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Lesson 13: Journey to Rome *

Introduction: Paul appealed to Rome! We learned last week that Paul would have been found "not guilty" of the criminal charges against him - or so the judges said privately to each other. But, Paul was concerned that he would be turned over to the Jews, and so he appealed to Caesar in Rome. My clients often find that the judicial system is a lot slower than they expected. Paul learns that same lesson. This week we discover Paul's travel delays in the next phase of his litigation. Let's dig into our Bible and learn more!

  1. Setting Sail


    1. Read Acts 27:1-2. Our text says "Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us." Who is the "us?" (Since Luke wrote Acts, it must refer to at least Luke and Paul.)


      1. Who is in charge of the prisoner transport? (A centurion named Julius.)


    2. Read Acts 27:3. What is the attitude of the centurion towards Paul? (He is kind to him. What a blessing.)


    3. Let's skip down to Acts 27:9-12 and read it. Whose counsel would you take? The advice of a prisoner preacher, or the advice of the captain of the ship?


    4. Read Acts 27:14-20. Have you had the experience of giving the right advice to a group which did not take it? And, when they refused your advice, did it got you into serious trouble? (That is what Paul is experiencing. He might die.)


    5. Read Acts 27:21. Is Paul a "I told you so," kind of guy? (He is here. But, I think Paul has a motive other than showing he was right and they were wrong.)


    6. Read Acts 27:22-26. Would you believe Paul if you were one of the group?


      1. Why do you think Paul tells them what he knows? (It should encourage everyone. In addition, it will encourage them to believe in Jesus, who is Paul's God.)


    7. Read Acts 27:29-32. Who believes Paul and who does not believe him? (We can see here that Julius and the Roman soldiers are convinced. The sailors are not. The fact that the sailors are trying to save themselves at the expense of the others shows their flawed characters.)


    8. Read Acts 27:33-37. What is the deeper meaning of the crew throwing the grain into the sea? (They are convinced they will not need to eat on board the ship again. Thus, it appears that all now believe Paul. However, with regard to the sailors, it might merely be that they believe they will run aground.)


    9. Read Acts 27:41-43. Do the soldiers now disbelieve Paul? (Paul said that everyone would survive. However, he appeared to be talking about the storm. He did not say anything about running away later - except for himself. He said he would stand trial before Caesar. Thankfully, the centurion believes Paul and saves him.)


  2. On Land at Malta


    1. Read Acts 28:1-6. How much time elapsed between the people thinking Paul was a murderer and thinking he was a god?


      1. What does this tell us about our religious freedom? (People can change their minds quickly.)


      2. What does this teach us about evangelism? (People can reach the wrong conclusions.)


      3. Read Mark 16:17-18. When the text says, "pick up snakes with their hands," is it talking about deliberate risks or is Jesus talking about Paul's situation? (All of these signs are helpful tools for missionaries. I think Jesus is talking about Paul's situation.)


    2. Read Acts 28:7. Why would this happen? Paul is a prisoner of Rome headed for trial? Why would the chief official of the island welcome him into his home?


    3. Read Acts 28:8-10. Paul cures all of the sick people. In the past, when we read of these kinds of miracles, Luke often notes that a large number of people are converted. Why are there no conversions reported? The people already think Paul is a god, so it should not be hard. (Perhaps this was not reported. Perhaps the people were not yet ready to believe.)


  3. Rome


    1. Read Acts 28:13-15. Paul finally arrives in Rome. Why do you think Paul is encouraged by this meeting with fellow Christians? (They have not forgotten or abandoned him. Instead, they traveled some distance just to see him. They want to be with Paul.)


    2. Read Acts 28:16. Do you think this is normal? Paul not only gets to live by himself, but he only has one soldier. Peter, as recounted in Acts 12, could not be restrained when chained in a inner prison cell, and guarded by many soldiers!(This is not normal. No doubt Governor Festus wrote that he thought Paul was innocent.)


    3. Read Acts 28:17-20. Why would the Jewish leaders want to come to a meeting called by Paul? Why would they think it important enough to take their time? (I suspect there were a limited number of Jews in Rome. The community would have an interest in a Jewish prisoner who is highly educated and has an unusual "prison" situation.)


      1. How does Paul characterize the charges against him? (As theological. "It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.")


    4. Read Acts 28:21-22. The Jewish leaders have not heard anything about Paul, but they have heard that Christians are a problem. If you were Paul, would this good or bad news?


    5. Read Acts 28:23. Paul draws a crowd. What is his approach in trying to convince this group? (He argues based on what they already know.)


    6. Read Acts 28:24-26. Is Paul insulting them? (Once again, he argues based on what they already know. He reminds them that their ancestors were warned about not believing.)


    7. Read Acts 28:27. How could this statement of Isaiah apply? How are their hearts calloused? They have not heard of Paul before, but they are willing to come to hear him. (The "callous" is not from rejecting the gospel message repeatedly, but rather from being content with their current beliefs. We must be sensitive to the continued leading of the Holy Spirit.)


    8. Read Acts 28:28. This has to be insulting to the Jews. Should we evangelize with insults? (Paul did not start out with insults. But, the reference to their ancestors refusing to listen is likely insulting, and the statement that the Gentiles will do better is insulting!)


      1. What is Paul's goal with his insults? (He wants to move them from complacency. He wants to break through their calloused hearts.)


    9. Read Acts 28:30-31. What about his appeal to Caesar? What about his trial? Why are we left up in the air about the conclusion? Or, is this a conclusion? (We do not read about the trial and how it turned out. But, we do have a conclusion in some sense. Paul's life is not going the way he wants. He is restrained by the government. Yet, Paul continues to "boldly" preach the gospel. This is a conclusion that applies to those of us who face difficulty.)


    10. Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8. What does Paul anticipate will be his future? (He believes that the time for his death has come, but the Bible never specifically tells us about his death. The writings of Eusebius report us that Paul was beheaded during the reign of Roman Emperor Nero. Nero blamed the burning of Rome on the Christians.)


      1. Do you foresee a time when calamities beset the world and it blames Christians for it?


    11. Friend, will you ask the Holy Spirit to help you be like Paul - to keep your courage and continue to preach the gospel even when the forces of evil are making things difficult for you?


  4. Next week: We begin a new series about unity in the church called "Oneness in Christ."
* Copr. 2018, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2018 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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