Today, we pick up from last week’s thoughts on the first arc of Acts 28 (verses 1-10), with thoughts on verses 11-16. This shorter installment looks at the role of Christ’s family in a Christian’s personal journey.
Acts 28 is the culmination of Acts 21, in which Paul departed from Jerusalem to be tried in Rome. Several months have gone by since then, and Paul had suffered a lot in between. Upon his arrival, let us not forget that he had just gone through a shipwreck and survived a snake’s poison, which is why the following verses do not come as a surprise:
There we found brothers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. And the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage.
— Acts 28:14-15, NKJV (emphasis mine)
The Gospel was spreading, which also meant that the family of Jesus Christ was also growing bigger 👪. Any person would be discouraged after a shipwreck! Heck, nowadays, we get frustrated over having long traveling times, but how about months at sea, or walking for days? God may not have sent angels to carry Paul, but God worked through the hearts and hands of His children.
Sometimes, our prayers go, “Lord, teach me to be more generous/patient/loving/etc.” God will not snap His fingers and we are magically transformed into more generous, loving and patient versions of ourselves — He sends us circumstances to stretch the muscles of our faith.
While the focus of this passage was on Paul, let us not dismiss the mention of his adelphoi (Greek) — his brothers and sisters in faith. These men and women were also believers in Christ and follows his ways.
They were not nuns or priests or even missionaries in themselves, but ordinary people. Their hearts and their homes were open to the likes of Paul — and in their own way, they are carrying out The Great Commission by mobilizing the missionaries: those who give money, those who provide shelter, those who make sure that transportation won’t be a problem, etc.
And through their humble work, Paul was blessed with God’s strength and courage working through his brothers and sisters.
Next week, we wrap up this three-part series with thoughts on Acts 28:17-30.