We have come to the end of another book, and Acts 28 finally brings Paul to Rome. Specifically, he met with the Jewish people of Rome, and he spoke to them about Jesus Christ. Some listened to him, and others did not, but it is important to recognize that the discussions did not seem to end when the people left Paul’s house where he was under house arrest.
Act 28:25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,
Act 28:26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:
Act 28:27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Act 28:28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.
This is undoubtedly a controversial statement. It must not have made the Jewish people happy. However, going back to verse 24, it is clear that there was disagreement. Some believed him, and others did not. Some were ready to follow Jesus, and others were not.
I think about the value of discussion. I think about how these people clearly had a difference of opinion, but they were still able to have a conversation and civilly disagree. It seems to be the case that perhaps we are losing that ability. Part of me thinks that perhaps it is largely a technological development. It is easier to rant and rave when the other person is not someone that you know and ideally want to maintain a civil relationship with. When you yell at someone on the Internet, you will probably never meet them in person.
Whatever the reason, it seems to be the case that we can learn from Paul. Some agreed, some didn’t, but the discussions continued.
Politics were important even in Israel 2000 years ago. In Acts 25, Paul was standing before Festus, and there were pretty high stakes for Paul.
Act 25:9 But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?
Act 25:10 Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.
Act 25:11 For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.
Paul understood the legal system. He knew that if he went back to Jerusalem, it would be nothing more than a show trial. He also knew that he did not do anything wrong, so he wanted justice to be done as well as to fulfill the previous prophecy that he would go to Rome. Festus might have been willing to humor the Jewish people for some reason, but Paul knew what he was allowed to do.
Taking this into modern society, there are still governments. We don’t live in anarchy. It seems to me then that we need to be as aware as Paul was. He knew the reality that was around him, and he knew how the government worked. He knew he could appeal, and he exercised that right because he saw the political implications of not doing so.
Obviously, I know that many people are not interested in politics or government. However, I think that one thing we can see from Paul here is that he at least knew and understood the situation he was in and how to make the best of it. As we saw earlier, he understood he had to go to Rome. He was able to utilize even the governmental structure at the time to advance the mission.
What is our job on earth? We are to glorify God in all that we do. If we can do that by working through government, then there’s no problem.