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In this final chapter of Acts we find Paul on the island of Malta. This is where he and the other prisoners were brough to safety when their ship ran aground, as recorded in the previous chapter. As it turns out, as usual, God had a plan. Paul had opportunities to minister to the natives on the island, who welcomed him with "extraordinary kindness" (verses 1-2).
Beginning in verse 3 Paul laid some sticks on a fire, but a viper came out from the heat and fastened on his hand. The natives had a pagan belief that if a spider clung to his hand he must be a "murderer" and they did not expect him to live. Paul, however, shook off the spider and "suffered no harm." This caused the natives to wonder if he was some kind of god (verses 3-6). He was welcomed and entertained for three days by Publius, a prominent man on the island.
In the next scenario we read that Paul had some opportunities for healing, in verses 8-9. The father of Publius became very ill, but Paul laid his hands on him and healed him. Paul was then held in such high regard that "the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured."
The people honored and respected Paul and supplied him and the other prisoners with what they needed for their next journey. Keep in mind that there are 276 people, in all. We read this in verse 37 of the previous chapter. Verses 44 of chapter 27 says that "they were all brought safely to land." We are talking about a huge amount of provisions provided by these natives on the island.
Verses 11-22 relate how Paul continued to sail to different locations and once again appeared before government authorities and religious leaders, all the while being guarded for his own safety. He had opportunities to testify "about the kingdom of God, and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the prophets, from morning until evening" ( verse 23).
The Book of Acts closes with Paul staying for two full years in a rented apartment, "preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered."
So, with all of the persecution that Paul went through, this book ends in a very positive way.
1. Have you ever seen God direct your life in such a way that you have found yourself in situations beyond your control, but which gave you an opportunity to share your faith?
2. What are some of the parallels that you have seen between the Book of Acts and how Christians are being challenged by the culture of today?
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