Sunday: Sailing to Rome

After about two years of confinement in Caesarea (Acts 24:27), Paul was to be sent to Rome. Judging by the first person plural and the richness of details used to describe the long and turbulent sea journey to Italy (Acts 27:1-28:16), Luke was accompanying Paul, as was another Christian named Aristarchus (Acts 27:2). Another important character in the story was the Roman centurion, Julius, who had other prisoners as well in his charge (Acts 27:1).

It was late summer when they departed. The Fast (Acts 27:9) refers to the Day of Atonement, in the second half of October. Because of the winter conditions, travel in the Mediterranean was normally avoided between November and March. This time, however, they faced difficulties from the beginning, and only after much delay they reached the small bay of Fair Havens, in the island of Crete (Acts 27:8).

Read Acts 27:9-12. While in Fair Havens, how did Paul intervene in the story, and how was his intervention received?

Paul’s warnings went unheeded, and so they decided to sail westwards another 40 miles for a harbor (Phoenix), where they could winter with safety. Unfortunately, with a sudden change in the weather, they were caught in such a violent tempest that the crew had no option but to let the ship be driven southwest by the wind, away from land. Soon they began to throw the cargo overboard and even some of the ship’s gear in a frantic attempt to lighten it, as it was already taking on water. The situation was dramatic. After several days of scant daylight, poor visibility, heavy rain, and raging winds, without knowing where they were and in complete exhaustion, they “finally gave up all hope of being saved” (Acts 27:20, NIV).

Read Acts 27:21-26. What was Paul’s second intervention in the story?

In prophetic words, Paul told the crew a message he had just received from God. There was no reason to despair or lose hope. There would still be danger and loss, but all of them would survive.

Why would such a faithful and dedicated servant of the Lord like Paul have to suffer through so much? What lessons can we learn from his experiences?
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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons