At the end of this passage we finally see Paul arrive in Rome. It has been quite a journey, starting in Chapter 22 with his imprisonment. It has literally taken years of slow progress. However even now, so close to that goal, I noticed that the pattern of doing things is still the same. Even this close to Rome the way the gospel spreads does not change. Throughout this passage we see the same two things that we see all the way through Acts: power and honour.
Some people say that the supernatural was becoming less towards the end of Acts. That is not something I see though. Possibly the descriptions are a little more terse, but there does not seem to be a weakening of power. The snake story in v.3-6 is unique in Acts and displays the fact that the supernatural is still flowing strongly in the church. Then there is the fact that everyone who is sick and comes, gets healed in v.8-9. I can’t see a weakening of the supernatural at all, the opposite in fact. As far as I am concerned this is a clear statement that supernatural and church should be strongly linked.
The other thing that stands out in this passage, in fact it stands out much more and it seems a recurring theme in Acts, is honour. Honour is recognising and acknowledging the grace, gifts, and characteristics of God in people. It is holding others in higher esteem than yourself because of what you see in them (what God has placed in them). It may sound odd, but even non-Christians do this (without acknowledging the God bit of course). Honouring really boils down to seeing others through God’s eyes, and treating then accordingly.
In Acts, honour most often seems to be expressed through hospitality and relationship (friendship), but many other expressions occur all through this book. The hospitality shown in Malta in the first half of this passage is most likely cultural. (This is something that is often missing in our culture, both national and church culture.) In this passage there was no relationship yet between the Maltese and the shipwrecked company, however through honouring, by hospitality, relationship grows. Through this relationship people start to recognise the grace of God in Paul and his companions. Which in turn results in greater honour.
In verse 10 we read that the Maltese greatly honour them. There is a sense that they were used to being honoured (not that they demanded it), but these people went above and beyond that. In verse 14 the brothers and sisters in Puteoli honour them by extending hospitality for seven days, and in verse 15 the Roman Christians go far out of their way to greet them and make them feel welcome. Notice that both the brothers and sisters in Puteoli, as well as those in Rome, had never met Paul or his companions. They had probably heard about them, but to all intents and purposes they were strangers, yet they honoured them. In fact so great is the honour extended to Paul during his journey, and the impression that he made on the centurion, that even the Romans honour him and allow him to stay by himself, be it with a soldier to guard him.
Of course honour is a two way thing. Paul honours others, Christians and non-Christians alike, by spending time with them, befriending them, praying for them, healing them, and explaining the gospel to them. In fact I would argue that the display of God’s power that we looked at earlier always flows from a place of honouring. This is why honour is so important.
There is so much we can learn from the flow of honour and power in Acts, but we can’t go far wrong if we start by honouring the people around us, whether family, friends, acquaintances, or random strangers. Learn to see people through God’s eyes, ask Him to show you what He sees when He looks at them, you might be surprised by His answers, I often have been.