Finally … after all these years … God’s promise that Paul will travel to Rome is realized. We have detail as to the ports of call that the ship visited. Finally, they get to a place where travel becomes dangerous.
Paul tied to convince the ship’s captain to stay in port until the dangerous season (winter) had passed, but the professional sailors said that Fair Haven wasn’t suitable. They pressed on to Phoenix, about 40 miles away. On the way to Phoenix, they encountered a storm. It was so fierce that they had to throw all non-essentials overboard.
The men hadn’t eaten for awhile, and Paul counseled them to eat to gain strength for the trial ahead. He eased their fears by telling them of a vision he’d had.
For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island. Acts 27:23-26 (ESV)
Imagine the captive calming the captors! The ship’s crew was afraid, and some of them wanted to escape the ship before it ran aground. They were going to take off in a small boat, but Paul said…
“Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go. Acts 27:31-32 (ESV)
Paul had quite a presence!
As the crew and the prisoners were preparing to leave the ship, the soldiers planned to kill all of the prisoners so that the soldiers wouldn’t face death or punishment if the prisoners escaped, but that plan was thwarted. All the ship’s passengers were saved, and they found themselves on the island of Malta. Naturally, Paul took that opportunity to testify to the Maltan natives! Through God’s grace, many healings also occurred.
After three months, they resumed the voyage in a borrowed ship. Tradition holds that Paul managed to plant a church during the three days they were in Syracuse.
Once they arrived in Rome, Paul was placed under house arrest, and he paid for his own housing. Paul continued to witness and defend his preaching of the Gospel.
After all these years, Paul finally arrives in Rome. Many people are saved, of course, and the Gospel is spread even more.
Paul was a tremendous man of the faith. He willingly suffered persecution for the cause of Christ, and at this point he knew his days were numbered. When I compare my faith to Paul’s, I feel sadly lacking. I can only pray that if and when persecution comes, I will be as willing to suffer for my Lord as was Paul.
We’ll read Paul’s letters of encouragement and correction for the next few days. Only another 2 ½ weeks and you will have completed the entire Bible. Thanks for sticking with me, and it, in 2012.