Jesus’ Promise to His Apostle is Fulfilled Acts 28:1-16

Jesus’ Promise to His Apostle is Fulfilled

Acts 28:1-16

Introduction

Last time we learned that the Apostle Paul and all who were aboard the ship lived through the shipwreck and swam or floated to shore. This was to fulfill what Jesus told Paul through the angel. Notice how Luke emphasizes this miraculous work of God. He reports the prophecy…Jesus tells Paul they all will be brought safely to some island…
Acts 27:23-26 (ESV)
23 For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship,
24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’
25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.
26 But we must run aground on some island.”

The island they ran aground on was the Island of Malta.
Malta, literally means place of refuge in the Phoenician dialect. For about three months it proved to be just that for Paul and the others, 276 in all.
Now notice what Luke writes at the end of Acts 27…
Acts 27:43 (ESV)
43 But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land,
And now opening up chapter 28…
1 After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta.
Luke writing to his friend Theophilus wanted to convey the idea that what God predicts or promises will come true.
Luke 1:1-4 (ESV)
1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us,
2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us,
3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,
4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Theophilus needed to also know that the typical pagan way of looking at events in life needed to be, to use a word from last week, jettisoned. Beloved, there is no such thing as karma.

Karmaaction, work or deed it also refers to the principle of causality where intent and actions of an individual influence the future of that individual.[2] Good intent and good deed contribute to good karma and future happiness, while bad intent and bad deed contribute to bad karma and future suffering.

This idea has probably always been around but it is attributed to Hinduism and Buddhism. We’ll see this being promoted by the barbarians, as Luke calls them here in this passage.
Their thinking is, someone on the ship must be a very evil person for God to do this to them. Then the very bad person gets singled out, according to them, when snake bit.
Is this idea of Karma biblical?
We’ve seen this way of thinking in the life of Job. His friends believed that he has to be a terrible sinner for God to do all this stuff to him. But at the very beginning of Job, we read that he is an uptight man and one who fears God. In the end God corrects their thinking.
In the ministry of Jesus we remember the account of the man born blind. The disciples ask Jesus, who sinned this man or his parents that he was born this way? Jesus corrects them by saying, neither, he was born blind so that the glory of God would be seen today.
So, what we have in the Bible is a continual correcting of this way of thinking. The bottom line is we live in a sinful world and bad things happen. We would be wrong if we thought that trials and bad things are always a result of sin.
We are going to be introduced to a group of people living on the island who believe that their god gets even with people who are evil and act badly.

TT- Trials are sent by God to strengthen our faith and bring Him glory.
Human need met by text

Acts 28:1-16 (ESV)
1 After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.”
5 He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.
6 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.
7 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.
8 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.
9 And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured.
10 They also honored us greatly, and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed.

11 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.
12 Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days.
13 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.
14 There we found brothers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome.
15 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.
16 And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him.

  1. Two Wrong Conclusions
    1 After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta.
    2 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.
    3 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.
    4 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.”
    Their thinking went like this: Justice is getting even with this man. He somehow escaped death at sea but will not escape death from this poisonous viper. He is getting what he has coming. They even concluded Paul was a murderer.

Sometimes when trials come, they are a result of our sin. So, we should never rule that out and for those trials that seem never to lift, we should take an evaluation.
A. God’s Discipline…Sometimes when we suffer, God may be disciplining us and pushing us back on track. He does that and so we should seek to determine if this might be the reason for our suffering.
Hebrews 12:7-8 (ESV)
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

  1. Growth and Maturity…Other times God brings us suffering in order to cause us to mature in our faith. Let’s face it, we rarely grow in our faith when everything is going our way.
    Romans 5:1-5 (ESV)
    1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
    2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
    3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
    4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
    5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
  2. Opportunity to Exercise Faith
    Still, other times when suffering is ours there are no discernable reasons why. We may not get an answer as to why we are experiencing suffering. In these times of struggle we must still exercise faith because God knows what He’s doing.
    Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV)
    8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
    9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. [1]

Regardless what God is doing through suffering, it is always good because He is bringing us closer to Himself…whether its’ correcting our course, making us more like Jesus, or causing our faith to mature, it’s all good, right?

The point is, we must not always conclude like those on Malta that suffering is a result of sin.
The second wrong conclusion was that Paul was a god because the poisonous viper did not kill him.
5 He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.
6 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.
What I’d like to do this morning is to approach this from a biblical standpoint. Their conclusions, which were both wrong were really all over the spectrum.

He is a murderer…
He is a god…
Who is Paul really? Luke places this remarkable miracle to show us something about Paul.
It seems that Luke wants us to connect the dots a little here…
Luke 10:17-20 (ESV)
17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”
18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.
20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Luke reported that when Jesus sent out His followers, 72 in all that they went out as sheep among wolves. In that time they were protected from harm…nothing shall hurt you. The evil spirits were under their authority, they had the authority to tread on serpents and scorpions without any evil befalling them. They were Christ’s sent out messengers with His authorization to go and speak the Gospel.
Here too is one last sent out messenger with the promise that even poisonous vipers will not harm you. It seems that Luke is reporting this in such a way as to get our attention. Paul is also one personally sent out by Jesus, Himself… and suffered no harm.

Paul was no evil wicked person nor was he a god, he was an Apostle of Jesus Christ.
2. Paul, An Apostle
7 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.
8 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.
9 And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured.
Luke also wrote earlier in the Book of Acts…

Acts 5:12-16 (ESV)
12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico.
13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem.
14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,
15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them.
16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
I pray we can see how he is placing Paul right in line with the other Apostles. He was no criminal nor was he a god but he was an Apostle.
Paul now is gain credibility like he did when on the ship. When he speaks, they will listen.
Luke records a passing of three months and a changing of the wind. Now is the time to set sail for Rome.
You will notice on the map the final stages of the journey from Malta to Rome.

  1. Paul Arrives in Rome

10 They also honored us greatly, and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed.
11 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.
12 Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days.
13 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.
14 There we found brothers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome.
15 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.
16 And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him.

Notice the Christian love for one another expressed as Paul enters the city. The first thing is to remember, he had never been there before. Only God knows how and when the church in Rome was born. Perhaps it was from the spread of believers due to the early persecution? At any rate there was a church there. When they heard Paul had arrived, they could not wait to greet him and care for him.

14 There we found brothers and were invited to stay with them for seven days.

It seems somewhat odd that everyone would stop to allow Paul time with the church.

Can you imagine the flood of joy as Paul fellowshipped with the believers there in Rome? Luke expresses it in terms of…thanking God and taking courage.

We are also told that Paul was taken by Rome and place under house arrest…
16 And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him.

We really have no idea what the Apostle expected while on his way.. I’m sure he could not have known for sure that he would be ship wrecked. I’m sure he didn’t ever in million years think he would wash up on the shore of Malta and be bitten by a viper. I’m sure he never dreamed that he would see many on the island saved and healed. He probably had no idea that there were such a large number of believers in Rome. God, however, knew all these things.
He stayed there for two years under house arrest with a guard either chained to him or at least always with him.
Philippians 1:12-14 (ESV)
12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,
13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.
14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
God knew what He was doing after all…
He knows what He’s doing in your life as well.
23 For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship,
24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar

As we close notice how Luke is amazed at God’s providence…
14 There we found brothers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome.

16 And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him.

Beloved, our story isn’t finished yet. We are still in the in between part. God has also made us many promises.

Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Romans 8:37-39 (ESV)
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Isaiah 40:29-31 (ESV)
29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Philippians 4:19 (ESV)
19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
I pray that Just as Paul trusted all the while waiting for the promise to come true, we too can wait while trusting. Our faith is the anchor that holds us in the midst of our trials because we can be assured that God will bring us home someday.

Jesus’ Promise to His Apostle is Fulfilled

Are you trusting the promises of God?

[1] These sub points come from a sermon preached by Derek Thomas

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