Faithful Proclamation (Acts 28:17-31)

Faithful Proclamation (Acts 28:17-31)


Paul survived a shipwreck and snake attack before safely arriving in Rome. He has now been left under the watch of a single guard and allowed the privilege of visitors.

Read Acts 28:17-31

We have seen several themes as we have made our way through this book (The Holy Spirit, Apostolic Miracles, Hospitality, Suffering, etc.). But the book ends on the most prominent theme. It was the same theme we began with, namely Spirit-Empowered Evangelism – witnessing for Christ (1:8).

Almost as often as we have seen these apostles serving as Christ’s witnesses, we have seen the Holy Spirit filling, empowering, and strengthening them for the task. You really cannot separate one from the other. If we are going to become bold in testifying about Christ, we must become bold in our approach to the throne of grace seeking the Spirit’s guidance and power.

Think about the condition Paul is in once again. He has experienced a fourth shipwreck, survived a snake bite, and walked in chains some 170 miles from Puteoli to Rome. Last week, I mentioned he must have been on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Surely, were he to take a modern stress test, his levels would be off the charts.

When Carrie and I went to RTS in 2008, we took a similar kind of test during part of our orientation. It asked to circle the typically stressful circumstances that had occured in the past year. We had experienced a job loss, the birth of a child, we sold our house, and moved across country. All of these combined placed us at a high risk for experiencing further emotional stress upon our marriage.

How would you respond after experiencing such extreme suffering? It is hard to imagine that I would be in any mood to share the gospel, especially with an audience that has proven time and time again to become hostile.

And yet, what we see in this passage and all of Acts is that…

The fruit of a Spirit-filled disciple is Spirit-empowered proclamation in all circumstances.

› 1. Appealing to Jews (17-23), 2. Turning to Gentiles (24-28), 3. Proclaiming to All (30-31).

Appealing to Jews (17-23)

Paul waits three days before calling the Jewish leaders to hear his case (17a). He would typically have entered into a synagogue upon arriving in such a large city. In fact, Rome had four synagogues at this time. Unfortunately, as a prisoner he was unable to function in his typical manner. Yet, even under guard, he is concerned for his fellow Jews. Everywhere he went he made a concerted effort to be a witness to them. Paul was a man who was clear about fulfilling the commission his Lord had given him (9:15) and the rest of the disciples (1:8).

Do you have the heart of an evangelist? Are you seeking to be a witness in the various circles of fellowship you find yourself? Do you allow your circumstances to dictate your willingness to be used by God? Are you too… young, old, tired, sad, sick?

Maybe you are thinking that is the job of apostles, missionaries, and pastors. Don’t forget who fulfilled this mission after the stoning of Stephen. The persecution had become so great that the church was “scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles” (8:1).

Paul’s Defense:

1. Paul has done nothing against the Jewish people or customs (17b).

2. The Romans had nothing against Paul (18).

3. Paul held nothing against the Jewish people (19).

He was quick to clarify any supposed offenses. The only offense he has ever been willing to admit is to declaring the gospel – “the hope of Israel” (20).

Can you defend yourself as having the same strength of character that Paul displayed here? He could confidently declare his innocence. Unfortunately, many testify that it was the lack of Christian character that drove them away from Christ. The hypocrisy that was displayed in their home, in their church, or by those who call themselves followers of Christ trivialized their religious experience. Can you say with Paul that you have done nothing against others, that they have nothing against you, and that you hold nothing against them? In other words, are you living at peace with others, as much as possible (Rom. 12:18)?

The Jewish Leaders Reply:

1. They hadn’t heard anything against Paul either by letter or report (21).

2. They had heard negative reports about his sect (22).

Paul’s Appeal:

He spent all day teaching his audience (23)…

1. “He expounded to them” He hammered one nail over and over again.

2. “Testifying to the Kingdom of God” Bearing witness to the gospels impact upon him. Surely his dramatic conversion (9:1-19) was part of this testifying. Paul’s personal experience confirmed the gospel message he had been expounding to them.

3. “Trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.” With the scrolls spread out on the table before him he could jump from text to text showing them Christ from the OT.

Here Luke, once again, draws a parallel between Paul and Jesus (Luke 24:25-27; Luke 24:45-47).

Luke 24:25–27 ESV

And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:45–47 ESV

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Do you know how to open the Scriptures in such a way as to point people to the gospel? There isn’t a place in Scripture where Christ is absent.

Are you convinced? Are you still trying to figure out whether you can accept the message you have heard many times in church?

I know what it is like to go to church week after week and have no interest in what is being said or done. I did that for several years. But the Lord radically changed me in the summer before 7th grade. I heard a message that pierced my soul. I knew that I was a sinner in desperate need of a Savior. And I knew that I had no hope of salvation accept for the death of Christ. I wept and I clung to Jesus like never before. And then…I began to tell everyone I knew. That’s because…

The fruit of a Spirit-filled disciple is Spirit-empowered proclamation in all circumstances.

Maybe you are hung up on other questions. Regardless of what that is, the single most important question you must answer is: Do you believe Jesus is who he claimed to be? That is what Paul continued to bring his audience back to. If you have not settled that question, this next part of the passage is directed towards you too.

› Their familiar response to Paul’s defense results in his warning that he would be…

Turning to Gentiles (24-28)

The gospel divided the audience in two; those who believed, and those who refused to believe (24).

Isaiah 6:9-10 is Luke’s final scriptural quote. It had been previously quoted by Jesus and John.

• There is a way to hear and not understand (26a).

• There is a way to see and not perceive (26b).

• Why are they in such a state? Because they have calloused hearts, deaf ears, and closed eyes they are unable to see, hear, understand, and repent (27).

The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. XXXIII Loving Persuasion (No. 1,970)

None are such bitter enemies of the cross as those who, by a firm resolve, determine to be blind to its glory and dead to its power.

Are you in such a state? Are you hearing but not understanding? Are you seeing but not perceiving? Has your heart grown calloused through repeated rejection of the gospel message?

Spurgeon, “A sermon often does a man most good when it makes him most angry.”

The prophecy is a statement of judgment, but it also serves as an appeal to repent.

Have you taken some considerable amount of time to examine your spiritual state? If so, do you challenge people to consider their spiritual state?

The fruit of a Spirit-filled disciple is Spirit-empowered proclamation in all circumstances.

› Even though Paul has turned to the Gentiles, he has continued to…

Proclaiming to All (30-31)

“All” implies that both Jews and Gentiles are continuing to come to Paul. He welcomed them and proclaimed the same message to them for two more years. Although we don’t have any clear indication that there were conversions, Paul considered his ministry fruitful enough to remain there at his own expense.

The New Bible Commentary 27:1–28:31 To Rome Itself

What seems most likely is that the present case against Paul failed, he was released and travelled and wrote some more letters (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) before being rearrested and executed in AD 64.

The final word of Acts is “unhindered” describing the boldness with which Paul taught.

Does that describe your gospel conversations? The same Spirit that emboldened Paul to proclaim the message of the gospel without hindrance continues to embolden believers today.

The fruit of a Spirit-filled disciple is Spirit-empowered proclamation in all circumstances.

› The work almost seems incomplete…


The Book of Acts ends rather abruptly. We can speculate many reasons why that might be, but the one thing that seems to be clear is that the mission of God is to be continued. We are still finishing the story (Acts 29).

In the Book of Acts we saw that the mission of God became the mission of the Church. Before Jesus ascended into heaven he promised his disciples that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and to the ends of the earth (1:8). Fifty days later, on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit empowered the Church for the fulfillment of that mission. Peter became the focal point as the gospel was boldly proclaimed to the Jews, then the narrative transitioned to Paul’s missionary journeys.

The Lord continued to add to the Church throughout each phase of the mission. And that mission is continuing to this day and will remain our mission until Christ returns. The mission of God is to transform the people of God through the proclamation of the Gospel.