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Acts 28:11-16 by Robert Dean
Who wouldn't like an all-expense paid trip to take you to fulfill your God-given destiny? Listen to this lesson to hear the gripping story of how God was true to His promise to Paul and he was transported as a prisoner on an adrenaline-charged journey to Rome. Marvel at how the intricate details recorded in Acts point out the accuracy of the Word of God. Learn about the faithfulness of God throughout the Word of God. Take time to see the treasure house of promises of God's faithfulness that we can memorize and use when we face difficulties.
Series:Acts (2010)
Duration:57 mins 3 secs

God's Faithfulness
Acts 28:11-16

Acts 28:8 NASB "And it happened that the father of Publius was lying {in bed} afflicted with {recurrent} fever and dysentery; and Paul went in {to see} him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him." This is roughly AD 60, and this is probably the last time historically that we see a positive reference to healing in the apostolic period. Paul will write from prison in Rome about a year later when he writes to the church at Philippi and he talks about Trophemus and others, Timothy later on, and in these epistles there is no reference of any kind to miraculous healing. There are references to illnesses that individuals have but there is no any reference to miraculous healing. So these sign gifts are beginning to die out towards the end of this period.

Acts 28:9 NASB "After this had happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured." Luke draws a lot of parallels like this to events that happened in the life of Christ. We went through it a little bit when we were going through the opposition to Paul by the Jewish community in Jerusalem and comparing that and the opposition and trial of Paul by the Jews to the opposition to the Lord Jesus Christ. What Luke is doing is connecting these two: that just as Jesus was rejected and suffered He warned His disciples that they, too, would be rejected and suffer in the same way. So we see this rejection with Paul, not only in terms of the rejection and suffering but also in terms of imitating the ministry of Christ as His representative as an apostle.  

Acts 28:10 NASB "They also honored us with many marks of respect; and when we were setting sail, they supplied {us} with all we needed." The word "honored" here is the Greek word time [pronounced timay], which also communicates not just giving somebody respect but also providing gifts and perhaps finances. So the people took care of them. The word is used also in 1 Timothy chapter four in relationship to the pay of elders. The elder who teaches well or rules well is worthy of double honor. That doesn't mean just double respect. It is Paul's way of saying they should get double the salary because they are serving the Lord in a very significant way.

Acts 28:11 NASB "At the end of three months we set sail on an Alexandrian ship which had wintered at the island, and which had the Twin Brothers for its figurehead."

From here to verse 16 we are basically going to get a travelogue, and Paul fills in some specific details. It is important to note things like this because a) we have a human author that is present and this shows us that he is writing a certain amount of detail here to give us the sense that he is actually there. He is writing an eyewitness account; he is not just speaking in generalities using his imagination about what a voyage would be like. He was actually there and so he cam fill in with these details. And b) the other question we should ask is: why does the Holy Spirit care that we know these details? Because if we believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture and the verbal, plenary inspiration of Scripture, then everything in Scripture has a point and a purpose. So why is it necessary for us spiritually to know these kinds of details? It is details like this that enhance our respect and trust in the Word of God, and that this isn't just something written by someone who is making it up. It is indicating a first hand account, an eyewitness account, and there are other little aspects of these details that come out that may be a little bit amusing.

Earlier in Acts God had made two promises to Paul. He had said that he was a chosen vessel to take His name before Gentiles and kings as well as the children of Israel. That occurred right after Paul's salvation. In Acts 23:11 the Lord appeared to him at night and told him that he would also bear witness of Him in Rome. These were specific promises that God gave Paul. In spite of all the chaos and all the things that might create uncertainty in our minds as to whether or not God was still paying attention Paul had a promise from God that he would end up in Rome. He could rely upon that and trust in that. God is working out His plan, He is in charge, and the same thing is true for each of us. God is just as much in charge of the details of our lives as the details of the apostle Paul, no matter how chaotic, how disruptive, how out of control things may appear to us. So God is working in our lives to teach us to trust in Him.

" … which had the Twin Brothers for its figurehead." Why in the world would that be included in the text of Scripture? Who are the Twin Brothers? They are known by the Greek noun dioskourois. They are Castor and Pollux, the twin sons of Zeus. They are known as the Gemini twins and they are in the zodiac. There were a number of statues of them in the ancient world. But what made them significant was they were the patron gods of sailors to provide protection. So Like, sort of with tongue-in-cheek makes the observation that Julius, the centurion in charge, made sure he added a little extra protection for them on this route and the figurehead on the ship was Castor and Pollux. Basically, in our language we would say he went and got a new rabbit's foot to make sure we got there safely. Luke is poking fun at them.

Acts 28:12 NASB "After we put in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days." This was the main port of Sicily. What is interesting is what is not said here. When we get to Paul's final destiny at Puteoli there is a church there. And whenever there is a group of Christians or Jews present Paul always seems to find them and talk about them. Nothing like that is said about the stop in Syracuse. 

Acts 28:13 NASB "From there we sailed around* and arrived at Rhegium, and a day later a south wind sprang up, and on e second day we came to Puteoli."

*The KJV and NKJV have "circled around" and is a better translation than the NASB. The word PERIELTHONTES has the idea of going around and is in the majority of MSS along with three of the more ancient MSS. So that is a much superior reading.

So they left there and came to Rhegium which is on the toe of the boot of Italy. They had to wait there a day for the wind to shift to make it through the Straights of Messina, then north to Puteoli on the Bay of Naples.

Acts 28:14 NASB "There we found {some} brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days; and thus we came to Rome." Here Luke is using the term brethren to speak of other believers. He will use the term brethren when he addresses the Jewish leaders of the synagogues in Rome [v. 17] but the context there indicates that he is speaking ethnically, not spiritually. The churches here and in Rome predated Paul and Peter. They were founded by others other than the apostles. 

Acts 28:15 NASB "And the brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us; and when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage."

Acts 28:16   NASB "When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him."

Paul is going to rent his own quarters. The Christian community in Rome supplied his financial needs. He is under house arrest but he has relative freedom there where anyone could visit him. So God was true to His promise that He would bring Paul to Rome.

What we learn from this spiritually is an example of God's faithfulness. This has been a long, detailed episode that Luke has given us but it is to remind us that God is true to His promises and that no matter how difficult things might appear He is always faithful.

The doctrine of the faithfulness of God

In the Old Testament we have a word for faithfulness that is related to the word AMEN. It is a verb that has a meaning related to belief, and in other forms it relates to faithfulness. In some forms of the word it was used to describe the foundation stone of the pillars of the Solomonic temple. So the core idea in the word has to do with stability, with that which doesn't shift or change, and so it has come to mean faithfulness. AMEN as a firm comes to mean to confirm something, to support it, to hold it, to be established or be faithful. The noun for means to be faithful or trusting. And another form means faithfulness. 

In the New Testament the adjective that is used for faithfulness is PISTOS, indicating that God is faithful or trustworthy. He is worthy of our faith, out trust. We can depend upon Him because He will never fail us. The root idea in defining faithfulness is the idea of something that is firm, stable, unshakeable or immovable. This is the idea of faithfulness. God is immovable; He is the same yesterday, today and forever and we can always rely upon Him.

His faithfulness in the Old Testament is related to covenants. Deuteronomy 7:9 NASB "Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments". His covenant faithfulness is usually expressed by the word chesed which indicates His loyal love. He is always loyal to His covenant. Psalm 36: NASB "Your lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness {reaches} to the skies". This is a dramatic way of expressing the infinity of God's faithfulness. You can't measure it; it is boundless. Psalm 89:1 NASB "I will sing of the lovingkindness of the LORD forever; To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth". Lamentations 3:22, 23 NASB "The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. {They} are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness".

The New Testament states at least three times that God is faithful. There are others ways in which that is expressed but these straight out statements that God is faithful are found in 1 Corinthians 1:9 NASB "God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord". This relates to the doctrine of eternal security, that God is going to complete what He began. He will complete the process of salvation.

1 Corinthians 10:13 reminds us that God is faithful in the midst of trials and difficulty: NASB "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it". God will not allow us to be tested beyond our ability. That doesn't mean He removes it but He has provided the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to enable us to face any testing. 

2 Corinthians 1:18 NASB "But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no". 

1 John 1:9 NASB "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness".

So in terms of the definition divine faithfulness is God's perfect consistency with His character and promises. When He says it He will do it. He may not do it like we think He will do it or in the time that he will do it, but God is going to fulfill His promise perfectly. His faithfulness is always related to other aspects of His character—to His righteousness, to His justice, to His love, and to truth. That means that He is the only dependable reality.

He is faithful to His promises. Hebrews 10:23 NASB "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful".  He will always fulfill his promises. So we need to learn the faith-rest drill. We need to learn to mix our faith with the promises of God in His Word.

He is faithful to us when we fail. 1 John 1:9.

God's faithfulness is a divine protection for the believer in times of trouble. He is our rock, our shield, our strong tower.  In Psalm 91:4 it is the idea of an eagle, a bird protecting its young. NASB "He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark."