Acts 28: 11 – 16 Paul’s arrival at Rome
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. We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days. From there we set sail and arrived at Rhegium. The next day the south wind came up, and on the following day we reached Puteoli. There we foud some brothers and sisters who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome. The brothers and sisters there had heard that we were coming, and they travelled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these people Paul thanked God and was encouraged. When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him.
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“At the sight of these people Paul thanked God and was encouraged.”
In some ways it is a relief to know that Paul – that champion of the faith, that human dynamo, that brash, confrontational advocate – could feel the need of encouragement. Are there not times in the life of every Christian when we feel weary, or when we question the value of what we’re doing for Jesus? Perhaps we even wonder whether we’ve got it all wrong; wrong place, wrong time, wrong message?
I think Paul was suffering rather like that when he arrived in Rome.
Who could blame him? He’d strained every sinew to reach the heart of Empire, and now he faced an indefinite wait until Caesar was ready to judge his case. Was this really how he should be spending his time? Would it not have been better if the Jews had been allowed to spill his blood in Jerusalem? Had he run away from that confrontation?
Then Paul’s brothers and sisters in the faith turned up, having travelled many miles. Here was tangible proof that he had a role to play in this city. Here was the nucleus of a church whose people needed guiding and training, so that they in turn could tell the world about Jesus. Here was the need for Paul’s missionary and church-building skills.
Paul thanked God and was encouraged!
I suggest there are two lessons we can draw from this.
The first is that it was people who encouraged Paul. God’s encouragement comes so often through the support and love of our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we feel spiritually weary, we should remember this; talking to Christian friends can encourage us and keep us on track.
The second is that we can all give encouragement. It is good to be alert to the needs of those around us, whether members of our Christian fellowship or just neighbours. Encouragement is a gift we are all qualified to give!
And, whether we’re giving encouragement or receiving it, let’s remember to thank God!
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4: 6 – 7)
Thank you for the encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Jesus. Help us to be faithful in prayer and steadfast in love for each other.
In Jesus name, Amen