Over the past month, we have been taking a detailed look at the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul. It has been eye opening to “walk in Paul’s shoes” as he makes disciples among the Gentiles. We discovered that Paul had a plan on how to make disciples every where he went. If you have not been following the series, take a look at the following articles.
- Saul the bully in Acts 7-9
- Paul’s first missionary journey
- A church is formed in Philippi
- Two churches are formed in Thessalonica and yet another in Berea.
- Paul makes disciples in Miletus
This week, we are going to take a look at Paul in the city of Rome. There is already a church in Rome, composed of born again Jews and born again Gentiles. Two of Paul’s disciples, Priscilla and Aquila, have a church in their home. This is the church addressed in Paul’s epistle to the Romans. It is a very dangerous time for Jews and Christians in the Roman empire, especially in the capital city of Rome.
Paul’s trip to Rome is quite amazing. He was taken to Rome as a prisoner. He was placed under arrest for preaching the Gospel and was given ample opportunities to defend himself before all. When given the opportunity to speak, Paul always proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He actually ended up making more disciples while locked up. Paul appealed to Rome so, the Roman empire funded Paul’s 4th missionary journey. He was able to preach the Gospel over and over again during the “mission trip” from Jerusalem to Rome. We will pick up the story in Acts 28 with Paul’s arrival in Rome.
I. Paul continues to work according to his plan
When Paul went to a new Gentile city, he would always seek out a synagogue and be allowed to teach the Word of God while he was there. This was something that he had learned from Jesus Christ. When Christ walked the earth, He would go to the synagogue as a traveling Rabbi and be allowed to read from the Scriptures and teach. In Rome, Paul was under a kind of “house arrest” so he could not visit the synagogues. But, he did not let that stop him. Since he had rented quarters, he called the Jews of Rome to come and visit him. They did not know about all that had happened to him so they were interested to learn why he was under house arrest as Paul was a Roman citizen.
23 When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. (Acts 28)
Another part of Paul’s plan for making disciples was to get the Jews to study the Scriptures. The Jewish people knew a lot “about” the Scriptures because the Scriptures had been “explained” to them all their lives. The problem was, they never actually dug into the Biblical text themselves. Paul knew this because he had been one of their teachers. Paul’s plan was to reason with the Jews from the Scriptures. This implies asking questions and finding the answers from the Biblical text. This is an awesome method because it is what is known as “inductive” Bible study. A good leader/disciple-maker knows how to take people into the Word of God and help them discover Truth for themselves. As a spiritual leader, do you have a plan that you can use and work according to every where that you go? This is vital. The best way to discover and develop that plan is to study the Word of God. In II Timothy 3, Paul explains this to Timothy.
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
As the Word of God trains us, God uses It to make us adequate where ever we find ourselves. We will be equipped with a plan that works no matter where you find yourself.
II. The Word of God demonstrates the power of God
While Paul met with the Jews in Rome, he did not focus on his masterful speaking abilities. Paul pointed the Jews to the Scriptures to explain the kingdom of God. This reminds us of what Jesus taught in Mark 1.
- the time is now
- the kingdom of heaven is available
- receive forgiveness/release
- receive peace
- follow Jesus
- learn to make disciples
The reason that Paul wanted to meet with the Jews was, so that he could make disciples, the same calling that every follower of Jesus Christ has been given. Paul was very successful with this method and we know this based on the church plants in so many different cities, as well as from the epistles written to many of Paul’s disciples.
24 Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe. (Acts 28)
The Word of God did Its work and some of the Jews in Rome chose to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Others though, who heard and understood the message of the Gospel, chose not to believe. Paul did not let that bother him. In fact, he gave those who would not believe one final warning, the same warning that Jesus gave to the Jews in Israel.
25 And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers,
26 saying, ‘GO TO THIS PEOPLE AND SAY, “YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; AND YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE;
27 FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, AND WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES; OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT SEE WITH THEIR EYES, AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.”‘
28 “Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.”
29 [When he had spoken these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves.] (Acts 28)
Paul’s final word was a quote from the Prophet Isaiah. As a result, the Jews who chose not to believe chose to reject God’s salvation, yet again. There was some doubt though, even among those who did not believe.
III. Discipleship continues
As we have seen all through Paul’s ministry, obstacles did not hinder him from making disciples. In fact, the obstacles opened up more and more opportunities to make more and more disciples. Even now, Paul is detained yet, many people are seeking him out to hear his teachings from the Scriptures.
30 And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him,
31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered. (Acts 28)
While in Rome and detained, Paul was able to minister unhindered for two full years. He preached about the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the picture of disciple making. Many church goers today have freedom and tools that Paul would have only dreamed about yet, are so unproductive when it comes to making disciples. We need to take a long, hard look at Paul and then take a long, hard look at ourselves and see where we need to allow God to correct our thinking, attitude, and actions. May the Lord help us become master disciple makers the way that Paul was during his lifetime.