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Read Introduction to Acts

 

1 Now when they had escaped, they then found out that the island was called Malta. 2 And the natives showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold. 3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. 4 So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.” 5 But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god. 

 

The first 10 verses relate how God used Paul on the island of Malta.  

28:1 

Now when they had escaped, they then found out that the island was called Malta. 

After their shipwreck on an island, Paul’s group learned they were on Malta, 58 miles south of Sicily. The storm had driven the ship 600 miles west of Fair Havens, Crete.  

28:2 

And the natives showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold. 

The natives of Malta showed extraordinary kindness to the ship’s people. They made a fire because of the cold from the rain.  

28:3 

But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. 

A snake came out of the fire and fastened on Paul’s hand.  

28:4 

So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.” 

The natives of Malta assumed Paul must have been a criminal because of the poisonous snake biting his hand. In their minds, it was retribution from god.  

28:5 

But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. 

Paul shook the snake off his hand and back into the fire, having suffered no harm from the viper.  

28:6 

However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god. 

The natives expected that Paul’s hand would swell up and he would suddenly fall dead. After waiting a long time, they saw no harm to him. Then they changed their minds about Paul being a criminal to his being a god. These people made no attempt to worship Paul, as had the people in Lystra (Acts 14:15-18).  

PRINCIPLE: 

God sometimes uses unusual means to accomplish His purposes.  

APPLICATION: 

God does not always do what we expect Him to do. On occasion, He does unexpected things with His people.   

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