Acts + Letters Lesson 27 Day 4

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Acts 28:1-10

Jesus said, “These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new languages; they will take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it will in no way hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:17-18

9. Everyone safely reached the shore of Malta.

Once everyone was accounted for, Paul soon established a reputation among the people who showed them extraordinary kindness.

While helping gather sticks for the fire, a poisonous snake latched onto Paul’s hand with its fangs. When the natives saw this, they assumed he was a murderer and expected him to die. The word “Justice” refers to the Greek goddess of justice, Dikee. The natives probably knew Paul was a prisoner and assumed the goddess wouldn’t let him escape punishment.1

It’s interesting that Paul gathered brushwood for the fire. As a second generation Pharisee, a second generation Roman citizen, and not as well suited for it as some others, serving the other 276 other wet and cold passengers would not be expected. Yet he humbled himself and served them.

Second, he didn’t get mad at God at any point during this ordeal, not even when the snake bit him. He just shook it off into the fire like it was no big deal. As Jesus said, “They will take up serpents . . . it will in no way hurt them.” (Mark 16:17

When Paul suffered no ill effects from the venom, the superstitious people went to the other extreme and thought he must be a god. 

A similar thing happened to Paul in Acts 14. Paul and Barnabas healed a lame man, and the people thought they were gods. They even tried to sacrifice to them (Acts 14:11-13). Of course, Paul stopped them and witnessed to them about the one true God. But in just a matter of days, the same people stoned Paul and left him for dead. Paul had seen before how quickly a mob’s mood could change.2

10. Paul heals the sick and God provides.

In Mark 16:18 Jesus also said, “They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 

Publius, the leading citizen of the island, lived nearby. Luke writes, “Publius . . . received us and courteously entertained us for three days.” It’s assumed that “us” refers to Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus. What a blessing to be refreshed by the local dignitary after the misery of the previous two weeks at sea.1

The father of Publius was very sick. “Paul visited him and after prayer laid his hands on him and healed him.3 (v. 8 )

Some think this was a malady known as Malta fever, which comes from a microorganism found in the milk of Maltese goats. Its symptoms usually last about four months.1

After that all the other sick people on the island came forward and were [healed] cured.”3 (v. 9) 

According to Guzik,

This word for healed is not the customary word for a miraculous healing. The word more literally means, “to receive medical attention.” It may be that Luke (who was a physician according to Colossians 4:14) served as a medical missionary on Malta.1

The people were so grateful for their ministry that Luke wrote, “when we sailed, they put on board the things that we needed.” 

11. Personal challenge

During the current COVID 19 crisis, I’m challenged by this passage.

We’re all facing an unexpected event and a change of plans.

Paul trusted God completely. The sick father probably didn’t have a contagious disease, but Paul didn’t know that for sure unless God revealed it to him. Or perhaps Luke knew. Regardless, Paul went willingly, and God backed him up.

Paul wasn’t afraid of the poisonous snake either.

Lord, help my unbelief.

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2 AWM Living Commentary
3 Phillips translation.

Unless noted, all Scripture from public domain WEB translation.

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