Acts 28:30-31 – Boldly and Without Hindrance

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Acts 28:30-31 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Luke gives us a very brief overview of the next two years, but leaves out all the details we want to know.  What happens to Paul and his case before the Romans? The traditional answer is that he went to trial and was acquitted, or because to Jews from Jerusalem came to accuse him, he was set free. It is clear from the Pastoral Epistles that Paul was not free at the time of his death, that he was in chains in a tradition prison, and that all had left him.  He was far from the description of his ministry found here in Acts 28. It is likely that Paul was released after the two years, and that he ministered around Rome, possible into Spain, and then was arrested in Rome in the early 60’s where he was executed by Nero.

Why doesn’t Luke finish Paul life?  It is possible that he wanted to but died, either of natural causes or from the same persecution that killed Paul.  If the idea that the book was a legal brief for Paul’s defense in Rome, then the purpose was fulfilled, and Luke may not have seen the need to write a third part to his history.  1 Clement 5:7 states that Paul went to the “furthest point in the West,” the Straits of Gibraltar.  In addition, the Muratorian Fragment, dated about A.D. 180-200, states that Luke omitted the Passion of Peter and Paul’s “departure from the city and his journey to Spain.”

James Dunn, on the other hand, suggests that the trial went badly for Paul and he was executed; Luke simply ended his story on a high note rather than with the execution of Paul (Dunn, Beginning From Jerusalem, 1053). This view must consider the pastoral epistles as well-meaning forgeries of the Pauline school rather than genuine letters from Paul.

The last words of the book in the Greek are “boldly and without hindrance.” This is a good theme to leave the book of Acts, that Paul preached the gospel boldly and without hindrance.  Boldly is…”freedom in speaking, unreservedness in speech;  openly, frankly, i.e without concealment;  without ambiguity or circumlocution; without the use of figures and comparisons; free and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance; the deportment by which one becomes conspicuous or secures publicity

Without hindrance indicates that there were no groups that stood in his way, as Paul had to deal with earlier in the book.  Whether Jews or pagans, there was always someone hindering his preaching. But in Rome Paul is free to proclaim Jesus to both Jew and Roman without persecution or hindrance.

The content of this bold preaching continues to be the kingdom of God and teaching about Jesus. It might be a surprise to us that Paul would continue to preach the Kingdom of God, but this is exactly how Luke began his book, the preaching of the kingdom of God would start in Jerusalem and go out to the entire world.  By the end of his book, the gospel is proclaimed with complete freedom in Rome.