Wow! One more day of The Acts Challenge 2019, folks! Have you read along? If not, just click on my home page and scroll down to find day one, and you can easily catch up. And please feel free to add any discussion points that come to mind!
In this chapter, we see Paul setting sail as a prisoner, on his way to Rome, and Caesar. Trouble befalls them and they all fear for their lives! Let’s take a look!
On the Way to Italy
(Vs. 1) And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band.
(Vs. 2) And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us.
(Vs. 3) And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.
Stopping in Sidon, Julius was kind to Paul. It was likely at the word of Augustus, who in the previous chapter said he would have set Paul free if he hadn’t have appealed to Caesar. Julius went on to allow Paul to go and refresh himself with his friends.
This is a twofold message, as we can refresh ourselves with a good shower, a good meal, and a nice nap. But fellowship can be JUST as refreshing! Especially when that fellowship is Godly and there is brotherly love between the friends. That’s quite likely where Paul found himself here.
Contrary Winds and Travel Plans
(Vs. 4) And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary.
(Vs. 5) And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.
(Vs. 6) And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein.
(Vs. 7) And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone;
(Vs. 8) And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called the fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.
Facing bad weather, their voyage had to take a different direction, landing them in Myra. There, the centurion, found another ship, and Alexandrian ship, that was on its way to Italy, and he put his passengers on that ship.
It’s likely he had reason to believe that the ship they were in wouldn’t make it through any more bad weather. Or perhaps they had intended to switch ships there. Either way, they were now, again, in route to Italy, and to Rome.
Paul Issues a Warning
(Vs. 9) Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,
(Vs. 10) And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.
Paul “perceived” that the voyage ahead would face great trouble, and that they might even fear for their lives. Here, the word perceive is translated from theoreo, (where we get the word “theory”) and it means to discern, to find out by seeing, to view mentally, or consider.
Here is one of the great gifts of receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost… When you have the Holy Ghost on the inside, He will direct you, teach you, comfort you, and guide you. He will warn you of things to come and, if it’s the least bit in your power, you can manage your way around whatever the warning included.
And that’s just what Paul was attempting to do here. But…
The Centurion Rejects Paul’s Warning
(Vs. 11) Nevertheless, the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.
The centurion put more faith in the word of the one that owned this ship. There was likely a bit of arrogance or at the very least, a good bit of pride, in his own ship. Can’t you hear him? My ship is just fine! It can weather the storm with no problem! You’ll see!
(Vs. 12) And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter, which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.
They were hoping to make it to Phenice before the cold weather set in. It would be a haven in a bountiful area, and that’s the destination they had in mind.
(Vs. 13) And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.
Heading toward Crete, the journey started out pretty well. A soft wind gave them reason to believe they would find favor in their sailing. But…
(Vs. 14) But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.
Those soft winds quickly gave way to a tempestuous wind. It was called “Euroclydon.” In the Blue Letter Bible online, we find that this word is best defined as, “a north east wind or variant reading Euroclydon = a violent agitation, south east wind raising mighty waves, a wind causing broad waves.”
In addition to being mentioned here in the 27th chapter of Acts (the only mention in the entire Bible), it’s also mentioned in the 2nd chapter of Moby Dick. William Billings entitled one of his anthems “Euroclydon”. The word is referenced in Rudyard Kipling’s, “The Roman Centurion’s Son” and Dorothy L. Sayers mentions it in the novel, The Nine Taylors.
These days, it’s known as a “leventer” and comes up on the Mediterranean sea in seasons.
The Storm Hits
(Vs. 15) And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.
(Vs. 16) And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:
(Vs. 17) Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksand, strake sail, and so were driven.
(Vs. 18) And now being exceedingly tossed with a temptest the next day they lightened the ship;
(Vs. 19) And the third day we cast out with our own hands and tackling of the ship.
Letting the ship drive, they hoped the wind wouldn’t tear the ship apart. They undergirded it and gave it free sail, and wound up driven in the wind. From that point, they had to lighten their load, casting out things from this ship.
No Sun or Stars
(Vs. 20) And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.
When it’s said that “neither sun nor stars in many days appeared,” it speaks to the cloud cover from the storm. Days and days had passed with stormy skies both night and day. Clouds so dark that neither the sun nor the stars could shine through. In fact, the storm raged so heavily that those on the ship began to believe there was no way they could be saved! Hope was gone!
(Vs. 21) But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.
Paul had spent a long time during these stormy days, fasting. No doubt, he had prayed vehemently along with the fasting. He comes out into their midst to tell them, they should have listened to him when he said it would be dangerous to take off in the ship. But there’s good news!
No Loss of Life To Come
(Vs. 22) And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any many’s life among you, but of the ship.
Here, Paul gives them good news. No one on the ship is going to die. And then he tells them how he knows.
(Vs. 23) For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,
An angel of God was sent as a messenger to relay the knowledge that he is now sharing with his shipmates. He goes on to say that he belongs to and serves God.
(Vs. 24) Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.
The angel tells him that he has to come before Caesar and in doing so, all the people with him in the boat will also be saved. It says, “God hath given thee…” which tells me that Paul had been praying for them all, in addition to himself.
Paul Believes God
(Vs. 25) Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.
(Vs 26) Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.
(Vs. 27) But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country;
So, Paul had told them no life would be lost, according to an angel of the Lord. He tells them to be of good cheer that it would be exactly as God had said it would be. But now fourteen days have come and gone!
Have you ever been in the midst of a storm and received a good word from God? And then, after quite some time, when things just don’t seem to be happening fast enough, you start to get disheartened? Don’t you think all these people must surely have been feeling the same way?
Casting All Your Anchors
(Vs. 28) And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms.
(Vs. 29) Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.
They knew they were getting close to land. They “sounded” and found it 20 fathoms. In those days, they could issue a noise which would bounce off the nearest landmass, and as the sound came back to them, they could measure the distance. On the next sounding, they were now only 15 fathoms from land.
This was dangerous! In a storm, they could easily run ashore, or worse, run upon rocks that would damage the ship to the point of sinking! But then comes this line: they cast four anchors out of the stern and wished for the day.
I know, many times, I’ve cast out all my anchors and wished for day! There’s just something about the nighttime… fears are a little scarier, dreams are little bigger, everything somehow seems magnified in the darkness. Sometimes, it seems like “day” is so far away we might never see it!
During those times, often the best we can do is to cast out all our anchors and wish for day!
That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.
Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.
Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.Hebrews 6:18-20
Don’t Do It!
(Vs. 30) And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship,
(Vs. 31) Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.
Instead of “risking it” like they felt like they were doing by staying in the ship, the shipmen decided to lower the lifeboats and run for it. Paul told them, again, quite plainly, if they didn’t stay in the boat, they would not be saved.
It’s hard to wait! It’s hard to wait on God’s timing. There isn’t a single one of us who have managed to get through all of our hardest times without thinking we had a better way.
But Paul had already told them their lives would be saved. And they wouldn’t have to do anything to gain it. They simply had to listen to him and yield to what the angel of God had revealed to him after fasting and prayer.
(Vs. 32) Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.
After Paul’s warning, they decided to listen. They cust the ropes and let the boats fall away, helping to lighten the load a bit more. I’m sure it must have run through their heads again, Paul’s echoed words, saying, “You should have listened to me when I said not to leave Crete!” And understanding that Paul belonged to God, and that his words held quite the weight, they decided not to risk it this time!
Ending The Fast
(Vs. 33) And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing.
(Vs. 34) Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.
It appears they had all been fasting along with Paul for two weeks now. Whether for the same reasons or not, we don’t know for sure. But now Paul knows it’s time to end the fast. The Word of God has come, via the angel, the thing has been established, and they will be safe.
(Vs. 35) And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.
(Vs. 36) Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat.
I imagine that when they saw Paul now willing to end his fast, confident that the matter was established before God, they all heaved a sigh of relief. If nothing else, they had come to see that Paul was right. Not arrogantly so, but at least enough that they were afraid to go in another direction.
So, now that Paul had officially broken the fast, they too broke their fast and were happier for it.
(Vs. 37) And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls.
(Vs. 38) And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.
You know you’ve got some serious faith when you can throw your food overboard! They ate their fill of what was left and threw the rest out to lighten the ship a bit more.
(Vs. 39) And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship.
Sometimes, there’s just a tiny portal to safety, or so it seems. We see it in the distance and aim for it, hoping for a bit of relief. Well, that’s just what these people did.
(Vs. 40) And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore.
(Vs. 41) And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.
If nothing else, they were at least COMMITTED to reaching this destination. They let the rudders loose, raised the mainsail, and headed toward that beacon of home.
They hit it, alright! The front of the ship stuck solid in the ground and the back part of the ship was destroyed.
Kill ‘Em All
(Vs. 42) And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.
Better than to lose the prisoners, the soldiers figured all that was left to do was to kill them all. But…
(Vs. 43) But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land:
(Vs. 44) And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.
The centurion stopped them from committing the crime, apparently for Paul’s sake alone. Here, again, the entire ship full of people were saved because of Paul and his destiny. Can we say, What God ordains, He sees through??
The centurion commanded all those that could swim, to go ahead and throw themselves into the water and make for land. For those that couldn’t swim, there were large pieces of debris to float there on.
How are YOU getting to shore?