SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
28:1 After we had safely reached shore, we learned that the island was called Malta. 2 The local inhabitants showed us extraordinary kindness, for they built a fire and welcomed us all because it had started to rain and was cold. 3 When Paul had gathered a bundle of brushwood and was putting it on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the local people saw the creature hanging from Paul’s hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer! Although he has escaped from the sea, Justice herself has not allowed him to live!” 5 However, Paul shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 But they were expecting that he was going to swell up or suddenly drop dead. So after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.
7 Now in the region around that place were fields belonging to the chief official of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us hospitably as guests for three days. 8 The father of Publius lay sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and after praying, placed his hands on him and healed him. 9 After this had happened, many of the people on the island who were sick also came and were healed. 10 They also bestowed many honors, and when we were preparing to sail, they gave us all the supplies we needed.
11 After three months we put out to sea in an Alexandrian ship that had wintered at the island and had the “Heavenly Twins” as its figurehead. 12 We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days. 13 From there we cast off and arrived at Rhegium, and after one day a south wind sprang up and on the second day we came to Puteoli. 14 There we found some brothers and were invited to stay with them seven days. And in this way we came to Rome. 15 The brothers from there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. When he saw them, Paul thanked God and took courage. 16 When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.
17 After three days Paul called the local Jewish leaders together. When they had assembled, he said to them, “Brothers, although I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, from Jerusalem I was handed over as a prisoner to the Romans. 18 When they had heard my case, they wanted to release me, because there was no basis for a death sentence against me. 19 But when the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal to Caesar – not that I had some charge to bring against my own people. 20 So for this reason I have asked to see you and speak with you, for I am bound with this chain because of the hope of Israel.” 21 They replied, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, nor have any of the brothers come from there and reported or said anything bad about you. 22 But we would like to hear from you what you think, for regarding this sect we know that people everywhere speak against it.”
23 They set a day to meet with him, and they came to him where he was staying in even greater numbers. From morning until evening he explained things to them, testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus from both the law of Moses and the prophets. 24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others refused to believe. 25 So they began to leave, unable to agree among themselves, after Paul made one last statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah 26 when he said,
‘Go to this people and say,
“You will keep on hearing, but will never understand,
and you will keep on looking, but will never perceive.
27 For the heart of this people has become dull,
and their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have closed their eyes,
so that they would not see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.”’
28 “Therefore be advised that this salvation from God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen!”
30 Paul lived there two whole years in his own rented quarters and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with complete boldness and without restriction.