Acts 28:17 – 31
Three days later he called together the leaders of the Jews. When they had assembld, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death. But, when the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Ceasar — not that I had any charge to bring against my own people. For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain
They replied, “We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of the brothers who has come from there has reported or said anything bad about you. But, we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.”
They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and come in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet:
” ‘ Go to this people and say,
“You will be ever hearing but never understanding
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with the ears’
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn and I would heal them.’
“Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”
For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Acts of the Apostles ends on a high note. Paul is settled in Rome, though under house arrest and guards. The Jewish leaders meet with him. Christians are allowed to visit. He is free to talk and write. We see him sitting comfortably, though in chains. Others sit or stand around him, listening. Some appear attentive, some in thought, some questioning. But, each of their faces are directed toward Paul. Even the Roman guard listens intensely.
The continuation of Paul’s story occurs in references in his letters to various churches and other writings not included in the canonical scripture. The last four frescoes will be from those sources.
We began Paul’s story in the Acts of the Apostles on Pentacost and end on Christmas Day. Maybe this is coincidence of the math (32 weeks). I suspect that The Vicar will call it a God Moment, for the telling of the story, as Paul does in Rome, is the point of our Christmas celebrations.