Bible Study of Acts: Lesson 22 - Paul's Voyage to Rome (Acts 27 & 28)

Bible Study of Acts – Lesson 22


Paul’s Final Voyage to Rome (Acts 27 & 28)


Introduction

Welcome to Lesson 22 and your final lesson in your Bible Study of Acts.

In this lesson we’re going to take a closer look at Acts 27 & 28 and Paul’s final voyage and arrival in Rome.

Background

Starting in Acts 21, the Book of Acts took its final turn with Paul’s arrival in Jerusalem.  While there Paul was arrested, nearly torn apart by a Jewish mob, put on trial by the Jewish council, nearly assasinated and finally transferred to Cesarea for further trials.  While in Cesarea, Paul appealed to have his case tried in Rome, whereupon the Roman government made arrangements to have Paul sent to the capital of the Roman Empire.

Acts 27 and 28 record Paul’s harrowing journey by boat, his shipwreck on the island of Malta, his arrival in Rome and one final attempt to convert his Jewish compatriots with the gospel.

Anchors Away (Acts 27:1-20)

One of the most notable aspects of Luke’s retelling of the voyage to Rome is the amount of ancient nautical details that Luke provides to his readers. He describes 1) the large Alexandrian vessels carrying grain to the different parts of the Roman empire; 2) ancient and well-documented trade routes; 3) sailing techniques according to different wind conditions; 4) elements within the ship itself; 5) the taking of soundings and several other elements.  In total, these details provide the flavor of an eyewitness account of the voyage.

Paul’s Encouragement

Read Acts 27:21-26 and vv. 33-36

  1. What does Paul say to the men to encourage them in their desperation?
  2. What qualities of God do you see in this encounter at sea?  What qualifies of Paul do you see?
  3. Have you ever received a direct promise from God for yourself or for others? Elaborate.  How did you behave / not behave with that promise you received?

Shipwrecked on Malta

Read Acts 28:1-10

  1. How did the inhabitants of the island treat Paul and the vessel’s crew?  How long did the crew stay on the island?
  2. What occurred to Paul during his stay on the island and how did the inhabitants react?

When we read the above narrative we may be quick to criticize the superstitious beliefs of an ancient people.   For the inhabitants of Malta, the natural world and the spiritual world were inextricably linked.  Ironically, this is not far from the biblical perspective except that they had misidentified the source of that spirituality which was God.

  1. How do you reconcile spiritual world and the material world in your everyday life?  How do you integrate the spiritual world with the material world?
  2. Are you too rational in your faith such that you leave very little space for miracles?  Explain.

Paul’s Arrival in Rome

Read Acts 28:12-31

Paul finally arrived in Rome after a grueling voyage.  From a literary perspective, Jesus’ followers had witnessed “to the ends of the earth” as Jesus had promised in Acts 1:8.  Moreover, Luke’s two-volume story came to and end the same way that it had begun way back in Luke 2.  There, the baby Jesus was announced during the “reign of Cesar.”  He was promised the throne of his father David and the prophet Simeon indicated that he would be both a “salvation for Israel” and a “light to the Gentiles”.

Here in Rome, Paul was free to preach the gospel right under the emperor’s nose.  In addition, Paul’s gospel was also proclaimed to both Jews and Gentiles.

  1. What did Paul say to his fellow Jews in order to convert them? How did he go about persuading them?
  2. What was their reaction?  What was Paul’s reaction?

In Acts, Paul was called to preach both to Jews and Gentiles.  In every city in which he ministered he always went first to the synagogue to preach.  In Romans 9-11, Paul argues that God has kept his promise to Israel by saving a remnant.

For Luke, Jesus was an entirely Jewish messiah and the gospel was entirely Jewish in its roots.  Luke never stated that the church replaced Israel.  Rather, it was his contention that the Gentiles were grafter into the people of God, no longer on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion or geography, but by the grace of Jesus Christ (Acts 15:11).

  1. How should a Christian church with Jewish roots look in our modern world?
  2. What elements of the early church’s Jewish identity do you think are missing from the modern church?
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