Introduction: Paul appealed to Rome! We learned last week that Paul
would have been found “not guilty” of the criminal charges against
him – or so the judges said privately to each other. But, Paul was
concerned that he would be turned over to the Jews, and so he
appealed to Caesar in Rome. My clients often find that the judicial
system is a lot slower than they expected. Paul learns that same
lesson. This week we discover Paul’s travel delays in the next phase
of his litigation. Let’s dig into our Bible and learn more!
- Setting Sail
- Read Acts 27:1-2. Our text says “Aristarchus, a Macedonian
from Thessalonica, was with us.” Who is the “us?” (Since
Luke wrote Acts, it must refer to at least Luke and Paul.)
- Who is in charge of the prisoner transport? (A
centurion named Julius.)
- Read Acts 27:3. What is the attitude of the centurion
towards Paul? (He is kind to him. What a blessing.)
- Let’s skip down to Acts 27:9-12 and read it. Whose counsel
would you take? The advice of a prisoner preacher, or the
advice of the captain of the ship?
- Read Acts 27:14-20. Have you had the experience of giving
the right advice to a group which did not take it? And,
when they refused your advice, did it got you into serious
trouble? (That is what Paul is experiencing. He might
- Read Acts 27:21. Is Paul a “I told you so,” kind of guy?
(He is here. But, I think Paul has a motive other than
showing he was right and they were wrong.)
- Read Acts 27:22-26. Would you believe Paul if you were one
of the group?
- Why do you think Paul tells them what he knows? (It
should encourage everyone. In addition, it will
encourage them to believe in Jesus, who is Paul’s
- Read Acts 27:29-32. Who believes Paul and who does not
believe him? (We can see here that Julius and the Roman
soldiers are convinced. The sailors are not. The fact
that the sailors are trying to save themselves at the
expense of the others shows their flawed characters.)
- Read Acts 27:33-37. What is the deeper meaning of the crew
throwing the grain into the sea? (They are convinced they
will not need to eat on board the ship again. Thus, it
appears that all now believe Paul. However, with regard to
the sailors, it might merely be that they believe they
will run aground.)
- Read Acts 27:41-43. Do the soldiers now disbelieve Paul?
(Paul said that everyone would survive. However, he
appeared to be talking about the storm. He did not say
anything about running away later – except for himself. He
said he would stand trial before Caesar. Thankfully, the
centurion believes Paul and saves him.)
- On Land at Malta
- Read Acts 28:1-6. How much time elapsed between the people
thinking Paul was a murderer and thinking he was a god?
- What does this tell us about our religious freedom?
(People can change their minds quickly.)
- What does this teach us about evangelism? (People can
reach the wrong conclusions.)
- Read Mark 16:17-18. When the text says, “pick up
snakes with their hands,” is it talking about
deliberate risks or is Jesus talking about Paul’s
situation? (All of these signs are helpful tools for
missionaries. I think Jesus is talking about Paul’s
- Read Acts 28:7. Why would this happen? Paul is a prisoner
of Rome headed for trial? Why would the chief official of
the island welcome him into his home?
- Read Acts 28:8-10. Paul cures all of the sick people. In
the past, when we read of these kinds of miracles, Luke
often notes that a large number of people are converted.
Why are there no conversions reported? The people already
think Paul is a god, so it should not be hard. (Perhaps
this was not reported. Perhaps the people were not yet
ready to believe.)
- Read Acts 28:13-15. Paul finally arrives in Rome. Why do
you think Paul is encouraged by this meeting with fellow
Christians? (They have not forgotten or abandoned him.
Instead, they traveled some distance just to see him. They
want to be with Paul.)
- Read Acts 28:16. Do you think this is normal? Paul not
only gets to live by himself, but he only has one soldier.
Peter, as recounted in Acts 12, could not be restrained
when chained in a inner prison cell, and guarded by many
soldiers!(This is not normal. No doubt Governor Festus
wrote that he thought Paul was innocent.)
- Read Acts 28:17-20. Why would the Jewish leaders want to
come to a meeting called by Paul? Why would they think it
important enough to take their time? (I suspect there were
a limited number of Jews in Rome. The community would have
an interest in a Jewish prisoner who is highly educated
and has an unusual “prison” situation.)
- How does Paul characterize the charges against him?
(As theological. “It is because of the hope of Israel
that I am bound with this chain.”)
- Read Acts 28:21-22. The Jewish leaders have not heard
anything about Paul, but they have heard that Christians
are a problem. If you were Paul, would this good or bad
- Read Acts 28:23. Paul draws a crowd. What is his approach
in trying to convince this group? (He argues based on what
they already know.)
- Read Acts 28:24-26. Is Paul insulting them? (Once again,
he argues based on what they already know. He reminds them
that their ancestors were warned about not believing.)
- Read Acts 28:27. How could this statement of Isaiah apply?
How are their hearts calloused? They have not heard of
Paul before, but they are willing to come to hear him.
(The “callous” is not from rejecting the gospel message
repeatedly, but rather from being content with their
current beliefs. We must be sensitive to the continued
leading of the Holy Spirit.)
- Read Acts 28:28. This has to be insulting to the Jews.
Should we evangelize with insults? (Paul did not start out
with insults. But, the reference to their ancestors
refusing to listen is likely insulting, and the statement
that the Gentiles will do better is insulting!)
- What is Paul’s goal with his insults? (He wants to
move them from complacency. He wants to break through
their calloused hearts.)
- Read Acts 28:30-31. What about his appeal to Caesar? What
about his trial? Why are we left up in the air about the
conclusion? Or, is this a conclusion? (We do not read
about the trial and how it turned out. But, we do have a
conclusion in some sense. Paul’s life is not going the way
he wants. He is restrained by the government. Yet, Paul
continues to “boldly” preach the gospel. This is a
conclusion that applies to those of us who face
- Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8. What does Paul anticipate will be
his future? (He believes that the time for his death has
come, but the Bible never specifically tells us about his
death. The writings of Eusebius report us that Paul was
beheaded during the reign of Roman Emperor Nero. Nero
blamed the burning of Rome on the Christians.)
- Do you foresee a time when calamities beset the world
and it blames Christians for it?
- Friend, will you ask the Holy Spirit to help you be like
Paul – to keep your courage and continue to preach the
gospel even when the forces of evil are making things
difficult for you?
- Next week: We begin a new series about unity in the church
called “Oneness in Christ.”