Paul’s Witness During the Shipwreck
Verse 1 – And when it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to one named Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment.
By the word “we,” it shows that Luke is also going to Italy with Paul. They were accompanied by other prisoners and about 100 soldiers.
Verse 2 – So, entering a ship of Adramyttium, we put to sea, meaning to sail along the coasts of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, was with us.
Verse 3 – And the next day we landed at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him liberty to go to his friends and receive care.
Sidon was about 67 miles north of Caesarea. Julius was the centurion who showed Paul respect and allowed him to see his friends.
Verse 4 – When we had put to sea from there, we sailed under the shelter of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. (They sailed close to land because of the wind.)
Verse 5 – And when we had sailed over the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.
Verse 6 – There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing to Italy, and he put us on board.
Verse 7 – And when we sailed slowly many days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone.
Verse 8 – Passing it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.
Verse 9 – Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them,
Verse 10 – saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.”
Verse 11 – Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than the things spoken by Paul.
Verse 12 – And because the harbor was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised to set sail from there also, if by any means they could reach Phonenix, a harbor of Crete opening toward the southwest and northwest, and winter there.
Even though Paul warned them that this was not the best time to set sail, the pilot and the owner of the ship didn’t want to spend the winter in Lasea.
Verse 13 – When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, putting out to sea, they sailed by Crete.
Verse 14 – But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon.
This wind was like a hurricane. The name Euroclydon is from two Greek words – euros, “wind,” and “a wave.”
Verse 15 – So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive.
The helmsmen couldn’t direct the ship so he let it just go with the wind.
Verse 16 – And running under the shelter of an island called Clauda, we secured the skiff with difficulty.
This is a small island 20 miles southwest of Crete, where they hugged land, hoping the island would break the wind. The skiff was a small boat attached to the ship they were trying to save.
Verse 17 – When they had taken it on board, they used cables to under-grid the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands, they struck sail and so were driven.
The measures they took to survive included passing ropes under the ship to hold it together. Syrtis was on the northern coast of Africa.
Verse 18 – And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship.
Verse 19 – On the third day we threw the ship’s tackle overboard with our own hands.
Verse 20 – Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.
Verse 21 – But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss.
Verse 22 – “And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.
Paul had warned them not to set sail. So would they believe him now when he told them no one would lose their life? How many affirmations do you need to prove God’s word is true? Did not God tell Paul he would go to Rome?
Verse 23 – “For there stood by me this night an angel of the God, to whom I belong and whom I serve,
Verse 24 – “saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought to Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’
The lives of the wicked are often spared because God intercedes to save the righteous.
Verse 25 – “Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.
Verse 26 – “However, we must run aground on a certain island.”
Verse 27 – But when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven up and down in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors sensed that they were drawing near some land.
Verse 28 – And they took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms and when they had gone a little further, they took soundings again and found it to be fifteen fathoms.
Soundings were made by throwing a weighted marked line into the water. When the lead hit the bottom, sailors could tell the depth of the water from the marks on the rope.
Verse 29 – Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come.
Verse 30 – And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, when they had let down the skiff into the sea, under pretense of putting out anchors from the prow,
Verse 31 – Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.”
Some of the sailors were going to get in the skiff and try to get to shore, but Paul told the centurion, unless he prevented them from doing this, lives would be lost. Why, because the soldiers knew nothing about keeping the ship from wrecking or sailing and they needed the sailors.
Verse 32 – Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of he skiff and let it fall off.
Now the sailors wouldn’t take off. The centurion is finally listening to Paul.
Verse 33 – And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing.
Verse 34 – “Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.”
Verse 35 – And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat.
Even this storm couldn’t make Paul forget that God was still in charge. By giving thanks in front of these non-Christians, he more or less was telling them, “God’s mercy has allowed us to live!”
Verse 36 – Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves.
Verse 37 – And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship.
Verse 38 – So when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship and threw out the wheat into the sea.
Verse 39 – Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible.
Verse 40 – And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudder ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore.
The only way to make it to shore was to ground the ship, since the skiff was gone.
Verse 41 – But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves.
With the bow jammed fast in the offshore sandbar, the ships took a beating by the incoming waves.
Verse 42 – Now the soldier’s plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim to shore.
This is proof that people can still be cruel while experiencing the tender mercy of God.
Verse 43 – But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and set to land,
Verse 44 – and the rest, some on boards and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped to land.
Here’s where faith has to take action: Are we going to believe God’s promises, or are we going to let our circumstances dictate our response? Our actions have to line up with what God says, not what we see happening all around us. The others thought that the storm was going to take their lives, but Paul believed what God said about him standing before Caesar and acted accordingly. Shouldn’t we?