Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, unhindered. (Acts 28:30-31)
The last word of the Book of Acts in the Greek text is the word akolutos. Literally it means unhindered. Various translations render it “no man forbidding him” (KJV), “no one forbidding him” (NKJV), unhindered” (NASV), and “without hindrance” (NIV). [The KJV, NKJV, and NASV all end the Book of Acts in this way. The NIV, however, moves the words “without hindrance” to the beginning of the closing sentence and end the Book with the expression “and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.”]
I prefer the translation unhindered, which I gave above, for two reasons. One, translations using multiple words mask what the last word actually was. Two, no other translation is as powerful or as true to the meaning of the original word.
Why focus on the last word in the Book of Acts? Admittedly in many books of the Bible the last word is not particularly significant. [Many New Testament epistles, for instance, end with the word amen.]
Luke, however, clearly wanted to draw attention to the last word in his two volume work Luke-Acts. In this case the old adage, “Last words are lasting words,” applies well.
The Book of Acts traces the birth and growth of the church. The Gospel went forth in power. As the Book of Acts begins there were only a few hundred believers in Jesus Christ. As the Gospel did its work, however, tens of thousands came to Christ in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the Gentile lands.
There was much opposition. Persecution, beatings, death, and imprisonment all threatened the spread of the Gospel. So, too, did sinfulness within the church (e.g., Acts 5:1-11). However, in spite of all the opposition and difficulties Luke sums up the progress of the Gospel by saying that it was unhindered.
I believe that Luke was stating a principle of timeless application. He did not merely mean that the Gospel was unhindered in the early church. He meant that the Gospel was, is, and always will be unhindered. Luke had repeatedly made this same claim using different words throughout the Book of Acts (cf. 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20). He ended the book without telling us whether Paul was martyred or released from arrest because his focus was on the unhindered spread of the Gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth-not on Paul’s fate.
One commentator has said concerning the last word in Acts, “Nothing that men can do can stop the progress and ultimate victory of the gospel” (I. Howard Marshall, Acts, Tyndale Series, p.427).
Three principles arise from the truth of the unhindered Gospel.
First, no one who is seeking God will fail to find Him. How can I speak of people seeking God when Romans 3:10 says no one seeks God? I can because Acts 17:27 says that God has granted to all men “that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him.” God wants us to seek Him. Romans 3:10 is looking at what we do on our own initiative. No one seeks God on his own initiative. God must initiate the process by seeking us. And that is exactly what He does. He is drawing all to faith in Christ (John 12:32; 16:9-11; Rom. 1:18-21; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). Most reject His drawing; but all are drawn.
Anyone anywhere can and will hear the Gospel if he is seeking God.
Second, cults, liberalism, Lordship Salvation, and other distortions of the Gospel will never completely take over. The Free Grace Gospel always has and always will have a voice. Even from the second to the beginning of the sixteenth century there were always those who held to the Gospel. There has always been at least a remnant of believers.
Third, God and His Gospel are bigger than our failures. No one will go to hell because someone failed to share the Gospel with them or shared a distorted gospel. If someone drops the ball, God can and will send someone else to take the message if the listener is receptive. God will get His message to those who will receive it.
I have met many who felt guilty because they had not witnessed to an unsaved loved one or neighbor before they died. I used to fear that happening. However, I have come to see that the Gospel is unhindered, that no one can thwart its progress. No one’s eternal destiny is in our hands. We cannot save or condemn anyone. God does the work in evangelism. We merely carry the message.
This is not an excuse not to witness. Witnessing is a joy, a privilege, and something for which will he highly rewarded in this life and at the Judgment Seat of Christ. However, it is terrible to wrongly motivate people to witness.
There are many applications of this truth and these principles: 1) Share the Gospel clearly and often. 2) Don’t feel responsible for the salvation or damnation of anyone. 3) Don’t be abusive and pushy when you witness. Relax. It’s God’s work. 4.) Don’t feel that you must share the Gospel in exactly the same way each time. Be creative. Use different verses and methods-just keep the message straight. 5.) Don’t get into shouting matches and fights with those who share a false gospel. We are on the winning side. The Gospel is unhindered. 6.) Avoid an Elijah complex. You are not alone. There are many in the world today holding fast to the Grace message 7.) Don’t worry if yours is not the majority position in your city, state, or country. The way is narrow that leads to life and few find it. 8.) Do not settle for attending a church that preaches a distorted gospel. Find or start one that preaches the pure Gospel. Better to drive a distance or meet in a small house church and hear preaching consistent with the Grace Gospel than to attend a nearby church which distorts the Gospel. 9.) When you disciple someone, stress the above points.
Regardless of how things may seem, the good news of the Gospel is, was, and always will be UNHINDERED.