The Focus on Jesus and the Gospel. Acts 28:17-22
“17) After three days Paul called together those who were the leading men of the Jews, and when they came together, he began saying to them, “Brethren, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18) And when they had examined me, they were willing to release me because there was no ground for putting me to death. 19) But when the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal to Caesar, not that I had any accusation against my nation. 20) For this reason, therefore, I requested to see you and to speak with you, for I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel.” 21) They said to him, “We have neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren come here and reported or spoken anything bad about you. 22) But we desire to hear from you what your views are; for concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere.”” Acts‬ ‭28‬:‭17‬-‭22‬
This text makes it clear that it was not Paul who was on trial, but rather the gospel itself. There were no charges sent against Paul. His only offense was being a Christian.
The meeting with the Jewish leaders in Rome was initiated by Paul. The Christian brethren knew he was on his way to Rome, but not the Jewish leaders. It must be observed, that the Orthodox Jews were themselves merely tolerated in Rome.
Paul wrote the Epistle of Romans from Corinth. A reading of Romans 1:7-17 records his desire to visit Rome. The gospel had spread there several years prior to his arrival. The gospel was in fact spread quickly through the whole known world within several decades.
It may well be that few of the other Apostles were left in Jerusalem by the time of Paul’s arrest in the temple. Thomas carried the gospel as far East as India. The others were preaching the gospel, but God appointed Paul to define and defend the gospel message.
A detailed reading of Philippians 1:7-21 and Galatians 1:6-3:14 shows that Paul was very conscious of this vital calling and mission. He was appointed by God to define and defend the pure gospel message.
Why did God send him to Rome? It was the seat of the Roman Empire that ruled much of the world at that time. From there, Paul’s writings and influence could spread quickly throughout the whole world.
This brief meeting with the Jewish leaders in Rome set the stage for Paul to become the official mouthpiece for Christianity throughout the entire Roman Empire and beyond. It should come as no surprise that his writings comprise over 1/3 of the New Testament. This is why God raised him up and called him. This is also why his story was featured by Luke in the last half of the book of Acts.
The book of Acts records the start of the Church by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Then it features the explosion of the gospel through Peter and the apostles among the Jewish people. The last half of the book features the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles. The book ends with detailed coverage of the defense and confirmation of the gospel message through the life and work of Paul.
The last chapter of the book of Acts is almost anti-climactical. It ends with all eyes on the gospel and not Paul. The New Testament is the story of Jesus Christ and the gospel and not Peter, Paul or any other person. All eyes are left focused on Jesus Christ.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global