In chapters twenty-seven and twenty-eight of Acts Luke gives us a long narration of Paul’s voyage from Caesarea to Rome. We may wonder why Luke includes such a lengthy and detailed record. In certain matters he is very brief, but the record of this voyage is very detailed and vivid. After considering this matter, I believe that the reason for this detailed account is that Luke intends to present a picture that conveys some important points.
The first of the points conveyed in Luke’s lengthy narrative of Paul’s voyage is Satan’s attack on the apostle. Satan was constantly behind the scene attacking Paul. This is the reason that the voyage was difficult, with many hardships, and took such a long time. The weather in particular was very bad. Acts 27:4 says, “And from there we put out to sea and sailed under the shelter of Cyprus because the winds were contrary.” Later, after boarding an Alexandrian ship, they “sailed slowly for a considerable number of days and came with difficulty off Cnidus” (v. 7). Then with difficulty they came to a certain place called Fair Havens. Eventually, after putting out to sea again, “there beat down from the island a hurricane wind called a northeaster” (v. 14). Satan was behind these difficulties, attacking the apostle.
In the picture portrayed in Acts 27 and 28 we also see the Lord’s sovereign care. The Lord is over all things, including the wind and the storms. The Lord was sovereign over the centurion named Julius who brought Paul to Rome and over all the soldiers who were with him. In His sovereignty, the Lord caused this centurion to show kindness to Paul. Concerning this, 27:3 says, “And on the next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius, treating Paul kindly, allowed him to go to his friends to receive care.” Probably some soldiers accompanied Paul, and it is likely that Paul was still in chains. Nevertheless, the Lord sovereignly took care of Paul.
In His sovereignty the Lord also sent an angel to Paul in the midst of a violent storm, when those on the ship had abandoned all hope of being saved (vv. 20, 23). Paul testified that the angel had said to him, “Do not fear, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you” (v. 24). As we shall see, this word indicates that there on the boat Paul had a little kingdom composed of two hundred seventy-six citizens.
Luke and Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, were with Paul on the ship. Luke functioned in two ways. First, as a medical doctor, he took care of Paul’s health. Second, he functioned as a newsman to record the details of the voyage. We thank the Lord for this record. The more we read it, the more we realize how significant it is. In Luke’s detailed account of the voyage we see that the Lord overruled Satan’s attacks. Everything that happened took place at the right time so that Paul’s life was preserved.
The picture in these chapters of Acts also shows Paul’s life, behavior, and character. We see Paul’s ascendancy over the situation. We also see the wisdom and dignity of his human life. No doubt, Paul’s life was a life of living Christ and magnifying Him.
If we read this portion carefully, we shall see that here Paul was living the very life that he aspired to live in Philippians 3. In that chapter Paul says that he pursued Christ in order to be found in Him (vv. 9, 12). When I read Acts 27 and 28, I find Paul in Christ. Throughout a rough and difficult voyage, Paul lived a life of ascendancy and dignity and full of wisdom. Although he was a prisoner, he behaved like a king. Furthermore, he had foresight and wisdom to handle matters.
No doubt, the Lord was with Paul. On the one hand, he was a prisoner, one among two hundred seventy-six passengers. On the other hand, he was the center, the focus, of the situation, whether on the ship or on the island where they wintered after the ship was destroyed. In every circumstance Paul lived a life of ascendancy.
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