And when they had been brought safely through, then we found out that the island was called Malta. And the natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all. But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, “Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.” However he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god. Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us courteously three days. And it came about that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him. And after this had happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured. And they also honored us with many marks of respect; and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed. And at the end of three months we set sail on an Alexandrian ship which had wintered at the island, and which had the Twin Brothers for its figurehead. And after we put in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. And from there we sailed around and arrived at Rhegium, and a day later a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. There we found some brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days; and thus we came to Rome. And the brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us; and when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.
In the world and even in America, most pastors are overworked and underpaid. Nevertheless, there exists a select few, who even exist in the poorest provinces and places, the worst of the absolute worst, who make millions. While I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to say, the poorer the pastor, the more powerful the preaching, I would say, stay away from the wealthy pastor who has made his money from the alleged word of God. I believe I have made this clear in my previous ramblings but what I want us to see today is that money is not the only thing a person of God needs. Paul suffered yet survived shipwreck to preach in Malta, prepare for Rome but ultimately it was a reprieve from his previous periods of peril and persecution. Taking a long view of Scripture, we remember the trials and tribulations in the life of Paul from our reading of the book of Acts. We also have used examples from other passaged of which Paul has written to see the severity of his situations; Paul puts it plainly and rhetorically when he wrote his final letter to the Corinthians.
“Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me, and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands.”
We must also consider the Sabbath, The Festivals and the Jubilee. Moreover we must consider what Jesus said concerning the Sabbath and why the Lord instituted these things in the first place. The short answer is that man is mortal and sinful, fallen from his original intent, which was to work an uncursed land and walk with God. Therefore, because of the fall, man needs rest and instruction on how to walk with God. Though I always say, the Bible is not written like an owner’s manual to a 2006 Toyota Corolla, parts of it were. Look at Leviticus, for instance but also look at Leviticus in Jesus. Jesus fulfilled the levitical requirements, therefore, we have to examine his life and the things of which he said and did. Luckily for us, we have already read the book of Matthew and we remember two things, out of many, for time’s sake. First, Jesus came eating and drinking and was called a glutton and a drunkard. We also remember him healing on the Sabbath and proclaiming that the Sabbath was made for man, not the other way around.
Jesus needed sustenance and rest. Paul needed sustenance and rest. Pastors need sustenance rest. You and I need sustenance and rest. But before we move on, also remember that at his hungriest point, Jesus told the devil that man shall not live on bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. I shouldn’t tell the following story but it perfectly describes the point which I am poorly attempting to make. I will write this story reminding everyone that we are all sinners, me being foremost.
I avoid naming names in a negative context because sometimes the positive aspects of one’s life outweigh the negative but the negative negates the good in our mortal minds. Therefore I don’t want to take away from one’s work for the Lord with respect to evangelism or discipleship. For instance, I never name names of dogmatic dispensationalists whose absurd dogma about eschatology pales in comparison to their work for the kingdom, which they ironically believe has not come. Today in my first draft, I named names because I considered this man a friend, even though we only met face to face once and we didn’t agree on everything. But I decided to remove his full name and the name of his ministries out of respect because I don’t want anyone jumping to conclusions or taking my words out of context about a man who did what he believed was best for advancing the gospel. He was a hugely popular yet polarizing person and I am a nobody, and we only actually spoke a few snippets to each other, no more than two or three times–nothing beyond a greeting was ever face to face. He has since gone to be with the Lord; and I truly believe that. The last thing he said to me, in front of almost 10,000 people, as he giggled on the stage of his university’s basketball court was, “I am praying for you, Brother.” I doubt that he could have picked me out of a lineup but one never knows because every time he saw me after that, while driving across campus in his big, black Suburban, he smiled and waved at me.
Jerry was a giant in the late twentieth century for the cause of Christ but he absolutely spread himself too thin, as the idiom goes. He wrote many books, went on many news programs, traveled the world for speaking engagements, was founder and chancellor of this university of which I attended and he often spoke at her convocations. He debated atheists, agnostics and others, wrote articles, wrote Bible commentaries, gave interviews, raised children, recruited athletes, and many other things. Yet even with his hectic schedule, he was the senior pastor of the church he founded. Today his two sons split his former duties between themselves, one at the church and the other at the university. Jerry had his proverbial plate full. The bad news: his sermons suffered. My friend Jerry, would always brag about never canceling a church service due to sickness, disease or inclement weather conditions–church was his number one priority and I respected him for that. However, he should have delegated more to his associate pastors. Jerry loved the Lord and loved the limelight, he always wanted to preach. The problem was that he spent so much time in the limelight, producing controversial soundbites, that his sermons and speeches were never deeply rooted in exegesis. He spent much time in the word but it was not reflected in his sermons. We used to joke that Jerry only had six sermons which he would recycle, changing the names according to the pop culture of the day, from Ellen DeGeneres coming out to the Teletubbies. I’m sorry to say that Jerry was a mega-church pastor in almost every aspect of the term I use as a pejorative term, other than the absolute acoustical offerings of health and wealth. He made many claims about God judging the culture but rarely backed these claims with sound, Biblical exegesis. Sometimes he was wrong, dead wrong but most of the time he was correct but he didn’t connect his correctness with exegesis. In my view, Jerry approached the culture backwards, first slamming the culture and then saying, “the Bible says so.” I have learned from Jerry’s mistakes–one way is that in this blog, I now, always put the Scripture first, and although these missives contain commentary, we still consider the context as we read through the books of the Bible. Simply stated, even though Jerry took power naps every day, he needed more down time to rest and carefully consider the context of the Word of God. I only wonder how much more impact for the kingdom Jerry would have had if he put his efforts more into individual and small group ministries rather than on a national stage. That is, what if Jerry was deeper, giving a lot to a little group of people rather than giving a little to a lot of people, could he have made more reproducing disciples than enemies? Another unheard of suggestion would have been to hand over the reigns of his church much earlier in life. Jerry could have learned a lot from Jethro, Moses’ father in law.
Jesus knew that Paul needed to rest and prepare for Rome. While in prison at Caesarea for two years, Paul certainly had time to prepare but he also was preparing for his defense against the charges made against him there, by apostate Israel. We also can reasonably assume that he wrote to churches during this time. We take the long view of Scripture and see how Paul’s life was like a roller coaster, up high one day and down in the deep the next. Paul was full of and relied upon the Spirit but was still a mortal man who required rest. Jesus was the son of God and he came eating and drinking and resting–everyone’s favorite verse to quote is, “Jesus wept.” This is true but it is also true that, Jesus slept. We place too many burdens on our pastors keeping them from being in the Word. Besides learning for ourselves, sometimes we have to deal with the rollercoaster of life without our pastors present. Enter the gift of elders: every church should have elders who can aid the pastor–elders, plural. Most of this is aside from the context but we clearly see that Jesus granted Paul a reprieve, we should do the same for our pastors. But the context shows us much more than this, including a deeper understanding of God’s provisions.
“And when they had been brought safely through, then we found out that the island was called Malta. And the natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all.” Notice first and also remember; they had no idea where they were. Paul had instructed everyone to eat and then throw what was left overboard. They have now landed on an island of which they do not know, as complete strangers, in the cold and rain, without food. Nevertheless the natives built a fire for them and provided them with provisions, showing all 276 of them “extraordinary kindness.” God had prepared the hearts at Malta to receive Paul and the prisoners. We remember reading in Matthew; “Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
And even though God takes care of Paul and the prisoners, and has prepared the hearts of the people to minister to those shipwrecked, the natives are still stuck in their superstitions. “But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, ‘Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.’ However he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.”
Look closely at what the natives claim about Paul after he was bit by a viper. “Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.” Not only did they believe in karma, they were sure about it. “Undoubtedly,” for sure, without question, Paul must have been a murderer. They were absolutely sure about this. Problem; Paul didn’t die. Therefore after a long time the natives do a complete 180° and now believe Paul to be a god. That’s a giant leap, from perceiving one as a murder unable to escape justice, to a diety unable to be killed. The fact is that they didn’t change their minds or beliefs but steadfastly held to them. In their minds and their philosophical culture, the guilty were found no matter what but survival of something that should be deadly, meant one was more than a mere, mortal man. Superstitions trump Scripture all over the world. Remember when America was really racist? I rest my case. Not literally though, I am about to beat the proverbial dead horse over and over until we see the sublime string of Scripture.
“Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us courteously three days. And it came about that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him. And after this had happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured. And they also honored us with many marks of respect; and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed.” These are the last healings we see in Acts and it has been years since we have seen healings in Acts. This in no way means that healings were not happening anywhere but they were not recorded, and there has to be a reason. I believe the reason was because Luke was with Paul and Paul was in Jerusalem.
“Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem who kills those sent to her…” We take the long view and see all the miracles made manifest in Israel in the gospels and early in the book of Acts. Yet now, we no longer see any miracles, anybody or anything in Israel. We have seen a seismic shift from a small, semitic sect to a multinational body of believers. And the furthur we are removed from Jerusalem, the less speaking in tongues we see. Miracles, signs and wonders have also fallen off. In today’s text we see the final miracles recorded in Acts; Paul’s not being killed by the viper and Paul laying on hands of healing to Publius’ father and the others on the island. Look at the long view of Scripture in the historical narrative. Jesus came to Galilee and did a multitude of miracles but also proclaimed, “to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent: ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.”
Then he moved his ministry to Jerusalem and did some miracles there, even fulfilling prophecy, riding a donkey into Jerusalem and was praised by the mouths of babes. Many were excited, for a time but in the end, Jerusalem rejected her Messiah, and then his apostles, and finally Paul, the former Pharisee. We should not be surprised because Jesus said specifically to his disciples; “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.” We have to take a long view of Scripture, keeping the words in their context. Jesus did what the Old Testament said he would do, why don’t we believe that the apostles did and experienced what Jesus said they would? Jesus performed miracles, signs and wonders but they wanted a sign from him, right? Then the apostles did even more miracles, signs and wonders, including speaking in tongues but most still didn’t believe; the question is why? The answer is an ironic one; tongues and miracles were actually for judgement against the apostate nation of Israel–Isaiah prophesied it, Jesus showed it and Paul confirmed it to the Corinthians. Let’s take a little vitamin E and explore examples, looking at it progressively.
“In that day the LORD of hosts will become a beautiful crown And a glorious diadem to the remnant of His people; A spirit of justice for him who sits in judgment, A strength to those who repel the onslaught at the gate. And these also reel with wine and stagger from strong drink: The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, They are confused by wine, they stagger from strong drink; They reel while having visions, They totter when rendering judgment. For all the tables are full of filthy vomit, without a single clean place. To whom would He teach knowledge? And to whom would He interpret the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just taken from the breast? For He says, ‘Order on order, order on order, Line on line, line on line, A little here, a little there.’ Indeed, He will speak to this people Through stammering lips and a foreign tongue, He who said to them, ‘Here is rest, give rest to the weary,’ And, ‘Here is repose,’ but they would not listen. So the word of the LORD to them will be, ‘Order on order, order on order, Line on line, line on line, A little here, a little there,’ That they may go and stumble backward, be broken, snared, and taken captive. Therefore, hear the word of the LORD, O scoffers, Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem, Because you have said, ‘We have made a covenant with death, And with Sheol we have made a pact. The overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by, For we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception.’ Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed. And I will make justice the measuring line, And righteousness the level; Then hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, And the waters shall overflow the secret place.”
We also must understand that God was mocking the priests’ movements and babbling, which ironically the charismatic movement loves to do as well. Let me emphasize this; God mocked Israel for this and yet the charismatic collectives keep doing the same thing. Look closely at the context and see the sublime string. God is not happy with these priests and prophets who use stammering speech and swaying side to side in their alleged worship. Look at the Hebrew words, transliterated into English, so that we see the phoneticall feel. “Ki saw lasaw saw lasaw kaw lakaw kaw lakaw zaer sam zaer sam.” Also notice that God is not saying that they are drunk but they are acting drunk because of their stammering speech and swaying from side to side. Many non-charismatic, dogmatic dispensationalists and I actually agree on this, because it is clearly taught in the Bible that tongues and signs were for judgement against apostate Israel, in their generation. The only difference is that I believe Jesus judged his generation in his generation and not a generation 2000 years hence, who are not guilty of the blood of his disciples. But we absolutely agree that the NAR and the charismatic movement are guilty of the same sins as apostate Israel. To any offended in the charismatic movement consider: context is king, author’s aspirations to his audience are apex, genre is the general, expository exegesis of examples enlightens and dividing rightly the word of truth either confirms or cancels our preconceived notions and presuppositions. The Bible interprets the Bible not feelings. Where do we see a Biblical mandate for speaking in tongues or signs and wonders? Where do we see getting drunk in the Spirit? The former requires a careful consideration of the context, which reveals: the first century church in accordance with Isaiah’s promise of judgement against Israel. And the latter simply doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, unless we are learning for ourselves we only know what we have been taught. There are a lot of false teachers out there who are master manipulators of the manuscripts. Here, and in your quiet time, the context needs to be considered carefully.
Everyone wants signs and wonders, except for true believers–we live “by faith and not by sight.” In Matthew 12 we read, “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered Him, saying, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.’ [See my missive; How About a Billboard] But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall stand up with this generation at the judgment, and shall condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South shall rise up with this generation at the judgment and shall condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, “I will return to my house from which I came;” and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes, and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.'”
“This generation” in Matthew refers to that generation in Matthew–the generation of Jesus. Therefore we see that they are doubly damned because they didn’t recognize Jesus nor his Spirit. Jesus cast out demons, healed and fed but none of this saved anyone. Only his “sign of Jonah,” his death burial and resurrection can save. Due to our attention spans and for time’s sake we can’t explore every example, aspect or angle of his signs, healings and feedings, therefore I will sum it up based upon our previous reading of Matthew and exploring examples. They didn’t heed the words of Jesus but followed for food, healings and the like. Does this sound familiar mega-church pastors with your health and wealth gospels? What about you in the charismatic movement, does any of this hit home? We are acting like apostate Israel–here’s the proof found in Corinth.
“Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.”
First notice, that the ends of the ages came upon Paul and the very early-church. Whereas the dogmatic dispensationalists argue that we are in the last of the last days, the Bible begs to differ. Also notice that imitating apostate Israel is highlighted as hypocrisy by the apostles Paul, who spoke “in tongues more than all of you.” Surely Paul did speak in tongues but at the end of the age–before the temple toppling. Notice that Paul clearly clarified his stance on speaking in tongues. Also remember that he went to the synagogues on every Sabbath so that you will see your hypocrisy, if you indeed feel the need to speak in tongues.
- “All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? If I come to you speaking in tongues, what shall I profit you, unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching? Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp? For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature. In the Law it is written, ‘BY MEN OF STRANGE TONGUES AND BY THE LIPS OF STRANGERS I WILL SPEAK TO THIS PEOPLE, AND EVEN SO THEY WILL NOT LISTEN TO ME,’ says the Lord. So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers, but to those who believe.”
And all of this has culminated and found its conclusion in Acts. We have not seen speaking in tongues for quite some time in Acts and today we see the final healing recorded. We take the long view of Scripture and see the sublime string and the fulfillment of prophecy, progressively. We remember that Joel was fulfilled early in Acts–Peter said so. People buying books on blood moons is proof that we are not taught the sublime string and that we are not learning for ourselves, carefully considering the context, letting the Bible interpret the Bible.
The book of Acts is coming to an abrupt end but it still covers at least two years, three months, one week and three days but nary another sign or wonder, tongue or further prophecy is performed. In fact, the only prophecy mentioned is concerning the judgment from Isaiah: “GO TO THIS PEOPLE AND SAY, “YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; AND YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, AND WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES; LEST THEY SHOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I SHOULD HEAL THEM.”
Systematically the sublime string of Scripture brings the reader to the point of apostate Israel’s divorce from God. Some in a similar camp as me, claim that God divorced apostate Israel but I see it slightly different, seeing the sublime string–apostate Israel divorced God. We have to see that the Lord did everything in his power, short of forceful coercion, to get Israel to repent, even going so far as to make the jealous by other nations stammering in speech, mocking their priests and prophets. Israel chose the temple and made it her idol. Mega-church pastors choose health and wealth and make it their idol. The charismatic movement and the NAR choose being drunk in the Spirit, speaking in tongues and the like and make these things their idols. And before you jump down my proverbial throat thinking, “you make the context and sublime string your idol,” consider: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” And then, consider the context.
Remember what Jesus said to Israel after he fed them; “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” This is not a metaphor to be filled with the Spirit but a sharp rebuke toward the motives of the people. Jesus was happy to feed the five thousand men plus women and children but he saw through their outward appearance. Why do we insist on speaking in tongues when Paul demonstrates the difficulties in so doing. Notice the requirements he places on speaking in tongues; two or three at the most, an interpreter must be present and it is in judgment against Israel. The context is clear, think about this as you desperately desire to speak in tongues. Also notice that it has not been recorded that Paul has spoken in tongues for over five years. When he gets to Rome, he speaks in his own language, preaching Jesus and the fulfillment of prophecy. Paul no longer predicts anything else either. Luke tells us that Paul, “stayed two full years in his own rented quarters, and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.” Should this not be our goal as well? Look at the sublime string; out of Israel and in Rome as a prisoner, Paul was unhindered, preaching Jesus to the beasts in Rome. He couldn’t do that anywhere near Israel. But I am getting way ahead of myself.
“And they also honored us with many marks of respect; and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed. And at the end of three months we set sail on an Alexandrian ship which had wintered at the island, and which had the Twin Brothers for its figurehead. And after we put in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. And from there we sailed around and arrived at Rhegium, and a day later a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. There we found some brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days; and thus we came to Rome. And the brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us; and when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.”
Paul has made it to Rome, without much fanfare. His journey has been tumultuous and utterly ironic at times but that is because the hand of the Lord was all over it. One last irony at which I would like to look is the final ship used to get Paul to his destiny. It is imperative that we get the full feel and flavor of Paul’s journey away from Jerusalem and into Rome. “And at the end of three months we set sail on an Alexandrian ship which had wintered at the island, and which had the Twin Brothers for its figurehead. And after we put in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. And from there we sailed around and arrived at Rhegium, and a day later a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. There we found some brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days; and thus we came to Rome.” Paul was on a ship, not of Israel but one dedicated to the sons of the Greek god.