King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Acts 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)

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Paul kindly received at Melita

1 And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita.

2 And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.

3 And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.

4 And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.

5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.

6 Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.

7 In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously.

8 And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.

9 So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed:

10 Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.

He arrives at Rome

11 And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.

12 And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days.

13 And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli:

14 Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome.

15 And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.

16 And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.

His conference with the Jews

17 And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.

18 Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me.

19 But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of.

20 For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.

21 And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee.

22 But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.

Paul preaches to the Jews, and abides at Rome a prisoner

23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.

25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,

26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:

27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.

29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.

30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,

31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Melita, now called Malta, famous for being the residence of, and giving the title to, the military order of Knights, who strenuously resisted the Turks, when they threatened to overrun Christendom. The inhabitants are called Barbarians, not as a term of reproach, for the manner he speaks of their humanity testifies the contrary; but in the classical sense of the word, it was applied by the Greeks and Romans to all who did not speak either of those languages. Their hospitality was rewarded by the light of faith, which they still maintain, although infidels have sometimes for a century had dominion over this island. Tirinus, &c.

Ver. 4. Murderer. In this instance we see how unfounded are the judgments of men. As if the misfortune itself were not sufficient to endure, the man upon whom any temporal calamity falls, must be also judged to be an object of divine vengeance. How cruel and preposterous, yet how common are such proceedings! Whence can it happen that man is so forward to think evil, so slow to suspect good in his neighbour? A. — Not to live. The inhabitants of the island, called Barbarians, had a notion of a Deity, and also that murder was against the law of God and nature. Wi.

Ver. 6. That he would suddenly fall down and die. It is not then by the natural situation and temper of the air, that this island has no venomous creatures. Wi.

Ver. 16. To dwell by himself, with a soldier that guarded him. S. Paul was chained, as it appears by the 20th verse: and it was the custom to fasten one end of the chain by a lock to the prisoner’s wrist, and the other end of the chain to the wrist of the soldier who was to guard him. In most Greek copies we read: the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guards: as it is in the Prot. translation, and very probable; but these words are not found in divers Greek MSS. nor were read by the ancient interpreter of the Latin Vulgate. Wi. — S. Chrysostom attributes this liberty S. Paul enjoyed at Rome of going whither he liked, to their admiration of him. Hom. liv. in Acts. — Others to the moderation of Afranius Burrus, who was prefect of the Prætorium in the year 61, and who used his authority, as long as he possessed any over Nero’s mind, to repress that emperor’s bad inclinations, and direct his councils with wisdom. Calmet.

Ver. 17. Chief of the Jews. We have seen before, that the emperor Claudius banished all Jews from Rome. It would appear from this verse, that many of the principal Jews returned at his death, which happened five years before S. Paul’s arrival. Calmet.

Ver. 20. Because that for the hope of Israel. That is, of the Messias, so long expected and hoped for by the Israelites. Wi. — According to the Roman custom, S. Paul must have been fastened by the right hand to one end of a chain, the other end of which chain held to the left hand of the soldier who guarded him. V.

Ver. 22. It is every where gainsayed. Here we observe one of the characters of the true religion. It is contradicted and spoken against. As singular as this may appear, it is however true. Jesus, the author of that religion, had foretold it should be so. If the world hateth me, it will hate you also. The situation of the Catholic religion in this country, at present, is something similar to what is related here of Christianity: and those who have the candour to inquire seriously into its merits, have generally the reward of being convinced and of believing in it. Christianity, like some plants, grows the better for being trodden upon. A.

Ver. 30. Two whole years in his own hired lodging. That is, in the lodgings which S. Paul was permitted to hire for himself, and to live there, with a soldier chained to him for his guard. Happy soldier, if he knew how to make use of such a favourable opportunity! We may take notice by all this narration of S. Luke, (as when he says here, v. 16, when we arrived at Rome, &c.) that he was all the way in the ship with S. Paul. Wi.

Ver. 31. Here terminates the history of S. Paul, as contained in the Acts of the Apostles. The other actions of this great apostle, for want of being recorded, are involved in much obscurity. That he obtained his liberty again, and made many voyages to carry the light of the gospel into many countries, is certain: but nothing is known as to the manner or time. He finished his labours by martyrdom, being beheaded at Rome in the 66th of the Christian æra, and the 13th of Nero. What a degree of virtue might we not attain, were we animated by the spirit and courage of a S. Paul. Let us at least try to imitate his example; and, if in dangers and difficulties we cannot clothe our souls in adamant, as he did, we may certainly avoid yielding ingloriously to every light impression. Let us at an humble distance tread in his footsteps and live so that we may navigate in safety the boisterous ocean of life, and by the grace of Jesus Christ arrive at the port, where danger is no more to be apprehended. S. Chrys. hom. lv. in Act. ad finem.