The Book of Acts: Chapter 28 (pt 8 of 15)

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Now Paul is in Rome. After three days, Paul contacts the Jewish leaders and invites them to visit him in his rented quarters. When they had gathered, Paul explained his presence in Rome. He assured them that he had never done anything against the Jews or against Jewish customs. He became a prisoner of the Romans, and recognized he was innocent. They wanted to release him but received very strong opposition from the Jews, forcing Paul to appeal to Caesar. He made it clear that he never intended to press charges against the Jews, but only to face the charges they had raised. Paul declared that his chains were due to his faith in what (more accurately, in Who) was the hope of Israel.

The response of the Jewish leaders is rather amazing. They shrugged their shoulders and told him that they had never received any letters about Paul, nor had any brethren come from Jerusalem because of Paul. They did say, however, that they had heard about the “sect” (Christianity) that Paul represented, and admitted that it was commonly opposed. I think what they were saying is that while they had received no formal charges against Paul, they were aware of the gospel and its impact, and were more the most part, skeptical. Nevertheless, they were willing to give Paul the opportunity to present his position on this. Now I think that is admirable. They were not going to judge him or the message until they gave it a fair hearing. So, they set a time for them to get together and discuss all of it more at length.

That date came, and so did a big group of Jews. I am presuming they represented the Jewish leadership in Rome. If they did, the outcome would probably determine whether the Jewish leadership in Rome would recommend Paul and his teachings to other Jews. For an entire day, Paul told them about the kingdom of God, showing how the Lord Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament Scriptures. I wish I could have heard this survey of the Old Testament and its relationship to Jesus. I can picture our Lord teaching the same things to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.

As usual, Paul’s teaching convinced some of the Jews, but others “refused to believe.” This is an interesting choice of words on Luke’s part. He does not say that they were not convinced, as though Paul’s presentation had its weaknesses—Luke wrote that they refused to believe. That is a big difference. This strongly implies that Paul’s arguments were compelling, but in spite of the overwhelming evidence in support of Paul’s faith, they refused to believe it. The problem was not with Paul’s presentation; the problem was with the hardened hearts of those who heard. The same thing is happening today. People may hear the Gospel message, but when given the opportunity to receive Jesus as their Messiah . . . they refuse.

If interested, you can download the entire study of The Story of Acts

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