In this concluding word to the Life-study of Acts, I shall cover two matters. The first concerns Paul’s living as portrayed in Acts 27 and 28; the second concerns the revelation in the four Epistles of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Hebrews.
Chapters twenty-seven and twenty-eight of Acts do not present anything of doctrine. Rather, in these chapters we have a record of a man living Christ to the uttermost. Paul was imprisoned, bound in chains, and surrounded by guards. The sea was very stormy, and the sailing was rough. Furthermore, Paul was away from his homeland and from most of his friends. Although he was in such a difficult situation, he lived like a reigning king.
Paul’s living as presented in these two chapters of Acts reminds us of his word written while he was imprisoned in Rome: “I know that for me this shall turn out to salvation through your petition and the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 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” (Phil. 1:19-21a). This describes Paul’s living during the voyage from Caesarea to Rome. Regardless of the situation, Paul magnified Christ in his body.
As we ponder the picture in Acts 27 and 28, we see that Paul was an outstanding witness of Christ. He was the kind of witness the Lord Jesus spoke about in 1:8: “You shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the remotest part of the earth.”
In 1:6 the Lord’s disciples had asked Him if He would at that time restore the kingdom to Israel. The Lord indicated that it was not for them to know times or seasons, which the Father had placed in His own authority. Instead, after they had received power through the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them, they would be His witnesses. Paul was such a witness in Acts 27 and 28. In these chapters Paul was living among Gentiles. There were very few Jews on the ship, if any. Everything on that voyage was Gentile. The food, the environment, and the atmosphere were Gentile. Furthermore, there was nothing Jewish on the island of Malta. Paul was surrounded by Gentiles and the Gentile way of living. But in that situation Paul lived like a king in a palace. I very much appreciate the picture of Paul’s living in these chapters.
We all should live Christ in the way Paul did in Acts 27 and 28. If we live Christ only in a situation that is according to our culture, character, constitution, and disposition, our living is not genuine. Here in Acts 27 and 28 Paul lived Christ in a situation that was altogether contrary to his culture and character. Many things were disappointing and discouraging, but Paul nevertheless lived a life of the highest standard. As we have pointed out, in Paul the wonderful, excellent, and mysterious God-man, who lived in the Gospels, continued to live through one of His many members. This was Jesus living again on earth in His divinely enriched humanity. Paul’s living, therefore, was a repetition of the living of Jesus.
After Paul arrived in Rome as described in chapter twenty-eight, he wrote the Epistles of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Hebrews. Paul was imprisoned in Rome twice. The first was about A.D. 62-64, due to the Jews’ accusation (28:17-20). During that time he wrote the Epistles of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. After his release from the first imprisonment, it is likely that he visited Ephesus and Macedonia, and then Crete and Miletus, from where he probably wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews. Paul’s second imprisonment, about A.D. 65, was due to Caesar Nero’s sudden persecution of the believers.
Paul passed through many things in chapters fifteen through twenty-eight of Acts. Without his experience of the events recorded in these chapters, he could not have written Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Hebrews, or he could not have written these Epistles in such a thorough way.
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