One of the features of Luke’s writing is the significance he attaches to last words. For example, in the introduction to his gospel (Luke 1:1–4) where he addresses Theophilus, the last word in the Greek text, where Luke wants the emphasis to fall, is “certainty”. He wants Theophilus to have certainty.
In the Greek text of Acts, the last words are “without hindrance” (v. 31). This phrase is used to qualify the participles “proclaimed” and “taught”. Luke wants to emphasise that the proclamation and teaching of the Word of God continues unhindered.
The Word of God has come to Rome. We know from Romans 15:20 that Paul’s ambition was to take the gospel where Christ is not known—to take it as far west as he thought he could go, to Spain (Romans 15:24).
Paul makes it clear that he bears no ill will towards his own people. Rather, it is because of his steadfast commitment to the hope of Israel that he is in chains (v. 20).
The Jews at Rome have not received any bad reports against Paul (v. 21). However, they know that many people are speaking against the Christian sect (v. 22). Although some are convinced, others reject Paul’s testimony. Again the consistency of Paul’s persuasive ministry (v. 23) is matched by the Jews’ consistently obstinate response (vv. 24–25). Paul warns them about a hardened non-response to the gospel by quoting from the Greek translation of Isaiah 6:9–10 (vv. 26–27).
Here, at the end of Acts, the gospel has reached Rome as God said it would. Did Paul make his appeal to Caesar? Was he released? Did he get to Spain?.
Biblical scholar F. F. Bruce writes, “Luke has reached the objective of his history by bringing Paul to Rome, where he enjoys complete liberty to preach the gospel, under the eyes of the imperial guard. The programme mapped out in [Acts] 1:8 has been carried through!”14.
In the same vein, Bible teacher David Gooding writes, “But at the point where Luke laid down his pen, Paul—though in chains—and the gospel of God’s kingly rule were irrepressibly surging ahead without let up or hindrance in spite of human opposition or nature’s storms.”15.
14F. F. Bruce, Commentary on the Greek Text of Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988), 543.
15David Gooding, True to the Faith: Charting the Course Through the Acts of the Apostles (Grand Rapids, MI: Gospel Folio Press, 1995), 371.
At the end of his commentary on Acts 1:8, Professor E. M. Blaiklock sums up the book in this way: “To press beyond the fringe is always sound policy, provided it is done with vigour and devotion.”16 How does Acts encourage you to press beyond the fringe?
Will you do it with vigour and devotion?
16Blaiklock, The Acts of the Apostles, 50.