The Story Goes On… (28:11-31)

Bible Passage: Acts 28:11-31

This last chapter of Acts is deliberately anti-climactic. Paul is finally in Rome, which had been his goal for so long, but he was under house arrest and so could not operate with total freedom. The response to his gospel proclamation was mixed, as it had been throughout the book of Acts, and this reminded Paul of the words of Isaiah about those who would hear but not understand. The clear sense is that there is more to do, more places to take the message to and more people still to reach. In ending the story in this way, the reader is being invited to pick up the baton and to continue the mission of God in our own day and time.

As well as looking at the specific passage, it could be good to tie together some of the big ideas of Acts in this sermon.

The Spread of the Gospel: At the beginning of Acts, Jesus commissions his disciples to be witnesses in Jerusalem, all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. As the book goes on we see these places gradually being reached with the gospel. In the early chapters the focus is Jerusalem and Judea, then the gospel is taken to Samaria in chapter 8 and after this the mission to the gentiles shows the focus on the ends of the earth. Nowhere is more emblematic of this than Rome, and now as the book ends, Paul brings the gospel to the centre of the dominant earthly empire. There is no stopping the mission of God, and his word is for all the nations. This should prompt us to think about how we reach those around us and where God may be calling us to go.

Opposition to the Gospel: Paul’s circumstances in Rome were not as bad as in some other places, but he was still a prisoner living under house arrest. Again, this lines up with the story that has been told right through Acts. Those who are spreading the word of Jesus face opposition, persecution and suffering. In some cases this was martyrdom, in others it was arrest, and in others it was verbal rejection and scorn. We are not in control of the way people respond to us when we share the gospel with them, but we are called to be bold and fearless and to be ready for whatever opposition or persecution comes our way.

Response to the Gospel: Paul was invited to speak before the synagogue, who had not been sent any messages from Judea about him. He explained both his own situation and the gospel. In verse 24, we are told that some were convinced but others refused to believe. The gospel polarises people into these two responses, and Paul quotes Isaiah to show the hardness of heart of some. The story ends with Gentiles coming to Paul’s house to hear him proclaiming Jesus boldly. In order for someone to respond, there needs to be a work of God in their heart. Our job is to go on sharing about Jesus.

Potential Applications:

  • You could ask people to think of (and maybe share) the thing they have found most striking from this series on Acts.
  • You could spend some time praying for the spread of the gospel to different places. Challenge people whether they feel God is calling them to go or to support others who are going.
  • This is a great opportunity to encourage people to keep going in their own evangelism, even if the response is sometimes disappointing.