28:30–31 The book of Acts ends in an unexpectedly open-ended fashion. Paul remained a prisoner two whole years. During this time he lived at his own expense and was allowed to have visitors to whom he proclaimed his message boldly and without hindrance. Church tradition has long held that Paul was beheaded during the persecution instigated by the Roman emperor Nero (AD 64 or 65). It is possible that Paul was executed in Rome after the “two whole years,” though church historian Eusebius believed Paul was released from Roman imprisonment, only to be rearrested at a later date, sent to Rome, and executed. The fact that Luke does not write of Paul’s execution leads some scholars to conclude that Luke wrote the book of Acts previous to Paul’s execution, though it is possible that Luke chose not to discuss the details of Paul’s death because his aim was to show that God had fulfilled his purpose in Paul: taking the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul’s preaching day and night in the seat of the pagan Roman Empire ensured that Christianity would become an international phenomenon, not just a regional religious anomaly.
28:30–31 Acts ends with Paul still a prisoner after two years of captivity, during which time he lived at his own expense and was allowed to have visitors, to whom he proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ. The book of Acts ends at this point, and it may be that he was convicted and died in Rome at this time. There is testimony from other early church writers, however, that Paul was released, presumably because his case was either dismissed or found to be without merit, and that he engaged in active ministry for another several years before he was re-arrested and sent to Rome, where he died under the persecution of Nero.
28:30, 31 From a.d. 60–62 Paul was under house arrest preaching and teaching to anyone who wanted to hear. His subject is summarized as the kingdom of God and Jesus Christ. At the end of Acts, Paul has not yet been tried before Nero, as the Lord said was going to happen (27:24). It appears that Paul expected to be acquitted and released (Phil. 1:25; 2:24; Philem. 22). This must have occurred before a.d. 64, when Nero set fire to Rome and accused Christians of that crime. When released, Paul seems to have taken up his ministry again, going as far as Greece (Nicopolis, Titus 3:12; Thessalonica, 2 Tim. 4:10), Crete (Titus 1:5), and Asia Minor (Ephesus, 2 Tim. 1:18; 4:12; Troas, 2 Tim. 4:13; Miletus, 2 Tim. 4:20). Possibly he went as far west as Spain (Rom. 15:23, 24, 28), as the first-century writing 1 Clement may indicate. About a.d. 67, Paul was imprisoned again by Nero and executed. In 2 Tim. 4:6–8, Paul anticipates the end of his life.
28:31 with all boldness and without hindrance. For Paul, Luke, and those who followed, the message about Jesus and the glorious kingdom of God was to go on in triumph.
28:31 without hindrance No one stopped Paul’s ministry, and even though he was essentially under house arrest he continued his ministry with complete freedom. Luke (the narrator) concludes by reasserting a major theme of Acts: The progress of the gospel cannot be stopped.
28:30–31 For Paul’s provision of his own quarters, cf. v. 16. His sharing the gospel with all who came to him would have included both Jews and Gentiles (cf. note on v. 28). This situation continued for two whole years (a.d. 60–62), at which time Luke’s account ends. Information as to what happened beyond that time comes from extrabiblical sources and from hints in the last few of Paul’s letters. First Clement 5.7 (written a.d. 95, perhaps the earliest known orthodox Christian writing after the NT) speaks of Paul preaching in “the limits of the west,” which probably indicates his fulfilling his desire to preach in Spain (see Rom. 15:24). That would point to his release from the first Roman imprisonment. The church historian Eusebius, writing in a.d. 325, cites the tradition that Paul was freed from confinement and carried on a further ministry until he was arrested and placed in a second Roman imprisonment, at which time he was martyred (Ecclesiastical History 2.22). In God’s sovereignty, Paul’s time in prison was not wasted, for it was during his Roman imprisonment that he wrote the letters to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. The time after Paul’s release from his first imprisonment (mid-60s) would be when he wrote 1 Timothy and Titus. He probably wrote his last letter, 2 Timothy, during his second imprisonment, as he awaited execution (cf. 2 Tim. 4:6–8).
28:31 with all openness, unhindered. Helped by his loyal fellow workers (cf. Col 4:10; Phm 24), Paul evangelized Rome (cf. Php 1:13; 4:22).
28:31 Luke does not reveal what happened to Paul’s case. Apparently it had not yet been decided when Luke finished Acts. There are good reasons for believing that Paul was released, since he had been found innocent by all Roman officials up to this point. Ancient tradition tells us that Paul actually went to Spain as he desired (Rom. 15:24). In his captivity letters, Paul expressed his hope of being released (Philem. 22) and his confidence that he would be released (Phil. 1:25). Paul’s Pastoral Epistles contain items that cannot be fitted into the Book of Acts, suggesting that they were written later. For instance, Titus 1:5 implies that Paul ministered on the island of Crete, something that is not reported in the Book of Acts. Paul most likely resumed his missionary travels for two more years before being rearrested, retried, condemned, and executed as a martyr some time between a.d. 64–67.
28:31. Luke describes Paul as preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ. These twin themes comprised the essence of Paul’s message. They evidenced the biblical hope in the future messianic kingdom which the Lord Jesus Christ will establish at His return. The apostle thus carried out his ministry with all confidence, no one forbidding him. Both his message and his method—boldly and freely—help validate his integrity. Theophilus could take heart in that he had not believed in vain and that he could continue to build his faith on the apostle’s teaching. God had proven His faithfulness to Paul, and Paul had demonstrated his faithfulness to God. Theophilus could confidently imitate Paul’s following of Christ and his openness of belief.
28:31 He enjoyed a considerable measure of liberty, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.
Thus the Book of Acts closes. Some think it ends with a strange abruptness. However, the pattern outlined at the outset had now been fulfilled. The gospel had reached out to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and now the Gentile world.
The events in the life of Paul after the close of Acts can only be inferred from his later writings.
It is generally believed that after his two years in Rome, his case came before Nero and the verdict was acquittal.
He then embarked on what has come to be known as his Fourth Missionary Journey. Places which he probably visited on this trip, though not necessarily in this order were:
- COLOSSE and EPHESUS (Phmn. 22).
- MACEDONIA (1 Tim. 1:3; Phil. 1:25; 2:24).
- EPHESUS (1 Tim. 3:14).
- SPAIN (Rom. 15:24).
- CRETE (Titus 1:5).
- CORINTH (2 Tim. 4:20).
- MILETUS (2 Tim. 4:20).
- Winter spent in NICOPOLIS (Titus 3:12).
- TROAS (2 Tim. 4:13).
We have no information as to why, when, or where he was arrested, but we do know he was brought to Rome as a prisoner a second time. This imprisonment was much more harsh than the first (2 Tim. 2:9). He was deserted by most of his friends (2 Tim. 4:9–11), and knew that the time of his death was at hand (2 Tim. 4:6–8).
Tradition says he was beheaded outside Rome in A.D. 67 or 68. For Paul’s eulogy, read his own words in 2 Cor. 4:8–10, 6:4–10, and 11:23–28 along with our commentary on these inspiring summaries.
28:30–31. These verses are Luke’s final “progress report” (cf. 2:47; 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20). With freedom in his own rented quarters Paul … preached God’s kingdom. This eschatological expression indicates not only that Jews and Gentiles alike are justified by faith but also that Gentiles with Jews will participate in the millennial kingdom (cf. comments on 28:23).
One question commonly raised pertains to Paul’s activities after this two-year captivity. What happened? Perhaps no charges were filed in Rome and Paul was released. The Jews would know they had no case against Paul outside of Judea and so would be reluctant to argue their cause in Rome.
Probably Paul returned to the provinces of Macedonia, Achaia, and Asia and then turned west to Spain according to his original plans (Rom. 15:22–28). Then he ministered once more in the Aegean area where he was taken prisoner, removed to Rome, and executed.
During this two-year period Paul wrote what are commonly called his “Prison Epistles”—Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians (see the chart “Paul’s Epistles, Written on His Journeys and During His Imprisonments,” at Acts 13:6–25).
While Paul was in Rome during this incarceration the gospel was not bound. He spoke boldly (cf. comments on Acts 4:13). The last word in the Greek text of Acts is the adverb akōlytōs which means without hindrance. Men may bind the preachers, but the gospel cannot be chained!
And so it was that the kingdom message under God’s sovereign control went from Jew to Gentile, and from Jerusalem to Rome.
30–31 The situation remained as in 28:16, with Paul under ‘house arrest’ but free to witness to anyone who came within earshot. The phrase for two whole years prompts the reader to wonder what might have happened after that. It is likely that Paul was eventually executed by the Romans, but probably not at this point. What seems most likely is that the present case against Paul failed, he was released and travelled and wrote some more letters (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) before being rearrested and executed in ad 64. Why then did Luke end the account here? We may never know the answer to this, but the simplest answer remains a strong possibility. Luke finished the way that he did because he had brought the reader up to date. He was writing the book during Paul’s imprisonment and did not write about his trial or further adventures because they had not happened yet. The long road over Luke’s two books had brought the Christian story from its very beginnings, in the mysterious eastern capital Jerusalem, right up to what were to him and his readers ‘modern times’ and the centre of the world empire, Rome.
28:31. Acts ends on a note of triumph. The Word of God was being proclaimed with all openness (boldness), unhindered in Rome, the capital of the empire. As Paul testified during his second imprisonment, the messenger may be chained but not the message (2Tm 2:9).
The book of Acts also ends as it began, with the proclamation of the kingdom of God. In Ac 1, the resurrected Lord taught His followers about the kingdom of God. The setting was Jerusalem. Thirty years later, Paul taught about the kingdom of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. The setting was different. Now, it was Rome. Jesus’ witnesses did as He commanded. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they proclaimed the gospel in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and to the entire world.
Luke did not reveal what happened to Paul, indicating that the book was likely written before Paul’s release. The circumstances of his imprisonment suggest he was innocent of the charges of sedition. He was not a zealous revolutionary. He was a devoted and courageous follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul was Luke’s personal hero but only because God was with him. Bock is correct. In reality “God is the hero of Acts …” (Acts, 760). The Lord Jesus Christ is building His church, and all the forces of hell cannot overpower it.
28:31 “preaching … teaching” The early, post-apostolic church made a distinction between these two ways of presenting truth. The body of sermons recorded in Acts (Peter, Stephen, Paul) is called the Kerygma (proclamation, cf. 20:25; 28:31; Rom. 10:8; Gal. 2:2; 1 Cor. 9:27; 2 Tim. 4:2), while the teaching of Jesus interpreted in the Epistles is called the Didache (teaching, cf. 2:42; 5:28; 13:12; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 14:20).
28:31 “the kingdom of God” This was the subject of Jesus’ preaching. It refers to the reign of God in man’s hearts now that will one day be consummated on earth as it has been in heaven. This passage also shows that the topic is not only for Jews. See Special Topic at 2:35.
“the Lord”“Lord” is the translation of the Hebrew term adon, which meant “owner, husband, master, or lord.” The Jews became afraid of pronouncing the sacred name YHWH lest they take it in vain and break one of the Ten Commandments. Whenever they read the Scriptures, they substituted Adon for YHWH. This is why our English translations use all capitals Lord for YHWH in the OT. By transferring this title (kurios in Greek) to Jesus, the NT authors assert His deity and equality with the Father.
“Jesus”“Jesus” is the name given to the baby in Bethlehem by the angel (cf. Matt. 1:21). It is made up of two Hebrew nouns: “YHWH,” the covenant name for deity, and “salvation” (i.e. Hosea). It is the same Hebrew name as Joshua. When used alone it often identifies the man, Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary (ex. Matt. 1:16, 25; 2:1; 3:13, 15, 16).
“Christ”“Christ” is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah (i.e. an Anointed One). It asserts Jesus’ OT title as YHWH’s promised One sent to set up the new age of righteousness.
|“with all openness, unhindered”
|“with all confidence, no one forbidding him”
|“with all boldness and without hindrance”
|“speaking with all boldness and freedom”
|“with complete fearlessness and without any hindrance from anyone”
This verse shows that the Roman authorities did not consider Christianity subversive or dangerous. The Greek text ends with the ADVERB “unfettered” or “unhinderedly.” This seems to emphasize the ongoing nature of the task of proclamation and the power of the Spirit.
Many have assumed, based on Acts 1:1 use of “first,” which implies more than two, that Luke planned to write a third volume. Some even think that this third volume may be the Pastoral Letters (I Tim., II Tim. And Titus).
For the Greek term (parrhēsia), translated “openness” by NASB, see Special Topic at 4:29.
30. Paul stayed for two full years in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to him. 31. Boldly and unhindered he was preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.
- “Paul stayed for two full years.” With the time reference, Luke provides the last biographical note on Paul. He fails to disclose Paul’s release, subsequent travels, second imprisonment, and death. We know from his epistles that Paul expected to be released from prison (see Phil. 1:19, 25; 2:24) and would need lodging in Colosse (Philem. 22). The pastoral Epistles include references to places that are not mentioned in Acts. Hence we conclude that Paul must have traveled to Ephesus and Macedonia (1 Tim. 1:3; 3:14), Nicopolis (Titus 3:12), and Troas (2 Tim. 4:13). And finally, in his last epistle he writes that his execution is at hand (2 Tim. 4:6).
If Luke had known of Paul’s return to the congregation at Ephesus, he certainly would have written a different ending to the emotional farewell of the Ephesian elders (20:38). Luke apparently composed Acts during Paul’s imprisonment and completed it soon after his release (see the Introduction for the date of Acts).
We are unable to say why Paul was imprisoned for two years in the capital city. Scholars have suggested that, because his accusers failed to come to Rome for Paul’s trial within a two-year period, Paul was released. But we have no evidence that his case was dropped by default. “Roman tradition … is that the prosecutor must prosecute. The protection of the accused person lay not in any provision for an automatic release if his accusers were absent, but in the severity of the sanctions against defaulting prosecutors.”41 Further, in case of a “just cause” or the death of a prosecutor, the accused could request dismissal of the charges against him. Even then, Roman lawmakers were reluctant to cancel charges. In other words, if Paul’s accusers never presented themselves in Rome, Paul would remain a prisoner. At the end of the two years, Nero may have released him.
- “[Paul stayed] in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to him.” Another translation reads “at his own expense” (RSV). The Vulgate has the same rendering: in suo conducto (on his own resources). The crux of the matter lies in the Greek word misthōma, which means either “rent” (active) or “what is rented” (passive).
Luke writes that Paul stayed and not that he lived, by which he implies that Paul remained a prisoner in separate living quarters. Paul fulfilled his task of preaching and teaching the gospel to all the people who came to visit him. He simply lacked the time to supply his financial needs, for which, we presume, he depended on his friends.
- “Boldly, he was preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.” Luke completes the Book of Acts on a note of triumph. Paul preaches the kingdom of God and teaches about Jesus to anyone coming to his house. In addition to some of the Jews in Rome, numerous Gentiles came to him. Indeed, he was the appointed apostle to the Gentiles.
The word boldly signifies that Paul enjoyed complete freedom to preach and teach Christ’s gospel. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he could speak with authority to all his visitors and expect to see results in his ministry. The two clauses (“preaching the kingdom of God” and “teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ”) are synonymous and support each other. With the combination Lord Jesus Christ, Luke gives voice to the early Christian confession that Jesus is Lord (1 Cor. 12:3), in opposition to the Roman maxim Caesar is Lord. And with respect to the Jews, he testifies that Jesus is the Christ.
- “Unhindered.” This word, the last in the original text, is telling. Luke suggests that the Roman government placed no restrictions on the spread of the gospel throughout Rome and the empire. With this word, which because of its place in the Greek text is emphatic, Luke describes the openness of the state toward the church. Paul was vindicated and the charges leveled against him by the Jews were false. From Paul’s rented house the gospel went forth to the end of the world. And after his release, he continued his travels for the sake of the gospel.
His confinement in the city (vv. 30, 31). Luke intimates that Paul’s trial was delayed, and that during this time he remained in Rome as a prisoner. For “two whole years” he lived “in his own hired house” (v. 30a; “in a house which he rented for himself” tcnt; “at his own expense” (niv), preaching to them the kingdom (reign) of God and teaching them about the Lord Jesus “with all boldness” (v. 31b, asv; “utmost freedom,” Phillips; “openly,” Goodspeed) and “without hindrance” (Rotherham; “none forbiding him,” asv; “unmolested,” tcnt). The Romans apparently did not consider the Gospel to be subversive, and the preaching of it was not deemed illegal.
These verses (30, 31) describe what traditionally has been called Paul’s “first Roman imprisonment,” the suggestion being that at the end of the two-year confinement in Rome the apostle was released. During the period of the first imprisonment he wrote Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon, and Philippians, and those letters should be read for supplementary information about Paul’s activities, plans, and fellow-workers. The first three (Colossians, Ephesians, and Philemon) were written at about the same time, were carried by the same messenger (Tychicus), and were dispatched to the same part of the world (Asia). Philippians was probably the last of the four to be written.
It is widely held that Paul, after his supposed release and while engaged in further missionary endeavor, wrote letters to Timothy (First Epistle) and Titus. About the year a.d. 67, the theory states, Paul was arrested on orders from Nero and returned to Rome. On this occasion he was placed in the dungeon; from it he wrote his “last will and testament,” the Second Epistle to Timothy. Shortly thereafter he was executed by the Roman authorities.
Paul welcomes all who visit him (28:30–31)
In these last two verses of the Acts there is no mention of either Jews of Gentiles, as there has been in the previous paragraphs. The most natural explanation of this is that the ‘all’ who came to see Paul included both. The terrible verses from Isaiah 6 meant neither that no Jews were converted, nor that those Jews who believed would be rejected. Nevertheless, the emphasis of Luke’s conclusion is on the Gentiles who came to Paul, who were symbols and precursors of the vast, hungry Gentile world outside. They will listen! Paul had predicted (29). And listen they did. For two whole years they came to him and listened to him, as he stayed on in Rome, in his own rented accommodation, or ‘at his own expense’ (rsv, neb). Probably he resumed his tent-making, in order to pay his way. But when visitors came to see him, he laid aside his manual labour for evangelism. And what did he talk to them about? He again spoke about ‘the kingdom of God’ and ‘the Lord Jesus Christ’ (as in verse 23), especially in relation to each other. He ‘preached’ the former and ‘taught’ the latter, Luke says. This seems to mean that he proclaimed the good news of the breaking into human history of God’s gracious rule through Christ and that he linked this with ‘the facts about the Lord Jesus Christ’ (neb), which he also taught, the facts of his birth and life, words and works, death and resurrection, exaltation and gift of the Spirit. It was through these saving events that the kingdom of God had dawned. Probably, however, the distinction between ‘preaching’ and ‘teaching’ has been over-pressed, for all Paul’s preaching had a doctrinal content, while all his teaching had an evangelistic purpose.
The final words of the book (which the niv misplaces) are the adverbial expression meta pasēs parrēsias, ‘with all boldness’, and the adverb akōlutōs, ‘without hindrance’. Parrēsia has been a characteristic word of Acts ever since the Twelve exhibited boldness and prayed for more (4:13, 31). And Paul had asked the Ephesians to pray that his ministry might bear the same mark. Parrēsia denotes speech which is candid (with no concealment of truth), clear (with no obscurity of expression) and confident (with no fear of consequences). ‘Without hindrance’ means that, although the military surveillance continued, there was no ban by the authorities on Paul’s speaking. Though his hand was still bound, his mouth was open for Jesus Christ. Though he was chained, the Word of God was not. Together Luke’s two adverbs describe the freedom which the gospel enjoyed, having neither internal nor external restraint. In consequence, we may be sure that many were converted, including the runaway slave Onesimus.
30–31 This was a blessed season to the Church at Rome, which the Lord Jesus granted them. And, from the awful character of the then emperor Nero, under whose cruelty afterwards, both Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom, we can only ascribe it to the Lord Jesus, that he lulled this wretched prince asleep, while Paul thus for two whole years was preaching to the people of God. Supposing, what is generally believed, that Festus detained Paul a year; Felix, we know, confined him two; Acts 24:27. and, here again, two years at Rome; the whole made five. But, it was the Church’s mercy, that during the last confinement, he had not only time to preach, but leisure and direction from the Lord, to write those blessed Epistles, which have been made so blessed to the Church, and will be, till time shall be no more. The Epistle to the Ephesians, was evidently written at this time, see Ephes. 3:1. and the date at the end. Collossians also, chap. 4:18 and date. To Philemon, 9, 10 and date. Philippians, chap. 1:7, 1:16. and date. And, it is more than probable, that it was at the same time he wrote, and sent his Epistles to Galatia and the Hebrews. See the date of each. Some have supposed, that Paul at the end of the two years, was brought to trial, and suffered martyrdom. But this could not be. For his Epistle to Philippi speaks of the confidence he had of being freed. Philip. 1:25 and chap. 2:16–24. And his second Epistle to Timothy was written two years after, and is said in the date, to have been written from Rome, when Paul was brought before Nero the second time. And in this Epistle, Paul then speaks of his expectation of death. Chap. 4:6.
FREELY AND WITHOUT HINDRANCE
For the space of two whole years, Paul remained there, earning his own living; and it was his custom to receive all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching them the facts about the Lord Jesus Christ—with complete freedom of speech and without let or hindrance.
To the end of the day, Paul is Paul. The Authorized Version is misleading on one point. It says that for two years he lived in his own rented house. The real meaning is that he lived at his own expense, that he earned his own living. Even in prison, his own two hands supplied his needs; and he was not idle in other respects. It was there in prison that he wrote the letters to the Philippians, to the Ephesians, to the Colossians and to Philemon. Nor was he ever altogether alone. Luke and Aristarchus had come with him, and Luke remained to the end (2 Timothy 4:11). Timothy was often with him (Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; Philemon 1). Sometimes Tychicus was with him (Ephesians 6:21). For a while, he had the company of Epaphroditus (Philippians 4:18). And sometimes Mark was with him (Colossians 4:10).
Nor was it wasted time. He tells the Philippians that all this has happened for the furtherance of the gospel (Philippians 1:12). That was particularly so because his imprisonment was known throughout all the praetorian guard (Philippians 1:13). He was in his own private lodging, but night and day a soldier was with him (Acts 28:16). These headquarters soldiers were members of the hand-picked troops of the emperor, the praetorian guard. In two years, many of them must have spent long days and nights with Paul; and many of them must have gone from guard duty with a heart ﬁlled with Christ.
And so the Book of Acts comes to an end with a shout of triumph. In the Greek, without let or hindrance is one word—and that one word rises like a victor’s cry. It is the climax of Luke’s story. We wonder why Luke never told us what happened to Paul, whether he was executed or released. The reason is that this was not Luke’s purpose. At the beginning, Luke gave us his plan for Acts when he told how Jesus commanded his followers to bear witness for him in Jerusalem and all over Judaea and Samaria and away to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Now the tale is ﬁnished; the story that began in Jerusalem rather more than thirty years earlier has ﬁnished in Rome. It is nothing less than a miracle of God. The Church, which at the beginning of Acts could be numbered in tens, cannot now be numbered in tens of thousands. The story of the cruciﬁed man of Nazareth has swept across the world in its conquering course until now without interference it is being preached in Rome, the capital of the world. The gospel has reached the centre of the world and is being freely proclaimed—and Luke’s task is at an end.
28:30–31 / By way of illustration of this theme, Luke leaves us with a picture—not unlike the series of cameos in the earlier chapters that depicted the steady growth of the church (see disc. on 2:42–47)—of Paul doing the work of an evangelist among all who came to see him in his rented rooms (v. 30). For two years he continued thus—himself a prisoner, but the word of God unfettered (cf. 2 Tim. 2:9). The closing words of the book: Boldly and without hindrance he preached (see disc. on 4:13), underline both Paul’s personal confidence (cf. Phil. 1:20) and the scope he enjoyed in preaching the kingdom of God and … about the Lord Jesus Christ (v. 31; see disc. on 1:3 and notes and the disc. on 8:12). These two things—the preacher’s boldness and the proclamation to all—are among the lasting impressions of this book. They stand, perhaps as a reproach, certainly as a challenge and a charter to all who now read it. Luke bids us follow Paul and the others in mission and devotion in the work of establishing “one body of Christ” in all the world.
31 During these two years, however—and this is what was important in Luke’s eyes—the gospel was proclaimed freely in Rome through the lips of its chief messenger. The apologetic value of this fact was great. It is unlikely, Luke implies, that if the gospel were illegal and subversive propaganda, it could have been proclaimed for two years at the heart of the empire by a Roman citizen who had appealed to Caesar and was waiting under guard for his case to be heard. The authorities must have known what he was doing all that time, yet no obstacle was put in his way. The program mapped out by the risen Lord in 1:8 has been carried out with Paul’s residence in Rome, where he bears his witness “unhindered.” Luke’s final word is a legal expression; with it the record of Acts closes on a triumphant note. “Victory of the word of God,” says J. A. Bengel: “Paul at Rome, the apex of the gospel, the end of Acts.… It began at Jerusalem; it finishes at Rome. Here, O church, thou hast thy pattern; it is for thee to preserve it and to guard the deposit.”84
Summary Statement (28:31)
Luke’s instinct in closing the second volume of his work as he did was completely correct. He was not writing a biography of Paul, even though he included many biographical details about his hero. Rather, he was setting out how the good news of humanity’s redemption had swept out from Jerusalem, across Palestine, into Asia Minor, then on throughout Macedonia and Achaia, and how it finally entered Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire. The gospel Jesus had effected in his ministry from Galilee to Jerusalem (as told in Luke’s gospel) had reached its culmination in its extension from Jerusalem to Rome (as told in Luke’s Acts). So when the story was told, his writing was finished. Nonetheless, it may be said that in seeming to leave his book open-ended, Luke may also be implying, under divine direction, that the apostolic proclamation of the gospel in the first century began a story that will continue until the final consummation of the kingdom in Christ (Ac 1:11).
31 This summary statement has often been viewed as only an amplification of v. 30 that indicates the nature of Paul’s ministry during his two years of detention at Rome. But to judge by Luke’s practice in his other five summary statements in Acts (6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20), we are evidently meant to take it as the summary statement for the whole of panel 6 (19:21–28:31). In all of his prison experiences at Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Rome, Luke is saying that Paul “boldly [meta pasēs parrēsias, lit., “with all boldness”—which connotes “publicly,” “candidly,” and “forcefully”] … preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” And he did this, Luke goes on to insist, “without hindrance” (akōlytōs, GK 219). By so saying, Luke suggests something of the tolerance of Rome at that time toward Christianity and the proclamation of the gospel—a tolerance that Luke passionately desired would continue and hoped to promote through his writing of these last chapters. Furthermore, since the final word of Acts is the crisp adverb akōlytōs, we may say with reasonable confidence that it was Luke’s desire to close his two-volume work on this victorious note, namely, that the apostolic proclamation of the kingdom of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, despite all difficulties and misunderstandings, had moved forward throughout the Jewish homeland and into the Roman Empire “without hindrance.”
 Sills, M. D. (2017). Opportunities and Challenges in Global Missions. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 1771). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1677). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1607). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ac 28:31). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2145). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ac 28:31). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1419). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
 Valdés, A. S. (2010). The Acts of the Apostles. In R. N. Wilkin (Ed.), The Grace New Testament Commentary (p. 615). Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1665). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Toussaint, S. D. (1985). Acts. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 431). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
 Gempf, C. (1994). Acts. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1107). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
 Marty, W. H. (2014). Acts. In M. A. Rydelnik & M. Vanlaningham (Eds.), The moody bible commentary (p. 1740). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 Utley, R. J. (2003). Luke the Historian: The Book of Acts (Vol. Volume 3B, pp. 290–291). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.
 Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 17, pp. 966–968). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
 Vaughan, C. (2009). Acts (pp. 155–156). Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press.
 Stott, J. R. W. (1994). The message of Acts: the Spirit, the church & the world (pp. 400–401). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Hawker, R. (2013). Poor Man’s New Testament Commentary: Acts–Ephesians (Vol. 2, p. 232). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 Barclay, W. (2003). The Acts of the Apostles (3rd ed. fully rev. and updated., pp. 227–228). Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press.
 Williams, D. J. (2011). Acts (p. 454). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of the Acts (p. 511). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
 Longenecker, R. N. (2007). Acts. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 1101). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.