Acts 28:17-31, Psalm 41


When Jesus told the first apostles that they would be his witnesses in “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8), Paul wasn't present. Without a doubt, some of those apostle would go to places far beyond where Jesus traveled during his 33 or so years on earth. No place, however, would represent power more than the city where Paul is staying as the book of Acts ends. Rome was where Caesar, the ruler of what many argue is still the most powerful empire relative to contemporaries the world has ever seen. But Rome was not only the seat of the pinnacle of political and military power. Commerce, innovation, and education were concentrated in this great city. Paul has seen many great opportunities to bear witness about meeting Jesus, but none from a human perspective compare to this opportunity in Rome. Like usual, in this great city Paul addresses a Jewish audience first. Also like in other cities, some Jews believe that God's chosen messiah came without the expected fanfare and overthrow of the presiding Roman Empire, and in a shocking turn died the most unthinkable death, on a cross, only to be vindicated by being the first in the great resurrection to be declared righteous by God. So some Roman Jews become followers of Jesus However many more Jews seem to reject Paul as revealed by this guarantee, “Therefore I want you to know that God's salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen.” (Acts 28:28) Paul is part of bearing witness to Jesus in places far beyond Jerusalem. Acts finishes with Paul's hope that a great number of Gentiles will come to faith. Paul will be proven right after his death, for in the second century there will be almost as many Gentile Christians as Jewish. By the third century, Christianity becomes a majority Gentile religion. Jesus' promise to the first apostles that they would be witnesses throughout the world likely seemed incredible when Jesus left them on earth with a simple promise of the Spirit. Jesus knew the power of the Spirit for those first apostles, and that same Spirit intends to continue to make us witnesses in the earth. For Jesus is still our risen King, and we know this because His Spirit lives inside of us. Jesus is still making us His witnesses.