THE “ENDING” OF ACTS
Lord, make me a player in what You are doing.
Read ACTS 28:17–31
Paul Preaches at Rome Under Guard
17 Three days later he called together the local Jewish leaders. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. 18 They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death. 19 The Jews objected, so I was compelled to make an appeal to Caesar. I certainly did not intend to bring any charge against my own people. 20 For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.”
21 They replied, “We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of our people who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you. 22 But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.”
23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. 24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. 25 They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet:
26 “‘Go to this people and say,
“You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”
27 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’[a]
28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”  [b]
30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!
a Acts 28:27 Isaiah 6:9,10 (see Septuagint)
b Acts 28:29 Some manuscripts include here After he said this, the Jews left, arguing vigorously among themselves.
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.
“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning” (Winston Churchill, 1874–1965).
After nearly three years of captivity and trials, Paul the missionary-prisoner finally arrives at the power center of the Roman Empire. This epic narrative ends on a triumphant note, depicting Paul preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus unhindered and with all boldness (31). Even under house arrest in Rome, Paul is portrayed as the ideal missionary-prisoner, worthy of being emulated by subsequent generations of readers. The following sentiment summarizes the final part of Acts: opposition is unavoidable, but a follower of Christ can still overcome these difficulties and be an effective messenger of the Gospel.
Many have noted the unsatisfying way Acts ends. In fact, it doesn’t really end. It simply stops. After promising a titanic confrontation with Caesar, nothing noteworthy materializes. We don’t even know what happens to Paul—does he die in Rome, or is he released? I believe this is an intentional literary device on Luke’s part. By not ending the narrative, he is communicating that the story hasn’t actually ended. After all, Rome is the center of the Mediterranean world, not “the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The mission is unfinished. The effect of this is to place the baton in the hands of his readers, saying, “over to you now; participate in the continuation of this great story that is changing the world.” The ending of Acts draws us in and compels us to follow in the footsteps of people like Peter and Paul, playing our part in God’s worldwide mission. The job isn’t finished, so the story doesn’t finish: it’s our turn now.
Lord, show me my part in the unfolding of Your plans, inspire me by Paul’s example and fill me with Your Spirit and power to proclaim Your love and grace.
Lord, we fully understand the demands of the Great Commission and that the work is ongoing and will not be finished until You return.
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