Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Acts Studies|
Chs. 27 & 28
Chapters 27 & 28
Chapter: Acts 27
Passage: Acts 27:1-12
A. Find Out:
1. Who travelled with Paul? v.1,2
2. Who allowed Paul to do what, where? v.3
3. Where did they change ships? v.5,6
4. What happened during the second sailing? v.7,8
5. What did Paul warn would happen? v.9,10
6. What happened, why? v.11,12
In these verses we have amazing detail of this journey. As Luke writes he, again and again, uses the personal pronoun “we”, an indication that he was on board with Paul accompanying him on his journey to Rome. He keeps a careful log of the journey, the people who travelled and the places they pass or stopped at.
When they stopped in a little way up the coast, at Sidon, the centurion allows Paul to visit some friends to get some provisions. Already something of Paul appeals to this Roman overseer.
Continuing their journey they pass by Cyprus and then touch mainland Asia Minor where they change ships. Unfortunately by this time of year the wind is against them and they make their way around the south of Crete where they put in at Fair Havens. Whether it is simply that Paul knew the Mediterranean so well because he had criss-crossed it so many times, or whether he had a premonition, we aren't told, but at this point he warns them that the voyage is going to end disastrously. The others override him and so they continue. Yet again we have a passage of historical narrative that confirms Luke's words in Lk 1:3, that he had investigated thoroughly and was thus reporting accurately. We can believe all that Luke writes.
A. Find Out:
1. What tempted them to set sail? v.13
2. But what soon occurred? v.14
3. What things did the sailors do to cope with the storm? v.15-17
4. What were they then driven to do? v.18
5. What further were they forced to do? v.19
6. What position did they eventually come to? v.20
Again a passage of simple factual narrative. Yes, this is as equally inspired and profitable for teaching (2 Tim 3:16,17) as any other passage. It may not have the same depth of teaching as say passages in John's Gospel or in Paul's letters, but it is still part of the divinely inspired narrative. It shows us the danger of the apostolic life in those days, travelling on a small ship at the wrong time of the year!
Again Luke gives us great detail: the sailors, in attempts to survive, first allow the ship to be driven before the wind instead of being buffeted by it, then they tie the life boat on board to save it, then they start to tie the boat together to keep it in one piece. Following this they throw out the sea anchor to slow their progress, to slow their passage in the wrong direction, and when all else fails and the storm continues to wash over them and threaten to sink them they sought to lighten the ship by throwing overboard, first the cargo and then the tackle. Still the storm persists and there is nothing more to do. Their plight seems hopeless, they appear doomed, nothing can save them.
These are the outward facts of what was happening, apparently hopeless, but that doesn't take God into account. He is still there and tomorrow we'll see the truth of the situation.
A. Find Out:
1. What was the state of the men? v.21a
2. How did Paul chide them? v.21b
3. How did he encourage them? v.22
4. How was he able to be this sure? v.23
5. What was he told? v.24
6. What must they do? v.26
We read yesterday that they had come to the end of themselves, it was a hopeless situation. They had done all they could and the situation looked hopeless. Moreover they had now been without food for a long time and would be feeling weak and down. It is into this situation that Paul speaks.
First of all he confronts them with their own foolishness. If they had stayed at Crete they wouldn't be in this situation. Sometimes we need to first acknowledge our own responsibility for the mess we're in. It is then that, so often, the word of God comes that brings relief. The night before the Lord had spoken to Paul through an angel. Why not directly? Well it seems the Lord sends an angel when He knows we are going to find it particularly hard to believe (check out other angel visitations). Paul is still a human being and facing death; he needs some real encouragement from God. The word that comes confirms what he has been told before (23:11). Thus he is able to speak with confidence to the sailors, yet it still requires faith in all to believe this word and respond accordingly.
A. Find Out:
1. How long had they been driven by the storm? v.27a
2. How did they know they were nearing land? v.27b,28
3. What did some of the sailors try to do? v.29,30
4. How did Paul stop this? v.31,32
5. What did Paul then say and do? v.33-35
6. What effect did that have? v.36
The storm is still dragging on but the sailors sense, in the middle of the night, that they were approaching land. Perhaps it was sailors sixth sense, perhaps they heard a change in the sound of the waves. They decide to abandon ship and leave everyone to their own fate. Paul realises that without them they have no means of controlling the ship, and so the soldiers at his instigation, cut the lifeboat adrift to stop the sailors escaping.
Some hours later (had he been praying perhaps?) Paul decides it is time to take action. There is obviously some food left on board, although nobody had been eating it (feeling too ill?). He knows they are all feeling weak and if physical energy is going to have to be exerted as they approach land, they need to build themselves up with food. He leads the way by example, and eats some bread after having given thanks to God for it. This action conveys hope to the men. Something about him, something about his praying, conveys to these men that what he says is true, so they follow his example. They fully ate and then threw the rest of the grain overboard to lighten the ship so it would not sit so deeply in the water and could come closer in to the land. They are not there yet, but they're in a better state to do it.
A. Find Out:
1. What did they see, when? v.39a
2. So what did they decide to do? v.39b
3. So what did they do and what happened? v.40,41
4. What did the soldiers want to do, and why? v.42
5. But who stopped them and why? v.43a
6. So what happened? v.43b,44
The ship is being held on sea anchors, and when daylight comes they see that they are not far from a sandy bay. The obvious thing to do is to take the boat in and ground it, so this they do. Unfortunately before they reach the beach they are grounded on a sand bar and the breakers start pounding the boat, starting to break it up. They have obviously got to swim for it, but it is at this point that the harshness of Roman thinking came into play. The soldiers had been entrusted with the prisoners and if any of them escaped and lived to tell the tale, the lives of the soldiers would be forfeited.
So they decide to simply kill all the prisoners. The only trouble with that is that one of them is Paul, a Roman citizen, under the protection of Rome. If one lives, the others will have to live otherwise he will tell what they had done. Thus both Paul's life, and the lives of the rest of the prisoners, was spared. Everyone will have to try to make it to the beach on their own. Their ordeal is soon to be at an end and Paul has yet another tale to add to the list of things that have happened to him as an apostle (see 2 Cor 11:25-27)
A. Find Out:
1. Where were they and how were they welcomed? v.1,2
2. What happened to Paul and what did the people think? v.3,4
3. Yet what happened and what did they then think? v.5,6
4. What then happened? v.7,8
5. What did that then produce? v.9
6. With what outcome? v.10
Circumstances have been out of their control. They have just been shipwrecked but at least they have safely got ashore. The islanders welcome them and build a fire for them. It is at this point that a potential disaster occurs: Paul is bitten by a snake. In fact this was no quick sting but a strong bite, as the thing hangs on his hand. The islanders naturally expect Paul to die from the bite but to their amazement he has no ill effects. Presumably it was this change of thinking in the islanders that led them to take Paul and the others to the nearby residence of the island's chief official. Presumably they told him what has happened and he welcomes them and puts them up for three days.
While they were there, the official's father grows ill, so Paul goes to him, prays, lay on hands and heals him. Now the interesting thing here is that Luke does not record Paul sharing the gospel with these people, but with all these supernatural openings being given him, we must assume he did. This healing opened the way up for Paul to pray for many others on the island, and presumably share God's love with them in word as well as deed.
A. Find Out:
1. How long did they stay in Malta? v.11
2. What other places did they call in at on the way? v.12,13
3. Who did they find on the mainland of Italy? v.14
4. What did they find when they got to Rome? v.15
5. What then happened at Rome? v.16
The journey is almost at an end. After three months the winter weather has abated and they were able to take a ship to Rome. The detailing of the ship by Luke, again indicates the historical nature of his writing, noting even minor things that struck him. Note also the place names that Luke has included throughout this whole journey (look them up on a map).
Eventually they reach mainland Italy and there they found some Christians who invited them to stay a week with them. The interesting thing is that Paul is still a prisoner under the guard of a centurion and his soldiers, yet they allow him to stay this time with the local church.
After a week they move on and travel north. Some forty miles from Rome, at the market town called the Forum of Appius, they are greeted by a number of Christians who had come to meet them from Rome. About ten miles further on at the Three Taverns they met some more. These “welcoming committees” along the way who had come to escort Paul the final miles to Rome greatly lifted his spirits. Perhaps he had been wondering what was to face him when he arrived, but the presence of these Roman Christians greatly encouraged him.
A. Find Out:
1. What did Paul do when? v.17a
2. What does he tell them? v.17b-19
3. So why had he called them to him? v.20
4. What was their response to what had happened to him? v.21
5. And what did they say they wanted, and why? v.22
6. So what subsequently happened? v.23a
Paul has been in Rome a few days, and presumably has just got to wait for officialdom to take its time in dealing with him, and so he takes the opportunity to share the gospel with his own people. He may not be sure that he will be allowed to share it with other Romans so he's going to make sure he gets it to the Jewish community while he's there. He calls the Jewish leaders to him and explains what has happened to bring him there. They haven't heard anything from Judea and appear not to be prejudiced against him, but would like to hear his views on this new group called “The Way” who they view as a sect. As a result a large number of Jews gather to hear what he has to say.
This action of Paul's could, potentially, cause a further riot if they react against the Gospel as many in Jerusalem had done. However, perhaps Paul remembers that when he travelled around Asia Minor it had been to the Jews he had gone first and in fact many of them had believed. Initially the church had been formed with Jewish converts. It was only later that he went to the Gentiles. No, given the opportunity, Paul still goes first to his own people, first to the religiously minded people to share the Gospel. Some may believe and so it's worth taking the risk. The Gospel is for all men, but Jews first.
A. Find Out:
1. What was Paul doing with the Jews? v.23
2. What response did he get? v.24
3. What began to happen, when he said what? v.25-27,29
4. So what did he conclude? v.28
5. How long did he remain where, doing what? v.30
6. What did he continue doing, and how? v.31
Paul starts from the Old Testament and teaches the Jews about the promised coming and the prophetic fulfilment of the Messiah. He spends the entire day doing this and a number of the Jews receive the truth. However, it is clear that a number of them have trouble with this, and so Paul reminds them of the Old Testament warning from Isa 6:9,10. This, he says, means that if the Jews won't hear, God will go to the Gentiles, and this is what he's been called to do. With this, a number of them start to leave. For some of the Jews, the thought of pagan Gentiles becoming the people of God was just too much.
So it was that the familiar pattern seen in Paul's earlier journeys is repeated yet again: he goes first to the Jews, some of whom receive him, but when a number reject him, he moves on to the Gentiles and shares the Good News with them. What seems amazing is that for two whole years Paul is allowed to carry on doing this from the privacy of his own rented accommodation. The gospel goes out to all Rome. If we read his letters we see he touches the very household of Caesar itself (see Phil 1:13). From here he writes some of his deepest letters -Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. This is a place of triumph and victory, this is the place of God's ordaining!
In this third group of 9 studies we have seen :
These chapters read more like an explorers narrative history rather than the spiritual book that the Bible usually is. Yet in the midst of it, as we wonder what is going on, we need to remind ourselves that behind it all is the sovereign will of God. Remember the Lord said Paul would testify in Rome (23:11 & 27:24). There may be long delays in justice, there may be long delays in travel, there may be shipwrecks along the way, but eventually , Paul will get there and Paul will carry out a two year evangelistic campaign - of a different sort. Many will hear the Gospel, throughout Rome, and to the very heart of Rome. This was God's will!
1. Find what God is saying behind the circumstances.
2. Spiritual leaders are to set examples.
3. Hope is catching when conveyed in faith.
4. God is with us wherever we go.
5. Being an apostle often means a dangerous lifestyle.
6. A crisis is an opportunity for God
7. Go with the Gospel to religiously inclined people first.
8. In limiting circumstances look for opportunities
Thank the Lord that wherever you are and whatever the circumstances He is there and, if you are open to Him, is there to take whatever opportunities arise to convey His love and power.
1. Detailed Circumstances
As we read through these closing chapters of Acts we cannot but help notice the proliferation of detail in the narrative, whether it be in the description of the prophetic action-picture given by Agabus (21:11), shutting the gates of the temple (21:30), the detailed dialogues throughout, or the description of the ship in 28:11. Everything here confirms Luke's assertion in Lk 1:3 that he had investigated carefully and sought to write an orderly account, which he continued on in Acts. We can trust the historical authenticity of this book.
2. Frequent Testimonies
Again and again in these chapters we find Paul's speeches being recorded. Previously Luke recorded Paul's first sermon to the Jews (13:16-), his sermon to the Gentiles at Athens (17:22-), and his speech to the Ephesian elders (20:17-). In these studies we have seen his testimony to the Jerusalem crowd (22:3-), his defence before Felix (24:10) and his testimony before Felix & Agrippa (26:2-). In addition he testified to the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, on Malta and in Rome. In these closing chapters we have seen how the Lord enables Paul to preach and testify mostly to leaders, both religious and secular. He took whatever opportunities were given him. Did those leaders get saved? That's not the point! The point is that God wanted him to tell them. They were responsible for their responses, not Paul. All he had to do was tell them, be Jesus' witness to them, and that he did fully and faithfully. Such is our role in life as well.
3. Trying Circumstances
At times in these studies we must have felt, “Why is God allowing all this?” At least that says we recognise the power of God. The keys to understanding these chapters have been those few occasions when the Lord spoke to Paul tell him what was to happen (21:11, 23:11, 27:24). From these we see that behind all the trying circumstances is the master plan of God, who works in the midst of the purposing of men who think they are in control. Again and again in life, we need to ask, what is God doing behind the affairs of men? The circumstances sometimes seem out of control or in the hands of men, but what is the truth, what is God saying and doing in it all? Think on!