As has been his habit throughout his journeys, Paul begins his time in a new place by speaking first to the Jews about Jesus. For more than thirty years, they had been doing everything they could to hinder him, to undo his work and have even attempted to take his life. Paul continues with undefeatable hope and unconquerable love to offer the way of salvation first to the Jews. At first there appears no great distance between their views, but as Paul continues to speak and listens to their responses, he begins to recognise the signs of blinkeredness in those who call themselves 'children of God'.
At the end of his conversations, having tried everything, Paul has to remind himself that the rejection of the message of Good News by the Jews enabled the proclamation of the Gospel to the Gentiles, who gladly embraced what the Jews had shunned. This reminds me of when a Samaritan woman came to Jesus, asking for her child to be healed. When Jesus responded by implying that His healing was for the Jews alone, she used the analogy of the dogs which are allowed to eat the scraps which fall from their Master's table and, as Jesus healed her daughter, he calls her, 'Dear woman'. We non-Jews have been allowed to eat the scraps and how glorious are they! Matthew 15 v 21-28.
To conclude this book, Luke tells the reader that Paul lived in Rome for two years, working for a living whilst being under house arrest, welcoming all who came to see him. Sometimes it is good to be stuck in one place: I knew of a dear Christian lady who went blind in her old age and so was confined to her home. Many people would turn up at her door, knowing that she was sure to be at home, and tell her their woes and be encouraged by her wise replies.
It was here that Paul wrote his letters to the Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians and to Philemon. Aristarchus and Luke stayed with him and we know that Luke remained to the end-2 Timothy 4 v 11. Timothy also visited often, sometimes Tychicus stayed with him-Ephesians 6 v 21, and he enjoyed the company of Epaphroditus for a while-Philippians 4 v 18. Sometimes, even, Mark visited!-Colossians 4 v 10.
It may appear that this book ends inconclusively, but Luke set out his purpose when he told how Jesus commanded His followers to bear witness to Him all over Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth-Acts 1 v 8-and this is what had taken place: all over the world as it was known the Gospel was heard and the Church had grown exponentially from tiny beginnings to ten of thousands of believers. Even in Rome, the Gospel was being proclaimed!
Thank you so much for faithfully reading my blogs each day. It has been a joy to write them and I have learned so much, as I hope you have also! There are no more blogs for me to write as I have now covered all the New Testament apart from a few books which I don't feel fit to tackle, such as 'Romans', 'Hebrews' and 'Revelation'. Bless you and may the Lord keep you.