Summary of passages: Acts 27: Paul and his companions (267 men in total) boarded a ship for Rome. Julius, a Roman centurion, was in charge. They landed in Sidon where Paul was allowed to meet his friends and receive supplies from them. Then they pass Cyprus with heavy winds keeping them from landing and out across the sea to Myra in Lycia.
They switched ships and sailed until Cnidus. The wind was still blowing hard as they made their way to Fair Havens on the island of Crete. Much time had been lost and it was now Autumn where winds blew incessantly over the Mediterranean. Paul advised the centurion to stay in Crete for the winter but he was ignored.
They set sail and a huge northeaster swept down from the island, catching the ship, and pushing it along. The men had to throw the ship’s cargo and tackle overboard and they drifted for days, losing hope of being saved.
Paul then tells the men to take heart for they will be saved and only the ship and cargo will be lost. An angel of God stood beside him and told him he and the crew would make it safely to Rome but they would run aground on some island.
After 2 weeks adrift, the men wanted to abandon ship and head to the lifeboats but Paul told the centurion they would die if they did so. So they stayed with the ship. Then Paul urged them to eat and he gave thanks to God for the bread. They were all encouraged. After eating, they threw the grain over board to lighten the ship.
The next day, they saw land and decided to run the ship aground. The ship struck a sandbar before making the beach so the soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners so they wouldn’t escape when they swam. But the centurion wanted to save Paul’s life so no one was killed. Everyone reached land safely by swimming of floating on pieces of the ship.
Acts 28: Landing on the island of Malta, Paul and the others were welcomed by the islanders. Paul got bit by a viper but was able to shake it off to no ill effects, causing the islanders to think him a god. Paul healed Publius’s father and the rest of the sick on the island.
After 3 months, they procured a ship and set sail for Rome, landing in Syracuse on the island of Sicily and then traveled on up the coast of Italy to Rome. In Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself while awaiting trial with a soldier to guard him. [Scholars believe Paul was held for 4 years].
Paul speaks to the leaders of the Jews to explain why he is in chains and the leaders say they have heard nothing bad about Paul and are here to learn about Jesus Christ. He preached to the Jews from morning till evening all about the kingdom of God and Jesus. Some were convinced; others were not. And they argued about it, so much so Paul quoted Isaiah, saying their eyes did not perceive nor their ears understand. Paul proclaims that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles who will listen.
For 2 years Paul preached the gospel boldly in his home to all those who came.
14a) Calm, trust and faith in God, and belief in what the angel of God who appeared to him said. He encourages the men to keep up their courage (27:25) and boldly takes command if you will, telling the centurion to stay with the ship in order to be saved (27:31). He orders them to eat so they will survive (27:33), which encouraged and uplifted the men. He showed integrity, honesty, sincerity, and caring for the men.
b) Faith in God. I’d imagine if I were in that situation that would be the only thing that would keep me calm! It would also help if an angel spoke to me and told me I’d be okay.
15a) An angel of God stood beside Paul and told Paul to not be afraid for he would make it to Rome. This strengthened his faith in God’s word that this would happen and he’d survive. Paul told the men not to abandon the ship if they wanted to live. He told them all to eat. He took the bread and gave thanks to God in front of all the men (what a powerful witness to God’s omnipotence!) and ate.
b) Personal Question. My answer: Well, an angel has never appeared to me but I do know in the midst of the biggest crisis in my life I was calm and knew it would all work out in the end (which it did). I was distraught and broken-hearted but I didn’t panic or ever doubt God. He was there just not manifest like an angel. But He was there in my crisis and held me up as I walked through it.
c) He healed the sick on the island of Malta and when he arrived in Rome, Paul opened his home and preached “from morning till evening” (verse 23) the gospel and some were convinced. He now had a powerful testimony of God’s rescue from the seas (amongst all his other experiences). He had his physical needs provided for by the Romans as a prisoner so he could focus his whole attention on nothing but spreading the Good News. Paul finally had our most valuable commodity–time–and he used it completely to encourage the church (through his letters) and talk about Jesus. Wouldn’t we all like to do that?
Conclusions: This reads like a great suspense novel! I can visualize the panic and fear onboard and Paul standing in the midst of the men, telling them they will survive.
Why did the men throw the cargo, tackle, and lastly the food overboard? To lighten the ship. A heavy cargo makes the ship sit deeper in the water, which is dangerous in shallow water. So the men threw the cargo overboard so the ship would sit higher in the water in case they were blown near land where their boat would get destroyed on the shallow reefs, rocks, and harbors. If the bottom of the ship ran aground miles from any shore, they faced the prospect of being tossed into the sea. Thus, when you are faced with life or death, everything (even the grain) becomes expendable.
Lightening the ship also stabilizes it in rough seas. If the ship got tossed to one side and became unbalanced, a heavy ship would be more likely to follow the energy and due to inertia (the law where objects in motion want to stay in motion), it would tip over.
Further, throwing cargo overboard makes the ship go faster in case the men wanted to try to outrun the storm.
Great ending! Paul is brought safely to Rome where God wants him and God gives Paul time to evangelize.
I want to keep going. I want to find out all Paul taught in his time in Rome and find out the end of him as well. I want to read Romans and Philemon and all the rest of the NT to find out more! The story doesn’t end in Acts. It’s at the good part and I have to keep reading. Now I have a plan for this summer!
Map of Paul’s Final Leg of the Journey to Rome: http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/apostle-paul-fourth-missionary-journey-large-map.html