Toward an Unhindered Gospel

MEMORY SELECTION: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” —Romans 1:16

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Acts 28:16, 17, 21-31

THIS week’s lesson pertains to the Apostle Paul’s experiences during the final portion of his journey to Rome. He was being transported to stand trial before Caesar, although he had done nothing against the government or the people. He was a victim of hatred among his own people, the Jews, who could not accept his preaching in connection with Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the dead.

Paul and his companions suffered much in the way of hardship and deprivation on their voyage, which ended in shipwreck on the Isle of Malta. They were, however, warmly received and cared for by the inhabitants of the island, and during that delay they prepared themselves for the remaining portion of their journey. The time on Malta provided Paul an opportunity to preach the kingdom message to the residents. He also healed many of the sick and afflicted. “And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him. So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed.” (Acts 28:8,9) Even as a prisoner he took advantage of God’s overruling providences on his behalf to give witness to the truth and the powers of the Holy Spirit which were given him as an inspired apostle of Jesus Christ.

Then, having wintered in Malta, the group set out once again on another ship bound for their destination. They landed safe at Puteoli, a seaport about 150 miles from Rome. There they waited seven days until the centurion received orders pertaining to the prisoners. Before proceeding to Rome, Paul met with the brethren at Puteoli and sent word of his desire to meet with the other brethren along the route which led to Rome. He met with his Christian friends at Apii Forum, which is about 43 miles from Rome, and also at Three Taverns, 30 miles from the city.

We cannot help marveling at the manner in which God overruled on behalf of the apostle. His trip to Rome was more like another pilgrim journey than that of a prisoner of the Romans en route to stand trial before Caesar. All along the road which led to the great city, the brethren came to meet him and hear him speak of those things that so gladdened their hearts. Indeed, the entire journey from the time he left Caesarea had afforded Paul an opportunity to witness to the truth—to the passengers on board ship, to the crew, and to his guards, as well as to those who met him in the various ports.

And even after he arrived in Rome he was allowed to live in his own house and was granted certain liberties that provided him further opportunity to preach the message of the kingdom. He was still a guarded prisoner, but he was allowed to receive his friends and to speak the word of truth and encouragement to them.

Paul wasted little time in gathering together the Jewish leaders after his arrival in Rome. He wanted to explain to them firsthand the reasons why he had been brought to Caesar for trial. “And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, although I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans, who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.”—vss. 17-20

His hearers had received nothing in the way of letters from Jerusalem concerning him and were receptive to an invitation to hear him speak. And when they appointed a day, Paul once more rose to the occasion and expounded the scriptures to them. “And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.”—vs. 24

Dawn Bible Students Association
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