Sep. 26. Voyage to Rome Begins; Storm at Sea

Acts 27:1-44

When the time came for Paul to leave for Rome, he and other prisoners were put under the control of Julius, a centurion and they boarded a ship sailing as far as Myra of Lycia. Luke and Aristarchus also accompanied Paul.

The ship made various stops along the way to load and unload cargo. Sidon was the first stop and Julius allowed Paul freedom to visit his friends there and to receive needed care. They stayed near the coast as they sailed from Sidon to Myra because the wind was a problem.

Paul’s company changed ships at Myra and boarded a large vessel carrying grain from Alexandria, Egypt to Italy. After many days of difficult sailing due to the wind, the ship finally reached Fair Havens, a harbor on the southern coast of Crete.

The season for smooth sailing was coming to a close, but the ship’s crew did not want to spend the winter at Fair Havens because the harbor was not suitable. Paul either by inspiration or by his own experience warned against going back out to sea because of the perilous conditions that would meet them.

Phoenix, a harbor about forty miles west of Fair Havens was more suitable and the owner of the ship and his officers ignored Paul’s advice and moved out. Soon after leaving, the winds became so tempestuous, that the ship was blown off course away from Crete and out into the sea.

The storm was so severe that the ship went many days without the benefit of the sun nor stars for navigation. During this time, they had relieved the ship of much of its weight and everyone thought that they would surely be destroyed.

In answer to Paul’s prayers, an angel appeared to him and informed him that he must be brought before Caesar. All who were with him would be saved from the storm, but the ship would run aground on a certain island. Even though a prisoner, his faith encouraged the men.

After sensing that they were nearing land, the sailors attempted to secure the ship by dropping anchors. They also schemed to take the lifeboat and leave the ship. Paul alertly informed the centurion of their actions and warned that they would be lost if they did not stay with the ship. The soldiers cut the lifeboat away from the ship and the escape attempt ended.

Because it had been fourteen days since they had eaten, Paul encouraged everyone to eat in order to regain their strength to endure the shipwreck that was to occur soon. After he had given thanks to God for the food, he began to eat and the others began to eat also.

When the two hundred seventy-six persons on the ship had eaten enough, they threw the wheat into the sea and lightened the ship further by removing everything that was unnecessary for its operation.

As daylight came after a sleepless night, those on the ship saw an unidentified land with a bay and beach. They released the anchors into the sea and determined to get as near the land as possible before running the ship aground. The ship soon reached a point where two seas met and there it broke apart.

Paul, the prisoner, was now in charge of the evacuation from the shipwreck. The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent their escape, but the centurion wanting to save Paul prevented this action. Those who could swim went first and were followed by the rest on boards and parts of the ship. They all escaped safely to land.