Acts 28 – Nothing Will Hinder the Gospel

The last words of the book of Acts 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.

To speak “boldly” (παρρησία) is to have freedom to speak, perhaps even fearless speech. “Boldness” is a characteristic of apostolic preaching in the first part of Acts. The Sanhedrin saw that Peter and John spoke boldly (4:13), and the Jerusalem church prayed that God would continue to give them boldness (4:29); when they were filled with the Holy Spirit they did in fact speak with boldness (4:31).

apostle_paulBut the word also has the nuance of confidence, knowing that you are speaking the truth; that you know the right answer, etc. In Acts 2:29 Peter makes an argument based on Scripture that Jesus is the Messiah, he says this “with confidence.” This is the confidence which I began with – knowing that something is certainly true gives you a confidence and boldness which a “guess” does not. Paul can speak from his house arrest with confidence because he knows the gospel he proclaims is the truth.

“Without hindrance” (ἀκωλύτως) indicates that there were no groups that stood in his way, as Paul had to deal with earlier in the book. Sometimes this rare word is used in legal contexts (P.Oxy 502, Ant. 12.104, 16.41, for example). The word might be used to describe some legal constraint, you cannot do want you want to because of a legal ruling (think of a restraining order in contemporary culture).

If we read the whole book of Acts, we might see quite a bit of “restraining” going on, things hinder the progress of the Gospel from the very beginning of Paul’s ministry. Jews in Asia Minor actively work against him on the first missionary journey, attack him publicly and stone him at Lystra, and continue to harass him when he returns to Jerusalem in the late 50s.

While Rome does not actively hinder Paul’s mission, he was in Roman custody several times in the book: at Philippi, nearly so at Thessalonica, he was arrested in Corinth, and was likely under arrest at some point in Ephesus, he cause a riot there as well. When he finally returned to Jerusalem he was taken into protective custody by Rome, but held for two years in Caesarea before being shipped to Rome, where he is under house arrest (at his own expense) for two years.

We might also add a kind of spiritual hindrance to this list as well. For example, Paul was forced to leave Thessalonica and was unable to return to the city, although he wanted to. In 1 Thess 3:18 he says that “Satan blocked our way,” literally “Satan tore up the road” so that Paul could not return and finish his work in the city. What happens in Corinth and Ephesus can also be taken as spiritual warfare, Satan was actively hindering Paul’s mission.

The book ends by telling us nothing is restraining the gospel. Paul is not hindered in the least by his imprisonment and there is nothing Rome can do to stop the gospel from going “to the ends of the earth.”

5 thoughts on “Acts 28 – Nothing Will Hinder the Gospel

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  2. Thanks for your insight. I wonder if Paul is referring to doing everything he could convince the Jews of the gospel, but since they would not have it, he was legally free (unhindered) to focus on the Gentiles as God asked of him.
    PS, I believe 1 Thes 2:18 would be the correct reference for being hindered by Satan.

  3. Paul’s journey is told throughout the book of Acts and we can see his boldness on full display in times of persecution or the fear of it. We also see this boldness in Peter and the other apostles before Paul’s conversion experience. The same for them, we saw their boldness most on display in the threat of death, injury, or imprisonment. The phrase “without hinderance” is twofold, both physical hinderance and spiritual hinderance. Paul’s imprisonment and experience in house arrest was a physical hinderance but even despite this, the Gospel message still prevailed. This speaks to the power of God more than anything else. The biggest intention in these prosecution and imprisonment to the apostles was to hinder and stop the spreading of their message, but in reality, nothing can stop what God has already made a way for. The death of Jesus is a prime example. They thought they had bested this teacher by putting him to death, but it is exactly what he intended and he rose from the dead three days later fulfilling prophecy and making the Gospel even more “dangerous”. For Paul, he wrote some of his letters to the churches from prison. We have that evidence now that is able to further the Kingdom more than the Romans could have ever imagined.

  4. I love this last statement by Paul- for me it totally encapsulates what he was all about as a man but more importantly as a man of God and follower of Christ. The words “boldly and without hindrance” are just absolute gold, and honestly, Paul lived this way every moment when he shared the gospel. He truly appeared to live a fearless life for the Lord. I believe Acts 16 when he and Silas are in prison illustrates this so well. He is being beaten facing death and is in prison, yet he is singing songs of praise with the prisoners and even ends up leading the jailer to Christ. If that were me in that situation, I would be afraid for my life, let alone being brave enough to sing praise songs with the prisoners. In this situation and so many others, Paul doesn’t let his circumstances define his situation, he lets Christ lead him. And that’s a game-changer. In the end, it’s told to us that nothing is restraining the gospel. I feel like in today’s church, we seem to have too many excuses and self-inflicted “restraints.” We need to be looking to Paul as a great example of an excuse-free Christian life well-lived.

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