Paul arrives on Malta, where Luke records that he and his companions are shown unusual kindness (vv. 2, 10).
Even though he has emerged as the leader of the sailing party, Paul is not above ordinary tasks, such as collecting firewood (v. 3).
A snake bites Paul and the Maltese conclude he must be a murderer, because he has survived the storm, only to die of snakebite. When Paul does not die, the consensus changes and he is thought to be a god. The people venerate him, just as the Lystrans did in Acts 14:11.
This snakebite incident recalls Jesus’ promise in Luke 10:19: God will protect His servants and enable them to fulfil His stated purposes.
Paul has an active ministry on Malta—further evidence of his commitment to reach all Gentiles, Greek-speaking or otherwise (Romans 1:14). After three months there, they continue the journey to Rome (vv. 11–14).
The ship that brought Paul to Puteoli, the seaport of Rome, sailed under the figurehead of Castor and Pollux on its bow (v. 11). These were the mythical twin sons of Zeus, thought to be protectors of those who sail upon the seas. But Paul and his companions know better.
Yahweh has been Paul’s deliverer all through his journey. Paul now arrives on the coast of Italy under the figurehead of these pagan deities, but his encouragement does not come from these brothers.
On the contrary, as Luke writes in verse 14, “there we found some brothers and sisters”. Also at Rome, “the brothers and sisters there . . . travelled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us” (v. 15). Paul was thankful and encouraged by the members of the family of the true God.
Emotionally and physically exhausted as he was, Paul took great heart at the sight of these brothers and sisters in Christ, in preparation for whatever awaited him in his appeal to Caesar.
Paul has come through an exhausting storm, a shipwreck, being washed up on a beach, bitten by a viper, and now, he is about to walk from Puteoli to Rome (about 140 miles or 225 kilometres). God’s gospel is unstoppable and its messenger, who still has work to do, is also unstoppable. How do these facts affect the way you think about:
- Your life?
- Your ministry?
- Your mission?