Acts 28:21 And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee.
22 But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.
23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.
24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.
In our last devotional from this series, I made a typo that we did not catch prior to publication. I had typed “verse 3” rather than “verse 19” of this chapter. My apologies for not catching that prior to publication.
As we move on today, Paul had called the chief of the Jews together to inform them of his current situation. He had not wasted any time in getting a meeting with them. He had been in Rome now for just three days. He wanted them to know what was happening, and he did not want to waste precious time.
In verse 21 we see that the Jews in Rome were not aware of this situation that had developed in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the key place for spiritual direction since the time of Solomon. The Temple was in Jerusalem, and that is the place that God chose to be the centre for religious teaching and for the sacrifices.
However, the Jews had rejected the Lord Jesus Christ as their Messiah. God had rent the vail of the Temple in twain when Jesus Christ died on the cross. The Temple was no longer going to be necessary. Jesus Christ declared that He was going to build His church as the replacement for the Temple. Jesus Christ was the sacrifice that satisfied the demands that God required to remove the curse of sin. As we see in our text, Jerusalem was not that central place anymore. Antioch became the sending church for the apostle Paul. Jerusalem will be the central place for worship and teaching in the Millennium. It will also be the central place for government and commerce as well. Jesus Christ will be the King and the Priest as well as The Saviour.
These Jews in Rome admitted that no one had come from Jerusalem to Rome to warn about Paul, or to speak about what had taken place. The Jews in Jerusalem knew that Paul was on his way to Rome. However, they did not bother to send any message ahead of him. God had kept their lies away from these Jews so that He could have greater impact upon their hearts.
In verse 22 they stated that they wanted to hear about what Paul thought. They knew that the sect of Christianity was spoken against in every place. The Jews in Rome were ignorant of what true Christianity was. They had heard reports of it and they knew that it was spoken against in every place. That was true as far as the Jews were concerned. However, there were people being saved and there were churches being established in many different places as a result of the faithful preaching by the apostles. These Jews were not getting the right information and God was giving them an opportunity to hear the truth from the apostle Paul.
In verse 23 we see that the date was set and that many came to the place where Paul was lodging to hear what he had to say. God was giving him an open door to preach the truth. God was giving those Jews the opportunity to hear the truth and respond favourably to the truth. Paul was reminding them that he was not teaching some new thing. He was teaching the same thing that Moses and the prophets had taught regarding Jesus. The Jews rejected the suffering Saviour.
The animals that God killed to make the coats for Adam and Eve pointed to a suffering Saviour. The sacrifices that God instituted in the days of Moses pointed to a suffering Saviour. Isaiah also wrote about the suffering Saviour. Isaiah also wrote about the exalted Saviour and Messiah. When the nation of Israel demanded a king like the nations around them, God told Samuel they had rejected Him from reigning over them. The Old Testament further expanded on that and taught that there would be a Messiah coming to reign over them. The Jews of Jesus’ day and of Paul’s day were stuck on having a triumphant king like David. They wanted someone to overthrow the Roman government and give them back the glory days of David. They failed to realize that the reason David was able to be a good king was because he knew the fear of the Lord. The Old Testament clearly showed that when David sinned, it affected him as well as his family and the entire nation. Even the enemy nations were helped when David sinned.
At the time of Christ and of Paul and even today, the nation of Israel is bound in sin. They have no interest in serving the true God. There is a religious element in Israel. They have worked hard for years to prepare for the building of the Temple. They have tried to find a way to get the Temple built. However, they are doing that all in the flesh. They are not seeking to serve the true God. Those few Jews who are saved today are not pushing for the rebuilding of the Temple. They know this is not the time. They know they are the temple of the Holy Ghost. They know that Christ dwells in every true believer. They know there will be a true temple built one day in Jerusalem by Jesus Christ.
We read in verse 23 that Paul spoke from morning till evening. We see that he was “persuading” them. The word translated as “persuading” means “to induce one by words to believe”. Paul was directed by God to use the right words that would help these Jews to believe the truth.
II Timothy 3:14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Christians need to be taught in the Word of God and they need to use the Word of God when witnessing to others. Our words may be impressive, but they do not carry the power of God’s Words. The apostles spoke the Word of God. They were inspired by God. So were the prophets. We are not inspired by God. God’s Word is inspired and we need to learn how to use It effectively to allow God to penetrate the hard hearts of the people. The Holy Spirit will guide us if we are saved and humbly follow the Lord.
In verse 24 we see that some of the Jews believed the things that were spoken and some believed not. Every person is given a mind to reason and think. Every person must choose whether they will believe the truth or not. It is imperative that they be given the truth. As we see here not everyone will believe what we say. That is not the point. We need to be sure we know the God of truth and then that we use His Word to persuade men. He is the One Who must break through the hard heart of the hearer. Our gimmicks may garner an outward acceptance. His Word will change the heart of the sinner. Paul knew this and from the time he was saved, he had been obedient to God in expounding the Word of God in the hope that people would be persuaded to believe in God. That is the goal. We are not trying to win converts to ourselves. We are seeking to glorify God and make Him known.
As we noted in yesterday’s devotional, our country is steeped in wickedness. The great need today is for people to know the Lord. We, who are saved, should be able to see that the methods used in Ottawa at this time are not the way forward. The government has dug their heals in. They have no intention to change. The police have foolishly bowed to the tyrannical demands of the government and they have become the enemies of the people. The government is trying hard to prove that those who oppose them are “terrorists” who need the full force of the “law” brought to bear upon them.
Those that are saved need to follow the example of Jesus Christ our Saviour and Lord and the example of the apostle Paul, His servant to reach people with the truth. It is the truth in the heart of one individual, that will set that individual free!