Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "And Can It Be That I Should Gain"1 (Lyrics)
Acts 28:31 – Boldly and without hindrance [Paul] preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)
I love the last verse of the book of Acts. It is full of encouragement and energy, showing us that Paul continued to preach and teach the gospel for the rest of his days. His faith absolutely captivated him, and we should be thankful for his focus on serving Christ. Most of what we still read, hear, preach, and teach about Christianity originates in the mission, work, and writings of Paul.
He must have known that his time was almost up. At some point, he was brought before the Emperor, and his appeal was rejected. Traditional stories suggest that he was beheaded by Nero just after most of Rome was burned to the ground. The Christians were blamed for the fire, so Paul, as a ringleader of the notorious sect, was probably executed. During this time of persecution, Simon Peter was also crucified in Rome.
It must have taken a lot of courage to continue proclaiming the kingdom of God when Paul knew that he was under a death sentence. The apostle made sure that every minute of his diminishing days was spent talking to folks about faith or writing letters to people and churches which were beginning to flourish all over the Mediterranean. This is why I love how the book of Acts ends: it's almost as if the writer, Luke, is handing over Paul's mission to the rest of us, to take up his work and continue the gospel story in our own lives. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the reading of the gospels, and the studying of Paul's letters, that is exactly what we all can do. In effect, our story becomes a new chapter — Acts 29.
Points to ponder: What am I doing with the faith that I have received? How am I continuing this great story of the gospel?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach us Your ways and help us to continue proclaiming Your kingdom in our lives and in the world today. Enable us to share Your words and take up the mission that Paul laid down so long ago. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.