We come to the last chapter of Acts in today's readings, Acts 28, where Paul finally arrives at Rome. Within a few days he has called the leaders of the Jews together to explain his position, his reason for being in Rome, and the gospel of which he is an ambassador, now in chains. See verse 20.
Starting at verse 23, when on an appointed day they have come together to hear his views, he launches in:
"23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. 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. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved."
So far, so good. Some are believing as is always the case, and some are not. But then we have verse 25 and following, which seems to stand out:
"25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:
26 “‘Go to this people, and say,
“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
27 For this people's heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, 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 listen.”
What is Paul doing? He was getting some response in his earlier defense of his faith and argument from scripture. But then, suddenly, "they departed after Paul made one statement."
Why did Paul make this one statement? Is this the best he could do? I went looking for some answers.
John MacArthur dealt with his passage in a sermon he preached (in 1975!) available here. He said "What began as a willful act turned into the sovereignty of God. Israel rejected, willfully blinded themselves, willfully deafened themselves, willfully did not understand and consequently were tied to that kind of destiny as God sealed their ears, their eyes, and their minds."
That is what Paul is testifying to. This is a repeated theme in the NT, and in response to the lack of faith of some, Paul faithfully declares the biblical truth.
Again, MacArthur: "...willful unbelief is turned into sovereign unbelief. He hath blinded their eyes, hardened their heart that they should not see with their eyes nor understand with their heart and be converted and I should heal them. Now what began as willful blindness turned into sovereign blindness."
Paul is faithful to declare the truth. That is the best he could do.
For more on the gospel to Israel vs Gentiles, read the MacArthur sermon linked above, or go directly to Romans 9-10, among other texts.
Derek Butler - I am a Christian, husband, father, son, brother, friend, reader, et al, all inadequately. This blog is a tool to encourage daily bible reading, for myself and others.
Click above to access the 5 Day Reading Plan used here. I am using the 5 readings Monday through Friday, with other postings on topics of interest Saturdays and Sundays.
Some Favorite Sites
Desiring God Ministries
Bible Design Blog
Calvary Baptist Church