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Thursday, February 26, 2015

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For three months Paul and his shipmates wintered at Malta. During that time, Luke mentions three miracles at the hand of Paul: shaking off a poisonous snake, healing the father of the most influential man on the island, and healing the rest of those having diseases (vv.1-9). Paul was a man full of the Holy Spirit. What must have gone through the mind of Luke, the physician, seeing so many healed by Paul. Finally, they boarded another ship that had been there, and sailed to Puteoli, the port near Rome. The centurion, deeply impressed by this man of God, allowed Paul and his friends to visit with Christians there for a week. The word must have spread all the way to Rome for when the apostle approaches the city, coming on the Appian Way, believers came all the way to the Three Inns, as well as to the Market of Appius, to receive him and his friends (v.15). That’s 33 and 43 miles from Rome, respectively.

Ellen White tells us of the encounter. As Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus make their way to Rome, guarded by soldiers:  “Suddenly a cry of joy is heard, and a man springs from the passing throng and falls upon the prisoner's neck, embracing him with tears and rejoicing, as a son would welcome a long-absent father. Again and again is the scene repeated, as with eyes made keen by loving expectation, many discern in the chained captive the one who at Corinth, at Philippi, at Ephesus, had spoken to them the words of life….The soldiers are impatient of delay, yet they have not the heart to interrupt this happy meeting; for they, too, have learned to respect and esteem their prisoner. In that worn, pain-stricken face, the disciples see reflected the image of Christ. They assure Paul that they have not forgotten him nor ceased to love him; that they are indebted to him for the joyful hope which animates their lives and gives them peace toward God” (The Acts of the Apostles, pp.448, 449).

What a reception! The city Paul so longed to impact for Jesus, is showing signs that God has gone ahead of him to give him success—even while in chains. So the Book of Acts ends by telling us that Paul stayed “in his own rented quarters” (v.30), enjoying relative freedom, for two years. During this time, though chained to a soldier, he kept “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence” (v.31). From there, he sent workers to strengthen the churches and plant new ones. The work of God cannot be stopped—will not be stopped. The world will hear the good news of Jesus Christ. The question is: will you be part of this great endeavor? May God use us all for His glory!

 

Ron E. M. Clouzet

NAD Evangelism Institute Director

Professor of Ministry and Theology

Seminary, Andrews University