17 After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. 19 But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation. 20 For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” 21 And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. 22 But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”
23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:
26 “‘Go to this people, and say,
You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.
27 For this people's heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’
28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” (Acts 28:17-28 (ESV)
Paul sets up a meeting with the Jewish leadership of Rome. Since he is there because of the Jews in Jerusalem it only makes sense that he speak to the Jews in Rome first. Of course, he always went to the Jews first to try and convince them of the gospel, and there is some of that going on here too. He tells them that he is there on account of the hope of Israel. They say they haven’t heard anything concerning him, but they are willing to listen. Except they aren’t really, they reject everything Paul has to say. Though mention is made that some did believe, generally it is not considered his most successful attempt at conversion. I’m not always sure what that should mean. If one sinner repents it is time to rejoice with angels. He preached the gospel. It saw fruit, but not much. Paul then quotes Isaiah in judgment of those who don’t believe, a washing of hands. The passage he quotes was one that Isaiah first spoke to Israel concerning them. It wasn’t one that the Jews liked to hear cited. It is one that to this day undermines the idea that Jews are saved by virtue of being Jews, or somehow they are saved under the “old covenant” when the new has come.
Paul says the gentiles will listen. And they do. At least some of them do. Listening is what needs to happen. Faith comes through hearing, this will be what Paul says in our next book whose study we will begin on Monday. We only have two verses left in this one. But this listening sheds a little light on what is meant by hearing, and even what is often meant by obeying in such places where it talks of obeying the gospel. The words are often used somewhat synonymously with each other today. Hearing and listening especially. Here it is a case of two different words used to translate the same word, akuo, if you will forgive transliteration. Paul says that it is through akuo hearing that we are saved. The word for obey upakuo has the same root with a prefix meaning hyper. It is an intense hearing, what we might call a listening, which often carries the connotation of obeying also, but often means just to pay attention to, there may be nothing there to “obey.” As the word is used today. A person obeys orders, they listen to a speech. But when a person doesn’t obey we often say they aren’t listening, when it very well could be that they are listening, and just don’t care to obey. But when we listen to the gospel we take it to heart, and it nourishes us, it saves us. Not because we obey it, but because we believe it.