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Acts 28

Thursday Evening Bible Study

May 15, 2014


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Target 4400 words

On the day of Pentecost, the church was born. It began with the Holy Spirit filling the believers. As the apostles preached about Jesus, the church began to grow.

By chapter seven, the church was beginning to experience persecution. Stephen was the first one to die for his faith. One of the main men behind the persecution was a man named Saul. But when Saul headed for the city of Damascus to pursue the Christians there, he was knocked off his horse by a bright light and he met Jesus. Saul is more well known by his Roman name, Paul.

By chapter 10, the gospel began to reach even the Gentiles, starting with a Roman Centurion named Cornelius.

In chapter 13, we began a new section of Acts as we began to focus on the ministry of Paul.

We followed Paul on three different journeys as he planted churches in cities like Ephesus, Philippi, and Corinth.

On his third journey, while Paul was in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, a riot breaks out in the Temple, and the Jews try to seize Paul and put him to death.

Some of the unbelieving Jews thought that Paul had brought a Gentile into the Temple because they had seen him walking around town with a Gentile.

He had not.

The Romans stepped in to take Paul away from the crowd, but Paul was allowed first to speak to the crowd.

Paul gave his first defense to the crowd.
Paul’s next defense was before the Sanhedrin.
Paul’s third defense was before Felix the governor in Caesarea.
His fourth defense was two years later, before a new governor, Porcius Festus.
Lastly, Paul has given his fifth defense to King Agrippa.

None of these court proceedings led to anything, and so Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen, appealed his case to Caesar, and was sent to Rome.

The last chapter (27) described Paul’s dangerous sea journey to Rome, including being caught in a storm, and shipwrecked.

28:1-10 Paul on Malta

:1 Now when they had escaped, they then found out that the island was called Malta.

:1 the island was called Malta

Cicero wrote that Malta was known for a wintering island for pirates!

The island of Malta was 560 miles west of Crete and only 65 miles southwest of Sicily.


God’s Rapid Transit System

They’ve gone through a terrible storm. 
They don’t have a clue where they are or where they were headed. 
The last thing they knew, they were somewhere off of Crete.  For all they know, they could be in Egypt. And yet they end up only 65 miles off the coast of Sicily, right on target, right on course.
God wanted Paul to get to Rome.
At the end of the storm, they were much, much closer than when they started.
God has His way of getting us to where we need to be.
We might not enjoy going through the storms of life, but sometimes they are the method God uses to get us where we need to be.
You may be a little concerned that perhaps God has lost track of you and that you could possibly be way off course.
Paul wrote in Romans

(Romans 12:1–2 NKJV) —1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

If your heart is committed to the Lord, and you are continually presenting yourself to Him as a living sacrifice, that He’ll get you where you need to be.  God will prove to you that His will is good, acceptable, and perfect.

Thomas asked Jesus, “Lord, show us where the way is … (John 14:5), Jesus’ response was, “Thomas, I AM the way!”  The whole thing is about being close to Jesus.  You want to know where you are to go?  Stay close to Him.

:2 And the natives showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold.

:3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand.

Apparently the snake had been somewhat dormant in the cold weather, but woke up when it got close to the fire.

:4 So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.”

:4 justice does not allow to live

We often have the same mindset, thinking something like, “Well, they got what’s coming to them…”



There are times when bad things do happen as a result of sin, but we need to be careful not to jump to the conclusion that everything that’s bad is because of sin.
Job’s friends made the same assumption.  They thought that his problems were due to some kind of secret sin.  In the end, God rebuked them and told them to ask Job to pray for them (Job 42:8).
We have this thought inside us that when a tragedy occurs, there must be a reason for it.
Sometimes that actually is the case.
Sometimes it’s not.

(John 9:1–3 NKJV) —1 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.

Instead of looking at the man and criticizing him behind his back, Jesus reached out and healed him.  While the rest of the world ran from the lepers, Jesus reached out and touched them.

The Bible says,

(Psalm 103:10 NKJV) He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

If God gave us every kind of punishment we deserved, we’d all be dead and in hell right now.  But sometimes God chooses to show mercy to us.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
Like Paul
Sometimes good things happen to bad people.
On Sunday we will be reading Psalm 73, about how the writer struggled when bad people seemed to live such charmed lives.
Things aren’t always black and white.
Asaph struggled with the idea that sometimes bad people have so much going for them.
(Psalm 73:1–9 NKJV) —1 Truly God is good to Israel, To such as are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the boastful, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no pangs in their death, But their strength is firm. 5 They are not in trouble as other men, Nor are they plagued like other men. 6 Therefore pride serves as their necklace; Violence covers them like a garment. 7 Their eyes bulge with abundance; They have more than heart could wish. 8 They scoff and speak wickedly concerning oppression; They speak loftily. 9 They set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue walks through the earth.

Sometimes from our perspective, things just don’t seem fair.  The Psalm changes when it gets to …

(Psalm 73:16–18 NKJV) —16 When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me— 17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end. 18 Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction.

It was Asaph coming into the sanctuary that changed his perspective.

:5 But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.

:5 suffered no harm



Jesus made an interesting promise to His apostles before He ascended into heaven.
(Mark 16:17–18 NKJV) —17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

We’ve seen every one of these things happen in the book of Acts, except for the “drink anything deadly” thing.

Some people have taken these promises and turned them into bizarre practices within their churches.
Video:  CNN on Snake Handling Churches
One of the points of confusion is on how these preachers interpret Mark 16:18.

The Old King James says, “they shall take up serpents”.

The word “shall” can indicate a command such as “thou shalt not kill”.  But the Greek text is not a command (imperative), it is a future tense.

Jesus is saying that there will be a time in the future when a disciple will take up a snake and it won’t hurt them.

He’s not commanding them, He’s telling them what’s in the future.

The issue seems to me to be one of trusting God or testing Him.

In Paul’s case, he didn’t go looking for the snake, but when the snake bit him, his trust was in the Lord, and God did whatever He wanted to do – and this time God kept Paul unharmed.

The people who practice snake handling go looking for trouble and are expecting God to bail them out.

When Jesus was being tempted by Satan,

(Matthew 4:5–7 NKJV) —5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” 7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ”

It seems to me that when a person is forcing the issue, looking for danger, handling snakes, just to prove some point, they are “tempting” or “testing” God.

Keep it up and maybe one day God will just take you home.

And yet there is a sense in which we as believers are indeed “indestructible”.
In a sense, as believers, we are “indestructible”.

Video:  Unbreakable Trailer

Isaiah writes,

(Isaiah 54:17 NKJV) No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the Lord.

God knows how much time I have left on this earth.  He knows when my “mission” in life is complete.

As a believer, there’s a sense in which I’m indestructible until God is done with me.

:6 However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

:6 they changed their minds


Human Approval

Paul has seen this before, but the other way around.  When he was in Lystra, and had healed a man, the people thought he was a god (Acts 14:11), but when some unbelieving Jews began to stir up the crowd, they turned on him and stoned him (Acts 14:19).
(Acts 14:11 NKJV) —11 Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!”
(Acts 14:19 NKJV) —19 Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.
We need to be careful that we aren’t trying to live our lives for the sake of approval from the people around us.  If we live for others’ approval, we’re going to have a pretty topsy-turvy life, happy one moment, depressed the next, and often for no good reason at all!
Just look at our sport stars.
The crowd loves them as long as they keep hitting home runs and throwing strikes.  But when a batter goes into a slump, or a pitcher gives up a home run or two, the crowd boos them.
Jacques Plante, a goalie for a professional ice hockey team, had just come off the ice after a particularly poor performance and responded to a badgering reporter with the following remark: "How would you like a job where, if you made a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?"
In Jesus’ day, there were some people who wanted to follow Jesus, but they did it secretly because they were afraid of people not liking them.
(John 12:42–43 NKJV) —42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
If you perhaps look for praise and would sulk or quit what you are doing if you did not get it--if you are of that stripe, dear friend--then take yourself by the ears, and if you do this in the right way, you will find a beautiful pair of big, long, shaggy donkey ears. Affliction is the best book in my library.

-- Martin Luther

:7 In that region there was an estate of the leading citizen of the island, whose name was Publius, who received us and entertained us courteously for three days.

:7 PubliusPoplios – “popular”.  He held a position as the “governor” of the island.

:8 And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him.

:8 feverpuretos – fiery heat; fever. 

It’s plural here, the idea is that the man had frequent, intermittent attacks of fever.

:8 dysenterydusenteria – dysentery, bowel ailment. 

Dr. Luke is lending his medical diagnosis.

:9 So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed.

:10 They also honored us in many ways; and when we departed, they provided such things as were necessary.

:10 honored us in many ways

Because of Paul and his ministry to the people of the island, the whole ship was provided for.

It would be interesting to interview the other shipmates of Paul.  He started off as simply one of the many prisoners. 
Nobody paid attention to Paul when he gave advice about sailing into the storm. 
They began to pay attention to him during the storm when he instructed them how to survive.
And now after having spent several months on Malta, all their needs seem to have been met because of Paul’s ministry, what did they think of Paul now?

28:11-16 Paul goes to Rome

:11 After three months we sailed in an Alexandrian ship whose figurehead was the Twin Brothers, which had wintered at the island.

:11 after three months

Remember that it was dangerous sailing in the Mediterranean Sea between the months of October and March.  The weather was unpredictable and the danger was great.

I believe it is around early January, AD 60.

:11 an Alexandrian ship

Their last ship was also an Alexandrian ship, part of the merchant shipping fleet that brought Egyptian wheat to Rome.

:11 the Twin Brothers

In Greek mythology, Castor and Pollux were the names of the twin sons of Zeus.

These are the “Gemini” twins of the zodiac.
They were worshipped as being the protectors of men who were at sea.
Many Roman ships had them painted on the front of the ship like a figurehead.

:12 And landing at Syracuse, we stayed three days.

:13 From there we circled round and reached Rhegium. And after one day the south wind blew; and the next day we came to Puteoli,

:14 where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome.

:15 And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.

:12 Syracuse

Syracuse is a major port on the east coast of the island of Sicily, about 85 miles north of Malta.

:13 Rhegium

This is the first port on the actual country/peninsula of Italy, another 75 miles north of Syracuse.

:13 south wind

For once Paul’s ship has a wind blowing them in the right direction, northward toward Rome.

:13 Puteoli

Puteoli is another 200 miles up the coast of Italy.  The south wind helps them to make great time to do this in one day.

This is the modern port of Naples, the main port for passengers to disembark on their way to Rome.

Cargo was unloaded at another port closer to Rome (Ostia). 
The city of Pompeii, only 20 miles to the south was still in existence.  Mount Vesuvius wouldn’t cover the city with ash for another 20 years.

At Puteoli, they will leave the ship and head inland to Rome.

Paul and his companions find some Christians at Puteoli, and are allowed to stay with them for an entire week before continuing on to Rome.  Apparently the believers in Puteoli send out word ahead to the believers in Rome.

:15 Appii Forum

This is where the ancient Lakers team used to play before they built the Staples Center.

Actually, this is a small market town on the way to Rome.

:15 Three Inns

Another town, 10 miles closer to Rome.

Paul is traveling on the road known as the “Appian Way”, called the “queen of the long roads” that leads to the city of Rome.

Various believers from Rome meet Paul at these two towns along the way.

Video:  Malta to Rome map clip

Paul’s new ship leaves Malta and goes to Syracuse.
Then the ship travelled on to Rhegium and Puteoli.
From Puteoli they go on foot to the Appii Forum, Three Inns, and then finally on to Rome.

:15 the brethren heard about us

Paul knows people in Rome.

He wrote his letter to the Romans a little under three years earlier while staying in Corinth.  At the end of his letter he sent greetings to the people he knew in Rome.  Look at how many people he is familiar with in Rome:

(Romans 16:3–8 NKJV) —3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. 5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ. 6 Greet Mary, who labored much for us. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord.

Paul goes on to list 19 other people by name that he knows in Rome.

9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. 10 Greet Apelles, approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my countryman. Greet those who are of the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. 12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you.

You get the sense that Paul loved many people in Rome, and they loved him as well.

:15 took courage

couragetharsos – courage, confidence

I don’t mean to cheapen Paul’s journey in any way by comparing it to my experiences, but when you’ve traveled a long ways through unknown places, it is amazingly encouraging when you find fellow Christians.

There’s a sense of feeling like you’re “home” with friends when you’re with fellow believers.

I wonder what the centurion and his men think when they see Paul and the believers meeting each other.

:14 invited to stay with them seven days

Paul is in custody of the Roman centurion and his soldiers.  Yet when the church asks if Paul can stay for a week, they are allowed.


Relationships with unbelievers

Paul had given some advice that was rejected early on in the voyage, but respect for Paul changed during the journey.
Paul’s advice proved to be correct.
Paul and Luke worked side by side with the sailors and soldiers during the storm (Acts 27:19).
At the right time, Paul encouraged the guys to eat and get ready to swim.
Paul helped gather firewood for a fire (Acts 28:3). 
Some people give you the impression that they’re too good to do “menial” tasks.  They don’t like to rub elbows with those unclean pagans.
How do unbelievers see you?  Do they see you as cold and intolerant of them, or loving and merciful?  There’s always tension at first, but as they see you living for Jesus day by day, they’ll be impacted by it.
One rainy day, a man accompanied by two women arrived at Northfield, hoping to enroll his daughter in D.L. Moody’s school for young women. The three needed help in getting their luggage from the railway depot to the hotel, so the visitor “drafted” a rather common-looking man with a horse and wagon, assuming he was a local cabby. The “cabby” said he was waiting for students, but the visitor ordered him to take them to the hotel. The visitor was shocked when the “cabby” did not charge him, and was even more shocked to discover that the “cabby” was D.L. Moody himself! Moody was a leader because he knew how to be a servant.
Paul said of elders…
(1 Timothy 3:7 NKJV) Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Jesus said,
(Matthew 5:16 NKJV) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Are there any unbelievers close enough to your life to see your good works?

:16 Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him.

:16 we came to Rome

Since leaving Caesarea several months earlier, Paul has travelled over 2300 miles to Rome

:16 Paul was permitted to dwell by himself

For the time being Paul has his own place in Rome, living with a soldier.

It seems that Paul will actually be chained to the soldier on duty.

28:17-31 Ministry at Rome

:17 And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to them: “Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans,

:18 who, when they had examined me, wanted to let me go, because there was no cause for putting me to death.

:19 But when the Jews spoke against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar, not that I had anything of which to accuse my nation.

:20 For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.”

:20 I am bound with this chain

Though Paul had his own place to stay, he was still kept chained to a Roman soldier.  The guard was changed every six hours.  Each one had to listen as Paul talked to whoever came to his house.  Some of the guards got saved. 

Paul wrote around this time:

(Philippians 1:12–13 NLT) —12 And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. 13 For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ.

:17 Paul called the leaders of the Jews together

Emperor Claudius had banned all Jews from Rome in AD 49 or 50.

The Roman historian Suetonius (a.d. 69?=140) said the Jews were banned because of constant riots by the Jews.  In his Life of Claudius (25.4) he wrote, “the Jews were in a state of constant tumult at the instigation of one Chrestus”.
Some have suggested this might have been a reference to “Christ”, and the turmoil between Jewish believers and unbelievers.

This was how Paul had originally met Aquila and Priscilla, because they had been kicked out of Rome.

(Acts 18:2 NKJV) And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them.

Now, 10 years later, under Caesar Nero, the Jewish community is back in Rome.

Paul wants to give these Jewish leaders his version of the events leading up to his arrest before any people might arrive who will represent the Jewish high priest.

Paul is also going to follow his own pattern of first preaching the gospel to the Jews first, and after that to the Gentiles.

He’s followed this pattern in every city he’s come to, and now that he’s in Rome, he will do the same.


Staying On Task

Paul is one totally crazy guy.  He’s had nothing but trouble with Jewish leaders around the world.  His goal here is not to see if these guys are interested in helping Paul with his case.  His goal is to do what he always does.  Paul wants to share the gospel with them.
One of Paul’s dreams has always been to share the gospel in Rome.  Paul has also had a practice of always sharing the gospel first with the Jews of whatever city he was in.  He wrote to the Romans:
(Romans 1:15–16 NKJV) —15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
Illustration – Barnyard Ducks
There’s a story about ducks flying in formation, when one of them looks down below at a farm and wishing he had such a luxurious life like those ducks down there.  All they had to do was waddle around the barnyard all day long.  So he flew down to enjoy a winter at the barnyard.  As the winter passed, he had grown fat, and was unable join his flock as they were flying overhead, heading north.  Eventually he just grew used to the old barnyard.  He had lost his sense of purpose and was no longer able to fly in formation with the others.
We too need to be careful that we don’t grow too used to this old world around us that we forget what we’re to be about.

:21 Then they said to him, “We neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren who came reported or spoken any evil of you.

If there had been any letters from Judaea, either they wouldn’t have arrived yet, or they were at the bottom of the ocean with the grain that was on Paul’s ship!

:22 But we desire to hear from you what you think; for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere.”

:22 it is spoken against everywhere

They’ve never heard any bad things about Paul.

They HAVE heard bad things about the “sect” of Christianity.

:23 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.

:23 persuadingpeitho – persuade

:23 to whom he explained …

You can get a little insight into three aspects of witnessing:

1)  Explained – the idea is that of explaining the Scriptures.  Opening up your Bible and explaining it to another person.
2)  Testified – giving a thorough witness, telling others clearly what Jesus has done for you.
3)  Persuading – there is room to give persuasive arguments.  Paul did.  I think that one of the most persuasive arguments is how Jesus has fulfilled prophecy.  If you take all the prophecies that Jesus has fulfilled and calculate the odds of any one person fulfilling them, the argument is quite persuasive.

:24 And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved.

:24 persuadedpeitho – persuade

:24 disbelievedapisteo – to betray a trust, be unfaithful; to have no belief, disbelieve

Not everyone we share with will believe in Jesus.

:25 So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers,

:26 saying, ‘Go to this people and say: “Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; And seeing you will see, and not perceive;

:27 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” ’

:25 through Isaiah the prophet

Paul is quoting from Isaiah 6:9-10

(Isaiah 6:9–10 NKJV) —9 And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ 10 “Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed.”

This passage is quoted by Jesus as well regarding the unbelief of the Jews.

It is found in all four gospels.
(Matthew 13:14–15 NKJV) —14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; 15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’
(Mark 4:12 NKJV) —12 so that Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven them.’ ”
(Luke 8:10 NKJV) —10 And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.’
(John 12:40–41 NKJV) —40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” 41 These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.
Paul used the same passage to describe the “blindness” that is on the Jews due to their unbelief.
(Romans 11:8 NKJV) —8 Just as it is written: “God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see And ears that they should not hear, To this very day.”

:27 Lest they should understand …and turn


Unbelief and sin

Sometimes people don’t want to find the forgiveness and healing the Lord has to offer because they don’t want to give up their sin.
Sometimes people will give you a very hard time as you share Jesus with them.  They’ll come up with all the standard “stumpers” like, “How can a God of love send people to hell?” (note: We’re the ones who send ourselves to hell when we reject God’s loving offer to pay for our sins.  If you don’t let the lifeguard rescue you, how are you going to be saved?)
Sometimes these things are only a “smokescreen”.  It’s a way of covering up the fact that there’s an area of their life that they’re just unwilling to turn over to the Lord.
Yet the irony is that their stubbornness is keeping them from receiving the very thing that they are crying out for deep inside their heart, acceptance from God.  It’s when we turn around that we receive the healing.
Illustration – Monkey Treats
Monkey trappers in North Africa have a clever method of catching their prey. A number of gourds are filled with nuts (or other kinds of monkey treats) and firmly fastened to a branch of a tree.  Each has a hole just large enough for the unwary monkey to stick his forepaw into it. When the hungry animal discovers this, he quickly grasps a handful of nuts, but the hole is too small for him to withdraw his clenched fist.  And he doesn't have enough sense to open up his hand and let go in order to escape, so he is easily taken captive.
I understand this principle even works in New York City.

Video: Catching a Monkey in NYC

Too often we get these certain things in our lives that we just don’t want to let go of.  Yet it’s these very things that keep us captive.  If we’d just let go, we could be free.

:28 “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!”

While in Rome, Paul will now turn his efforts to share the gospel with the Gentiles.

:29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves.

:30 Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him,

:31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.

:30 Paul dwelt two whole years

It’s during these two years that Luke probably wrote out the book of Acts.  The book ends here because this is as far as things had gone when Luke wrote it out.

This was not the end of Paul.  What happened after this?

It is thought that during the first two years in Rome, that Paul wrote his letters to Ephesus, Colossae, Philemon, and Philippi.  Apparently it took at least two years for Paul to be brought through the Roman court system in Rome.  
Church tradition tells us that Paul was eventually acquitted of all charges at his first trial before Caesar. 
After this, he apparently had a few years of ministry where he went to Ephesus and left Timothy to supervise the churches there, then on to Macedonia where he wrote his first letter to Timothy (1Tim.1:3). 
He visited Crete, where he left Titus to supervise the churches, then went to Nicopolis in southern Greece where he wrote his letter to Titus.  It was around this time that Nero burnt Rome and blamed it on the Christians. 
When Paul visited Troas (2Tim.4:13), he was arrested, taken to Rome again, and imprisoned.  From prison in Rome he wrote his final letter, 2Timothy.  History tells us that after another series of trials, Paul was condemned to death and beheaded at the command of Nero.

Though Acts ends with Paul in Rome, there’s a sense in which it isn’t finished.


Acts 29

Though many of your Bibles has the book entitled “The Acts of the Apostles”, it would better be titled, “The Acts of the Holy Spirit through the Church”.
The book of Acts hasn’t really ended.  The Holy Spirit is still working.  The work goes on.  It is being written with your life and my life.