It is very interesting that Luke does not record Paul preaching the Gospel on Malta. Did Luke miss adding this or was Paul afraid? I would suggest that he did preach the Gospel on the Island. Why else would God have permitted the shipwreck to be on that Island? Yet … as you read the following verses of their three month stay on Malta, the outworking of the Gospel was evident. You have most likely heard people say … “I’d rather see the Gospel than hear the Gospel.” The Gospel must be heard:
Ro 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ
But we also know:
Jas 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
Ac 28:7 There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably. 8 His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. 9 When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. 10 They honored us in many ways and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed. 11 After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island. It was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux.
1) The huge piece of land.
Ac 28:7 There was an estate nearby.
It seems as though this land was a large farm and the owners enjoyed sufficient resources to help Paul and his colleagues. It is unclear whether the “us” refers to Paul and his team or the 276 people on board the ship.
2) The governor named Publius.
Ac 28:7 There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island.
It seems as through Malta was a Protectorate of Sicily and Publius being the senior appointed official was the governor. The name Publius might have been a title and not his actual name.
3) The hospitable host. With the resources available to Publius, he was able to offer accommodation and hospitality to the mission team for three days whilst alternative accommodation was being arranged for the next three months. “He welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably.” Hospitality is one of the great Christian Spiritual Gifts mentioned in the Bible. Many people’s hearts have been softened and readied to hear the Gospel through Christians opening their lives and homes to them. It is through the gift of hospitality that people have removed social and cultural barriers sufficiently to have the recipients of this gift see something different in true Christians that is appealing.
You might have heard people say … “Why did you do that?” “You did not need to do that.” “Thank you so much for coming to our assistance.” “I don’t know what I would have done without your intervention.” Sure, this might be said of non-Christians too, but when Christians open themselves to share what they have with others … those receiving this grace see the outworking of the Gospel in practice and tend to open their hearts to the Lord Jesus.
4) An ailing elderly father. The governor’s father was ill:
Ac 28:8 His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him.
Gastric fever and dysentery were common in those days caused by a microbe in goat’s milk. Paul was informed about the father’s illness and went to his room and prayed for him, laid hands on him and he was healed. What is significant here is that as previously said, Luke does not record preaching taking place, but here Paul prayed. The God he prayed to was the God of the Gospel, the Lord Jesus Christ. The father and possibly Publius and maybe others heard the prayer. Remember these were people committed to pagan gods and suddenly they hear a prayer to the true God of Heaven after which the father is healed. That in itself was a testimony to the Gospel working its way out in practice through healing. We know that the gift of healing as known during the apostolic era has been withdrawn as we now have the full Bible to substantiate the truth of the Gospel. Yet, we do pray and we do pray for God to heal people through His mercy. There are times He heals and there are times He withholds healing as His plans are different to ours … but we pray!
5) The sick Islanders. News spread that Publius’ father was healed resulting in …
Ac 28:9 When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured.
This might have taken the best part of three months, but everyone having some sort of illness on the Island came to Paul and perhaps his companions, not forgetting Luke was a medical doctor. He too would have offered his assistance as people were prayed for and healed. Notice the results …
6) The kindness of the Islanders.
Ac 28:10 They honored us in many ways and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.
The impact of the Gospel lived out over this period before the Islanders was phenomenal. The word “honored” had as a backdrop the goodness of God inclining the Islanders to reward Paul and his companions with needed resources for their journey to Rome. In the most amazing ways God inclines the hearts of both Christians and non-Christians to bless His people with resources to enable reasonable comfort. We too need to be ready to assist the needy. It is the Christian way.
7) The journey to Rome underway. It seems as though the winter with its bad weather had passed after the three months. Whether it was all the 276, or only the prisoners and Paul’s companions that boarded a ship that had been moored close to where they were shipwrecked during the winter months, we don’t know.
Ac 28:11 After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island. It was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux.
Once again this was a ship from Alexandria. The owners and sailors were very superstitious. All ships would have images of their gods on the bow and stern for protection. Known as the “heavenly twins”, the image representing Castor and Pollux was believed to provide good fortune during storms. As followers of the Lord Jesus we do not believe in such superstitious beliefs. We believe in the Creator God of Heaven and Earth, the God of the Bible and the God of the Cross who alone is able to see us, His people safely though this life and all the way to glory.
Our Father, grant us a greater ability to trust You and depend upon You for all things, especially when we pass through the dangers associated with spiritual warfare. Amen.