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Acts 28:17-31: With All Boldness and Without Hindrance Print E-mail

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When I was growing up it was popular to have a life verse.  If someone asked you your favorite verse or the verse that you lived by, you were supposed to quote this particular verse.  Common ones were John 3:16 and Philippians 4:13 (normally taken out of context).  My life verse was Acts 28:31, where Luke writes of Paul: Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ (I was reading the NIV back then).  When I was in junior high and high school, I wanted my life to look like that.  Unfortunately, as was often the case with life verses, I donít think I understood exactly what that meant in context.  I did not realize that Paul was doing this bold preaching while under house arrest.  I did not have a vision of the scars he bore for being a witness for Jesus.  And I tried not to think too much about the fact that in a few years he would be killed for such boldness.  But now that I do realize what it will cost, I still think it is a good life verse.  May we all preach Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.  May we give our lives to that task!

Luke ends his second volume by telling us briefly about Paulís life in Rome.  As we close our study of the book of Acts this morning, I want to look at what Luke tells us about Paulís witness in the great city.  But I also want to take some time at the end to summarize what we have learned from this book.  Letís begin by looking at Paul in Rome.

Paul proclaims Christ to the Jews (v. 17-23)

Paulís repeated strategy when he came to a new city was to go the Jews first.  He follows that pattern in Rome as well.  Look at verses 17-20.  Paul offers a defense of why he has been sent to Rome.  He wants to be clear that he is not an enemy of Israel.  He had done his best to follow the rules and customs of the people but they continued to reject him and his message.  The Romans knew that he was not guilty of anything deserving death, as they freely admitted in Lukeís accounts of the trials.  Yet, the Jews persisted and so Paul appealed to Caesar.  He was not against Israel, he was in prison for believing in the hope of Israel, namely the resurrection promised through the coming Messiah.  The Jews respond favorably to Paul at this point and agree to meet with him.  Look at verses 21-22.  They had received no specific news about Paul, but they had heard about Christianity and what they had heard was not good.  So they agreed to hear from Paul.

They arrange a time to come and meet with Paul.  From what we have seen of the Apostle in the book of Acts, what do you think he is going to talk with them about?  Look at verse 23.  Paul spends the whole day with them seeking to persuade them that Jesus really is the Christ.  We have seen this before.  Paul begins with their Scriptures, the Law and the Prophets, and shows them how Jesus is the fulfillment of what is written concerning the Messiah.  He is the Promised One.  He is the King, born in the line of David.  He is the Suffering Servant, the one who would pay for the sins of the people.  And He is the One who will give them victory over death through His own resurrection from the dead.  All they have to do is repent and believe in Him.

The Jews respond with belief and unbelief (v. 24-28)

From what we have seen in the book of Acts, how do you think the Jews will respond to Paulís message?  Look at verse 24.  We have seen this before havenít we?  Some of the Jews are convinced that Jesus really is the Messiah.  They believe that He really did pay for their sins at the cross and come back from the dead.  They are ready to follow Him as both Lord and Savior.

But all are not convinced.  Others remain skeptical.  They are particularly offended by Paulís application of Isaiahís prophecy to them.  Look at verses 25-28.  These are strong words indeed.  But it is not as if Paul did not care about these Jews.  He wanted them to come to faith more than anything (see Romans 9:1-3, 10:1).  But he also knew that many of them would continue to reject the message.  He had seen it before and he was not surprised to see it again.  The history of Israel was full of Godís people refusing to listen to the prophets.  Their hearts had grown dull to the Word of God.  Paul sees this continuing even in his own day.  As much as it breaks his heart, Paul understands that this is part of Godís grander plan to bring in the Gentiles (Romans 9-11).  Many in Israel will continue to reject, but the Gentiles will listen.  So Paul turns his attention to them, which leads to Lukeís final comments on Paul in Rome.

Paul proclaims Christ to everyone (v. 30-31)

When Paul encounters people who reject the gospel, what does he normally do?  He goes to those who will listen.  At this point in his life, he cannot go anywhere, but he can invite them to come to him.  And so he does.  Look at verse 30.  From Paulís letters we can actually identify some of the people that Paul shared with during this imprisonment.  In Philippians (which seems to be written during this time), Paul speaks of the advancement of the gospel to the whole imperial guard (Philippians 1:12-13).  It sounds like Paul to be sharing the gospel with his guards.  Also, from his letter to Philemon, we learn that Paul won the slave Onesimus to the faith while he was in prison (Philemon 10). 

So what does Paul do in prison?  He shares the good news of Christ with anybody and everybody that he can.  He tells them about Jesus coming in the flesh, dying on a cross, and being raised from the dead.  And he calls them to repentance and faith in Him, be they Jew or Gentile, slave or free.  And he does it with all boldness.  Look at verse 31.  Commenting on Paulís boldness, one author writes: ďThough his hand was still bound, his mouth was open for Jesus Christ.  Though he was chained, the Word of God was not.Ē  Paul was in prison for a total of about five years: 2 years in Caesarea, a year traveling to Rome, and 2 more years when he got there.  So for five years of unjust imprisonment, Paul just kept on mission for Christ.  He kept telling people about Jesus.  He did it boldly and he did it without hindrance.  No hindrance from those guarding him and no hindrance from fear of what they might do to him.  No matter what, he just stayed on mission.  Not a bad life verse indeed!

So we come to the end of the book of Acts and the end of the writing of Luke.  It seems like an abrupt ending to the book, but it makes sense.  Luke ends with a final report of the mission.  The witness for Jesus that started in Jerusalem has now made it to Rome, the greatest city of the day.  And with his comments on Paulís continued preaching of Jesus, Luke indicates that the ending of the book is not the ending of the mission.  The story of Jesus Christ and His followers does not end with Paul in Rome.  No, it continues even to this day.  So then, how are we to respond to what we have seen in this book?  How are we to act in light of Acts?

First, we are to believe in the resurrection of Jesus.  Lukeís first volume, the Gospel of Luke, ended with the death and resurrection of Jesus.  The book of Acts picks up the story with Jesus sending out the disciples to be witnesses for Him.  They are to go to Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth telling others about what they have seen and heard in Christ.  And Luke tells us how they obeyed that command.  We see the witness of Peter on the day of Pentecost.  We see the witness of Stephen before the council, who is the first to be killed for his belief in Christ, although not the last.  We see the witness of Philip to the Samaritans and the Ethiopian.  We see the witness to Cornelius, who is the first Gentile to believe, but not the last. 

We see the witness of Barnabas and Timothy and Aquila and Priscilla and Apollos.  And we see the witness of Paul, who is stoned and imprisoned and shipwrecked, but just keeps on telling people how Jesus was raised from the dead.  Every one of their stories is a story about a witness to the resurrection of Jesus.  They are all saying to us: ĎHe has rose victorious over the grave and you can have victory over sin, Satan, and death through Him.í  So in light of this great cloud of witnesses, let me ask you: do you believe in the resurrection of Jesus?  Have you turned from your sins and put your trust in His death and resurrection?  Some today believe that doubt is the greatest virtue.  They tell us to question everything and be certain about nothing.  And I understand where they are coming from and do not deny that questions have their place.  But if the question is this: has Jesus been raised from the dead?  Then the answer from the men and women in Acts is loud and clear: ĎYes, He is risen.  He has conquered the grave as both our Savior and our God.í

Second, we are to respond to the book of Acts by living as witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus.  Luke ends the story with Paul continuing to share the gospel in Rome.  Paul would eventually die in that city according to history, but the mission would live on.  Those that he shared with would go on to share with others.  And on and on it would go.  Until somebody at some point in your life, shared the good news with you.  If you have turned from your sins and placed your faith in Jesus, then you now stand in a long line of witnesses to His death and resurrection. 

How do we do this?  How do we continue the mission?  We follow the pattern set for us in this book.  First, we do it together.  We do not have to be lone-ranger witnesses.  There is not just one witness in the book of Acts, there are many.  We are now a part of that blessed group.  We get the privilege of laboring together to complete the mission that was started so long ago.  Second, we share with anybody and everybody.  Acts teaches us that Jesus died for both Jews and Gentiles.  He is gathering a people from every tongue, tribe, and nation on this planet, so our goal is to get the gospel to them all.  Every neighbor and every nation is our target.  Third, we continue the mission expecting rejection and suffering.  The stories in Acts make it plain that some will believe while others will not.  Unbelief will lead to persecution and suffering.  As we share the gospel with the world, we should not be surprised rejection.  We should only be surprised that what we face will probably pale in comparison to what we see in Acts.  How can we keep quiet when Paul was stoned and Stephen was killed?  They were ready and willing to give their lives as witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus.  We should be too. 

Finally, we continue the mission by the grace and the power of our God.  The God we serve is the same One who saved three thousand people at Pentecost.  The God we serve is the same One who raised Eutychus and delivered Paul to Rome.  Just like the power that raised Jesus from the dead was at work in these witnesses, so will His power be at work in us.  It is through Him, through His grace and His power, that we can be witnesses for Jesus with all boldness and without hindrance.  

 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 24 December 2014 )

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