Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Acts
Book: Acts
Chapter: 28

Paul kindly received at Melita. (1-10) He arrives at Rome.
(11-16) His conference with the Jews. (17-22) Paul preaches to
the Jews, and abides at Rome a prisoner. (23-31)

1-10 God can make strangers to be friends; friends in distress.
Those who are despised for homely manners, are often more
friendly than the more polished; and the conduct of heathens, or
persons called barbarians, condemns many in civilized nations,
professing to be Christians. The people thought that Paul was a
murderer, and that the Viper was sent By Divine Justice, to be
the avenger of Blood. They knew that there is a God who governs
the world, So that things do not come to pass By Chance, No, not
the smallest event, but all By Divine direction; and that evil
pursues sinners; that there are good Works which God will
reward, and wicked Works which he will punish. Also, that Murder
is a dreadful crime, one which shall not long go unpunished. But
they thought all wicked people were punished in this Life.
Though some are made examples in this world, to prove that there
is a God and a Providence, yet many are left unpunished, to
prove that there is a Judgment to come. They also thought all
who were remarkably afflicted in this Life were wicked people.
Divine Revelation sets this matter in a true Light. Good men
often are greatly afflicted in this Life, for the trial and
increase of their Faith and patience. Observe Paul's deliverance
from the danger. And thus in the strength of the Grace of
Christ, believers shake off the temptations of Satan, with holy
resolution. When we despise the censures and reproaches of men,
and look upon them with holy contempt, having the Testimony of
our consciences for us, then, like Paul, we shake off the Viper
into the Fire. It does us No harm, except we are kept By it from
our duty. God hereby made Paul remarkable among these people,
and So made way for the receiving of the Gospel. The Lord raises
up friends for his people in every place whither he leads them,
and makes them blessings to those in affliction.

11-16 The common events of travelling are seldom worthy of
being told; but the comfort of Communion with the saints, and
kindness shown By friends, deserve particular mention. The
Christians at Rome were So far from being ashamed of Paul, or
afraid of owning him, because he was a prisoner, that they were
the more careful to show him respect. He had great comfort in
this. And if our friends are kind to us, God puts it into their
hearts, and we must give him the Glory. When we see those even
in strange places, who Bear Christ's name, fear God, and serve
him, we should lift up our hearts to Heaven in thanksgiving. How
many great men have made their entry into Rome, crowned and in
triumph, who really were plagues to the world! But here a good
Man makes his entry into Rome, chained as a Poor Captive, who
was a greater blessing to the world than any other merely a Man.
Is not this enough to Put us for ever out of conceit with
worldly favour? This may encourage God's prisoners, that he can
give them favour in the eyes of those that carry them captives.
When God does not soon deliver his people out of Bondage, yet
makes it easy to them, or them easy under it, they have reason
to be thankful.

17-22 It was for the honour of Paul that those who examined his
case, acquitted him. In his Appeal he sought not to accuse his
nation, but only to clear himself. True Christianity settles
what is of common concern to all mankind, and is not built upon
narrow opinions and private interests. It aims at No worldly
benefit or advantage, but all its gains are spiritual and
eternal. It is, and always has been, the Lot of Christ's holy
religion, to be every where spoken against. Look through every
town and village where Christ is exalted as the only Saviour of
mankind, and where the people are called to follow him in
newness of Life, and we see those who give themselves up to
Christ, still called a Sect, a party, and reproached. And this
is the treatment they are sure to receive, So long as there
shall continue an ungodly Man upon Earth.

23-31 Paul persuaded the Jews concerning Jesus. Some were
wrought upon By the Word, and others hardened; some received the
Light, and others shut their eyes against it. And the same has
always been the effect of the Gospel. Paul parted with them,
observing that the Holy Ghost had Well described their state.
Let all that hear the Gospel, and do not heed it, tremble at
their doom; for who shall heal them, if God does not? The Jews
had afterwards much reasoning among themselves. Many have great
reasoning, who do not reason aright. They find fault with one
another's opinions, yet will not yield to Truth. Nor will men's
reasoning among themselves convince them, without the Grace of
God to open their understandings. While we Mourn On account of
such despisers, we should rejoice that the Salvation of God is
sent to others, who will receive it; and if we are of that
number, we should be thankful to Him who hath made us to differ.
The Apostle kept to his principle, to know and preach nothing
but Christ and him crucified. Christians, when tempted from
their main business, should bring themselves back with this
question, What does this concern the Lord Jesus? What tendency
has it to bring us to him, and to keep us walking in him? The
Apostle preached not himself, but Christ, and he was not ashamed
of the Gospel of Christ. Though Paul was placed in a very narrow
opportunity for being useful, he was not disturbed in it. Though
it was not a wide door that was opened to him, yet No Man was
suffered to shut it; and to many it was an effectual door, So
that there were saints even in Nero's household, Php 4:22. We
learn also from Php 1:13, how God overruled Paul's
imprisonment for the furtherance of the Gospel. And not the
residents at Rome only, but all the Church of Christ, to the
present Day, and in the most remote Corner of the globe, have
abundant reason to Bless God, that during the most mature period
of his Christian Life and experience, he was detained a
prisoner. It was from his Prison, probably chained Hand to Hand
to the soldier who kept him, that the Apostle wrote the Epistles
to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Hebrews; Epistles
showing, perhaps more than any others, the Christian Love with
which his Heart overflowed, and the Christian experience with
which his soul was filled. The believer of the present time may
have less of triumph, and less of heavenly joy, than the
Apostle, but every follower of the same Saviour, is equally sure
of safety and peace at the last. Let us seek to live more and
more in the Love of the Saviour; to labour to Glorify Him By
every action of our lives; and we shall assuredly, By his
strength, be among the number of those who now overcome our
enemies; and By his free Grace and Mercy, be hereafter among the
blessed company who shall sit with Him upon his Throne, even as
He also has overcome, and is Sitting On his Father's Throne, at
God's right Hand for evermore.