Day 348 Acts 27-28

Day 348
Acts 27-28

King Agrippa II and the Roman Procurator Festus handed Paul over to the centurion Julius of the Imperial Cohort to transport the Apostle by ship to Rome. Luke accompanied Paul (his signature “we” in verse 2 is noteworthy) and wrote the vivid eyewitness account. Aristarchus, his faithful friend throughout his confinement in Caesarea was also registered as one of Paul’s attendants. Julius retained a ship in the Caesarian harbor that was heading home to Adramyttium, east of Assos (modern day Turkey). The other prisoners would have been stationed in the deck below while Paul and his friends were permitted to move about on the main deck. As it happened, it was late August, 59 A.D. and if all went well, Paul expected to arrive in Rome near the end of October. When the ship set off from Sidon they had to tack in the open sea against the strong easterly winds arriving in Myra (the home of Saint Nicholas who later became Santa Claus). In Myra, Julius transferred crew, passengers, and cargo to a large ship sailing out of Alexandria, Egypt and heading for Italy, now with a total of 276 souls on board. The ship would have had one large mast equipped with a single sail and steered by multiple rudders. Setting off in mid-September the winds were less than favorable. Luke stated, “We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus” (7). They did not harbor in its esteemed port but continued south of Crete until arriving at Fair Havens. The Day of Atonement was on October 5, leaving little more than a month before all sea travel would cease for the winter.

Julius spoke with his crew and invited Paul to attend the discussion. Paul indicated that any further travel would be dangerous, but Julius agreed with the pilot and the owner of the ship to put out to sea and possibly reach Phoenix, Crete where they could harbor for the winter. The south wind blew them gently along Crete until suddenly a Nor’easter struck, “a tempestuous wind.” The mast shook and the ship began to take on water from the swelling waves. They hoisted up the ship’s dinghy and secured the ship’s timbers with ropes to keep it from breaking apart. They were soon violently storm-tossed and began dumping the ship’s cargo and tackle into the sea. Overcast skies prevented any ability to navigate for days until they gave up all hope.

Amid great danger, Paul shouted above the wind and told the crew that while the ship would be lost by running aground, no one on board would perish because an angel of God had appeared to him that very night and assured him that everyone would survive and that he would stand before the Emperor. Two weeks after they left Crete they were moving across the rocky bay of Koura (now known as St. Paul’s Bay). Anchors were dropped as they waited for daylight. Some of the sailors tried to escape in the dinghy but Paul insisted that everyone should stay onboard. At dawn, he encouraged everyone to eat whatever was available and toss the rest overboard. They lifted the anchors and raised the sail until they struck either a reef or sandbank. No one knew where they were. The stern was broken apart by the surf. The Roman soldiers were prepared to kill all the prisoners until Julius intervened in order to spare Paul. Incredibly, everyone eventually made it ashore.

As it happened, they soon learned that they had reached the island of Malta. The people of the island were hospitable and built a fire. Paul gathered additional kindling, but when he placed the sticks on the fire a viper slid out and bit his hand. The Maltese islanders assumed Paul was a murderer and that he had met his just fate. Paul shook the snake off, but while they waited for him to keel over and die he was unaffected. They quickly changed their minds and considered Paul a god! Paul then met Publius, the island chief, healed his father who was sick with dysentery and, in turn, healed many of the islanders who were plagued with diseases.

Three months later they boarded another ship from Alexandria, sailing under the twin gods, Castor and Pollux. By February, 60 A.D. they set sail for Rome. In less than a week’s time, Paul arrived in Rome at last. In the imperial city Paul lived under house arrest. He was first interrogated by some local Jews who agreed he was not worthy of death. Over the next weeks and months Paul spoke freely about the gospel to all who visited his home. He lived there for two years, under constant guard, but enjoying a measure of freedom that allowed him to “welcome all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” He also had time to write a series of letters to the churches he had founded and the ministry partners he loved so dearly.

O God, Paul’s journey to Rome reminds us of the obstacles and challenges of the Christian life. We know that deliverance may not always occur in this life, but we know that You will eventually turn all things for our good and Your glory. May we like Paul run the race You have set before us with endurance, fruitfulness, and faithfulness. In Jesus’ Name, we pray, Amen.

Paul Sails for Rome – And when it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius. And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium,…