I asked yesterday, why Paul was so bent on getting to Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire.

Was this to make him famous?  To expand his personal influence?  No, it was to expand the influence of the gospel, the good news of Jesus.

Last week, we read a story where Paul had a hearing with King Agrippa, a local ruler, and tried to convert him on the spot.  He was waiting for a hearing with Caesar, the emperor, as well.  He had plans to see them become Christians, despite their high and normally inaccessible positions.

We skipped over lots of material to get to this week’s reading.  He’s been arrested, primarily for his protection against angry crowds.  He’d have been let go, since he hasn’t committed any crimes, but he appealed to Caesar, his right as a Roman citizen.  The Roman soldiers protecting him help him travel to Rome, but they are shipwrecked, and marooned on an island for some time.  They finally are able to travel to Rome after all these setbacks, and here’s how it all ends in Acts 28:

[16] And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him.

[17] After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. [18] When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. [19] But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation. [20] For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” 21] And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. [22] But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.

[23] When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. [24] And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. [25] And disagreeing among themselves, they departed…

(Acts 28:16-25 ESV)

He seems to think they’ll have heard his story already, and will be put off by the fact he was a Roman prisoner.  But they actually say right after this that they had no idea.   What they’re actually concerned about is Christianity itself!  They call it a sect, and have heard it causes nothing but trouble.

He then had an opportunity to speak to all of Rome’s Jewish leaders, but they actually rejected his message, save for a few exceptional people.

Thankfully there was already a church, a community of Christians gathered in Rome.  He wrote a letter to them before he arrived, that we find in the Bible called the Book of Romans, where he tries to articulate his teaching so they recognize him as a true teacher of the true good news of Jesus.

Question: Why did Paul go to his fellow Jews first?  Do you think they were prejudiced by the rumours?  How do you think it felt for him to be so summarily rejected?

Meeting with a Group?  Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide

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