It was a cold and rainy day when the 276 souls arrived on the island of Malta after the shipwreck, and the people on the island were very kind to them, seeing to their needs. Since it was a cold day, they built a bonfire to help them get warm and dry. Paul, as was his custom, chipped in to help and brought in some brush for the fire. As he moved up to the heat, a viper launched itself from the brush and attached to Paul’s arm. Everyone who saw this knew Paul was a dead man walking.
The Maltese assumed that Paul must have been a very bad man, since he was saved from the shipwreck only to die from snakebite, but something very unusual happened: Nothing. As strange as it may sound to say that, it’s true; Paul’s hand should have swelled up, but it didn’t. Paul should have become quite sick, but he didn’t. Paul should have keeled over dead, but there he was as if nothing had happened. The Maltese eventually decided that rather than being a bad man, he must be a god!
Afterwards, they were taken in by the chief official of the island, a man named Publius. He showed great hospitality to his guests but soon his father became seriously ill.
When news reached the rest of the Maltese people that Paul had healed the man’s father, they brought their sick from all over the island to Paul so that they too might be healed, and Paul was quite accommodating; one can only imagine the impact this had for the Gospel that Paul had brought with him to their island. Publius would provide everything they needed when the time came for them to set sail, some three month later.
When they finally arrived in Rome, they were warmly greeted by the brothers and sisters there. The guards were lenient with Paul at first, and allowed him to live by himself, with only one guard to keep watch. As we will see next time, nothing was done to keep him quiet…