One of the features of Luke’s writing is the significance he attaches to last words. For example, in the introduction to his Gospel (Luke 1:1–4) where he addresses Theophilus, the last word in the Greek text, where Luke wants the emphasis to fall, is “certainty.” He wants Theophilus to have certainty.
In the Greek text of Acts, the last word is the word “unhinderedly” (v. 31). This adverb is used to qualify the participles “proclaiming” and “teaching.” Luke wants to emphasize that the proclamation and teaching of the Word of God continues unhinderedly.
The Word of God has come to Rome. We know from Romans 15:20 ff. that Paul’s ambition was to take the gospel where Christ is not known—to take it as far west as he thought he could go, to Spain (Rom. 15:24).
Paul makes it clear that he bears no ill will towards his own people. Rather, it is because of his steadfast commitment to “the hope of Israel” that he is in chains (v. 20).
The brothers at Rome have not received any bad reports against Paul (v. 21). However, they know that many people are speaking against the Christian sect (v. 22).
The consistency of Paul’s persuasive ministry (v. 23) is matched by the Jews consistently obstinate response (vv. 24–25). Paul warns them about a hardened non-response to the gospel (vv. 26–27).
Here, at the end of Acts, the gospel has reached Rome as God said it would. Did Paul make his appeal to Caesar? Was he released? Did he get to Spain?
Luke has reached the objective of his history by bringing Paul to Rome, where he enjoys complete liberty to preach the gospel, under the eyes of the imperial guard. The programme mapped out in [Acts] 1:8 has been carried through!*
“But at the point where Luke laid down his pen, Paul—though in chains—and the gospel of God’s kingly rule were irrepressibly surging ahead without let up or hindrance in spite of human opposition or nature’s storms.”**
At the end of his commentary on Acts 1:8, Professor E.M. Blaiklock sums up the book in this way: “To press beyond the fringe is always sound policy, provided it is done with vigour and devotion.” How does Acts encourage you to press beyond the fringe? Will you do it with vigour and devotion?***
* F.F. Bruce, Commentary on the Greek Text of Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988), p. 543.
** David Gooding, True to the Faith (Gospel Folio), p. 371.
*** E.M. Blaiklock, ‘Commentary on The Acts of the Apostles’, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (London: Tyndale, IVP, 1959), p. 50.