The final leg of Paul’s journey to Rome begins with an Alexandrian ship with the twin gods as a figurehead. The twin gods were viewed as protectors of sea travelers, but it is the Lord who has protected Paul. The late arrival of the twin gods to the narrative highlights their irrelevance. Paul as a light to the Gentiles has the mission of turning the nations from the darkness of idolatry to knowing the true living God who acts in salvation. In this final leg of the journey a sea wind from the south springs up to assist their arrival to the outskirts of Rome. It pleased God to allow the sea to oppose the journey with violence but now the subdued sea furthers them along – the mystery of providence.
Paul’s seeing and being met by believers from Rome causes him to thank God and take courage. In Rome Paul was given favor by the Roman authorities to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him – a captive audience no doubt!
As Paul has always done upon arrival in a new city, he engages with the Jews in the context of a synagogue. As in earlier narratives, Paul describes his mission as concerning the hope of Israel. He expounds to the Jews the Scriptures, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. And as has usually been the case some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved.
What is ambiguous as the record of Paul’s mission ends is the relationship between the Jewish people and the gospel. On one hand some Jews believe. However, the bulk do not. Paul quotes Isaiah to explain this. Acts views Paul as Isaiah’s servant of the LORD taking the good news to the nations. Earlier in Isaiah though was a passage that predicted Israel’s hardness of heart. Israel’s hardness and rejection becomes the immediate catalyst for the good news being taken to the Gentiles. This has been true from Stephen’s proclamation and through Paul’s experience. Some Jews believe but the nation reject the good news – yet this was predicted and is the cause of the good news being proclaimed among the nations. What is not ambiguous is Paul’s final words: “Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”