Welcome to the sixth of my Romans 15:8 monthly posts. If you have recently joined the Romans 15:8 network may I thank you for doing so. It is so important to build up a ‘community of like- minded Church leaders’ who will stand for God’s ongoing purposes for Israel and the ongoing call to share the Gospel with Jewish people.
Teaching reflection of the month
This month I have just completed the final part of what will hopefully become my next CMJ book, “100 Days with Acts”. If all goes well I will hope to publish this early in 2019. I will also be offering free copies to all members of the Romans 15:8 network. Watch this space for details!
For my teaching reflection this month I want to share with you what will be the final commentary (day 100) from ” 100 Days with Acts”. This is based on Acts 28:30-31.
Luke concludes Acts with Paul keeping an ‘open house’ in Rome. Paul was able to welcome all who came to him, and he also continued without hindrance his proclaiming of the kingdom and teaching about Jesus.
We do not know what happened to Paul after these two years (:30) which would take us to around the end of AD60. Paul at this point would probably be in his early sixties. Maybe he was released? Clearly he expected to be (See Philippians 1:19-26 and Philemon 1:22). Maybe he resumed some new missionary journeys? Some argue that Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus clearly imply that he did undertake a number of missionary journeys after his release from house arrest in Rome. Maybe Paul even travelled as far as Spain? Clearly this was his intention as shown in Romans 15:24. Maybe, however, he was executed shortly after these two years, or a few years later in or around AD 66?
I think the strongest tradition indicates that Paul did indeed leave Rome after these two years of house arrest and took part in more missionary journeys. Also during this time he wrote his two New Testament letters to Timothy and his one letter to Titus. Following this, he was imprisoned once again in Rome and was martyred (beheaded) along with Peter (crucified) under the orders of Emperor Nero in AD 66. AD 66 was the year when the first stirrings of the Jewish revolt against Rome began. This revolt was crushed finally in AD 70, and this included the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the exiling of many Jewish people from the land of Israel.
The important point, however, when reflecting on these final verses from Acts is not to conclude with this speculation. The key focus of Acts is not Paul (or Peter, James or Cornelius etc.) or any specific event or place. The focus is on Jesus and the spreading of His gospel. Acts gives to us a precious insight into the growth of the Church and the spreading of the gospel within specific historical, cultural and geographical settings. The vital thing to know and celebrate is that the spreading of the gospel is not limited to any specific time, culture or place, but continues everywhere even “…to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8) in the here and now, and will continue forever until the time of the LORD’s promised return (Acts 1:11).
Ministry news update
During the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to minister in Israel and was able to visit a number of key sites in and around Jerusalem. One key site was the impressive hill-top fortress at Masada situated on the south-west side of the Dead Sea. In thinking about this remarkable site and the events which took place there, I was greatly helped by my colleague (Dr Garth Gilmour) from CMJ Israel who has shared about a recent visit to Masada in his own blog. You can read this blog (Directors Corner) via the CMJ Israel website.
In addition to the time in Israel, I attended the Apologetics conference which I gave details about in my September update. It was good to meet a number of you from the Romans 15:8 network at this event. The teaching sessions from Michael Brown, Darrel Bock and Mitch Glaser were especially helpful.
Finally, in a few days’ time, my home Church (Linton) will be hosting the Bible Come to Life Exhibition. This exhibition is an excellent teaching and outreach resource. If you are thinking of hosting this event or if you would like more information about doing so, please contact see our website or contact my colleagues Paul and Janey Hames.
I would like to recommend a new book published by Christian Publications International. It is titled ‘Three Days and Three Nights’. This book is written by David Serle and Peter Sammons and it is an in-depth study of the events and the time-line leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
Peter Sammons will also be presenting a workshop at the CMJ conference (12-14th July 2019) which will be based on the research findings from this book.
Monthly Memory Verse
“I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who stay united with me, and I with them, are the ones who bear much fruit: because apart from me you can’t do a thing.”
(John 15:5 - Complete Jewish Bible, translation by David H. Stern).