Final Destination: Acts 28:11-16
“11) 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. 12) After we put in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. 13) From there we sailed around and arrived at Rhegium, and a day later a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. 14) There we found some brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days; and thus we came to Rome. 15) 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. 16) When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.” Acts‬ ‭28‬:‭11‬-‭16‬
After three months, it was time to set sail again. Getting on another ship was most likely accompanied with some anxiety. 2 Corinthians 11:25 records that Paul was shipwrecked three times. Gods grace is more than sufficient to help us overcome any fear, phobia or anxiety.
Each leg of the journey most likely brought new people across the path of the team. Though Luke records few details of their encounters on this final leg of the journey, it was most likely not obscure.
In Puteoli, they found some brethren and stayed with them seven days. The gospel was spreading and Christians were now scattered across the Roman Empire. These believers were most reached by others who had carried the gospel far and wide. In 1 Thessalonians 1:8 Paul mentions this phenomenon.
As Paul and Luke entered Rome, they were met by a Christian welcoming party. Some brethren met them as far out at the Market of Appius and more joined the procession at Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he rejoiced and took courage. God provided exactly what Paul needed to lift his spirit.
Never minimize the value of Christian fellowship. Go out of your way to welcome and celebrate other believers. It causes grace to abound and joy to overflow. Ironically, Paul found a bigger support network of Christians waiting for him in Rome than Jerusalem. He was abandoned by all as his ordeal began.
He also received strong support and commendation from the Roman soldiers. Verse 16 says, “Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.” The role of the soldier had changed from guarding a prisoner from escape to being the personal body guard of Paul. I have no doubt he had become a believer.
Paul mentions how the gospel had spread among the praetorian guard in Philippians 1:12-13. There is a much broader audience for the gospel than meets the eye. It includes those you casually rub shoulders with in your daily routine. It includes the clerk at your gas station, the waitress who serves your table and the teachers in your local public school.
In Matthew 5:43-44, Jesus taught His followers to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Why? The gospel can turn rough soldiers in to gentle body guards. In Acts 16:23-34 it turned a cruel jail keeper into a welcoming host. God wants the Agape love emanating from you and me to melt cold hearts, soften hard minds and straighten crooked roads. Jesus wants His people plant seeds, cultivate weeds and water growing plants.
This is done through consistent Agape love to those watching how we respond to both adversity and adversaries. Always build bridges of love and not walls of hate to those around you. They are your mission field. Help a rough Roman soldier by carrying his bags two miles rather than one. The greatest impact always happens in the second mile. (Read Matthew 5:38-42)
What God did through Paul on his journey to Rome was miraculous. His consistent and loving influence created a huge wake for the gospel.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global