Scripture Reading: Acts 28:1-31

In this message we shall cover chapter twenty-eight, the last chapter of Acts. In 28:1-10 Paul comes to the island of Malta and there does many miracles. Then in 28:11-31 he arrives in Rome, ending the fourth journey. First he passes through Syracuse, Rhegium, Puteoli, the Market of Appius, and Three Inns (vv. 11-16). He contacts the Jewish leaders (vv. 17-22) and ministers in Rome (vv. 23-31).


Acts 28:1 and 2 say, “And having been brought safely through, we recognized then that the island was called Malta. And the natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for, having kindled a fire, they took us all in because of the rain coming on and because of the cold.” The Greek word translated “natives” in verses 2 and 4 also means barbarians, referring to those who spoke neither Greek nor Latin but who are not necessarily uncivilized.

Verses 3 through 5 continue, “But when Paul had collected a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. And when the natives saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to one another, Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, whom, though he has been brought safely out of the sea, Justice has not allowed to live. However he shook off the snake into the fire and suffered no harm.” Literally, the Greek word for “snake” in verses 4 and 5 is “beast.” But medical writers used this term to denote poisonous snakes. At first, the natives thought that Paul was a murderer because he was bitten by a viper. However, as verse 6 indicates, they eventually changed their minds concerning him: “But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But while they were expecting for a long time and beheld nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.” The apostle was not a god in the superstition of the curious natives, but he expressed, in his living and ministry, the true God, who in Jesus Christ has gone through the processes of the incarnation, human living, crucifixion, and resurrection and who was then living in Paul and through him as the all-inclusive Spirit.

In his teaching as recorded in his Epistles Paul emphasized the matter of walking in the Spirit. Throughout the voyage and now on the island of Malta Paul certainly was walking in the Spirit. He surely lived a life that was the incarnated, crucified, resurrected, and ascended Christ. Paul’s living was actually the expression of the life-giving Spirit. In every situation of his daily living, Paul was the expression of the very Christ he preached. He preached the incarnated, crucified, resurrected, and ascended Christ as the life-giving Spirit, and on the island of Malta he lived such a Christ as the all-inclusive Spirit. This is indicated by Paul’s word, written later, in Philippians 1:20 and 21a: “According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be put to shame, but with all boldness, as always, even now Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death; for to me to live is Christ....” Paul cared only to live Christ and to magnify Him. On the island of Malta Paul lived Christ and magnified Him as the life-giving Spirit. As we read Luke’s account of Paul’s living, we see that his living was the all-inclusive Spirit as the consummation of the incarnated, crucified, resurrected, and God-exalted Christ.

Verses 7 and 8 say, “Now in the vicinity of that place were the lands of the leading man of the island named Publius, who welcomed us and gave us hospitality three days in a friendly way. And it came about that the father of Publius was lying down sick with fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to him, and having prayed and laid his hands on him, cured him.” Dysentery was a common disease, but it was difficult to cure. However, Paul, who had been living like a king ruling over his kingdom, now became a physician to heal the father of Publius.

Verse 9 goes on to say, “And when this happened, the rest also in the island who had sicknesses came to him and were healed.” Here we see that Paul became the physician, and even a savior, to the whole island. All the sick who were brought to Paul were healed.

On the sea in the storm, the Lord had already made the apostle not only the owner of his fellow voyagers (27:24), but also their life-guarantee and comforter (27:22-25). Now on the land in peace, the Lord made him further not only a magical attraction in the eyes of the superstitious people (vv. 3-6), but also a healer and joy to the native people (vv. 8-9). All during his long and unfortunate imprisonment-voyage, the Lord kept the apostle in His ascendancy and enabled him to live a life far beyond the realm of anxiety, but fully dignified with the highest standard of human virtues expressing the most excellent divine attributes, a life that resembled the one that He Himself had lived on earth years before. This was Jesus living again on the earth in His divinely enriched humanity! This was the wonderful, excellent, and mysterious God-man, who lived in the Gospels, continuing to live in Acts through one of His many members! This was a living witness of the incarnated, crucified, resurrected, and God-exalted Christ. Paul in his voyage lived and magnified Christ. No wonder the people honored him and his companions with many honors (v. 10), that is, with the best respect and highest regard!

Acts 28:10 says, “And they honored us with many honors; and when we put out to sea, they put on board the things for our needs.” This verse indicates that the natives on the island of Malta treated Paul and his companions as if they were members of a royal family. Paul was the king, and Luke was one of the family.

According to verse 10, the natives put on board everything that was needed for the voyage. The Lord sovereignly provided food for two hundred and seventy-six people. Any king must provide food for his people. As a king, Paul received the supplies from the natives. However, he did not owe them anything for this, because he had healed so many of the sick among them. In a sense, the people paid Paul by putting on board the food supply needed for the voyage.