THEY CHANGED THEIR MINDS

In Acts 28:1-8 in the Bible says, Paul experienced shipwreck and landed at Malta. God told Paul to advise the centurion in charge against setting out on the journey but he ignored Paul. So God assured Paul the passengers and crew will be saved although they lost the ship in a storm. 1 When brought safely through on the island called Malta 2 The natives showed extraordinary kindness. It was raining so they set up camp and because of the cold they kindled a fire and were well received by the natives. 3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, “Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, though he was saved from the sea justice has not allowed him to live. 5 However Paul shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 But they were expecting that he should swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god. God’s protected and saved Paul from the viper’s venom. God makes strangers friends when in distress. Although Paul was originally wrongly labelled and despised, they changed their minds to regard Paul as a god from zero villain to deity hero instantly. They were more friendly but considered heathens and so-called barbarians condemned by civilised nations professing to be Christians. The people thought Paul was a murderer so viper sent by God’s Divine justice to avenge blood of his victims.  However, the Divine Consuming fire of God Almighty Jehovah Nissi burnt the viper to death and saved Paul’s life from tragedy. So does God continue to burn all adversary spiritual and physical serpents against His Children in Jesus Name so gives us victory by causing us to triumph always in Jesus Name..

So, while they looked on expecting Paul to be swollen or fall down dead suddenly. After they looked a great while and saw no harm came to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.  In Acts 18:5, Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia to join Paul who began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews Jesus was the Christ. 6 But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads and I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles. 7 Then he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshipper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue. In Acts 20:26-28, Paul declared therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all. 27 For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. 28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. Jesus Purchased His Church with his own blood so ransomed Paul and all believers from all evil. Paul shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads. Ironically, in Acts 8:1, Saul was present when the first Christian martyr Stephen was killed by angry mob giving approval to his death as recorded in Acts 7.57 to 8:1. Paul’s authority allowed by high priests and Sanhedrin permitted enforced killings before salvation. In Acts 9:1, Paul breathing out threatenings and slaughter against disciples of the Lord, was responsible for the men, women children carried bound to Jerusalem for their killing though not directly his hate filled attitude against Christians endorsed murderSaul’s hands were once imbued with innocent blood there watching clothes to enable others to undertake destructions giving approval to death. Paul approved murder of Christians by  participating and condoning persecution for their death. The conversion of Paul brought the wild untamed torturer, who caused  blood shed under Jesus, to tame and make him subject to his commandment. Paul repented in true deep humility and modesty and confessed in 1 Timothy 1:15 Christ Jesus Came to Save sinners. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom he felt was the worst foremost sinner. In Acts 20:26 Paul declared to testify he is innocent of the blood of all men. Paul by faith boldly declared himself free from blood guiltiness by saying  he had nobody’s blood upon his hands. 27 So did not shrink from declaring the whole purpose of God. Paul confirms there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. Paul’s past cruelty, erased from his records, nailed to the cross of Jesus. Paul’s scarlet red sin turned white as snow so of no effect. 
Paul was seen in the past a ‘murderer’ but accepted Christ so declared himself innocent of blood. God’s grace and mercy was extended to Paul who did evil and much harm to the saints by approving killing of Christians. Saul violently persecuted the church of God so began to destroy and ravage the church. Going and entering house after house, he dragged and wasted the church of God, as he said in Acts 9:13. He felt in 1 Corinthians 15:9 he was the least of the apostles and not even fit to be called an apostle because he persecuted God’s church. The important point is God uses anyone to bring lost people to Christ. The Lord used Paul, a prolific persecutor of Christians to evangelize to people of all kinds in many lands, and write 2/3 of the New Testament. Christ in heaven redeemed Paul from spiritual blindness and man-made rules so freed by the saving grace of Jesus’ sacrifice as Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 12:7-20. Paul left Asia not for fear of persecution 29 but said departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. The Holy Ghost made ministers overseers of the flock as shepherds true to their calling of the Master’s concern for the flock committed to their charge. Paul spoke about their souls with affection and concern to be full of care of what would become of them. Paul directs them to look up to God with faith, and commends them to the word of God’s grace. The foundation of their hope and fountain of joy, was walking right with God. They knew there is a God who governs the world so things do not come to pass by chance but by Divine direction. That evil pursues sinners but good works God rewards so wicked works God will punish. Murder is a dreadful crime punished so they thought all wicked people were punished in this life. Though some are made examples in this world, to prove there is a God and a Providence, many are left unpunished to prove there is a judgement to come. They thought all who were remarkably afflicted in this life were wicked people. Divine revelation sets this matter in a true light. Good men often are greatly afflicted in this life, for the trial and increase of their faith and patience. In the neighbourhood of that land belonged to the leading man of the island, named Publius in Acts 28:7, who had estate nearby as the chief official of the island. He welcomed them to his home with generous hospitality by entertaining them courteously. 
 
All the people both high and low gave Paul full attention, so impressed by the manifestation demonstrating the Great Power of God. Again as before in Acts 14:11, the crowd saw what Paul had done they lifted up their and shouted in the Lycaonian language, the gods have come down to us in human form. People often tend to associate the messenger with the unseen power in action. Similarly, in Acts 12:22, the people gave a shout saying, it is the voice of a god and not of a man. When God miraculously does a supernatural act, people need to remember to give God the due thanks, glory and adoration He deserves. Paul’s deliverance from the danger increased the strength of faith and the grace of Christ. Believers shake off the temptations of satan with holy resolution. Paul ignored the despises, censures and reproaches of men to trust in God. They at first looked him contempt but Paul had the testimony of holy conscience. Like Paul, we shake off all spiritual and physical vipers into the fire in Jesus Name. Jesus said, all power in heaven and earth is given to all believers, over all power of the enemy, to thread on serpents and scorpions, lions and adders so nothing shall by any means hurt believers in Jesus Name. It does no harm, except to try to distract from duty. God made Paul remarkable among the people so made a way for the receiving the gospel. The Lord God raises up friends for His people in places He leads and makes them blessings to those in affliction. Paul’s wrote using medical language description of medical subject naturally uppermost in his mind.

Having swollen hands, πίμπρασθαι in the Bible or inflammation in the body. The natives in the past were used to seeing whosoever was bitten by such vipers without antidote to suffer harm and death (εἰς οὐδὲν ἄτοπον ἐμπεσοῦται ῤᾳδίως), but Paul suffered no harm of unusual symptoms or fatal consequences. Since they assumed Paul was wicked they were surprised he got away scot-free so they changed their minds. Like the Lycaonians did in Acts 14:11, 19 the mob’s graphic picture fickle mindedness yielding to impulse. The audacity and impunity with which Paul endured the bite of the viper directly fulfilled God’s promise in Mark 16:18. Instead, of swelling from the venomous bite of the viper; with symptoms following said to be acute pain, wounds, bleeding, swelling, first red, afterwards livid, spreading by degrees great faintness a quick, low pulse, sickness, fits, cold sweats; pains in the navel and death Paul stood with strength as overcomer in Christ. The colour of his skin was not jaundice; or had the jaundiced or burnt with blisters. Paul’s immediate death is averted in Christ who conquered and took away the sting of death effect of such poison. Some die within a few hours and others live days, or weeks depending on the toxic venom. So they looked a great while upon Paul to observe whether the inflammation, swelling or death ensued as expected. Yet God performed a miracle right before their eyes so saw no harm come to him. For the first time change happened so Paul was not inflamed, swollen, dead without the familiar effects upon him. They recognised no evil punishment was inflicted on him to conclude he was guilty of a notorious crime. So changed their minds and said that he was a god from murderer ascribed deity for the extraordinary miracle witnessed. The Lystrians said Paul was Mercury and Barnabas was Jupiter after they cured the disabled in Acts 14:11. The inhabitants of Melita thought Paul was Hercules they worshipped on this island. Since then inhabitants of the island believe apostle Paul expelled all poison and venom from vipers. So reported children born in this place fear not snakes or hurt by anything venomous. They take scorpions and eat them without danger there. In Acts 28:8the father of Publius was lying ill in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and diarrhoea. Paul went to see him and prayed for him by laying hands on him so God healed him. Showing hospitality to strangers entertains angels without knowing it. Jesus blesses such nations with favour of God and favour of man. By helping Paul they literally gained by helping themselves in the process inadvertently.
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