by J. Randal Matheny, editor
Maybe Luke was planning a second volume of church history, some say. The book of Acts ends with the apostle Paul waiting to appear before the Roman emperor to defend his cause. Some find it an unsatisfactory ending.
“Paul lived there two whole years in his own rented quarters and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with complete boldness and without restriction” (Acts 28:30-31 NET).
In spite of what some see as leaving the reader hanging in the air, at least three strong truths appear in this last chapter.
1. When man closes a door, God opens another one.
The Jews in Rome rejected the message, so Paul turned to the Gentiles (vv. 24-28). If one group would not listen, he would find one that would, as indeed he did, a group in the heart of the empire who came to hear him.
When one house closes to us, there’s always another next door. When one person refuses the gospel, somewhere another will receive it. We must remember that God is preparing people to hear. He wants us to speak because he has many who will respond. In Corinth the Lord told Paul that in Acts 18:9-10.
2. Your limitations are God’s opportunities.
Many would have seen a house arrest as a great limitation to preaching the gospel. But Paul made it his platform for reaching people. He “welcomed all who came to him.” He had earlier summoned the Jews to his location (v. 17). If Paul couldn’t go to them, he would have them come to him.
We make a long list of why we can’t do evangelism. It is that very list that God wants to use as his springboard to getting his gospel before others. Whatever our limitations we must remember that “God’s message is not imprisoned!” (2 Timothy 2:9).
3. Man’s evil is God’s tool for good.
Was it providential that no instructions had come from the Jews in Jerusalem to those in Rome? (vv. 21-22). Was it providential that God used the Jews’ plans to kill Paul to place him in the Roman capital with the ability to preach freely for two years?
God does not create nor inflict evil upon men. But his power does take man’s evil into account and fold it into his plan for good. This is best seen at the cross of Christ. But it is often evident in the lives of his followers as well. What men intend for evil God uses to produce the good. Remember Romans 8:28?
Luke’s last words in the book of Acts are about preaching the gospel, “with complete boldness and without restriction.”
With such truths to remind the people of God who continue preaching the gospel in the whole world, it would seem Luke finishes the book in strong fashion, does he not?