Friday, August 27, 2010

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary

For Sunday August 29, 2010
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A BOLD WITNESS
(Be bold in your witness regardless of the outcome)
(Acts 28:16-31)

There is a great purpose for everything that is written in the Holy Scriptures, and the hand of the unseen, only wise GOD, is at the helm of it all. The door that was closed to CHRIST by the Jews is now the door that was opened to salvation for the Gentiles. Here in chapter 28, the book of Acts draws to a close with a loud shout of triumph as the gospel has now reached the center of the world of the first century, and is being freely proclaimed in the midst of the Roman Empire.
Three months after the shipwreck in which Paul and Luke had been involved in while they were prisoners traveling from Jerusalem to Rome on the Mediterranean Sea, they set sail on yet another ship that had wintered at the small, nearby island of Malta. It was a ship that had originated in Alexandria, Egypt, in northern Africa. The ship was said to have had “the twin gods” as its figurehead. They sailed from Malta to Syracuse, a city on the east coast of Sicily and there they docked for three days before moving on to Rhegium (now called Reggio) in southern Italy.
After spending the day in Rheguim, they hitched a ride on a south wind which carried them to a place called Puteoli, a seaport located on the northern shore of the bay of Naples. It is also the place where the city of Pozzuoli stands today. There they ran across a group of fellow believers who invited them to stay for seven days.
Puteoli was the final stop before arriving in Rome, and by then, all of the believers in Rome were aware of their coming. Upon arrival, many Christian brothers and sisters came to meet them at The Three Taverns, a well-known place that was located about 33 miles from the city, along the famous Roman road called the Appian Way. When they arrived in Rome, Paul was permitted to reside in his own private lodging, but he was still being guarded by a Roman soldier.
Three days after his arrival, Paul called an impromptu meeting with the local Jewish leaders. He informed them of his arrest in Jerusalem, where he was handed over to the Roman government, even though he had done nothing wrong against his fellow Jews, nor had he violated any of their customs. The Romans had tried him and found no cause for the death penalty, and thus, had to release him. However, the Jewish hierarchy protested the decision bitterly, and so Paul felt he had no choice but to appeal to Caesar, as he was also a Roman citizen (Acts 22:24-29).
And so, apparently, no accusations about Paul had been forwarded to the Jewish community in Rome from Jerusalem regarding Paul’s trial. Here in Acts 28:17-31, we see that Paul actually wants to meet with his people in Rome, not to complain about how he was treated in Jerusalem, but rather, he wanted to boldly preach the gospel of CHRIST to them, right in the heart of Rome, which at that time, was an extremely dangerous undertaking, and, he was also willing to do it while still a prisoner, bound in the chains of Christian persecution.
Paul wanted to express his deep concerns for his own people, and to also, share the same conviction that CHRIST had, to preach the gospel first, to the Jews. And like in JESUS’ effort, Paul’s presentation won very little positive response, and as a result, he felt released by the HOLY SPIRIT to concentrate on ministering boldly to the Gentiles in Rome.
Church history tells us that the Apostle Paul was eventually acquitted of these charges, on this occasion, and he went on to continue his ministry for a short time in other places. However, ultimately (approximately two years later) he returned to Rome, and at that time, he was re-arrested, convicted, and executed in close proximity to the Apostle’s Peter’s execution there in Rome, near the end of the reign of the Emperor Nero circa A.D. 68.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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