Devotional # 71. 1/27/14. Paul’s Shipwreck.
This week’s Reading: Acts 27:1-44.
Introduction. Last week Paul spoke to Agrippa and his fate was sealed – he was going to head to Rome. This week we talk about the trip to Rome and how it applies to all of our lives.
vv. 1-8. These verses are introductory to let us know how Paul’s journey started from the “trials” of Festus and Agrippa as he made his way to Rome. Although Paul was a prisoner (in the care of a nice Roman centurion named Julius) he was allowed to visit friends so that he could have medical attention, good food and a bath. Notice the “we” in verse 1 and the “us” in verse 2, means that Luke (the author of Acts) had joined back up with Paul. He had probably been living “near Caesarea so he could care for Paul during his imprisonment” (Source 1). Verse 8 ends with Paul, Luke and the other prisoners landing in the city Lasea, Crete.
vv. 9-12. After a lot of time was spent in Lasea they decided to move on. “The Fast” is the reason that time was wasted. “The Fast” is the Day of Atonement when Israeli’s observe “the worshipping of the golden calf” and don’t eat or drink. The day itself “was on the 10th of the month Tisri, which [is] the latter part of our September, and the former part of October.” This time of year meant winter was coming and “sailing began to be dangerous” (Source 2). So Paul advised the men in charge that they shouldn’t try and sail for Phoenix which was 40 miles away (Source 1). But the men in charge ignored Paul and listened to the boat owner (who didn’t want his boat to sit, unprotected in the Phoenix harbor) instead.
vv. 13-38. As soon as there was a little wind the men thought they could ride it out to sea and over to Phoenix, Crete. They started sailing but the winds were so bad that the captain gave up trying steer and let it go where it wanted. They ended up 23 miles away near the island “Cauda” (now called Gavdos) where they prepared to weather the storm by bringing the dinghy aboard and pulling cables along the hull (Source 3). This is called “frap,” which is “undergirding it with cables running vertically under its center hull, four or five turns. This strengthens the hull against the continual pounding of the waves” (Source 4).
So Paul reminds them that he had said not to go on this trip, not to say ‘I told you so’ but to show that his wise counsel should be believed now (Source 4). Does the sailors reaction remind you of your own reaction when God speaks to you? Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” Finally the sailors do listen to Paul’s words that God spoke through an angel to him and everyone lives.
vv. 39-44. Just as Paul had told them the ship ran into the ground. The soldiers plan was to kill the prisoners since the soldiers wouldn’t be able to control them as they swam and got onto land. More than that Roman soldiers were killed if their prisoners escaped (think of the soldiers guarding Jesus’ tomb) so they were protecting their own lives. But Julius guards Paul’s life and in so doing all the other prisoners are saved. I bet all 276 people were very thankful when they got onto dry land! And I’m sure many of them became Christians because they watched as prophecy was fulfilled – and their lives were saved.
Conclusion: The last line of this chapter speaks volumes…but more on that in a minute. Often times we hear godly advice but we chose to ignore it because we would rather go our own way. We like being stubborn and getting our own way. But it always ends up in chaos and destruction…in a shipwreck. I just said that the last line speaks volumes, I think it is possibly the most important part of the whole chapter: “And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.” We have all gone our own way, we have all headed out into a treacherous sea and we will pay the price of death if we don’t turn from that direction. When Jesus died on the cross He provided our lifesaver. Just as He promised, He is the one who gets us “safely to land” but His land isn’t earth, its heaven! If we know this to be true then it is our job to play the role of Paul and share Jesus’ good news with those prisoners who are shipwrecked.
Source 1: John MacArthur, the John MacArthur Study Bible, pp. 1684-1686.