gospel which was based on the righteousness of faith (Ac 15:1-2; Ro 2:16; 16:25). Luke doesn’t mention by name those who came out to meet them, but when Paul wrote to the churches in Rome three years earlier, he closed his letter by greeting those he knew (Ro 16:3-16). His list began with Priscilla and Aquila, who by that time had returned to Rome (Ro 16:3), and he mentioned a church which met in their house. If physically able, these two dear “fellow workers in Christ Jesus” would have been there, and their faces would have been a most welcomed sight.

Tuesday: Acts 28:16
v16: The praetorian guard had a huge brick barracks located in the northeast section of the city (Paul Laurence, The IVP Atlas of Bible History, IVP Academic, 2006, pp.166-167), but when they arrived in Rome, Julius, the centurion, allowed Paul to stay in a private home (Priscilla and Aquila?) rather than placing him in a cell. Julius undoubtedly reported as soon as possible to a superior officer and probably handed Paul over to be guarded by others, but his report concerning Paul must have been favorable because the Roman government allowed him to stay in a rented house for the next two years (v30). Of course, Paul’s right hand would have been chained to a soldier each day (v20), but having a different guard so close to him would have provided Paul with a marvelous opportunity to evangelize and disciple members of the praetorian guard (Php 1:13).

Wednesday: Acts 28:17-19
vs17-19: Three days later, probably on a sabbath when Jewish leaders would be gathered at a synagogue service (Ac 9:20; 18:4, 19), Paul sent a representative to invite them to meet with him. He wanted to explain several things: first of all, that he had not done anything criminal, nor violated Jewish religious laws, and second, that he had not appealed to Caesar in order to tarnish the reputation of the high priests or the Sanhedrin. This second point mattered because the political climate in Rome was very delicate for Jews. About ten years earlier they had been banned from the city because they had been involved in so many religious riots (see notes: Ac 17:7; 18:2) and had only been allowed to return a few years before this. There was also growing hostility toward the Roman government in Israel, so the last thing the Jewish community in Rome wanted, were accusations against Jerusalem being presented to the emperor. This may be why, it appears, no representatives came from Jerusalem to testify against Paul at his trial. Political tensions were so high, no one wanted to argue their differences in front of Nero.

Thursday: Acts 28:17-20
vs17-19 (continued): However, Paul did feel free to tell these Jewish leaders about the injustices he had endured. He said the religious leaders in Israel had delivered him over to the Romans without cause, and then after the Romans examined him and wanted to release him, because he had done nothing deserving the death penalty, those leaders still spoke against him until he was forced to seek relief by appealing to Caesar. v20: He said this was why he asked them to come to see him. He was actually summoning them as witnesses in order to hear his declaration of innocence and also to put their mind at ease that he wouldn’t stir up trouble for the Jewish community. Then he added this statement, “… and it is because of the hope of Israel that I have this chain around me.” Just as he had claimed on earlier occasions, first, when he had stood before the Sanhedrin (Ac 23:6), and then later, before King Agrippa (Ac 26:6-7), he said the real reason the leaders in Jerusalem opposed him so strongly was because they opposed his faith, in particular, his belief in the resurrection of the dead.

Friday: Acts 28:21-22
vs21-22: The synagogue leaders replied that they had not received any letters about him from Judea, nor had anyone traveling from there brought a report about him or said anything bad. But considering the seriousness of the situation they felt it would be worthwhile to take time to meet with him so he could tell them what he thought about this Christianity because, indeed, they were very aware of that group. The dividing line between Jews and Christians obviously had already grown quite deep. The movement based on the teachings of Jesus was being “spoken against everywhere.”

Saturday: Acts 28:23
v23: A day was arranged when they could meet with Paul at his lodging, and a large number came. Paul carefully and thoroughly laid out before them what he believed. The meeting lasted all day, from “morning to evening.” Luke says he “solemnly witnessed” to them as if he were testifying in a court of law. He explained “the kingdom of God” and also tried to persuade them to believe “the things concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the prophets.” In other words he went through the promises found in Scripture that speak of the Messiah and showed them that it had been prophesied that the Messiah must suffer and die and be raised from the dead before coming back to rule over an earthly kingdom. To most Jews, this would have been a radically different teaching from that which they had learned from their elders. Most of Judaism was waiting for Messiah to come with power to set up His kingdom immediately (Mt 3:11-12). They had no concept of Him suffering as an atonement for their sins or rising from the dead, so those issues would have been the focus of much of the discussion (Ac 13:26-39; 26:22-23). And God’s inclusion of believing Gentiles into His kingdom would also have been very controversial. 

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