After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation. For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”
When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:
“‘Go to this people, and say,
“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’
Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. Acts 28:17-31.
We fast forward a few months after Paul’s shipwreck on Malta to his final destination in Rome. It would be two years before he would get to stand trial before Caesar, and he would make the best of it. As usual, he went to the Jews first. Once he hit the wall with them, he reached out to the Gentiles, and that they hated him for.
Paul wrote to the believers in Rome, “Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.” (Romans 11:13-14).
As a Gentile, I can appreciate that God sent Paul as an emissary to the world. As a descendant of Jews on my father’s side, I missed the whole jealousy trip because I was not even aware of it until I was about forty. If I had been raised a religious Jew, I might have seen Christianity as corruption, an imposter. But I also may have seen that it was God’s original plan to make Abraham the father of many nations.
So I salute Paul, as he is headed for trial and execution, for his work and his writings that brought the light of Christ to the whole world.