4 when the native people saw the creature hanging from his
hand, they said to one another, “no doubt this man is a
murderer. though he has escaped from the sea, justice has not
allowed him to live.” 5 he, however, shook off the creature into
the fire and suffered no harm. 6 they were waiting for him to
swell up or suddenly fall down dead. but when they had waited a
long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed
their minds and said that he was a god. – [acts 28:4-6]


a murderer or a god?

the social media era has clearly reminded us of what we should have
already known – that ‘the crowd’ is fickle: their beliefs ever-changing
and prone to extremes as opinions sway quickly from one end to the
In this passage, paul has had a rough week. but he has also seen the
ever-present hand of God leading not only him, but all who were
with him. in the midst of a torrent, they were brought to safety, and
displaying clear evidence that God is fully in control of every
now safely on shore, paul is quickly faced with another painful
moment as he is bitten by a poisonous snake. We don’t read of paul’s
immediate response, but it is likely he responded calmly (but
quickly) as he removed the snake from his hand. We do get to see
how others respond. ‘the crowd’ of natives sees this happen and
immediately assume the worst about paul, and that he probably
deserves what he gets. one extreme.
when he does not suffer, they then determine that he must
therefore be a god. another extreme.
the truth is that paul was not bitten because of some horrendous sin
– he was picking up wood and snakes hang out there. it happens.
and of course, paul was not a god – he was merely a servant of the
One True God. but this extreme thinking was common then as it is

thankfully, God ultimately ends up using this moment for good and
in drawing others until himself.



~ jason soroski