Acts 28:1-6 :
When we had escaped, then they learned that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us uncommon kindness; for they kindled a fire, and received us all, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said one to another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped from the sea, yet Justice has not allowed to live.” However he shook off the creature into the fire, and wasn’t harmed. But they expected that he would have swollen or fallen down dead suddenly, but when they watched for a long time and saw nothing bad happen to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.
The exchange between Paul and the people of Malta seems strange and comical today but if we look at the situation carefully, we will see that we are much more similar to the Maltans than we may realize.
It is very likely that these Gentiles in Malta didn’t know anything about the God of the Jews. It is clear that they were also polytheistic. They also appeared to believe in the idea that if you do bad things then then “Justice” will get you. My guess is that their worldview didn’t provide for the concept that a god would help save a man from vipers just because of his favor. Since their worldview probably didn’t give them any option for grace of a god on mankind, they assumed that Paul was a god himself. It’s actually quite logical.
Our own cultural worldviews also have this effect and those who understand the truth better may marvel at how hard it is to break through to us. Today the idea that the world is only a few thousand years old seems impossible, but why? How many 6,000 year old pieces of written history do we have laying around to review? If you think about it, no one knows by their own experience and no one can prove scientifically that things have always gone on as they are now. Nevertheless, people still assume that the world is millions of years old and even accuse others of being harmful and evil because they don’t agree. It sounds very similar to me. Remember, the people during this time in Rome honestly believed in “the gods” and “knew” they were right.
When we base our worldview on something that we think we will probably end up hurting the innocent. It is extremely important for us to listen to what the God of the Bible says and believe it so we can understand what is really going on.