SIGNS AND WONDERS
Lord, thank You for putting helpful people in my path.
Read ACTS 28:1–16
Paul Ashore on Malta
28 Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. 3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.
7 There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. 8 His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. 9 When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. 10 They honored us in many ways; and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.
Paul’s Arrival at Rome
11 After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island—it was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux. 12 We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days. 13 From there we set sail and arrived at Rhegium. The next day the south wind came up, and on the following day we reached Puteoli. 14 There we found some brothers and sisters who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome. 15 The brothers and sisters there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these people Paul thanked God and was encouraged. 16 When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“… not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Cor. 2:4,5).
When the travelers were all safely ashore, they discovered that they had been shipwrecked on Malta. Here another supernatural missionary episode occurs. Paul survives the bite of a poisonous viper, and this creates quite a reputation for him on the island. Publius, the chief official of the island, welcomes them into his wealthy estate for three days. Paul prays for Publius’s sick father, who is instantly healed, and this leads to an unexpected explosion of miracles on Malta, as the rest of the sick on the island approach Paul and are cured.
In Acts, supernatural signs and wonders confirm the Gospel and validate the message. Paul almost certainly would have explained the Gospel to the island people as he prayed for them—and the text implies that he enjoyed dramatic missionary success on Malta. The islanders generously provide what they need to travel onwards to Rome, and this sharing of goods is another sign in Acts of sharing in the Good News. The Malta episode illustrates many of the missionary strategies that can be seen throughout Paul’s missionary journeys in Acts, such as (1) getting to meet a person of influence (Publius) who, by extending hospitality to Paul, explicitly endorses both Paul and his message; and (2) performing miracles to assist in spreading the message and validating Paul’s ministry. After three months, Luke implies, the whole population of Malta is affected by Paul’s presence there.
Miraculous signs and wonders are one of the most consistent themes of Acts; they regularly validate the message being preached. This lines up well with Paul’s claim later on to the Corinthians that he came to them in demonstration of the Spirit’s power, not with wise and persuasive words (1 Cor. 2:1–5).
The same Spirit is moving powerfully today. A supernatural healing or miracle can dramatically open people to God’s love. Ask God for chances to pray for the sick today.
Lord, use each and every one of us to pray for the sick. If it be Your will, validate our message with healings, like You did in the days of Paul.
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