United Church of God

Acts of the Apostles: 44 - Acts 27:1-44

You are here

Acts of the Apostles

44 - Acts 27:1-44



Acts of the Apostles: 44 - Acts 27:1-44


In this class, we will discuss Acts 27:1-44 and examine the following: Paul and other prisoners are handed over to a centurion named Julius for transport to Rome. They board a ship bound for Italy. Along the journey, they face challenging weather conditions and encounter a storm. Despite Paul's warning, the crew decides to sail on. The storm intensifies, and the ship is eventually wrecked. However, all on board survive and make it safely to land, fulfilling Paul's earlier prophecy.


[Darris McNeely] Good morning, everyone. We have come to Chapter 27 in the Book of Acts. And our fearless hero, the apostle Paul, has been imprisoned. He's been there for more than two years, he has appealed to Caesar, and he is off to Rome. And not quite an all-expense-paid trip on behalf of the Roman government. Trips like this, in those days, the prisoner would've had to pay for. And so, however, Paul is going to be going to Rome. And that is basically the topic of the last two chapters in the Book of Acts. I'm going to put a map up here on the board. Those of you that are watching online or at home later on, you'll see this, and the class will see this. This is the final map of the Book of Acts. And it traces the journey of Paul from Caesarea Maritima down here on the coast of Israel, Palestine, across the Mediterranean.

And then as you will look at this, you will see that the ships that... Actually, Paul is on several ships. He doesn't just get on one ship to make this trip. He will be on several ships. He will change off ships here, and then sail close, hugging the land down to under the island of Crete, and then off across the Mediterranean here to the island of Malta where he will be shipwrecked. And that is where he will winter at a particular point. And then he will make his way up to Sicily through the Straits of Messina, and along the coast of Italy and into the Bay of Naples, and put into the port town of Puteoli. And we'll read about that. So this is the final journey of Paul in the Book of Acts. Likely not the final journey that he makes in his ministry, but it is the last recorded one that we have in Acts.

And it is a very interesting journey, and the way Luke ends the Book of Acts with this sea voyage. It's pretty well straightforward. It's a narrative. But as exciting as any other type of, let's say voyage of the ancient world. You may be familiar with what Homer wrote, the Greek poet and writer, Homer, who wrote the Odyssey, “Iliad, And The Odyssey”, about the story of Odysseus after the Battle of Troy, and his efforts to get back home, and all the different episodes that he had with the Cyclops and Medusa, the girl with the snakes. You've seen the movies “Clash of the Titans,” right? So everybody knows these characters, but that was the famous Odyssey from the ancient world.

In a sense, Paul's journey is far better than Homer's Odyssey because it's true, and it's dealing with the biblical record here. But it is an odyssey in that it is a story of Paul's journey along the sea to Rome where he has appealed and where Christ had told him He would ultimately go. Now, there's several factors about this. Again, the text is largely a story that just unfolds with a lot of drama, with a lot of narrative and some, you know, you got a shipwreck, you've got tension, you've got danger, you've got storms, long stretches without the ability to eat. It is a very treacherous voyage that is being made here. And you wonder, what is it about? Why does it end this way?

And how do we understand it? Because it's a pretty well straightforward telling of the story. I like to couch it in terms, and other commentators have done this, but I do think that there is some value for us to understand that this journey that Paul makes this final journey that concludes the Book of Acts, is also a kind of a metaphor for us in our journey to the Kingdom of God. We're on an odyssey, in a sense, we're on a journey as God has called us. And we have a life of, you know, exciting adventures, in one sense, overcoming trials, the exhilaration of the calling of God, the knowledge of the truth, and the life we are to live, and the ups and downs that can bring. And life can present us curve balls and changes, unexpected difficulties going to rise.

And I think this journey that Paul goes on gives us some help to understand how to deal with that. And the overriding theme through this is that God is with Paul. He's going to appear to him in a vision and tell him, “I'm going to get you through this.” And Paul has to rally the people on board, the Roman soldiers, the ship's captain, the people that are with him. He's kind of a ballast. He's kind of a equalizer in terms of keeping people focused on where they're going, what they must do in order to get through this alive. And that is kind of the key. Paul is promised by God that I'm going to get you through this, but you're going to have to follow certain steps. And Paul makes sure that everyone else on the ship adheres to that as well. And he lets them know that.

You know, we've got to have kind of an attitude and an approach that we're going to make it to the Kingdom of God. God is going to help us. We can do that. And we also want those that are journeying with us on the road to make it as well. So we have to encourage them. We have to point these things out. These are elements to think about as we will go through this narrative. And we'll come back to that and look at it. I want to comment just a little bit about, as we get into this, the conditions of travel on the sea by boat in the First Century A.D. All right? Any of you ever been on a cruise ship, or let's say a semi-luxury yacht? Some billionaire ever invited you for a weekend on their luxury yacht?

Oh, some of you got your hand up on that. Well, that's good. The only boats that I go on are cruise ships, okay? My wife and I are taking a 50th-anniversary cruise in August, and we did one five years ago. We don't do this every year, but we've had a few over the years, and they're nice. Guys, you think Capri will be nice, cruise ship will be nice for her too. So keep that in mind as you're planning, and, girls, don't settle for anything less than that for your fifth anniversary, your 10th anniversary. Oh, why not your 11th and 12th, and 13th anniversary as well? But that's what we're used to today, at least I am. That was not the case with the apostle Paul.

Let me show you a little bit of...this is a type of boat from the 1st century that was a sailing ship. This is a Roman merchant ship, which is what Paul got on. One mass, one sail, cargo all over the deck. And you see the quarter-deck at the back where the captain would stand and give the orders and direct everything on the ship. But it would either move by sail or by oar, all right? So that was the only power. There was no diesel. There were no nuclear engines powering these boats. Here's a little different type of boat for coastal traffic. Paul got on a boat like this. You see those jars in the middle? That would've been holding oil, olive oil, or wheat, which is what these ships continually carry. You see a lot of extra room on that boat? I don't either. You see any luxury berths, bunks, balconies, suites? They're not on these boats.

There's no big cook, you know, just turning out food 24/7 for the people either. You got on a boat like this in the ancient world, you carried your own food with you in a sack. And it wasn't T-bone steaks, and it wasn't chocolate mousse for dessert. It was basically grain, maybe some dried fruits, maybe some dried meat as a luxury. Here's another example of a Roman merchant ship, a little bit nicer from the first century, but these were the types of ships that were continually going between across the Mediterranean, out of Egypt down here to the south. If you look down here, Egypt was the granary, the bread basket of the Roman Empire. And this is why Rome wanted control of it, going back to our stories with Antiochus Epiphanes, remember the Roman general that drew the circle around Antiochus and told him to make up his mind, what he was going to do before he got out of that circle, either turn around and go home or fight.

Romans wanted, and they got control of Egypt because that's where they grew wheat, corn, other grains. And that was continually shipped out all the way back to Rome in order to provide bread for the masses in the Roman cities so that order was kept. Order, that is what it was all about, free bread for the masses, and to keep that going. Any emperor worth his salt did that, or he would have been deposed. He would've been killed. And so there was a continual stream of ships going back and forth during the good months across the Mediterranean, out of these ports, carrying grain, carrying oil, and other spices and merchandise. Again, Revelation 18, we read about the economic miracle of Babylon that is described there. The first Century readers would've understood all the different ports of call that they were a part of, especially in Sardis, when the Church at Sardis heard that message. They were a major port. Ephesus was a major port. And the goods and products of the empire were flowing through them. And these ships were a big part of it.

One other thing to note, and as you look at a map of the Mediterranean world, you see Cyprus right here on island. Here's Crete, and, of course, the islands of the Aegean all stretching up through the Aegean Sea. And across here, we've got Malta. And we're going to read of a number of different ports. You see all these different ports, Corinth, Athens across here. And one thing to realize about what we're going to read, as Paul gets on a ship and he goes here, he gets off that ship onto another ship, transfers and keeps moving, the story of Acts in the New Testament is, in large part, told on water, in connection with Paul's journeys and the stories of the churches that the Gospels talk about.

Even in, I mean, in the Epistles. Even in the Gospels, you had the Sea of Galilee, several stories told on water there with Jesus in Galilee. But when you look at this map and you understand the trade routes and all the connections, those boats would've, not only been carrying people, wheat, oil, they would've been carrying correspondences, mail, and other things. And everybody on that boat would know what was the gossip of the port they just came from, and they would pass that along. This was the means of communication as well. What you should understand when you look at all these different islands and these trade routes through here on the Mediterranean, that, in large part, was the internet of the ancient world. And as we read about Paul getting on a boat to go here and to do this and changing off here, you're kind of reading and seeing a story of communication and commerce.

Today, we rely on the internet to do that. This is what they relied on, and it was a vital thing in that time and in that place. So let's get over to Chapter 27:1 with that as a brief background, and let's start going through this to understand a bit of what we are talking about here. Let's begin in verse 1.

Acts 27:1 “When it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to one named Julius a centurion of the Augustine regiment.”

So Luke is writing this in the first person, which tells us that he was with Paul. He's traveling with Paul. And so Paul was given custody to a centurion. So here's what is this, the second centurion that we have mentioned in the Book of Acts. There was one other mentioned. Anybody remember the name of that other centurion mentioned in the Book of Acts? Cornelius. Cornelius was the other centurion. Now we have a second one, Julius, from a different regiment, the Augustine regiment. This evidently is a special body of imperial guards. It's got the name of Augustus on it, who is the Caesar. So they were kind of a personal legion or personal body of soldiers attached to the court, to the emperor himself for special duty. And we find these mentioned in Roman histories. And so, it's a very accurate telling here. They were special units, special units of the Roman legions that were assigned to various police or judicial functions, personal emissaries for the emperor, etc. And they're carrying now Paul, on this ship.

Acts 27:2 “And so entering a ship of Adramyttium we put to sea.”

Meaning to sail along the coasts of Asia. So that's what you see. They get on and they begin to move along the coast. Now, one thing to also remember about the boats in this day and age, when they could, and not only because they were going to other ports, but they did a lot of hugging the land, so to speak. They didn't have GPS units to determine where they were, and they're setting their course. And so it was very important when they could to be able to spot land. And they knew the landmarks, they knew the points, they knew the hills, prominent mountains, and that would help them know where they were. Now, of course, if that got fogged in, they were in trouble, right? But just keep in mind, they didn't have all the navigational tools that a ship does today. And so as much as possible, they sailed by land.

But, of course, when they got out into the Mediterranean, they had to go by the stars and the sun. And they had their charts and they knew these things as best they could, but they were also at the mercy of the elements a great deal and the wind for movement. So it was quite treacherous. I don't think we fully appreciate just how treacherous it was to get on a boat in the Roman world and to make this travel across the Aegean. For Paul to do this willingly, knowing I appealed to Caesar, and to do that was an amazing thing, even in his own mind to set sail across this body of water. Nightfall comes, gets dark, storms come up, it's pretty dangerous and it's pretty scary. There's no other way to put it when you think about the waves, and the wind, and the tumult of the sea. So they begin their sail.

Acts 27:2 “We put to sea, meaning the sail along the coast of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica was with us.”

This is another one of Paul's traveling companions. So it appears that Paul has two other people with him, Luke, and this man named Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica. Now, this is important because it gives Paul a little bit of a standing foot with the Roman centurion. Paul's not just some itinerant vagrant rabbi or dirty Jewish, you know, teacher that has caused trouble, he has friends. He has traveling companions, and that would've had a little bit of gravitas with the Roman centurion, he probably knew a little bit about this Paul. And we're not told his particular opinions, but he does develop respect for Paul along the way.

Acts 27:3-6 “The next day, we landed at Sidon, and Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him liberty to go to his friends and receive care.” So he has a little bit of time to spend with some friends that he has there. “When he had put the sea from there, we sailed under the shelter of Cyprus because the winds were contrary. And when we had sailed over the sea, which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. There the Centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing to Italy, and he put us on board.”

So they make a ship transfer here in verse 6. So the Centurion puts them on a ship sailing to Italy. This is likely a grain ship. It's going to make that voyage all the way across now to Rome. And so there's cargo on board, and it is a ship. I think later on we're going to get a number here. I think it's 276 people that are on board this ship. Close to 300 people. Now, think about that. Look at this ship like this, 300 people. You know, let's just give it the bigger ship, even this, where do they put 300 people, plus crew? Let's just say that includes crew and passengers.

Again, I don't see any windows on this one. I don't see any luxury balconies. And the truth of the matter is they would've been down in the cargo hold, some of them. You know why? Because some of these people would've been slaves. Some of them would've been passengers like Paul. Some of them would've been people making their way back and forth, maybe some other prisoners going to Rome. But commentators also feel there would've been a fair number of slaves in that group of people. And all these people would've been jammed up on this boat. Think about that. Privacy, not too much, hygiene? Just think about the hygiene. Where does it all go? What happens with 300 people on a small space like this? In the heat? In the rain? Just use your imagination, your mind, your olfactory senses, and everything else, and begin to get an idea. This was not a pleasant trip, but Paul willingly did it. And that's just not including the difficulties that are going to come up.

Acts 27:7-8 “When he had sailed slowly, many days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed, we sailed under the shelter of Crete, off Salmone. Passing it with difficulty, we came to the place they called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.”

Which brings us back to the map, and we can trace that along the way here. So they're on the coast of Crete sailing along under that and making a place there. So they've crossed the body of water going down into Crete. One other thing to note, sailors and people who have been on the Mediterranean and know it quite well and have studied the ancient shipping boats and lanes and know it backwards and forwards, read what Luke writes here and the locations and the way the ship is handled, it's all accurate down to the last detail. So Luke was eyewitness and he knew what he was talking about. And again, with every other point of geography and other points that we have read about in Acts, it helps us to appreciate the accuracy of what Luke has written here.

Acts 27:9-10 “When much time had been spent and sailing was now dangerous because the fast was already over, Paul advised them saying, ‘Men, I perceive this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.’”

Wow, that's an upper to start with. Look at what we're told here, though. References made to the fast. Now, that's the Day of Atonement. Everyone knows and understands what that is a reference to. This is the Day of Atonement in the year 59 A.D., and we know the exact date, it's October 5th. So it's early October, 59 A.D., Day of Atonement.

Paul is on the water on that day on his way over. He can't control his schedule. How did he keep the Day of Atonement? Well, Luke doesn't give us any details. I think he fasted. I don't know if he had three songs, a hymn and took up an offering or not, but I'm pretty sure that he would've fasted that day, and somehow acknowledged that through maybe a hymn or some type of a message or discussion, at least, with he and Luke and Aristarchus and anyone else that might have overheard what he was talking about. But it is the Day of Atonement. One other thing, it is at a point in this season when most ships would've been off the water. In the ancient world, after mid-October, ships didn't go out on the open water like this one is going.

The weather and conditions were not advantageous, and so shipping back down. But it appears that this boat's got a cargo of wheat, and if they can get through to Rome, they're probably going to get a premium for delivering that. And so it seems that the owner, and in the bargain that is made with the captain, is push on through. Let's see if we can get one more in on the season and make a bit more money, and we'll have a good Christmas bonus. Except they weren't keeping Christmas at that time, what should I say? We'll have a good autumn out of your bonus here at the end of December, and that's what they were looking for. So they're courting danger as they go out.

Acts 27:11 “Nevertheless, the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul.”

And so the Centurion basically went along with the helmsman and the owner of the ship who evidently was on board, wanted to get this cargo through, and they rolled the dice and they gambled and said, "Let's go. Let's launch on out."

Acts 27:12 “And because the harbor was not suitable to winter, and the majority advised to set sail from there also, if by any means they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete opening toward the southwest and northwest and winter there.”

But that's not going to be the plan.

Acts 27:13-17 Tells us that, “When the south wind blew softly, supposing they had obtained their desire putting out the sea, they sailed close by Crete, but not long after, a tempestuous headwind arose called Euroclydon. And so when the ship was caught and could not head into the wind, we let her drive. And running under the shelter of an island called Clauda, we secured the skiff with difficulty. And when they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship, fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands. They struck sail, and so were driven.”

They were basically not in control of the ship, is what is being described here. A strong wind has come up and they have to just run with it, and let it go. As you look at the map here, they begin then to head out into the open sea.

Acts 27:18-19 “And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day, they lightened the ship. And on the third day, we threw the ship's tackle overboard with our own hands.”

Now, how would they lighten the ship? Well, they would be throwing cargo off, at first, probably the cheapest cargo. And then they even threw off the ship's tackle. Now, the ship's tackle would've been things like ropes, anchors, other hardware on which, and with which the ship operated this on the sails. Maybe some would've been in reserve for repairs. Maybe there was an extra sail. Maybe there was an extra beam on board. If you look at a ship like this, they could have carried an extra mast to which the sail would've been attached, or roping, or even canvas. But they have to begin to jettison this as they go out.

Acts 27:20 Tells us, “When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days because of cloud and storm and overcast conditions, no small tempest beat on us. All hope that we would be saved was finally given up.”

Here is the first great trial and test that moves us along. The ship is in a sense not totally controlled by the captain and his crew, and they are under duress. They've already begun to throw things off in order to make the ship a bit more seaworthy, helping them in their navigation. But then the conditions of the weather continue on and they can't see. Even on luxury cruise cruises that I've been on, you can stand out on a deck of even a boat like that, and, of course, you got lights and everything going on, but you can catch certain moments on the ocean. If it's cloudy, you can see just how dark it is out there. When there's no moon, no stars, and cloud cover, it is dark. And if the waves are crashing, then you've got a condition and a setup, and especially in a small boat like this where it's being tossed around. And again, there's not... Today, big ships have sophisticated stabilizers that they can compensate for some of the waves and the turbulence of the water. Certainly not when it gets to be, you know, huge waves.

But a boat like this in that time had nothing like that. And so it's going up and it's going down on those waves, and its listing back and forth, and you can't see, and you're holding on for dear life and you've already emptied, you know, whatever your last three meals were. You were seasick, there's no Dramamine, and it's pretty bad conditions. You know, imagine your worst sea sickness or motion sickness when you got off the roller rollercoaster and then multiply that out and it doesn't end, all right? I mean, this is what's happening here. All hope that we would be saved was finally given up. Sometimes you hit a time of difficulty in your life and you don't know how you're going to go forward. You don't know what the result's going to be of this particular moment that you're in. You made a mistake or circumstances beyond your control has put something on you. You get on with life and you get married and you have a child and things happen.

Sickness, difficulty, a challenge hits just like that. Maybe the baby gets sick. Maybe the born baby is born not quite completely healthy and you got a trial. You didn't bargain for that. The marriage counseling didn't prepare you for that. And you have to deal with it. You have to approach it. You can't run. You lose a job, you lose a parent, something happens. How do you deal with it? What do you summon up from your inner person? What have you learned? How have you prepared for a moment like that? You'll find out, we all do. This is what happens when you come to a moment where you might desire or think that you'll just give up. Well, let's read on to see what happens.

Acts 27:21 “After long abstinence from food, Paul stood in the midst of them and he said, ‘Men, you should have listened to me and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss.’”

Think about that. That's just what they needed to hear. Don't you love that type of person that's saying, “Well, you should have listened to me?” You know, “I told you so.” That really doesn't help when you're right in the middle of it, right up to here, some know-it-all, some bossy-wossy, some Karen. That's just what you need, right? You have to read this into a little bit of how they may have perceived Paul. Now, look, Paul's our hero of the story, we like Paul, but you know, the centurion, the other soldiers, the other crew, and the captain, they want this guy telling them this right now? That's not what they need, but he does it anyway.

Acts 27:22-26 “He said, ‘I urge you to take heart, and there will be no loss of life among you, but only other ship.’” “Oh, really? How do you know this, Paul,” they might be thinking? Well, he says, “I'm glad you asked that.” Because in verse 22, he says, “For there stood by me this night, an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve.” Paul had a vision of an angelic messenger bringing him this Angelos, this messenger, bringing him this word saying, “‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must be brought before Caesar, and indeed, God has granted you all those who sail with you. Therefore, take heart, man.’" Paul says, "’For I believe God, that it will be just as it was told me. However, we must run aground on a certain island.’"

So Paul gives them, in a very brief statement, hope. They may not believe it and see it in that moment, and yet the circumstances will play out and prove him correct.

Acts 27:27 But he tells them, “An angel of the God whom I belong to and whom I serve.”

You might want to underline that one because that speaks to all of us because we belong to God and we serve Him as his disciples. And that is very important. Don't be afraid, echoing what Jesus told the disciples in the boat on the Sea of Galilee. Don't fear, fear not. He's given a message that they're going to get through this. So Paul gives them a call to courage. It's kind of the first point to know here, a call to courage.

Take heart. Somebody needs to say that some time, you know, in a difficult situation. Your team gets down, you've lost the bid. You know, you may be facing a layoff or your team just doesn't think you're going to get through this job, this goal, and you guys are going to surrender to complacency or to circumstances. Sometimes it does take somebody with a little bit of courage to say, “Hey, we can do this. Let's recalibrate. Let's check the numbers again. Let's examine what we can do. Look at our strengths, do a SWOT analysis, whatever it might be. We can do this.” Maybe you felt that way at a certain moment with your charity auction here a few weeks back, and you said, “We can't do this. It's not going to get done.” Probably had those moments. Did you have those moments?

You didn't, huh? Really? You just knew it. You had courage all the way through. Got it done. Yeah, I know it's never easy. But sometimes you hit those situations and somebody's got to stand up and kind of lead the way forward. Let's continue on, verse 27.

Acts 27:27-28 “When the 14th night had come, as we were driven up and down in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight, the sailors sensed that they were drawing near some land, and they took soundings and found it to be 20 fathoms.”

A sounding is letting out a rope or a chain that's got positions marked on it. And depending on how many of those fall down to the bottom, then they know how deep the water is at that particular time. That's what's called taking a sounding. They don't have sonar to do that. They had just a piece of rope or a chain that they knew the various lengths of it.

Acts 27:28-29 “And it was 20 fathoms, and they had gone a little further. They took soundings again, and they found it to be 15 fathoms” So the water was getting shallower as they continued along. “Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come.”

So they had not thrown all of their ships tackle overboard. They still had some anchors. Some of the anchors that they have found from these ancient ships are nothing more than stones through which they have somehow drilled holes and attached a chain or a rope. So, you know, consider kind of a big piece of granite or maybe marble cast off from some quarry with a hole put through it and a rope or chain tied around it.

This was an ancient anchor. Now, there could've been some metal anchors as well. But they have found a lot of, essentially, pieces of granite or marble in some of these shipwrecks. And there are a lot of shipwrecks that they have found along the Mediterranean from these ancient times of sailing, some pretty old.

Acts 27:30-31 “And so Paul said then to the centurion, ‘And the soldiers…’” Well, we skipped verse 30. “And as sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, when they had let down the skiff into the sea, under pretense of putting out anchors from the prow.”

Some were wanting to jump ship. Some of the sailors getting scared, and they're going to take their chances and get off early and swim, even though it might be 15, 10 fathoms, or deep. They must be then proficient enough to swim. They're going to take their chances in the water rather than on a boat that could hit the rocks and just break up with loss of life. But Paul does something.

Acts 27:31 “He said to the centurion and to the soldiers, ‘Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.’ And the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let it fall off.”

So the soldiers and the centurion went, cut the ropes, and let these lifeboats, essentially what they were, they were skiffs, they let 'em go, and so that the sailors had to stay on. And so, to Paul, God's promise to deliver them was based on everybody staying together. And, you know, there's another lesson there, I suppose, that to get through certain trials, you do have to hang together. People do need to stay together. Well, going on in verse 33.

Acts 27:33 “And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, ‘Today is the 14th day you have waited and continued without food and eaten nothing.’”

Two weeks with basically no food. Maybe they'd gotten a little bit of grain in them. Maybe they didn't want that because, as I said, seasickness and the turbulence and just keeping the boat together was all a part of it. And so after two weeks, Paul encourages him to…

Acts 27:34-35 “I urge you to take nourishment for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you. And when he had said these things, he took bread, gave thanks to God in the presence of them all. And when he had broken it, he began to eat.”

And in the midst of all these people here, most of them being gentiles and some criminals, maybe, other slaves, soldiers, Paul in a sense, rallies them to faith. This is not a communion service and the breaking of bread. It's merely having a meal. Some of this food would've been stored in what are called amphora. These are large clay vessels. You go to any museum that shows these things from the ancient world, they're quite large clay vessels, and they would've been sealed. And on these ships, in fact, you can see some of them right here in the center. These are large clay pots called amphora. And the grain would've been stored in those, other goods as well because it was important to keep that grain that was being shipped to keep it from drawing too much moisture in. Number one, you know, too much would've caused it to rot and spoil. Number two, just again, too much, but just, I'll say the right amount of moisture would've caused the grain to begin to germinate and to sprout.

And that's not what they wanted. This was bound for the ovens and eventually bred at the destination port. And so they would keep it in these sealed amphora. So they're probably beginning to eat some of the stores that they've got here.

Acts 27:36-37 “And so they were all encouraged. They took food themselves. And in all, we were 276 persons on the ship.”

Again, quite a large grouping of people here in the ship. And so you've got to have a measure of faith. You've got to call the courage that we mentioned. Also, I forgot to put up here, to stay together, as kind of the second thing that Paul says, and then to have faith. Faith is a multidimensional concept spiritually. It's confidence. It's a positive approach. It involves obedience to God, in this case, to the mission, or to what has at least been laid down by Paul that we've got to stay together.

The breaking of the bread here and taking a pause after two weeks, that would've lifted their spirits. I don't know if you've ever been out hiking for any length of time or, you know, let's say even at camp, if you've had a long, hard day of activity, hot, a lot of exertion, you know when you get to that meal in the dining hall at noon, or especially at night, I remember quite well, you were just glad it was hot and you had plenty of it, whatever it was. And when everybody's able to get a few calories in and to just relax and get some liquid in, your spirits are lifted. You know, a warm bowl of soup when you're wet and cold and tired, that can do wonders. Food in any degree, any amount, any kind, after a moment of trial like this would've begun to lift the spirits of these 276 people who were on the ship.

Acts 27:38 Now, it says, “When they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship and threw out the wheat into the sea.”

So these amphora would've been thrown out. They still have to be able to navigate this ship then they have to throw off some food. What you have to realize is, in doing so, they are throwing off money. With every bag of wheat, with every vessel of grain, the ship's owner is seeing money go out and loss. But by this time, you would think all that they're concerned with is keeping their life.

Acts 27:39-41 “When it was day, they did not recognize the land, but they observed a bay with a beach onto which they planned to run the ship, if possible. And they let go of the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile, losing the rudder ropes and they hoisted the main sail to the wind and made for shore. But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground. The prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern was being broke up by the violence of the waves."

The stern is the back part of the ship. So the front part stuck into the sand, but the back was still in the water being moved around by the violence of the waves and broken up. But at least they've made landfall.

Acts 27:42 “And the soldier's plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape.”

Again, keep in mind that the creed of a Roman soldier with a charge of a prisoner was, your prisoner didn't escape or your life could be forfeited. And they didn't want that. And they're even thinking only of themselves at this point in time.

Acts 27:43-44 “But the centurion wanting to save Paul kept him from their purpose.” And so, again, he has learned something, a measure of respect for Paul over these weeks, and he spares his life. “And he commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land. And the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship, and so it was that they all escaped safely to land.”

And so they're shipwrecked. And as we continue on in verse one of Chapter 28.

Acts 28:1 “When they had escaped, they found out that the island was called Malta.”

So they have come to the island of Malta, which is this island over here at the eastern end of the Mediterranean. Still there, still having the same name today, a tiny island right here, just due south of Sicily. This is the toe. Well, not the toe. This is the toe of Italy. But this is this separate island of Sicily and Malta is just to the south. So this is where Paul and others are shipwrecked right here in the island that is called Malta. So we'll pause there, and we'll pick up Chapter 28 in the next class and finish out the book here. Any questions?


  • lizbrooks1980
    Hello, Just wanted to say I am loving this class!!!! It will really help the Church now to see what it was like when God was calling new people back then into the Way just like He is doing now as we approach the Last Days. Just a note, I got kinda confused because Lecture 44 is sandwiched between Lecture 23 and Lecture 24, I think a link just got switched somewhere in the posting process. Anyways thank you and have a blessed week! Liz M
  • Join the conversation!

    Log in or register to post comments