One last time- Saturday, 7th Week in Eastertide – Acts 28:16-20, 30-31
“One last time let me try to convince the Jews”, that must have been Paul’s rationale when he stepped off the boat in Rome. For even now, after his message of salvation was rejected by the Jews at every port, he still does not give up. The message of Christ must be preached in season and out and so Paul is even more determined not to give up as he docks in Rome.
We are now in the final chapter of the Acts of the Apostles and Luke (the author of Acts) will not tell us what will happen to Paul, though we know from tradition he will suffer martyrdom. Luke rather tells us about the kind of person Paul was by narrating his last ditch effort to convince the Jews. Luke also records in the last verse that Paul continued “to proclaim the kingdom of God and teach about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.”
The boldness comes from the Spirit that God sets in the heart of Paul, for we know that when he lands in this city of a million slaves and a million citizens, the city was no longer what it used to be. Rome is no longer a happy republic for it has now fallen into the hands of imperial dictators. Niro was dictator in Rome and as history records, this man has already put to death his own mother and wife. The disparity of wealth was sharp in Rome and to distract the people, Niro kept them entertained in the Circus where free bread was distributed.
Paul being a Roman citizen was permitted to live in his own lodging which we are told he pays for. Verse 30 tells us that he resides in Rome for two whole years and he does this at his own expense. But Paul is still a prisoner awaiting trial and while he is under house arrest, literally chained to a guard, (verse 16 and 20) he is permitted visitors.
It takes Paul all of three days to once again swing into ministry; this after such a harrowing journey to Rome. He would have loved to go to the synagogue, but being a prisoner he asks the elders of the Jews to come to him. We are told that at one time Rome had twelve synagogues but we do not know how many of these still existed at the time when Paul arrived. Paul bears no animosity to the elders whom he receives. He places his case and message before them, addressing them as “brothers”.