Something I have not said much about, is that the opposition to Paul’s message and ministry was both physical—the people and events—and spiritual. I mean, he was physically beaten and physically shipwrecked. However, don’t you think Satan was involved in all this opposition? Don’t you think he would use whoever and whatever he could to put an end to this guy? I have no doubt that Satan motivated the people and used the natural environment in attempts to stop Paul’s work. Satan gathered up people to oppose and stop Paul, he used storms, winds, seas, and now a snake.
Paul just shook the snake into the fire, and the natives watched to see if he dropped dead. When he kept walking, they realized that the snake’s bite didn’t affect Paul in any way, so they changed their minds—he wasn’t being punished by the gods; he was a god. Unlike the natives in Lystra, these folks apparently did not attempt to worship Paul. The point here seems to be that the incident with the serpent gave Paul a much more attentive audience and it gave the gospel credibility. Think about it. A significant element of the gospel was the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and the resurrection of all men to eternal salvation or eternal condemnation. The truth of the resurrection of Jesus and the future resurrection of all men is certainly more credible when someone who should have died, and did not, explains it to them. I cannot believe Paul would live with them for three months, and not share the Gospel with them.
This isn’t the only miracle that took place on that island during Paul’s stay. The ship happened to run aground near the fields owned by the governor of the island. This man, whose name was Publius, was Rome’s representative on Malta. What an incredibly large group to “drop in,” uninvited for dinner—for three days! Coincidentally (of course I say that flippantly), Publius was probably the only one on the island wealthy enough to handle such a crowd. Paul learned that the father of Publius was ill and went in to see him. After praying, Paul put his hands on him and healed him. That makes an impression, and it did not take very long for the news to spread, and soon the sick came from all over the island and were healed. I would call that an impressive witness, wouldn’t you?
All these healings (in addition to the viper incident) gave Paul a credibility that opened doors for evangelism with these people, but Luke does not tell us about any of this. Instead, he writes that when they were preparing to leave Malta for Rome, the people generously provided them with all the supplies that they needed! That is impressive!
It look’s like Paul’s presence proved to be a blessing to everybody—I mean look at everything that just happened: landing where they did; the serpent; the sick; and now the supplies—along with everything that had happened onboard the ship. Everybody onboard the ship were saved, on account of Paul. Because of Paul’s ministry of healing the sick on Malta, everyone enjoyed the generous provisions supplied by the grateful people of the island. Paul’s presence was the basis for the blessings all the others enjoyed.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Story of Acts