28 1Once everyone was accounted for and we realized we had all made it, we learned that we were on the island of Malta. 2The natives went out of their way to be friendly to us. The day was rainy and cold and we were already soaked to the bone, but they built a huge bonfire and gathered us around it. 3Paul pitched in and helped. He had gathered up a bundle of sticks, but when he put it on the fire, a venomous snake, roused from its torpor by the heat, struck his hand and held on. 4Seeing the snake hanging from Paul’s hand like that, the natives jumped to the conclusion that he was a murderer getting his just deserts. 5Paul shook the snake off into the fire, none the worse for wear. 6They kept expecting him to drop dead, but when it was obvious he wasn’t going to, they jumped to the conclusion that he was a god! 7The head man in that part of the island was Publius. He took us into his home as his guests, drying us out and putting us up in fine style for the next three days. 8Publius’s father was sick at the time, down with a high fever and dysentery. Paul went to the old man’s room, and when he laid hands on him and prayed, the man was healed. 9Word of the healing got around fast, and soon everyone on the island who was sick came and got healed. Rome 10We spent a wonderful three months on Malta. They treated us royally, took care of all our needs and outfitted us for the rest of the journey. 11When an Egyptian ship that had wintered there in the harbor prepared to leave for Italy, we got on board. The ship had a carved Gemini for its figurehead: “the Heavenly Twins.” 12We put in at Syracuse for three days 13and then went up the coast to Rhegium. Two days later, with the wind out of the south, we sailed into the Bay of Naples. 14We found Christian friends there and stayed with them for a week. And then we came to Rome. 15Friends in Rome heard we were on the way and came out to meet us. One group got as far as Appian Court; another group met us at Three Taverns—emotion–packed meetings, as you can well imagine. Paul, brimming over with praise, led us in prayers of thanksgiving. 16When we actually entered Rome, they let Paul live in his own private quarters with a soldier who had been assigned to guard him. 17Three days later, Paul called the Jewish leaders together for a meeting at his house. He said, “The Jews in Jerusalem arrested me on trumped–up charges, and I was taken into custody by the Romans. I assure you that I did absolutely nothing against Jewish laws or Jewish customs. 18After the Romans investigated the charges and found there was nothing to them, they wanted to set me free, 19but the Jews objected so fiercely that I was forced to appeal to Caesar. I did this not to accuse them of any wrongdoing or to get our people in trouble with Rome. We’ve had enough trouble through the years that way. 20I did it for Israel. I asked you to come and listen to me today to make it clear that I’m on Israel’s side, not against her. I’m a hostage here for hope, not doom.” 21They said, “Nobody wrote warning us about you. And no one has shown up saying anything bad about you. 22But we would like very much to hear more. The only thing we know about this Christian sect is that nobody seems to have anything good to say about it.” 23They agreed on a time. When the day arrived, they came back to his home with a number of their friends. Paul talked to them all day, from morning to evening, explaining everything involved in the kingdom of God, and trying to persuade them all about Jesus by pointing out what Moses and the prophets had written about him. 24Some of them were persuaded by what he said, but others refused to believe a word of it. 25When the unbelievers got cantankerous and started bickering with each other, Paul interrupted: “I have just one more thing to say to you. The Holy Spirit sure knew what he was talking about when he addressed our ancestors through Isaiah the prophet: 26Go to this people and tell them this: “You’re going to listen with your ears, but you won’t hear a word; You’re going to stare with your eyes, but you won’t see a thing. 27These people are blockheads! They stick their fingers in their ears so they won’t have to listen; They screw their eyes shut so they won’t have to look, so they won’t have to deal with me face–to–face and let me heal them.” 28“You’ve had your chance. The non–Jewish outsiders are next on the list. And believe me, they’re going to receive it with open arms!”29 30Paul lived for two years in his rented house. He welcomed everyone who came to visit. 31He urgently presented all matters of the kingdom of God. He explained everything about Jesus Christ. His door was always open.
The Message® / © 2002 Eugene H. Peterson About