Paul Calls the Jewish Leaders to His Home Detention
When we arrived in Rome, Paul was permitted to have his own private lodging, though he was guarded by a soldier.
Three days after Paul’s arrival, he called together the local Jewish leaders. He said to them, “Brothers, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Roman government, even though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors. The Romans tried me and wanted to release me, because they found no cause for the death sentence. But when the Jewish leaders protested the decision, I felt it necessary to appeal to Caesar, even though I had no desire to press charges against my own people.”
“I asked you to come here today so we could get acquainted and so I could explain to you that I am bound with this chain because I believe that the hope of Israel—the Messiah—has already come.”
They replied, “We have had no letters from Judea or reports against you from anyone who has come here. But we want to hear what you believe, for the only thing we know about this movement is that it is denounced everywhere.”
So a time was set, and on that day a large number of people came to Paul’s lodging. He explained and testified about the Kingdom of God and tried to persuade them about Jesus from the Scriptures. Using the law of Moses and the books of the prophets, he spoke to them from morning until evening. Some were persuaded by the things he said, but others did not believe. And after they had argued back and forth among themselves, they left with this final word from Paul: “The Holy Spirit was right when he said to your ancestors through Isaiah the prophet, ‘Go and say to this people: When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’ So I want you to know that this salvation from God has also been offered to the Gentiles, and they will accept it.”
For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense. He welcomed all who visited him, boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him.Acts 28:16-31
- Why is Paul meeting with the Jews again after having so much trouble with them?
- He is an apostle to the Gentiles, why doesn’t he go to the Gentiles?
- How many Jewish leaders were there Ian?
- How can Paul have done anything wrong to the leaders in Rome when he has only just met them?
- How can these Jews have already heard about Christianity?
- Why do these Jews have exactly the same reaction as all the other Jews? It is like it is a national trait.
It is curious isn’t it that Paul returns to his default mode, to the Jew first and also the Greek (Gentiles)? So he calls for the leaders of the synagogues in Rome to come to the house where he is serving his sentence. He can’t go to them but he asks them to come to him. He knows the believers in Rome by name, he has had the privilege of a large group of the Christian brothers and sisters come out to the market place on the Appian Way and to the Three Taverns to greet him on his way into the city. Yet only three days after his arrival he spends time with the Jewish leaders.
- Why did he call the Jewish leaders and how long did he persevere with them?
You could read this last section and think that Paul abandoned the Christian brothers who had come to see him on the road into Rome and spent his last two years meeting on-goingly with the Jewish leaders. But that doesn’t fit the words with which Luke concludes. “For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense. He welcomed all who visited him, boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him.”
It is like Paul was living out the anguish he expressed at the beginning of Romans 9. He had such a deep burden for his fellow Jews that despite the fact God has reaffirmed to him over and over that he was to be an apostle to the Gentiles he tried again to build bridges to the Jews of Rome. Once again Paul makes overtures to the synagogues of the city he is now in. In answer to the question above we don’t know how many leaders came to the house he was in. Luke doesn’t tell us that fact. He simply tells us that all the Jewish leaders who would come gathered at the house.
Whereupon Paul makes it clear what happened to him and why they were hearing rumours and reports about him. He wants to spell out to them the reason for the rumours they are hearing. No official report has come from the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. Rather unofficial rumours have spread far and wide. I don’t think Paul has done anything to upset the Jews of Rome specifically – How can Paul have done anything wrong to the leaders in Rome when he has only just met them? Rather the beef is with the officials (the High Priest and the elders of Israel) back in Jerusalem.
So Paul took a proactive approach in order to deal with the issue head on. He tells them straight out that he asked them to come on this particular day to explain why he is under house arrest and bound with the chain they can plainly see. He spelt out the events in Jerusalem and why he is now in the position he is. He tells yet another group of Jewish leaders that he has not done anything against the Jews as a people or against their cultural traditions. He was handed over to the Roman authorities by the Sanhedrin, and the Romans found no fault with him. It was the members of the Sanhedrin who laid the charge against him.
Paul’s words made it clear to the Jewish leaders in Rome that it was all because of the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem who laid false charges against him and no evidence was found to back it up. The Jewish leaders of Rome then said,“We have had no letters from Judea or reports against you from anyone who has come here.But we want to hear what you believe, for the only thing we know about this movement is that it is denounced everywhere.”
No rumours have circulated about Paul. But the only thing they had heard was about this sect that has grown up concerning the Nazarene (Jesus). Paul’s approach was conciliatory and he made it clear that he just wanted to get to know them, get acquainted, and explain why he was chained as he was. Paul has taken the initiative to go the Jewish leaders and explain himself in the hope that it will open the way to minister in Rome without Jewish opposition.
Now has come the time for us to examine Paul’s last speech as some of you are expecting. In fact we don’t need to examine the speech in great detail. The speech only contained the opening statements to their dialogue. The essence is contained in the words of verse 20: “I asked you to come here today so we could get acquainted and so I could explain to you that I am bound with this chain because I believe that the hope of Israel—the Messiah—has already come.”
Therein lies the issue they need to talk about. That is why Luke then writes in verse 23: “So a time was set, and on that day a large number of people came to Paul’s lodging. He explained and testified about the Kingdom of God and tried to persuade them about Jesus from the Scriptures. Using the law of Moses and the books of the prophets, he spoke to them from morning until evening.”
It is this we will turn to in the next Gem. See if you can work out what is going here. What is the ‘hope of Israel’? Therein lies the key to the tension which we will explore together.
Follow Paul’s example: Never apologize for showing your feelings. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.Ian Vail
I would rather let my heart be without words than my words be without heart.Anon
If we are not hated by someone, we don’t know enough people, or we don’t speak enough truth.John Piper
Remember you’re a W.I.P. – a work-in-progress!Bob Gass
Get in touch with the Prince of Peace this Christmas. It will be the best move you ever made.Ian Vail