Acts 27:1 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.
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.
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.
4 And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary.
5 And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.
6 And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein.
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;
8 And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.
9 Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,
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.
11 Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.
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.
Governments today are not in a hurry to get things done. Red tape is something they like. The Roman government of Paul’s day was also not in any hurry. As we will see, they are also not very wise when it comes to planning. Wisdom is a gift from God. The Roman government was in defiance of God as is our government today. We can be thankful for God’s intervention in the affairs of wicked people. It is a blessing to know Him and to serve Him faithfully.
In today’s text we are given some details regarding Paul’s travels to Rome. It would be an interesting trip. The normal route to Rome would be by an ocean going vessel that would sail to Alexandria and then over to Rome. It appears there was no such ship available at this time so Paul would be travelling along the coast on a smaller vessel. We read in verse 2 that Aristarchus, a brother from the church in Thessalonica would be on this voyage as well as Luke. We learn from the opening chapter of Acts that Luke is the writer of the book. He is the same writer as of the Gospel according to Luke. Interestingly the Greek word translated as “Adramyttium” means “I shall abide in death”.
As we see in our account, this journey would not be taken in any hurry. It would be hopping from place to place along the coast. We read in verse 3 that the centurion encouraged Paul to go and visit his friends while they were at Sidon. He was a prisoner, but not in any serious manner. Paul had a good testimony. Unlike our current government which tries to paint normal, responsible people, as terrorists and agitators, Paul had a testimony of being a peaceful man who was not a trouble maker, and the government knew that and this centurion also knew that. Paul had another very important quality and that was that he was a saved man. He had already given his testimony and he had also demonstrated that he was not like the Jews who were accusing him. He was so different that Festus thought he was mad. They could not understand his behaviour.
We see here that it is possible to be bold in the truth, and yet also respected. We have already noted that the Jews hated Paul. They wanted him dead. However, the Roman government had observed Paul’s behaviour and they also had heard directly from him and they did not see him as a threat at all. Paul would find things different later on in Rome, but for now, God was protecting him and granting him favour with the officials.
In verse 4 we read that they set sail again and were heading under Cyprus. They were in the area that is today known as Turkey. The winds were contrary because it was now fall time and the winds were not blowing favourably for the direction that the centurion needed to be going with Paul and the others.
In verse 5 we see that the centurion found a grain ship that was headed to Italy, and thus he moved his prisoners over to that ship. Luke was still coming along as the recorder of this trip.
Verses 7-8 continue to remind us that the wind was not helping them move in the right direction. As we will see, the winds of that season could be quite strong and contrary. The captain of the ship and the centurion were intent on continuing the voyage. The captain of the ship should have known better, but again we see that God had a plan and He was working out His plan for His glory.
The fast mentioned in verse 9 was likely the Day of Atonement. We need to remember that while this was a Roman centurion who was in charge, it was Luke that was writing, and he was directed to include events that were particular to the Jews. The Day of Atonement was kept in October. It was generally understood that sea travel was not recommended in that area between October and mid-March. The captain of the ship would have known this as well.
In verses 9-10 Paul admonished those in charge not to venture any further at this time. Paul had sailed a few times. He did not have a sailing business. He was a servant of the true God. He had observed some things and he had God directing him. His words were words of wisdom, however they were not accepted by the centurion nor the captain of the ship. Paul warned that there would be loss of the lading and the ship, but also a risk to the lives of those on board.
None of this mattered to the captain and the centurion. After all, the master and owner of the ship was an experienced sailor. What did Paul know about these things. We can learn much from this account. A person does not need to be a so-called “expert” in everything. God gives insight and understanding to His children. There are certain things that are common knowledge, such as the fact that sea travel was not recommended during that current season. Past records would show that the weather was not conducive to being on the sea at that time.
Our government and others would do well to look at past records as well. They would realize that weather patterns change. They would know that man is not in charge of the climate and when man tampers with this, he just makes a mess of things. However, lost people lack what is often called “common sense”. Paul was not acting on common sense, he was acting on God-sense.
We read in verse 12 that the master and the centurion did not want to stay in Lasea. They wanted to get to a larger centre such as Phenice. They were content to winter there, but not in this place. We are not given the reasons they wanted to be in Phenice, rather than where they were at. We are simply told that the master and the centurion did not believe that Lasea was commodious to winter at.
We see in verse 12 that democracy won out. The “more part” felt it best to move on. People rule is not a good way to govern. We need more than sticking our finger to the wind and seeing which way it blows. We need more than a poll to see what people are thinking. We need God’s wisdom. Paul had that, but those who were physically in charge here did not have that. They did not appreciate God’s wisdom either. They had a plan and they were going to work their plan.
Paul did not pout about this rejection. He trusted God. He was a prisoner, and he understood that he was in good hands — in God’s hands. He knew he was gong to Rome somehow. He did not know the details, but he knew he was going there. He would trust God to work this matter out for His glory. He was simply going to be listening to God and learning from God and seeking to be a help to those who wanted to be in charge.
A good attitude is important. We cannot control all circumstances. We just need to be available to be that voice of reason that is important in every situation. God knows what is going on and if we will let Him, He will work things out for His glory.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.