Day 212: July 31 (Acts 28:16-31)
Paul has reached Rome, and we have reached the end of Luke’s account of the Acts of the Apostles. It is interesting the way in which Luke’s account ends. This Gentile doctor, who has repeatedly given us a depth of detail that verifies his account, seems to simply stop writing before the story is over.
In contrast to John’s gospel, where John writes “I suppose that if all the other things Jesus did were written down, the whole world could not contain the books” to indicate the ending of his writing (acknowledging its incompleteness), Luke simply records (as he has done many times in his account) a longer period of Paul’s life with no accompanying detail, then stops. There is no conclusion to the writing about Paul’s life, no record of his death. There is also no mention of the death of Peter in Luke’s account either.
Many commentators agree that the focus of Luke’s writing is life and not death, the spread of the gospel and the advance of the Kingdom of God, rather than simply recording the lives of the apostles biographically. We do well to recall this for our own lives: it matters more how we live day by day to advance the Kingdom of God than how our whole life achievements will be recorded biographically. The sudden ending is also widely taken to mean that the Book of Acts is still being “written” by the faith and deeds of Christians globally who continue what the Apostles started.
In that light, let’s see what we can learn from the last 16 verses of the book.
Paul has favor; a leader who knows his calling, he earns respect by his obedience to God. He is allowed to live in a house and is not confined to a jail cell. This greatly increases his impact for the Kingdom of God in the capital of the Roman Empire.
He begins his stay in Rome (as he has begun almost every visit to any city) by talking with and appealing to his Jewish brethren. He cares deeply for his own people, and longs for them to be saved. He also understands (both by revelation from God, and repeated personal experience) that the Jews are hardened by years of empty religion, so that they cannot receive the truth of what he is saying. Religion is deadly and prevents mankind from receiving what God is giving – a relationship with Him which is undeserved yet freely offered.
So Paul concludes his testimony with these words: “I want you to know that this salvation from God has also been offered to the Gentiles, and they will accept it.” It is notable that Luke’s last recorded quote refers to the offer of salvation to the Gentiles. Salvation is a free gift, and cannot be earned by observance of laws and religious traditions. Often that gift is more attractive to those who know they don’t deserve it. Like offering food to the hungry and the satisfied, the Gospel is good news more to the sinner than the saint.
And finally, Luke writes that “For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense. He welcomed all who visited him, boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him.”
What a way to finish: finally this apostle, who has endured all kinds of persecution and opposition, is able to live in his own home, proclaiming the Kingdom of God, and no one tries to stop him! How can you and I continue the spread of the gospel and the advance of the Kingdom of God today? What opportunities has God given you?
Have a great day!