When Paul Came to Rome

Text: Acts 28:16-17

Paul was forced to appeal to Caesar in order to be saved from the Jews who opposed him. When he came to Rome, the first thing Luke records him doing is calling the Jewish leaders to him. He wanted to explain why he was there and he wanted to teach them the gospel. In this lesson, we will consider some points taught to us at the close of the book of Acts.

The Hope of Israel

  • The Jewish leaders in Rome had not heard of Paul (v. 21) – if they had, it likely would have been a negative report (Acts 21:28); so Paul defends himself (v. 17-19)
  • He was not an enemy of Israel – he sincerely wanted them to be saved (Romans 10:1); so his custom was to go to a place & teach the Jews first (Acts 17:1-3)
  • His imprisonment was “for the sake of the hope of Israel” (v. 20; cf. Acts 26:6-7) – hope of the promise first made to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; 22:18)
  • The gospel provides hope for Abraham’s descendants (Galatians 3:26-29) – those who faithfully follow Christ

The Sect Spoken Against Everywhere

  • These Jewish leaders had not heard about Paul (v. 21) – but they had heard about “this sect” (v. 22)
  • The church was seen as a Jewish sect (Acts 24:5) – like the Sadducees or Pharisees (Acts 5:17; 15:5)
  • The church is seen in a similar light today – as just another denomination; though it is not (Matthew 16:18)
  • Rather than being “a sect,” the church is “the Way” (Acts 24:15)
  • People will speak against the church – we must be sure we’re committed to pleasing God first (Galatians 1:10)

Build Upon What People Already Know

  • When we attempt to teach people the gospel, where do we begin? … it depends on who we’re teaching
  • Obviously, getting them to the point of faithful obedience to Christ is the goal (Mark 16:15-16) – but the starting point may be different, depending on the student/audience
  • When Paul met with the Jews, he began with the OT Scriptures (Acts 28:23; 17:2-3) – Why? … they were familiar with these Scriptures & they would produce faith (Galatians 3:24; 2 Timothy 3:15)
  • When Paul taught a Gentile audience, he began with proof of God in nature (Acts 14:15-17; 17:24-28)

Not Everyone Will Believe

  • Initially, the Jews in Rome may have seemed like prime candidates for receiving the gospel message – they were interested in learning about the church & what Paul taught (v. 22); they knew the OT Scriptures (v. 23)
  • But only some believed; many did not (v. 24-27; Isaiah 6:9-10)
  • Knowing this will happen, we must resist the temptation to change the message (2 Timothy 4:2-5)

Make the Best of Your Circumstances

  • Paul had already traveled many places to preach – here he was stuck in Rome
  • He did not lament his circumstances or wait until his trial was over – he made the most of his opportunity & taught while in Rome (v. 30-31)
  • Our circumstances will be different from Paul’s & from one another’s – we need to make the most of the unique opportunities we have

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