Paul on Malta
 After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta.  The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold.  When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand.  When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.”  He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.  They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.
 Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days.  It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him, healed him.  And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured.  They also honored us greatly, and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed.
Paul Arrives at Rome
 After three months we set sail in a ship that had wintered in the island, a ship of Alexandria, with the twin gods as a figurehead.  Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days.  And from there we made a circuit and arrived at Rhegium. And after one day a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli.  There we found brothers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome.  And the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage.  And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him.
Paul in Rome
 After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.  When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case.  But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation.  For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.”  And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you.  But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”
 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.  And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved.  And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:
 “‘Go to this people, and say,
“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’
 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him,  proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. (ESV)
- Con voyage
Paul was one of many prisoners present on the ship that wrecked at Malta (Acts 27:41-43). This is why, when he was bitten by a viper, the natives assumed that he was a murderer getting what he deserved. When they discovered that Paul was unharmed by the bite, they decided he must be a god. In the end, Paul healed a number of sick people on the island, and they demonstrated their gratitude by providing him with supplies for the rest of his journey.
- Jesus, from beginning to end
In the opening chapters of Acts, we saw how Peter proclaimed Jesus as the Christ from the Law and the Prophets. We saw how Stephen claimed that the entire history of Israel was fulfilled and realized in Jesus. Now here, in the final chapters, we find Paul seeking to persuade his countrymen that Jesus is the Messiah, arguing from the Law and the Prophets. From beginning to end, the Bible is about Jesus.
Acts begins with a promise and ends with a proclamation. In the beginning, Jesus promised his people that they would be his witnesses, receive power from the Holy Spirit, and that the Gospel would go from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Now, in the final chapter, we see that promise being fulfilled. Not only did Paul complete his mission by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, but the good news of the Gospel continued to spread without hindrance.
- Despite Paul’s circumstances, there always seemed to be an opportunity to witness to or serve others. Whether it be soldiers, prisoners on the boat, or the superstitious and fickle people of Malta, Paul always had an audience and an opportunity to bless. What can you learn from Paul’s example?
- Throughout this study, we have emphasized how the early Church, and specifically the Apostles, preached the Gospel from the Old Testament. How has your understanding of the Gospel and the Old Testament changed or grown because of this study? What questions do you still have about the Old Testament and Jesus?
- Acts concludes with the Gospel continuing into the world, transforming lives, and saving sinners. How might this encourage you in evangelism, church ministry, and specifically church planting?
Call to Worship
 But the LORD sits enthroned forever;
he has established his throne for justice,
 and he judges the world with righteousness;
he judges the peoples with uprightness.
 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
 And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
 Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion!
Tell among the peoples his deeds!
 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
he does not forget the cry of the afflicted. (ESV)
Prayer of Confession
Lord, we rejoice that in you we find our hope. We have tried and failed to manage our lives. We have tried to guard what we say and don’t say. We have tried to serve selflessly. We have tried to contain our appetites and desires. We have tried not to judge or condemn. We have tried to control our thoughts. The harder we try, the more obvious it becomes we cannot attain perfection. We confess our sin and weakness to you. Help us to walk in righteousness forsaking all others and clinging to you in faith. We humbly thank you for forgiving our sins and washing us clean through the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Heavenly Father, We are reminded of your great work to bring salvation to the sinners like us. It is encouraging for us to see the Holy Spirit at work in Acts, as we are reminded that he is at work in our lives and our community. Spirit, give us a boldness to proclaim the kingdom of God and the Gospel of Jesus wherever you may send us this week. There are so many things that we treat as a hindrance for proclaiming the Gospel. Forgive of us of these fears and doubts that prevent us from talking about your kingdom. We ask this week that you give each of us the opportunity to tell someone about the glory and love of your Son Jesus. We ask that your Spirit may be at work in their lives to convict of sin and to draw them to come hear the Gospel preached. We ask you, Father, to bring salvation to them. We pray in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, amen.
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources are tools for families to use to help connect Sunday’s sermon to the rest of your week, fostering conversations and habits of worship.