Online Bible Commentary
Farewell to Paul
Acts 28:21 Then they said to him, "We neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren who came reported or spoken any evil of you. 22 But we desire to hear from you what you think; for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere." 23 So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening. 24 And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved. 25 So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: "The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, 26 saying, 'Go to this people and say: "Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; And seeing you will see, and not perceive; 27 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them." ' 28 "Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!" 29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves. 30 Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him. (NKJV)
The time is February, 60 A.D. The apostle Paul has arrived in Rome to be tried by Emperor Nero. Paul is accompanied by Luke, the writer of Acts, and Aristarchus.
Paul has rented his own house, where he will stay under house arrest bound with a chain for the next two years. Three days after arriving in Rome he calls the Jewish leaders together for a brief meeting.
He says to them that he is innocent of doing anything against the Jewish people or their customs. He also says that the Romans in Judea have tried him and wanted to let him go but that he had to appeal to Emperor Nero because the Jews in Judea objected to his release.
Paul then tells the Jews that he has asked them to come to him “for the hope of Israel”, which is fulfilled by the resurrection of the dead (v. 20a). It is for this reason that he is “bound with this chain” (v. 20b).
In this passage, The Jewish leaders respond to Paul’s statements. They basically tell him that this is all news to them. They have not heard from their fellow Jews of “any evil of you” (v. 21).
However, the Jews want to hear more about Christianity because “concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere” (v. 22). So the Jews suggest a good day for them to hear more from Paul on this subject (v. 23a).
When “many” of the Jews come to Paul’s home “he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening” (v. 23b). Some of the Jews become believers and some do not (v. 24).
“When they did not agree among themselves” (v. 25), Paul quotes from Isaiah 6:9-10 (vv. 26-27). The Holy Spirit had made it clear to Isaiah that the Jews would reject the gospel. Paul then tells them that, because the Jews would reject the gospel, God sent it to the Gentiles who would accept it (v. 28). Upon hearing this, the Jews depart Paul’s home, having “a great dispute among themselves” (v. 29).
Then, for the next two years, from 60-62 A.D., Paul welcomes all to his home “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him” (vv. 30-31). Also, during this time, it is believed that Paul writes the books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.
At this point the book of Acts closes, in 62 A.D. It is believed that Nero acquitted Paul at this time and some believe that Paul then embarked on a fourth missionary journey, however Scripture does not confirm a fourth missionary journey.
It is believed that Paul wrote the books of 1 Timothy and Titus from 62-64 A.D. and that Paul was imprisoned a second time by Nero during his persecution of Christians in 64 A.D. This second imprisonment was more severe than the house arrest the first time (2 Timothy 2:9), and Paul was deserted by most of his friends (2 Timothy 4:9-11). During this second imprisonment, it is believed that Paul wrote the book of 2 Timothy in 66 A.D.
This writer believes that Paul, sensing his impending execution (2 timothy 4:6), then tried one last time to reach out to his people, the Jews whom he loved, by writing the book of Hebrews, anonymously, in 67 A.D. It would make sense that Paul would believe that the writing would have a better chance of succeeding with the Jews if his name was not linked to it.
Luke and Mark may have helped Paul in writing, or finishing, the book of Hebrews, due to Paul’s advancing age (about 67) and possible declining health, and impending death (2 Timothy 4:11-13). It is obvious that Paul is excited and looking forward to starting another writing, when in this 2 Timothy passage he asks for Mark to join him and Luke, and for his books and parchments to be brought to him. Tradition has it that Paul was beheaded in late 67 A.D. or early 68 A.D. by Nero, before Nero committed suicide on June 9, 68 A.D.