Acts 28: 1 - 15
1 After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. 2 The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. 3 When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. 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. 7 Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. 8 It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him. 9 And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. 10 They also honored us greatly, and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed.
They are marooned safely on the island of Malta. (Yes, the same one that you find on the map.) The natives there were probably decedents of Phoenicians. In other translations, "native people" is also translated "barbarians". This doesn't mean that they were a bunch or raging neanderthals, it means that they didn't speak Greek. These people helped the survivors of this ship wreck by providing them some fire to keep warm by.
Paul goes out to gather some firewood. As he is placing the wood on the fire, a poisonous snake bites him. The locals believe that Paul must have been some kind of murder. The sea couldn't kill him, but the false goddess name Justice did. They expected him to swell up and die, which was the normal reaction to this particular snake. But after some time, he didn't die, therefore the concluded that he must be a god.
How fickle people can be when they have a weak understanding of God or worship false gods. They can only interpret what they see, and what they see isn't necessarily the truth.
The governor of the island was named Plubius. He welcomed these survivors and cared for them for three days. (Probably until everyone could be relocated to temporary shelter, after all, they will have to stay there for the winter.) Paul minsters to Plubius' father who is dying from fever and dysentery. After the fathers healing, the people bring every sick person who will come to be cured also.
At the end of their stay, the people provided for everything that they needed. Not just Paul, all 276.
11 After three months we set sail in a ship that had wintered in the island, a ship of Alexandria, with the twin gods as a figurehead. 12 Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. 13 And from there we made a circuit and arrived at Rhegium. And after one day a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. 14 There we found brothers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. 15 And the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage.
They board another ship, one with twin gods as figureheads. This would be the sons of Zeus, Castor and Pollus. Remember, that even with the spread of Christianity throughout the known world, false gods and religions abound just like they do today.
Paul would have been turned over to Nero's guard. However, Paul was allowed to rent his own place as long as he was lightly chained to a guard. What do you think it was like to be a guard chained to Paul? I think that all Paul saw was someone new to lead to Jesus, AND, they couldn't run away. I wonder if they changed the guard every time that Paul led one to a relationship with Christ? That would have been a lot of guards!
English Standard Version (ESV)