3.25 Acts -- Paul in Rome

After many adventures at sea, Paul arrived in Rome and lived under house-arrest (and bound with a chain) (Acts 28:20).  As was his custom, he spoke to the Jews first, by inviting them to his house.

          From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets (Acts 28:23).

          And as before, many of the Jews did not receive his teaching.  Paul quoted a passage from Isaiah, concerning a people that hears but never understands, sees but never perceives (Isa 6:9-10).  Though the Jews have rejected God's salvation, the Gentiles will receive it. 

          

This is Paul's final word in Acts, and reflects his frustration with his own people.  For the reality was that Paul's commission to the Gentiles was a two-edged sword, which he didn't seem to realize.  His gift for talking to Athenians on their own turf was offset by his ability to infuriate his own countrymen.  To them he was a traitor -- not just to the faith of Judaism, but to the race of Israel: "he has brought Greeks into the Temple!"  Because he was an expert in the Scriptures, and a Pharisee, he was feared and hated.  And this was consistent throughout his ministry, and in every locality.   To some he was an apostle, to others an apostate. These different appraisals are a measure of the radical disjunction between New and Old Covenants.  Traditional Jews, and their allies in the Jerusalem church, sensed that the coming of the Kingdom of God would overturn the millennium-old kingdom of Israel.  The Spirit was a threat to the Law.  Grace and salvation were either free to all who believed, or they were shackled to the Temple and circumcision.  There was a choice to be made.  The Jerusalem church played the middle ground, and tried to frame the Gospel in terms compatible with the Law, but Paul forced men to make a decision.