From a Murderer to a God!

 
From Paul’s journey to Rome.  When I read this, it seemed like a strange story to me.  So I did some quick research, and there is a lot to this short passage. 
 
 After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta.   How did they know they were on Malta??  That we don’t know, but we do know that this passage was one that was held up to scrutiny for the historical and geographic accuracy of what is written.  Luke gave much detail in all that he wrote, including the chapters leading up to this.  He was a doctor and historian – he was always very precise.  He gave so much detail that 2000 years later, men can (and do) attempt to go back and physically verify that what Luke wrote was accurate.  We can then extrapolate that to either support (or dispute) the accuracy of the Bible in general.  For a long time “modern man” was convinced Luke had this wrong.  We traced his writing on this journey and figured out they were actually on the island of Meleda in the Gulf of Venice, not Malta south of Sicily.  So Luke, and the Bible were wrong.  But of course, it was us who were wrong, as we always are.  Tracing all the described places leading up to this scene, as well as this scene in particular, it turns out Luke was right.  Like he has been over and over again.  Why wouldn’t he be?   Apparently, he was there…

The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold.   This was a ship with 276 people wrecked on a tiny island.   It was an unusual kindness to be so welcoming of a bunch of strangers speaking in a foreign language.  They could have easily been very hostile.   How many Christians today would be so welcoming?

When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand.   Think about this – Paul was by this time an old man.  He was a prisoner actually in chains.  He is traveling his world to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ as commanded him directly by the risen Christ.  He has a high calling and purpose.  Yet he is the one out in the cold and rain gathering sticks for the fire.  There to serve always.  And of course the snake…was probably asleep because of the cold, but woken up by the heat of the fire.

When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.”   No doubt he was a murderer – after all, he is in chains!!  Justice here is capitalized.  This is the Greco-Roman world, Justice was the daughter of Zeus and Themis in Greek mythology, and worked circumstances to make sure everyone gets what they deserve.  So Paul, in chains, had escaped the sea, but he could not escape Justice!!

He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.  From a murderer to a God!!  What can Christ do for you??!!   Seriously though, these people probably did not view Paul as a god himself, but someone who was close to the Gods, and had their protection over him.  Pretty perceptive I would say.  



“After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭28:1-6‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/act.28.1-6.esv

 

 

John Lewis

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