Shaking off the Beast

After Paul's notable shipwreck while on his journey to Rome, the natives of the island of Melita received him kindly, kindling a fire because of the rain and the cold. When Paul had gathered a bundle of fuel to throw on the fire, a viper came "out of the heat, and fastened on his hand." He shook off "the venomous beast" into the fire, and betrayed no concern for his own safety. Those standing around him had expected that "he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly;" but after they had waited a long time and seen no evil result, they changed their opinion and thought Paul must be a god!

Paul handled the error by shaking off the beast. This meant more than a merely physical act. Statements and narratives in the Bible often bear a metaphysical interpretation beyond the literal fact. It makes no difference that the error was named "viper"; it might just as well have been called "hate" or "murder." Paul, the practical Christian, had put on what he called the "whole armour of God;" and he met the error with the efficient use of spiritual weapons.

May 28, 1927

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