As we get to the end of the book of Acts, I am reminded of Winston Churchill’s famous speech at the turning point of WW2 in 1942. He spoke “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
We see the end of the beginning of the early church in this last chapter of Acts and the resulting spread of the Gospel message far and wide. Paul finally reaches Rome via Malta and Sicily (Syracuse). On Malta, Paul survives a snake bite (see Mark Ch.16 v 18) and the people jump to a superstitious conclusion – he is a god. Jesus had told Paul he would testify the Gospel message in Rome. Paul shows the power of the true God by praying for the sick.
Paul is greeted and met by Roman Christians who had travelled over forty miles to rendezvous with him. These are the Christian brothers whom Paul had written his epistle to nearly five years before. What an encouragement when the work of the Lord bears fruit!
Paul then was under house arrest in Rome, the city of the great orators. Unable to travel in the city he invites people to visit him. Wherever Paul went and no matter the circumstances, he carried on preaching the Gospel. The content of Paul’s message was – the kingdom of God and Jesus. His time in imprisonment wasn’t wasted as he wrote the epistles Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. These four books are packed with statements of the supremacy of Christ despite Paul being in a city where the Emperor Nero claimed to the masses that he was a god. Paul and his team arrived in Rome as the sons of the true God.
In Phil Moore’s commentary he states the biggest mistake people make when they finish the book of Acts is to assume that it is a story of the past and not of the present. Luke finishes the book abruptly and incomplete (not the style of a polished Greek historian) to show us it hasn’t finished. It has been said that “When Cicero spoke, people marvelled; when Caesar spoke, people marched.” Luke ends the book of Acts in a manner not to make his readers marvel but to make them march. The book of Acts is about ordinary people doing extraordinary acts for God through the power of the Holy Spirit.
WE may be at the beginning of the end in world history but the great commission of Jesus in Matthew Ch.28 v 16 – 20 still remains the same, and it is through ordinary people doing extraordinary acts for God whatever their location or circumstance.