Thursday Jun 20, 2024

Acts 28:20

Thursday, 20 June 2024


“For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.” Acts 28:20


A literal reading says, “For this cause, therefore, I called you – to see and to speak – because for the hope of Israel, this chain surrounds me” (CG).


Paul had just told the Jews visiting him in his confinement that he was compelled to appeal to Caesar even though he had no accusation against his nation. Now, he continues, saying, “For this cause, therefore, I called you.”


This is based on verse 17 where it says he called the leaders of the Jews. A message would have been sent to the local synagogue imploring them to come and consult with him. That is seen in the next words which are briefly stated, “to see and to speak.”


The words are certainly to be taken as personal. He didn’t want to send a letter or have a messenger convey his words to them. Rather, he wanted to look them in the eyes, see their faces, and carry on a dialogue with them.


What he had to say was something that would naturally elicit questions from his listeners. To send a letter or a messenger who would speak out the substance of Paul’s word would only lead to many back-and-forth trips. Instead, by meeting with them, he would cut all of that out. He would also remove any chance of misperception of his words. When a question arose, he could answer it right then and there.


And so, he tells them the substance of why he called them in this manner, saying, “because for the hope of Israel, this chain surrounds me.”


Paul explicitly states the reason for having called them together. He had been sent to Rome as an innocent man who appealed for his right to exercise his faith which was recognized by Rome, but not by his own countrymen.


In order to reveal the substance of his faith he speaks of the hope of Israel. It is a term explicitly stated twice by Jeremiah, in Jeremiah 14:8 and 17:13. In both instances, the term is ascribed to the Lord, Yehovah. The Hebrew word is miqveh, something waited for. The coming of the Messiah was always understood to be that hope.


Paul was telling them that the Lord’s Messiah had arrived, and it was the reason for the chain surrounding him. The word chain is in the singular. It indicates that there was a Roman guard right there with him to whom one of his hands, probably his right, was chained.


What is rather interesting is the structure of the Greek in the type of punishment noted. The same word is used in both Mark 9:42 and Luke 17:2 to indicate a millstone hung around the neck. However, here the subject and object are reversed.


It is Paul who is said to be bound in the chain. This same structure is also found in Hebrews 5:2 when speaking of the high priest – 


“He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness [literally: weakness surrounds him].”


The Pulpit Commentary thus paraphrases this verse as, “I have asked you to come to me because this chain which binds me is not a token of a renegade Israelite who has come to Rome to accuse his nation before the heathen master, but of a faithful Israelite, who has endured bondage rather than forsake the hope of his fathers.”


Life application: Paul’s approach to conversing with these Jews is one that we should do our best to emulate when sharing the gospel. It is fine to hand out tracts, and sometimes that is the best way to act. Likewise, an email or a personal letter may be what the situation calls for.


However, if you can personally talk to a person about the gospel, or about a doctrinal matter that needs to be addressed, doing so face-to-face is the preferred option. When questions arise, you can see the facial expression, hear the tone of the voice, and so forth. In this, you can sense whether the person is scared, tense, frustrated, angry, etc. From there, you can adjust your conversation to make them less apprehensive.


And more, you can then avoid misperceptions of what is being said. An email carries no emotion, and it can easily be misunderstood because of this. It is also frustrating to ask a question and then have to wait. Therefore, the more you can communicate personally, the more likely you are to avoid such troubles that easily arise. John understood this –


“Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.” 2 John 1:12


Lord God, may our time discussing You with others be fruitful and productive. Help us to wisely use the resources available to us to share the good news and to provide sound instruction. But help us also not exclude the personal touch of face-to-face communication if possible. A lot can get done when we are willing to spend our time just opening up to others in a friendly conversation. Help us in this, O God. Amen.

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