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Acts – The End of A History (Acts 28:30-31)

02/04/2022

Acts – The End of a History

Text:  Acts 28:30-31  

We have reached the very last two verses in the book of Acts.  Acts 28:30-31. It has been a long journey not just for Paul, the murderous chief of sinners, persecuting the Christians at Jerusalem in Acts 8, to the city of Rome, a prisoner for Christ, but for the new church, from its birth in Acts 1 and 2, the commissioning again, of the church in Acts 1:8 and the ascension of Christ, and the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fell upon the church, to the end of this book, – some 25 years later, when Christianity covers the known world, where the message has indeed been taken to the ends of the earth, and new churches are worshipping Jesus and awaiting his return.  It’s a strangely abrupt end.  There is no ‘happy ever after’ ending to Acts.  Paul lives in Rome for two years, and what happened after that we do not know and we are not told.  So, let’s look at these last verses in Acts:-

1. The Ministry of Hospitality. Acts 28:30 Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him,

Paul is in Rome awaiting trial, he is living in a rented house, under house arrest, but with relative freedom. He can write letters, and preach and teach for any who will come and visit him, and he welcomes many people to his home. I wonder who they were?  Let’s see some of them, that are recorded in the bible:- 

Timothy. [READ Acts 16:1-3] Epaphras, [READ Colossians 1:7 and Philemon 23], Onesimus [READ Philemon 1:10-16,] Tychicus [READ  Colossians 4:7-9]Five Believers are mentioned in Philemon 23-24  One of them, Demas later deserted Paul.  John Mark, [READ Colossians 4:10-11]  Luke, [READ Colossians 4:14] Jesus (also called Justus) [READ Colossians 4:11] and Epaphroditus  [READ Philippians 4:18 and  Philippians 2:25-30].

So, although Paul was in custody, he had constant companionship, people, (probably many more than these mentioned), coming to visit and to hear him preaching and teaching God’s word, and he is still staying in touch with the various churches, and hearing news from them and responding to that news.

Paul’s door was open for all who wanted to hear God’s Word taught

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

These two years in Rome were characterised by an intensive preaching and teaching ministry, conducted in his own home.  And this was despite the fact that he was chained to a guard! READ Colossians 1:28-29  He asked the churches to pray for him, that his ministry at Rome would continue. READ Colossians 4:3-4   And he wasn’t just teaching and preaching and educating the converted.  His ministry at Rome was evangelistic too. Onesimus, the runaway slave,  was converted under Paul’s ministry at Rome… Philemon 1:10  and he witnessed to the palace guard and even to members of Caesar’s household. READ: Philippians 1:12-20   Philippians 4:22 Now, who was Caesar?  NERO!  And yet, even in the household of this most depraved, wicked, immoral tyrant of a man, the were Christian believers!  Paul certainly didn’t waste his time in Rome, every day was spent working for God’s kingdom, witnessing, teaching and blessing others with the good news.

3. The Ministry of Example. teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence,

We don’t know what became of Paul. He never expected for one moment that he was going to be found guilty in his appeal to Caesar, after all, every Roman court he had stood in had declared him innocent.  It was the Jews who wanted him dead, not the Romans.  He must have expected to be released from his captivity when his trial was over, for he planned someday to visit Philemon. READ Philemon 1:21-22  He expected that he might one day visit the Philippian Church again, READ Philippians 1:27 and Philippians 2:24  I wonder did that actually happen?  

Clement of Rome, a church leader in the city, writing around the end of the first century, so about 50 years after Paul’s captivity, wrote about the deaths of Peter and Paul, and although his account is not biblical or inspired, we note, “Owing to envy, Paul… obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.”  Interesting too, that it was ‘owing to envy!’  How many Christian ministries and churches have been destroyed because of jealousy among brethren.

Let’s allow Paul to have the final word: Philippians 1:12-14 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.  Whatever became of the Apostle, – we do know that he is an example to us, that whatever our circumstances, we are to be found worshipping and praising the Saviour, working for him tirelessly, not bemoaning our circumstances or wallowing in self-pity, but recognising that in every situation God has his purpose, and that purpose is being worked out for our good and for his glory.

© Bob McEvoy April 2022

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