Taking the Torch – Acts 28:17-31: Reflection Guide

Reflection Guide

Key Terms

Rome – The home of the Roman Empire, which spanned much of the Mediterranean region in the 1st century. Christians were present in Rome by the 40’s AD and the city would eventually become the base of the Catholic Church.

Sect – Also used in Acts to describe Pharisees and Sadducees, this word reinforces the reality that Christianity was originally seen as a group within Judaism, not a separate religion.

Kingdom of God – A key concept in Luke and Acts, which broadly refers to God’s sovereign rule over the universe, but also more specifically refers to the spiritual and physical renewal begun by Jesus in his life, death, and resurrection, and carried forward by his followers.

Did you know?

We don’t know the end of Paul’s story. Church tradition suggests that Paul was released and went on to preach the gospel in Spain, but there’s little evidence supporting this claim. It’s possible Paul was released or executed.


After winter had passed, Paul and the rest of the group leave Malta in a new ship and complete their journey to Rome. (vv. 11-15). By arriving in Rome, Paul has essentially completed Jesus’ promise in Acts 1:8 that his followers would be his witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). In Rome, Paul was essentially on house arrest and was allowed to stay in a home under guard from a solider (v. 16). Shortly after arriving, Paul called the Jewish leaders in Rome to his house and to explain himself (v. 17). The Jews in Rome knew about Christians and tell Paul that everywhere it is spoken against, but they still desire to hear more about his beliefs (v. 22). When they return to Paul’s home, Luke says, From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets (v. 23). The result is that some believe and some do not, leading Paul to quote Isaiah 6:9-10 which prophecies about God’s people rejecting his message (vv. 24-27).

And then Acts ends with Luke telling his readers that Paul lived in Rome for two years, preaching the gospel to all who would listen, and that he did this with all boldness and without hindrance (vv. 30-31). The book seems to end abruptly and, although we don’t know for sure why that is, there are several options as to why: 1) the ending is intentional and highlights the unhindered nature of the gospel, 2) Luke anticipated writing more but didn’t, 3) Luke wrote another volume to the story that has been lost. Whatever Luke’s motives, Acts is the inspired word of God and the ending we have is exactly how God intended it to be.

Going Deeper

Read Philippians 2:1-11 and John 13:12-17. The book of Acts presents the story of the kingdom of God breaking out in the world, but it looks nothing like the successful human kingdoms of the world. How does Paul’s life (and the whole story of Acts) model Jesus’ life? How are their examples different from other cultural leaders? How does the way of the kingdom in Acts challenge you?

Reflection Questions

Learning the Word

  1. Read Acts 28:17-31. What words, phrases, or sentences most catch your attention?
  2. In Acts 28:17-28, how would you describe Paul’s ministry strategy? What things appear to be the most important to Paul?
  3. Reread Acts 28:30-31. Does this feel like a satisfying ending to the book of Acts? Why or why not?
  4. Read Acts 1:6-8 and 28:30-31 together. These two sections serve as bookends at the beginning and the ending of the book of Acts. What ideas are present in both passages? How does this ending provide a fulfillment of the beginning?

Living the Word

  1. Where did you see God working throughout this book? What does this teach you about God’s faithfulness?
  2. If you were to craft a sentence to put the theme of the message of the book of Acts in one sentence, what would it be?
  3. Looking back over the book, what major lesson stands out most to you? What verses or incidents were most significant to you personally? Why?

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