“They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. 24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. 25 They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet:
26 “‘Go to this people and say,
“You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”
27 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’[a]
28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!” [b] 30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him.31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” Acts 28.23-30
This is the final account of Paul’s life as recorded in the book of Acts. Other letters of Paul in the New Testament happen before or during his time in Rome. I think it’s safe to say that Paul lived to preach the Gospel until his uncertain death rumored to have been a beheading during the time of Emperor Nero (sometime in the mid 60’s AD).
It really doesn’t matter how or when Paul died, for it was living for Christ that mattered. He writes as much in Philippians 1.21, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” We know that he suffered much for Christ, this was promised during his Damascus Road experience in Acts 9.16. As soon as Paul surrendered to Jesus, his life was forfeit. He became a “drink offering poured out” to the Lord, as he writes in 2 Timothy 4.6.
And yet, with all this talk of sacrifice and surrender, all the promises of suffering and death, Paul remained faithful, upbeat and devoted to the Gospel of Christ. Acts 28.30-31 says, “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him.31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” This doesn’t sound like a man mourning his future demise but thankful to be used for Jesus in the advancement of God’s Kingdom.
To be honest, this makes my own difficulties seem minuscule. I mean, really, what do I have for which to complain? I have to drive too much (in my 2020 Chevy Silverado)?! I have to wake up early to meet with Christ (rolling out of my king bed in a nice house, in a free country)? I have too many things to do for the Lord (Revive, Movement Ministries, Truett, etc.)? Seriously, this is nothing compared to Paul’s example. I have no reason to complain but every reason to rejoice in Christ and the call he has upon my life.
The call of Christ is to be celebrated. The opportunity I have to be a “keeper of the door in the house of the Lord,” is a privilege! (Ps. 84.10). My life is a blessing beyond blessings. I have been given the gift of salvation in a nation in which I might freely proclaim his goodness and see people come to faith and pick up their cross and follow Christ.
I thank God for Paul’s example of faithfulness. As I wrap up this study of Acts, I desire to be more like Jesus. For my existence to be a sacrifice to the One who sacrificed his life for me.
“O Lord God, thank you for allowing me to grow in you and to know you better through this book to the early Church. Thank you that it applies to us today. Thank you for the Holy Spirit who brings new truths out of ancient stories. Come now, Holy Spirit, transform me for the sake of the Kingdom. Keep me focused upon your Word and according to your way. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen