Preaching Christ without Hindrance

Tuesday: Two Meetings

Acts 28:17-31 In this week’s studies, we come to Luke’s final account of Paul’s life and ministry.
Two Meetings

The last verses of Acts describe two meetings the apostle Paul had with people in Rome. Three days after he arrived and got settled he called the leaders of the various Jewish communities in the city together. There were a number of synagogues in Rome at the time. The remains of some of them exist even today, so we know that there were at least three, and probably more than that. Paul got in touch with the leaders of these synagogues, because he wanted to explain why he was in Rome, what he had been charged with and why the accusations had been false. 

He made three points in his meeting with these leaders. 

1. He was not guilty of any offense against Israel (v. 17). Paul wanted that to be clear. It was true that charges had been brought against him by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, but he was not guilty of these or any other offenses. It was important for him to be able to say that to the Jewish leaders in the capital. 

2. The Romans had been ready to release him and actually wanted to release him (v. 18). They recognized that he had not committed any crime worthy of death. When Paul said this he was not merely repeating what he had said in the first statement. Initially, he said that he had not been guilty of any offense against his nation, but if he had, that in itself would not necessarily have been a crime from the Romans’ perspective. He could have offended the Jews religiously, for example, and the Romans would not have cared about that. But here he is talking about what the Romans would have considered a crime. In other words, he is making two points. He had done nothing against his people, and in addition to that he had done nothing that could offend the Romans. As a matter of fact, the Romans would have released him were it not for the objections of the Jewish leaders. 

3. He had not brought a counter charge against the Jewish leaders (v. 19). We can understand how that might have been done since it is a standard legal maneuver today. If somebody sues you, you counter sue immediately because you want to show that the other party is the guilty one, rather than yourself. 

Paul says that he did not do this. He had not brought any charges against his own people. 

After Paul had made this presentation to the leading Jews of Rome, the leaders were most discreet. On the one hand, they denied that they had heard anything about his case. It is hard to believe that this was true, but it must have been since they would have had no reason for lying. It may have been that the Jerusalem authorities, assuming that Paul would probably be released by the Romans in Rome and being content that at least he was now out of their hair, simply did not pursue him with their charges. But whatever the explanation may be, the Jewish leaders in Rome maintained, no doubt honestly, that they did not know anything about Paul’s case. On the other hand, they said, “We have heard something about the sect of the Nazarene, and we must tell you, quite frankly, that what we have heard is not good.” 

“Well,” said Paul, since this is what he was leading up to anyway, “why don’t we all get together some time, and I will explain my teaching?” These men agreed to do so. They were serious in this. They were responsible and distinguished leaders, and they recognized that it was their duty to hear, examine, and make a judgment about Christianity. They gave proof of their sincerity by fixing a date for the larger meeting. 

More people came to this second meeting; that is, not only the leaders themselves, but others who were distinguished in some way, or perhaps even lay people from the various synagogues and Jewish communities in the city who were interested.

Study Questions
  1. Why did Paul call together the Jewish leaders of Rome? What did he tell them?
  2. How did the Jewish leaders demonstrate their responsibility? What can church leaders today learn from this?

Prayer: Pray for opportunities to share the Gospel, and the wisdom to recognize and make good use of the opportunities provided.

For Further Study: Download for free and listen to Alistair Begg’s message, “The Preaching of the Cross.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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