To Rome

Session 15   Acts 15 227-28      Going to Rome

Talk Introduction

We come to the last talk on Acts, it started in 33AD from Jesus’ ascension it covers how God’s Spirit prompted the early church to grow over the first 36 years. The first 12 years were based in Jerusalem led by Peter then during persecution it expanded into Syria, East Africa and India. Then from their base in Antioch, Barnabas & Paul went into Cyprus & Turkey after another 5 years in 49AD a split occurred and Paul concentrating on Turkey. When Luke a Greek Gentile doctor joined Paul they went into Greece and Luke stayed 14 years travelling round with Paul including this last trip to Rome. This led Luke to write a biography of Jesus then in Acts he wrote the history of the early church.

Talk   As I’ve done throughout this study, I offer a summary of Acts 27 and 28.

Paul Sails for Rome 27:1.  Paul and other prisoners were handed over to Julius a Centurion to sail for Italy. When landing at Sidon he allowed the Christians to provide for Paul’s needs. We boarded a ship for Italy at Myra and with difficult winds we landed in Crete. It was late September and Paul warned our voyage would be disastrous, bringing loss to ship, cargo, and lives, but as the harbour was unsuitable to winter this was ignored and  we headed to Phoenix to stay there.

Paul, one of many prisoners, starts his journey to Rome aboard a ship, we still don’t know what charges were brought against him but the Centurion obviously didn’t think he was dangerous. Paul’s first warning concerning the danger to the ship were ignored understandable since they didn’t know him and professional sailors would expect to know best.

The Storm 27:13. After a gentle south wind, a Northeaster hurricane, swept down from Crete and the ship was driven along. The lifeboat was hoisted on board, ropes placed under the ship to hold it together and the anchor lowered. The violent battering continued, the next day the cargo was thrown overboard, followed by the ship’s tackle. The storm raged on and we gave up hope of being saved.

Paul told the men, to have courage as all would be saved but the ship would not. Saying an angel of the God to whom he served told him not to be afraid, for the ship will run aground on some island and he would stand trial before Caesar.

On the fourteenth night the sailors sensed they were approaching land, taking soundings this was confirmed, fearing the rocks they dropped four anchors and prayed for daylight. Paul saw the sailors trying to escape in the lifeboat, telling the centurion “These men must stay, else we all die” so the soldiers set the lifeboat adrift.

Paul’s Mediterranean cruise was turning out to be a disaster, the ship stayed afloat but even the sailors didn’t know how everyone apart from Paul feared for their lives. The calm he showed by his faith must have impressed the Centurion for when the choice came between the sailors and Paul he now took Paul’s side.

The Shipwreck 27:33. Before dawn Paul told everyone they would all be safe, he took bread and giving thanks to God broke it and encouraged all the 276 on board to eat. At daylight they decided to run the ship aground on a sandy beach, but the bow stuck fast on a sandbar and with the pounding of the surf the stern broke. To prevent the prisoners escaping the soldiers planned to kill them but the centurion stopped them wanting to spare Paul’s life. He ordered the swimmers to go first with the rest holding on to planks and in this way everyone reached land safely.

Another prophecy from Paul, as each came true it showed they were God given and people recognised it and started to do what Paul was telling them. Yet God didn’t take the easy option and just calmed the storm instead he showed he works through and in spite of a difficult circumstances for in some conditions God wants to show things happen by his hand alone.

Paul Ashore on Malta 28:1. The people of Malta showed us real kindness as it was raining and cold they built us a fire. A viper bit Paul’s hand from a pile of brushwood he was about to put on the fire. The islanders, thought Paul a murderer; since, the goddess of Justice would not allow him to live after escaping the sea, yet when he suffered no ill effects they thought he was a god. We stayed three days with Publius, the chief official of the island, his father was suffering from fever and dysentery Paul prayed and healed him. The sick then came and all were cured, when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.

The islanders must have known Paul and others were criminals yet that didn’t stop them from holding out the hand of friendship. It’s in our nature to be compassionate, people want to help one another and that is still true today  for we are made in the image of God which means deep down we do want to care for one another.

Is this viper biting Paul just a coincidence of another thing going badly for him? Was it something God wanted to happen or he put right because it happened? Whatever it was, another miracle gave Paul the way into the people’s hearts and he was able to witness Jesus to them and heal the people. Our generation sees greater miracles than these but don’t put them down to God.

Paul’s Arrival at Rome 28:11 We sailed for Rome three months later, getting to Puteoli we found followers there and stayed a week with them. We continued on and other followers who had heard we were coming met us on the outskirts of Rome, Paul thanked God and was encouraged. When we arrived at Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him.

Pauls’ missionary life was spent mostly in positive and fruitful circumstances, preaching and teaching God’s word, but there was always opposition and he certainly went through many awful situations wherever he stayed he found or founded Christian fellowship and he was welcomed, people flocked to hear him and to know Jesus through him.

Paul wanted to see the particular task given to him by Jesus through to the end with each miracle he did it would further encourage him to continue his work and keeping him alive would ensure he had the confidence to witness Jesus. He knew that he would stand before Kings and have God at his side. To everyone; Jew, Gentile, Greek, Roman, peasant or king, rich or poor he had a growing reputation so people would be more willing to believe him, thus he’d win converts to accept Jesus as their Lord and his teaching as God’s Word.

Paul Preaches meet the Roman Jews 28:17 Calling together the local Jewish leaders he said, “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or our  customs, I was arrested in Jerusalem by the Romans for the Jewish leaders wanted to put me to death, but I was found innocent. They still attacked me so I appealed to Caesar. I have no charges against my own nation, which is why I asked to talk with you, as it is for the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.”

They replied, there were no bad reports about him and they wanted to hear his views since many had serious objections against this Jewish faction.

Paul’s action shows that it is best to face a problem rather than ignore it or let it drift. He calls the Jewish leaders to explain his situation, Paul’s concern was the same for every Jew, the continuation of Israel it represents to a Jew a vital part of the covenant between God and them, for without their homeland the Jews know they are not turely at one with God. Jews do live trying to please God, they accept that in getting things wrong God will punish them, We Christians often forget that in Love comes judgement and with Judgement come either forgiveness or punishment. Jesus’ love for us and our love for him allows forgiveness when punishment is due.

Paul Preaches at Rome 28:23 A large crowd came and listened from morning till evening, as Paul explained about the kingdom of God, he used the Law of Moses and the Prophets to tell them about Jesus. Some were convinced, but others would not believe, at the end Paul said “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he told prophet Isaiah to go to this people and say;

‘You will hear but not understand; you will see yet not comprehend.
For this people’s heart is calloused; their ears are dull and their eyes are closed.
Else they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn to me, and I would heal them.’

Then Paul declared, so know God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, for they will listen! Paul stayed for two years in a rented house welcoming all and proclaiming The Kingdom of God teaching about Lord Jesus, The Messiah; with boldness and in freedom.

Interesting how differently people take to the same message, some eager to learn about Jesus listening from morning to evening. These would be Jews who had been expecting and waiting for their Messiah yet others could not bring themselves to believe what Paul told them. Would that reason be it would mean they would have to change, change their beliefs, their thinking, and of course the way they lived.        How often do we talk to people who are just not willing to be open to new ideas? Yet Paul never lost heart and for the next two years he told all who would listen about Jesus, his life, teaching, his love and forgiveness. We need to do the same.

What happen to Paul afterwards? Some say he was freed went to Spain, then on coming back to Rome was beheaded by Nero in about 67AD.     As Luke didn’t report it maybe he too died with Paul, yet it is believed Luke died in Greece, when he was 84. What I do find a little odd is he does not mention Peter in Rome or what the other disciples had done or were doing, nor how churches outside Pauls’ influence were doing. As a result of this and all the letters Paul wrote Paul is given the status of being the only real missionary to the Jews and the Gentiles which of course is wrong, many ordinary followers were involved just as many of us today need to be involved.

 

Summary of Acts:

Luke’s history covers some 34 years, the last 18 of which he was a constant companion of Paul with the church certainly expanding thanks to the work Paul undertook and let’s not underestimate the strength of Paul’s faith considering what he went through, his faith must have been severely tested

But what lessons have we learnt from knowing how the church developed? Followers go through good, bad, easy and difficult times, both men & women were involved in the leadership to build the Christian church. Keeping firm to God’s ways, not allowing the world’s ways to guide the church, accepting people will disagree, however keeping true to doing God’s work.

God is with us even when putting us in situations we feel uncomfortable in, we need to listen to God’s Spirit working within us giving us direction, nudging us to do those things that will witness our love for him. So trust where the Spirit leads us and rise to any test that comes our way.

The first Missionary – Peter, The Rock.

Let’s go back to John Gospel and the words Jesus spoke to Peter, the rock on who the church would be built, we see Jesus words were a prophecy when he answered Peter three times after asking him, ‘Do you love me?’.

John 21:15-17. Jesus Reinstates Peter

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

 

In Acts we are shown all the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit are initiated by Peter

Feed my Lambs–directly after God’s Spirit came upon Peter at Pentecost in chapter 2

Peter took the all 120 close follows out into the streets of Jerusalem

He spoke to the Jews, giving The Holy Spirit to those who believed

Take care of my sheep-in chapter 8 Philip converts the Samaritans, the lost Jews

Yet it took Peter to go there and anoint them with The Holy Spirit

Feed my sheep – Peter was sent to Cornelius a Roman centurion with God’s message

The result was he was again the first to give God’s Spirit to a Gentile

The Holy Spirit is still a gift given by God, Our Heavenly Father to all those to accept his son Jesus as their Lord and like all gifts, it has been given to be used. If anyone is unsure about this gift and wants to know more please ask another Christians about it, since by not using God’s Spirit it hamper ones Christian growth.