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.”

14 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.

  5. This is my first time reading through the book of Acts from start to finish. I found myself so deeply involved in the Gospel narrative, and constantly wondering what was going to happen next or who would be saved. I find it interesting that throughout the whole book of Acts, Paul is faced with opposition wherever he goes. This opposition may have been small (Acts 16:6), or large (Acts 27), but it did not stop him from sharing the Word of God. Instead, God starts to use Paul as an instrument to reveal truth to the Gentiles. In every city he resides, he teaches first to the Jews, and after being denied, he turns to the Gentiles (Long, 2019). In the final chapter of Acts, Paul addresses this fact once and for all stating that salvation has been given to Gentiles because they have learned to listen to the word of God, unlike the Jews who hear but do not understand, and see but do not perceive (Acts 28:26). Although Luke records this final address to the people of Rome in the book of Acts, it does not mean that he stopped ministering to Jews altogether for his final two years in Rome (Polhill, 2008, p. 2338).

  6. The last line of Acts takes me to another line we encounter in the gospels. In Matthew 16, Jesus says “the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church.” Here we see that nothing shall hinder the gospel. The purpose of the church is to spread the gospel, so if the gospel shall not be hindered, it makes sense that the church should not be either. Paul’s preaching journey throughout the Book of Acts is a great example of this, as his ministry is still successful and the gospel is still spread whether he is in prison, free, etc. This is because God is not confined by a box. His will being accomplished is not based on human circumstance, and it is important for us to remember this in our own ministry. Things may not always look ideal or how we imagined them and they may not always be smooth sailing (no pun intended), but we can still trust in the Word of the Lord that His will for the gospel will prevail. This indeed is a blessed assurance.

  7. Another example of the unhindered boldness of Paul is during his arrest in Philippi. Paul and Silas sing hymns and praise God despite the fact that they are in chains (16:25). This kind of spiritual transcendence (If I can call it that. Or is that term too loaded with connotations from other religions?) appears throughout the book of Acts and is the main theme. The Holy Spirit works in ways that go beyond the physical. The “treasure held in jars of clay” is “all surpassing”. It even goes beyond Paul or any one person. The final remarks of the book of Acts are not in regard to Paul’s situation in Rome, but to the spread of the Gospel.

  8. Like we talked about in class today, the last words of the book of Acts; “boldly and without hindrance” (28:31) is a succinct way to summarize the book of Acts. Paul certainly was bold in his teaching of the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles alike despite the many oppositions he faced. This pertains to the apostles as well, like Peter and John in Acts 4:13 (Long, para. 2). They were not only confident in their boldness, but they made sure that all knew that it was through God they were able to do miraculous works. Such as, when Paul and Barnabas were thought to be Zeus and Hermes in Acts 14, they adamantly replied that it was the power of God who did such things. Likewise, Paul made a statement of faith in Acts 27 that it was God that was going to save everyone on the ship. Furthermore, opposition was faced in a variety of ways through the book of Acts, although at varying levels. Paul is a prime example of being bold in the face of such opposition. Since Paul’s conversion in Acts, he does not hesitate to do exactly as he is told by God, and he is obedient in all circumstances. Nothing hinders him, even throughout the opposition. The blog says, “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.'” (Long, para. 8). It shows that the boldness of Paul’s faith transcends his circumstances, and that he is without hindrance, and ready to die for his faith.

  9. I like the emphasis on the fact that this world “boldly” “has the nuance of confidence”– Paul is not merely arrogant, nor is he cocky, but rather he is speaking with the knowledge that he is speaking the truth, that God is on his side (Long blog). Paul is not saying “I guess” or “I think.” If he were, then I think we would see his boldness wane, we would see him change his mind, when he is imprisoned or beaten. Rather, he doubles down–he continues to speak the truth even when it seems like execution is right around the corner.

    I also think it’s interesting to look into more of what “without hindrance” means. We may read that and say “does this mean Paul was untouchable? That he did not experience hardship? I thought be was in prison?” The Gospel is not hindered, even when Paul *physically* might be hindered. For the two years mentioned briefly in Acts 28:31, Paul is still under guard. He has “his own quarters,” but is still being guarded–and yet he shared “the gospel with *all* who came to him,” including both Jews and Gentiles (Polhill, p. 2145). Even though Paul was not kept in some dank, dark prison like we may imagine, he was not fully free–in many ways we might consider him “hindered.” And yet the Gospel is not hindered. Paul used this time not only to preach the Gospel to any who would listen, but it was also “during his Roman imprisonment that he wrote the letters to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon” (Polhill, p. 2145). Although Paul is physically restrained, he “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” (Long blog).

  10. Paul’s way of preaching “boldly and without hindrance” should serve as an example for us living in the current century. Sometimes it may feel as though we are not at not able to freely talk about Jesus and the Gospel without people getting offended – even at the mere fact that we call ourselves Christians too. However, as mentioned in the blog, the theme of the book of Acts shows how the Gospel can be shared bodily despite the interference of others. We see the stories of Peter and Stephen, how one died for sharing the Gospel boldly and the other was used to reach the Gentiles so the Gospel could be shared boldly to all people. Long also makes a great point that all these people used by God were confident in what they spoke because they knew it to be true (par. 5), even if it meant they may die or spend years detained. Even then, Paul demonstrates too that even through his detention God still used him in a way which he continued to boldly share and further the Gospel through his letters to the different churches (Polhill, 2145). Therefore if we also know of the truth of the Gospel then we too should not fear or be timid but rather boldly share it.

  11. When God called Paul to minister to the Jews and Gentiles, there was no limit to how God led him to minister. Paul was arrested numerous times, took multiple missionary trips, encouraged churches in many different countries, and ultimately led the modern-day church in how to approach mission work.
    Throughout Paul’s ministry, he definitely spoke boldly. He did not show fear as he spoke truth to those who needed to hear it. This can be seen throughout Acts, as well as in his letters to the churches. I think his bold speech can really be seen in scenes in Scripture when Paul is speaking in front of people who are against him.
    Even though people did physically try to hinder Paul’s ministry of spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles, he was never actually hindered. God continued to use Paul even when times got hard. As you mentioned in this blog, Paul was arrested many times and in many different places/situations.
    It is amazing how when God promises for something to happen, he makes everything work out. I think that truth is especially evident in Paul’s Ministry. Against all odds, God still worked through Paul’s life, knowledge and testimony to share the Gospel, which is life saving and changing, to the world.

  12. Nothing will hinder the Gospel is a phrase that is underrated. This phrase shows the power of God and wraps up Paul’s ministry as he faced so many trials along the way but nothing could stop him from spreading the good news. The emphasis on the fact that the book of Acts wraps up with bold and without hindrance wraps up our purpose on Earth. No matter what we do and no matter what we go through we can always spread the word of God. This task needs to be met with confidence and also with great wisdom! The blog post hits on the nail when Acts 2:29 tells us that Peter says things with confidence. This means we must study to show ourselves approved unto God and we need to rightly divide the word of truth which will lead to speaking boldly. This hindrance will always be present and we must push on toward the goal to spread the Gospel. Jesus and Paul lay this out as perfect examples that we must follow. Will you be hindered? What motivates you to push on?

  13. Immediately after reading this blog post and Acts 28, I had two initial thoughts. First off, the word “hinderance” is something I always defined as not being able to do my work because something is blocking my way through. I see it exactly like this in Acts and as Long brought up, in 1 Thessalonians 3:18 when Satan attacked in spiritual warfare and tore up the road they were going to walk through. We are able to compare this with our lives now, which leads me to my second thought: the idea of preaching the Gospel boldly and without hindrance. Sometimes I forget to pray for help through my spiritual warfare battles, that isn’t always on our pray lists: to preach the Gospel without hinderance. Of course, we need to take this Scripture in the context of the time period of Luke writing Acts, but because I believe it was a command to Christians, it is definitely something we need to keep in mind. So, to end a pretty significant book of the Bible and chapter of Paul’s life, of course Luke would end it in a command so that nothing would ever come close to hindering the Gospel.

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