Acts #102 (chapter 27:1-26)
The Book of Acts
Paul's Journey to Rome
Acts 27:1–26
The 27th chapter of Acts is one of the most exciting passages in the New Testament in that it is very graphic and detailed regarding Paul's trip to Rome. One of the things we learn is that Jesus can not only calm the waters when He wants to, God can also stir them up when He wants!
Now there is a crisis that occurs during this trip while Paul is traveling by boat, and I will confess to you I know nothing about sailing. I've never been interested in being around the water. I never learned to swim, I don't like nasty lake water. I don't even take a bath very often! So I just have to take others word for things when it comes nautical information.
But I can see the spiritual side of things, so I'll limit my observations to that. Through these text, there are five things I want you to see, and we won't get to cover all of them tonight, I'm sure, but we'll get started. I'll call them stages and stage one is
1. The Start
Obviously, I didn’t have to think too long to come up with that.
verses 1 to 8
So this is where the journey begins. Ever since the idea of going to Rome had been planted in Paul’s mind by the Holy Spirit, he's been anticipating this trip.
By the way, notice in verse 1 the word "we". That was common language that Luke used up until chapter 21, verse 18. Then Paul was imprisoned. But now, Luke is back with Paul and they are, once again, traveling together.
They are also accompanied by another friend named Aristarchus. Now remember, Paul is traveling as a prisoner and historians tell us it was unheard of for a prisoner to be allowed traveling companions.
But, Paul is traveling with two friends which tells us they either they would have had to identify as slaves of Paul or Festus, knowing Paul was innocent granted him a personal privilege.
But for whatever reason, they are now on their way.
And according to verse 1, there are also other prisoners on board as well who are going to Rome, perhaps on appeal or to be tried or sentenced or executed. And they are traveling under the command of a man named Julius who is a centurion of the Augustan Regiment. So he's in charge of 100 men and they are moving these prisoners.
Now remember, Augustus is the emperor so this is a special band of men assigned to him. They are elite forces who transport important political prisoners and personalities back and forth between Rome and its various provinces.
Verse 2
They take the first available ship, which happens to be a coastal vessel from Adramyttium, they get on board and begin the first leg of the journey.
verse 3
So they left Caesarea, sailed up the coast 70 miles to Sidon, and immediately, we find this rather odd behavior on the part of Julius. Why? We don't know, except to speculate, once again, that Festus,
knowing the innocence of Paul, told Julius that Paul could be trust, and Julius extends him these privileges.
So at Sidon, Paul goes to friends, and that was most likely a church. There was a church at Sidon, and
Paul had visited that church on his trip to Jerusalem. So he went there and refreshed himself
The word "refresh" is actually a medical term, which indicates he was sick. And no wonder he was sick with all he had endured. And again, we may find an indicator there of why Julius treated him so well, because as the centurion in charge, if he lost a prisoner, he paid with his life.
verse 4
So they are back at sea, but the winds are contrary. And they intend to travel near the coast and take advantage of the shelter it provides.
Verse 5 tells us they kind of coasted along until they made it to Myra, and verse 6 tells us they changed ships and got on a ship heading to Rome.
Verses 7 and 8 give some additional details about the travel conditions and where they went, and by now you probably feel like you're back in geography class, but, hang on because the Lord has a purpose in all of this. So they finally arrive at a place called "Fair Havens".
So that is the start. it was a difficult journey, but they finally made it.
Stage two is
2. The Stay
Here they are in Fair Havens, taking on supplies and waiting for a change of winds, and they’re getting anxious to go to Rome because winter is coming on. And if they get stranded somewhere, this centurion has about 275 people to take care of for the winter months.
And Fair Havens might sound like a travel destination, but it was open and exposed to the winds of the sea, and according to verse 12, it was not a suitable place so spend the winter.
verse 9
  1. we don’t know how much time was spent there, but it was too much, maybe a month or more, and they are now in a dangerous season to be sailing. The "Fast" was over which means they are past the Day of Atonement which occurs on the 10th day of the 7th month of the Jewish calendar, which is the month of Tishri. That falls into the Roman calendar at the end of September or the beginning of October.
And they are now, in a dangerous time of the year, about to try and cross the open sea.
And verses 9-10 tells us that Paul tried to warn them not to do it.
verse 10
Paul gives a little practical advice. He’s not a sailor but he’s been on a lot of ships and he’s been through three shipwrecks and he’s not looking forward to a fourth. So he says, “Guys this is not going to turn out well!"
So, verse 11, they told him to stick to preaching and they'd take care of the sailing, deciding to listen to the helmsman and owner of the ship, rather than Paul.
Those two words, "helmsman" and "owner" are obscure words, but the best understanding of "helmsman" which is also translated as "master" is probably the man who was responsible for steering and navigating the ship. And the word owner is probably speaking of the pilot.
So you can’t blame the centurion for believing the navigator and the captain. And so the decision is made to travel, and as we saw in verse 12, a part of the decision was made because of where they were.
And apparently, the crew and other travelers got to weigh in on what to do, and so they decide to set sail.
Which brings us to stage three, and that is
3. The Storm
verse 13
Everything looks like it is falling into place,
verse 14
You've got to watch out for those gentle south winds because they can be misleading! A "Euroclydon" hit which is sailor language for a severe northeastern wind that came down from Asia! They were basically in a hurricane! And all of a sudden, here they are bobbing like a cork in the ocean!
verses 15-17
They manage to get behind this little island and gain some protection, and they worked and they were able to secure the boat, that is, get their little rescue boat aboard, and then use cables to undergird the ship.
Those old ships were held together with pitch and tar and they would wrap cables around them so when they were under stress they could tighten those cables and keep the ships from falling apart.
Then, because they were afraid of running aground, they lowered the sails and let the wind take control of the ship.
Verses 18-20
It's interesting, isn't it, that being driven by the wind, with no sail to direct their travel, unable to see the stars and determine their course, they wind up getting exactly where they needed to be! It's easy to figure out who was in charge of steering the ship!
It was all in the plan of God.
It's also worth noting that when God wants to get someone's attention and share the gospel, He prepares the setting for that to take place.
verse 21
And right on cue, Paul speaks.
If you ever the doubt that Paul had a sinful nature, just listen to the first thing out of his mouth! "I tried to tell you, and you wouldn't listen!"
So why did he say that? He said that to establish the fact that he knew what he was talking about! He is establishing his credibility as a spokesman for God!
So why did they need to know that they could trust what he said?
verse 22
Here they are onto the mast to keep from being blown overboard, they've thrown all the baggage and extras overboard, the waves are smashing over the top of the boat, you can’t see anything, and the wind is howling at a hundred miles an hour, and Paul takes the mic and says, "Cheer up fellows. None of you are in danger. The boat's going down, but you're not. Trust me!"
How do you know that's true Paul?
verse 23-26
Don’t you love that? Paul knew who he belonged to. See what God wants to do? God is introducing Himself to these people. He had to get them in a position to accept the introduction.
They’re in a desperate situation and looking for a God because only a God can help them. And Paul steps up to make the introduction! It's going to be all right! We're going to make, but you've got to learn to listen to me and do what I tell you to do!
Now Paul has put himself in a very interesting position. Either God come through and things happen as he said, or they don't. So Paul's credibility is on the line. And the situation looks anything but favorable to happen as he said.
What is the probability that they will lose the ship, everyone's life will be saved and they will land on an island? The odds are certainly against them. So what happened? Well that’s for next week.
But I’ll close with this one observation. The lost world has no idea how fortunate they are that they have God's people hanging around.
Notice verse 24
We have a mission team get on an airplane and everyone else sitting on that plane has no idea how safe they are just because they are traveling together and God's not finished with that team. They are completely secure because of the godly.
Richard Jackson, pastor of North Phoenix Baptist Church, said early in his ministry, when he was pastor at Booger, TX, got on an airplane to travel to the Southern Baptist Convention,
He said W.A. Criswell got on that plane, and I turned to my wife and said, "You can relax honey! Ain't nothing going to happen to this plane!"
Did you know that God’s people in the midst of an ungodly community actually protect that community? That’s right.
It was true in the life of Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of Abraham when God promised to protect the entire city if just a few righteous could be found.
later in Genesis, Laban told Jacob, “For I have learned by experience that the Lord has blessed me because of you.” Do you see that? It’s the same principle.
And again, in the book of Genesis in chapter 39, we are told that the Lord blessed Egypt because of Joseph.
The world doesn’t know how fortunate it is to have the presence of godly people in it. These people in this ship didn’t know how fortunate they were to have that apostle there.
Well, what’s going to happen? That’s for next time.
Let’s pray.
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