After the shipwreck, they learned that the island they had safely reached is called Malta. He said that the natives were kind and welcoming, and even helped them with a fire. But a snake came out because of the heat, and fastened himself to Paul’s hand. The sight of the deadly creature hanging from his limb just after he had been rescued from a life-threatening shipwreck made them suppose that he must be a murderer, getting his just reward (Greek and Roman tales had long spoken of just such events – “The Argonautica”, for example). But God was certainly not going to let anything happen to him. When he neither died nor showed any ill effects from the bite, they then thought Paul himself to be a god.
Publius in verse 7, is described as a “chief man” – the Greek term for which is “protos,” of which term several inscriptions have been found. Several references to Publius and this chapter, along with photographs can be found in this article at BiblePlaces.com. Publius’ father was ill with fever and dysentery (the description of which ills fit those of an infection caused by goat’s milk called “Malta fever”). Paul healed him, as well as others of the island with diseases that were brought to him afterward (verses 8-9).
After three months, they again set sail in a ship from Alexandria that had been wintering there. Luke describes the ship as having a figurehead of the “twin gods” (Castor and Pollux, the mythological twin sons of Zeus and Leda, were seen as the protectors of seamen). They put in at Syracuse for three days, then ended up in Puteoli, where they stayed with brethren they had found for seven days, then to Rome. The brethren there heard, and came from as far away as “The Three Taverns” and the “Forum of Appius” (hence, the name, the Appian Way) (verses 12-16).
Paul spent considerable time preaching and trying to convince the Jews there of the good news of Jesus through the words of Moses and the prophets. Some believed, but others did not – the latter leaving disagreeably (verses 23-25). Paul quoted Isaiah 6:9-10 to them in verses 26-27; and then told them that now this news of the salvation of God will be brought to the Gentiles, for they will listen.
Verses 30-31 close out the book of Acts with the word that Paul remained there two full years, at his own expense, “teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” No further word is given of Paul’s appearance before Caesar, or any confirmation of secular writings that suggest he fulfilled his desire to go and preach in Spain, nor of a second imprisonment before his martyrdom. As much as we would like to know of the rest of Paul’s story, the inspired word of God does not tell us because the book of Acts is not Paul’s biography, but the word “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16).
Bible Reading Schedule for this month
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All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.