Paul in Malta ~ Acts 28 Bible Object Lesson

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Christians are called to spread the gospel, but the enemy likes to seek and destroy. Use this Acts 28 object lesson about Paul in Malta to discuss why we need to know scripture and how we can use it to help us share the hope of Jesus.

Scripture Focus: Acts 28


  • rubber or stuffed snake (If you have children who enjoy learning about snakes, find a few pictures to show different types of snakes so you can discuss the differences between them.)

Geography: Malta, Italy, Rome; Mediterranean Sea

Background: In a vision, or by physically standing beside Paul, Jesus told Paul he would go to Rome. Paul appealed to Caesar, and after two years and three trials, he was on his way to Rome. Paul was shipwrecked, but he knew he would make it to Rome. Paul had no doubts.

image of orange and yellow plastic snake and a stuffed green snake

Object and Bible Lesson for Acts 28:

{Show the snake to the children. Ask:}

  • How can you tell the difference between a poisonous and nonpoisonous snake? [Allow for answers; There are four main ways: 1) Consider the environment. Some poisonous snakes live in or near ponds and swamps. 2) Look at the coloring of the snake. Especially yellow and red patterns. 3) Head shape: Poisonous snakes have triangular heads while non-poisonous have rounded heads. Some nonvenomous snakes like to mimic venomous ones, though, by flattening out their heads. 4) If close enough, examine their eyes. The pupils of a poisonous snake are thin, black, and vertical. Nonpoisonous snakes have round pupils.]

{Use storytelling or read Acts 28:1-10. Ask:}

  • Where did Paul and the others land? [the island of Malta]
  • How did the people accept them? [The people on the island of Malta were kind to the shipwrecked people.]

The Bible calls these people “natives,” but don’t think about a primitive people group. In this case, “native” is the term used for people who have not taken on Greek culture.

  • What kind of weather was it? [It was cold and rainy, but the natives built a fire and Paul helped.]
  • What happened when Paul picked up sticks? [A viper bit Paul on the hand]
  • What type of animal is a snake? [reptile; remind the children that reptiles like warmth and are stiff when the atmosphere is cold, therefore picking the snake up with sticks definitely could have happened.]
  • Why did the natives watch Paul so carefully? [They knew he must be a murderer and was receiving his punishment! A man would swell up and die after being bit by that viper!]

They watched Paul…they watched Paul…they watched Paul…and he didn’t die.

  • When Paul didn’t die, what did the natives think? [At this point, the natives changed their opinion and declared Paul to be a god.]

Scripture doesn’t tell us what Paul told the natives, but it had to be similar to what he told the people when they claimed him and Barnabas to be gods.

Paul, and his travelers, stayed with a man named Publius for 3 days. While with him, Paul healed his father. Once people heard the news, then everyone on the island who was sick came to see Paul for healing.

After 3 months, the shipwrecked men boarded a ship and set sail. When Paul got to the Market of Appius, some Christians from Rome met him there and encouraged him. Paul then traveled north on the Appian Way towards Rome. While Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he was allowed to rent his own house and he had one guard watching over him. During this time of imprisonment Paul wrote the letters of Philemon, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians.

{Read Acts 28:23-31. Ask:}

  • Who did Paul meet with? [the Jewish people]

Paul called all the Jewish leadership to his home and he explained the prophets, Jesus, the scripture prophecies and fulfillments. Some were persuaded, but others were not. So Paul stated once again that he would preach to the Gentiles because of the unbelief of the Jews.

Paul was imprisoned for 2 years. During those 2 years he preached and taught anyone who came to him. Once released, scripture is pretty much silent as to what happened to Paul. Some scholars think Paul might have journeyed to Spain because of some of his comments in his letters. At some point he was imprisoned again. Nero was the Caesar at this time and persecution of Christians became the norm. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs says that Paul was beheaded outside the city, but there does not seem to be any documentation of his death.

The gospel spread and expanded throughout the world.

Life Application of Acts 28:

{Show the toy snake. Ask:}

  • Why should we know about snakes? [Allow for answers; It is important for us to know about snakes that live in our area because if you see one, then you need to know how to react to it.]
  • Why is it important for us to know what is in the Bible? [Allow for answers; discuss that knowing the scripture will help us to know what is true, and what is not, in a confusing world]
  • Can you think of another time when snakes are seen in the scriptures? [Allow for answers; the fall in the garden; Moses throwing down his rod and it turned into a snake and ate the snakes of Pharaoh’s magicians; in the desert poisonous snakes came into the Israelite camp and bit the people

Many times, snakes are seen as the enemy because Satan took on the form of a snake-like creature. Satan is the enemy of God. Paul, a man of God, was bitten by a snake, but was able to shake it off and continue with what he was doing.

  • Did you know that Satan is still the enemy of God? [Yes]
  • What does Satan try to do? [Allow for answers, but lead the children to understand that Satan wants to seek and devour like an angry, hungry lion. 1 Peter 5:8]
  • Do you remember what Jesus did to fight Satan in the wilderness? [He used scripture]
  • What can you do to fight off Satan when he tries to lie to you? [Use scripture to tell yourself the truth]

Paul taught the scriptures and about the kingdom of God to whomever would listen to him. Some believed and some did not. You have been taught the scriptures maybe from mom and dad or the church. You have that same choice. You can believe the gospel of Jesus, or not.

  • What is the gospel of Jesus? [Allow for answers; be sure that they explain something like this: 1. God is holy. 2. People are sinful. 3. God sent Jesus to the earth. 4. Jesus was sinless and died on the cross. 5. When Jesus died and rose again, he took all of your sins on Himself. 6. Because of this, through belief in Jesus Christ, we can be righteous before God. 7. If you believe in Jesus, and choose to follow Him, then He is your Master and you do what He commands with your life. If the children cannot explain the gospel to you, then this is a sign that they need to rehearse sharing the gospel.]

What can we learn from Paul in Malta? Like Paul, we are to share the gospel with whomever will listen to us. However, there will be times when Satan, our enemy, will try to seek and destroy what we are trying to do for God. He likes to mess up our relationships with people. He likes to frustrate us. We can be like Paul and know the scriptures well enough to “toss the serpent of Satan into the fire” and persevere as we live a life that imitates Jesus.

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