Setting

King Agrippa, after hearing Paul’s defense, agreed with Festus that Paul was innocent. But because Paul had appealed to the emperor, he was sent on his way to Rome in Italy, escorted by Julius the centurion and his regiment. The passage of this lesson records this journey to Rome. As they set sail they met with a tempest halfway and almost perished in the sea. By the grace and protection of God they managed to reach the island of Malta safely. They were accorded great hospitality by the locals. Afterwards, they boarded another vessel, which took them on the final leg of their journey to Rome.

Key Verse

(27:23-24)

Did You Know...?

1. Adramyttium (27:2): “A harbor on the west coast of the province of Asia, southeast of Troas, east of Assos.” [ref]
2. Aristarchus (27:2): “native of Thessalonica (Acts 20:4), a companion of Paul (Acts 19:29; 27:2). He was Paul’s ‘fellowprisoner” at Rome (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:24).” [ref]
3. Sidon (27:3): “This was a famous city in Phoenicia, upon the northern border of the land of Israel; it was a maritime place, and noted for trade and navigation.” [ref] It was about 67 miles north of Caesarea.
4. Shelter of Cyrpus (27:4): “Near the eastern coast, where, by keeping near the shore, the contrary winds would be less felt, being broken by the highlands of the great island. The wind must have been from the northwest.” [ref]
5. Myra (27:5): “The growing importance of the city of Myra was associated with the development of navigation. Instead of hugging the coast from point to point, more ships were daring to run directly from Alexandria in Egypt to harbors like Myra on the southern coast in Asia Minor. It was considerably out of the way on the trip to Rome from Egypt, but the prevailing westerly wind would not allow a direct voyage toward the west. Myra became an important grain-storage city as well.” [ref]
6. Cnidus (27:7): “From Myra to Cnidus at the southwest point of Asia Minor was about 170 miles. The trip probably took another 10 to 15 days.” [ref]
7. Crete (27:7): “An island 160 miles long. Rather than cross the open sea to Greece, the ship was forced to bear south, seeking to sail west with the protection of the island of Crete on the north…” [ref]
8. Salmone (27:7): “a promontory on the east of Crete.” [ref]
9. Fair Havens near Lasea (27:8): “a harbour in the south of Crete, some 5 miles to the east of which was the town of Lasea.” [ref]
10. The Fast (27:9): The Day of Atonement. “The Jewish Day of Atonement fell in the latter part of September or in October. The usual sailing season by Jewish calculation lasted from Pentecost (May-June) to Tabernacles, which was five days after the Fast. The Romans considered sailing after Sept. 15 doubtful and after Nov. 11 suicidal.” [ref]
11. Phoenix (27:12): “a town with a harbour on the southern side of Crete.” [ref] It “served as a wintering place, having a harbor with protection against the storms.” [ref]
12. Euroclydon (27:14): “a tempestuous wind or hurricane, cyclone, on the Mediterranean, and very dangerous; now called a ‘levanter.’” [ref] “Apparently the ship was blown southwest from Fair Havens toward Clauda.” [ref]
13. Clauda (27:16): “a small island off the southwest coast of Crete… It is now called Gozzo.” [ref]
14. Undergird the ship (27:17) “with cords and ropes, which they drew under the keel of the ship, and so bound both sides of the ship, that it might not split and fall to pieces” [ref]
15. Syrtis (27:17): “A long stretch of desolate banks of quicksand along northern Africa off the coast of Tunis and Tripoli—still far away, but in such a storm the ship could be driven a great distance.” [ref]
16. Ship’s tackle (27:19): “Spars, planks and perhaps the yardarm with the mainsail attached. At times these were dragged behind, serving as a brake.” [ref]
17. Adriatic Sea (27:27): “The sea between Italy, Malta, Crete and Greece. In ancient times the Adriatic Sea extended as far south as Sicily and Greece.” [ref]
18. Took soundings (27:28): “Measured the depth of the sea by letting down a weighted line.” [ref]
19. Rudder ropes (27:40): “Ancient ships had two great broadbladed oars for rudders. These, when not in use, were lifted out of the water and bound or tied up. When required for use, these bands were unloosed and the rudders allowed to drop into the water.” [ref] “The rudder was a vertically hinged plate made of wood in ancient times, of metal or fiberglass in modern times—mounted at the stern of a vessel for directing its course.” [ref]
20. Malta (28:1): “Known as Melita by the Greeks and Romans. It was included in the province of Sicily and is located 58 miles south of that large island.” [ref]
21. Natives (28:2) “Lit. ‘Barbarians’; all non-Greek-speaking people were called this by Greeks. Far from being uncivilized tribesmen, they were Phoenician in ancestry and used a Phoenician dialect but were thoroughly Romanized.” [ref]
22. Leading citizen (28:7): probably the governor.
23. After three months (28:11): “They had to remain here until the sailing season opened in late February or early March.” [ref]
24. Twin Brothers (28:11): Castor and Pollux, “the two ‘sons of Zeus’ (Greek Dioscuroi), the guardian deities of sailors.” [ref]
25. Syracuse (28:12): “a city on the south-east coast of Sicily… It was distinguished for its magnitude and splendour.” [ref]
26. Rhegium (28:13) “a town in the south of Italy, on the Strait of Messina.” [ref]
27. Puteoli (28:13): “Modern Pozzuoli, almost 200 miles from Rhegium. It was situated in the northern part of the Bay of Naples and was the chief port of Rome, though 75 miles away. The population included Jews as well as Christians.” [ref]
28. Forum of Appius (28:15): “a town on the road, the ‘Appian Way,’ from Rome to Brundusium. It was 43 miles from Rome.” [ref]
29. Three Inns (28:15): “a place on the great ‘Appian Way,’ about 11 miles from Rome, designed for the reception of travellers, as the name indicates.” [ref]

Outline

  • From Caesarea to Fair Havens
    (27:1-8)
  • Paul’s Advice vs. the Majority’s Advice
    (27:9-12)
  • Struck by A Tempest
    (27:13-20)
  • Paul Relays God’s Promise
    (27:21-26)
  • The Sailors’ Attempt to Escape
    (27:27-32)
  • Paul’s Encouragement
    (27:33-38)
  • Shipwreck at Malta
    (27:39-44)
  • Paul’s Ministry at Malta
    (28:1-10)
  • Arriving at Rome
    (28:11-16)

General Analysis

  • 1.

    Observe how Paul was the key figure in this story. In what ways did God use Paul to minister to the needs of those around him during this journey?

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    1. He forewarned the centurion about a possible disaster (27:9).
    2. He relayed God’s promise to the people in their despair (27:20-25).
    3. He helped preserve lives by cautioning the centurion about the sailors’ attempt to escape (27:30-32).
    4. He encouraged the people to take nourishment for their survival (27:33-36).
    5. He healed Publius’ sick father and others on Malta (28:8-9).

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Segment Analysis

  • 27:1-8

    1.

    Who did Paul travel with on his journey to Italy?

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    Luke (the author), Aristarchus, Julius the centurion and his regiment and some other prisoners (27:1-2).

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  • 27:9-12

    2.

    What did Paul advice the centurion?

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    He advised him not to sail any further as he perceived that the voyage would endanger their lives and the ship.

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  • 3a.

    Why do you think the centurion listened to the helmsman and the owner of the ship despite Paul’s warning?

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    The centurion probably chose to listen to the advice of the helmsmen and the owner of the ship because they were the experts in sailing. Also, it was quite inconvenient to winter at Fair Havens, and the majority of the passengers was against staying there (12).

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  • 3b.

    The centurion’s decision turned out to be a mistake. What can you learn from his mistake?

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    Decisions based on expert opinion, majority rule, or personal convenience are not always right. We need to always seek God’s guidance and not base our decisions solely on the common standards of this world.

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  • 27:13-20

    4.

    Have you ever felt as helpless as the ship in the tempest (15)?

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  • 5.

    What did the people do when they encountered the tempest? Did it help?

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    They secured the skiff; they used cables to undergird the ship; they lightened the ship by throwing some of the cargo overboard; on the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard; they abstained from food because they had no appetite. All their efforts were useless against the forces of nature and they lost all hope of being saved.

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  • 6.

    When you have tried everything to deal with a crisis in your life but to no avail, what do you do?

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  • 27:21-26

    7a.

    What gave Paul such confidence when everyone else was in total despair?

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    The promise of God to Paul through an angel assured him that he and everyone on board would be protected. In response, Paul showed an unwavering trust in God’s promise.

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  • 7b.

    What lessons can you learn from him?

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    We have also received many promises from God today. Although God does not always speak to us in a vision to promise us deliverance from our trouble, He has given us many wonderful promises in the Scripture, including peace in Him in the midst of afflictions (Jn 16:33), answer to our prayers (Mk 11:24; Jn 16:24), His continual providence (Mt 6:33; Heb 13:5; Rom 8:28,32), His strengthening and keeping (1Pet 5:10), the crown of life (Jas 1:12), the hope of resurrection (Rom 8:18 21; 1Thess 4:13-17), and reward in heaven (Mt 5:12). By trusting fully in God’s promise with faith, we can also be confident even in despair and adversity. For we know that God is faithful to His promises, and He will not forsake us.

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  • 8.

    Paul did not keep God’s promise to himself but shared it with everyone to lift them up. What motivates you to encourage others when you are in adversity yourself?

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    If we have a sense of commission from the Lord to share the gospel with everyone around us, and if we have the great love that Paul had, we will want to reach out to others regardless of our circumstance. If we have been blessed with God’s guidance and assurance, we also ought to share this blessing with others (cf. 2Cor 9:8-11). Besides, having the strength, peace, and joy from God in our own adversity can serve as the best living testimony. When others see our calm and confidence in God, they will be attracted to Him.

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  • 9a.

    What do these words mean: “God has granted you all those who sail with you”?

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    From what Paul did throughout the journey, we see that he loved his fellow passengers and wanted to turn them to God. So God decided to preserve the life of everyone on board so as to give Paul the opportunity to share with them his faith in Christ. Because of Paul’s ministry, the people came to know the God that Paul served.

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  • 9b.

    How would God do something similar for you today?

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    May God also grant us the people we meet in our lives so we may share with them the gospel of Christ and serve them for Christ’s sake.

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  • 10a.

    How did Paul describe God?

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    He called God “the God to whom I belong and whom I serve” (27:23).

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  • 10b.

    What does this say about our relationship with God and how we live our lives? Do we know God the same way that Paul did?

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    1. We belong to God. We are His treasured possession, whom He has purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28; 1Cor 6:20; Eph 1:14; 1Pet 2:9-10). Since we belong to God, we are under His special protection (Deut 32:9-10; Rom 8:31-39; 1Jn 5:18-19). We ought to live as people of God, and dedicate ourselves to carry out His will (Rom 6:11-14; 12:12; Col 3:12; 1Pet 1:14 16).
    2. We serve God. God is our Lord and Master because we belong to Him. We need to understand His purpose for us in our lives and make it the reason to live (2Cor 5:14-15; cf. Acts 20:24). Also, as servants, we owe everything to God, and do not deserve anything from God in return. Our service to God is only our duty, so we ought to do His work thankfully and humbly (Lk 17:7-10).

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  • 27:27-32

    11.

    Why do you think the centurion listened to Paul’s warning this time?

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    We don’t know whether the centurion listened to Paul this time simply because Paul’s advice made sense to him or because he had gained a deeper respect for Paul. But it is clear that by this time, everyone knew that Paul’s words were trustworthy, for they met with this disaster because they did not heed Paul’s warning the first time (27:21). Not only so, they could see that God was with Paul and gave him courage (27:21-26).

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  • 27:33-38

    12a.

    How was Paul’s faith evident in his actions and words?

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    1. He was confident that God would not fail to keep His promise. That’s why he assured them that “not a hair will fall from the head of any of you” (34), and encouraged them to eat something.
    2. His faith was also evident in his thanksgiving to God (27:35). Giving thanks to God in the middle of a storm is certainly not easy. But because Paul knew that God always had a good purpose, even in times of trouble, he was able to show his gratitude to God.

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  • 12b.

    How did his faith in God help his fellow passengers?

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    When the people saw Paul’s faith and heard his words of encouragement, they were also encouraged and finally took some food (27:36).

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  • 12c.

    How can you also help others with your faith in God?

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    If we truly believe that God watches over us even in our afflictions, our actions will show it. We will not fear, but will remain calm. We will not despair, but will be hopeful. We will not be depressed, but will be thankful. Faith in God makes us a source of encouragement and stability to those around us.

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  • 27:39-44

    13.

    Do you see God’s protection in what happened here?

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    1. God protected Paul from harm through the centurion (27:42-43).
    2. Everyone made it to shore safely, as God had promised (27:44).

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  • 28:1-10

    14.

    What kind of reception did Paul and his fellow travelers receive at Malta?

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    The natives on the island showed them “unusual kindness” (28:2). Publius, one of their leading citizens, received them and entertained them courteously for three days (7). The islanders also honored them in many ways, and even provided them with necessities when they departed (10).

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  • 15.

    How did God work through Paul at Malta?

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    1. God protected Paul even though he was bitten by a viper (This was a fulfillment of the the Lord’s promise in Mk 16:18).
    2. Through Paul, God healed Publius’ father and everyone on the island who had diseases.

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  • 28:11-16

    16a.

    How did Paul feel when he saw the believers from Appii Forum and Three Inns? Why?

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    When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage because they came all the way to see Paul as soon as they heard of his arrival (28:15). It must have been very encouraging for Paul to see these faithful and loving believers on arriving in Italy, which was a foreign soil. He thanked God probably because of the warm reception he received as well as seeing how God was working in these believers to bear such spiritual fruits.

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  • 16b.

    Do you also feel the same way when meeting other believers in Christ?

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  • 17.

    What special treatment did Paul receive in Rome?

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    Whereas the other prisoners were delivered to the captain of the guard, Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him (28:16).

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  • 18.

    How do we keep our fervor for the Lord and accomplish His work when we are confined by unfavorable circumstances (e.g. disability, sickness, busy schedule, opposition from unbelieving family members, etc.)? Try to apply the lessons you learned in this passage to your life.

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