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Acts 27:128:31 comment (0)

August 28, 2008

By Cecil Taylor

Related Scripture: Acts 27:128:31


Explore the Bible
Dean, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

ROME: FACING LIMITATIONS
Acts 27:1–28:31


To Rome (27:1–28:16)

A centurion named Julius took charge of Paul and other prisoners. Both Luke (the writer of Acts) and Aristarchus of Thessalonica accompanied Paul. The trip began in early autumn and ended in the spring, although navigation on the Mediterranean was generally suspended from mid-November until March due to dangerous conditions. Paul’s party sailed on three different ships: one boarded at Caesarea, another at Myra and a third at Melita (Malta). The trip was completed in four stages.

1) Caesarea to Myra — No direct passage to Rome was available, so the party boarded a ship that plied the coast, hoping to book passage at one of its ports on a ship bound for Rome. They touched at Sidon, sailed along the south coast of Cyprus to avoid unfavorable winds, and then turned northwest to Myra in the province of Lycia.

2) Myra to Fair Havens — At Myra, Julius found a ship sailing for Italy. They boarded. They sailed slowly for many days and came at last to Cnidus, a peninsula projecting from Asia Minor just north of Rhodes. They sailed along the southern coast of Crete because of unfavorable winds and came to Fair Havens, about midway of the island.

3) Fair Havens to Malta — Winter was at hand because “the Day of Atonement” (September or October) was past.
Paul suggested they wait for spring, but both the captain and the owner of the ship, as well as the majority of the passengers, favored pressing on to a better winter harbor at Phoenix (modern Phineka), on the west end of Crete.
Hardly had they sailed when violent winds from the northeast struck. Southward “the Syrtis,” quicksands between Carthage and Cyrenaica in north Africa, threatened. To lighten the ship, they tossed overboard both cargo and tackle, but their hopes of coming through alive faded. It was then that Paul first rebuked and then encouraged them (27:22–26). For two weeks, the storm drove them before the ship ran aground. The centurion forbade the soldiers to kill any of the prisoners, and all escaped safely to land. On Malta, the inhabitants showed the travelers hospitality and Paul survived a snakebite and then healed the father of Publius, perhaps the governor of the island.

4) Malta to Rome — After wintering for three months, the voyagers went to sea. The ship went to Syracuse (in Sicily), where it docked for three days, then on to Rhegium (southwest Italy). The next day, a south wind took them north and they arrived at Puteoli (modern Pozzuoli), about 125 miles south of Rome in the Bay of Naples, the principal harbor south of Rome. Paul stayed for a week with fellow believers then headed on to Rome. Some Christians came to the Market of Appius and the Three Taverns to welcome him. So he came to Rome. Chained to a soldier, he lived as a private resident in the city, waiting for his hearing before Caesar.

In Rome (28:17–31)
Paul’s experience in Rome focused on three matters. 

1) Conference with local Jewish leaders. Three days after his arrival, he requested an audience with these leaders to explain why he was imprisoned and in Rome. These men denied all knowledge of Paul’s case. Perhaps they spoke truthfully, but possibly they just wanted to avoid getting involved.

2) Preaching to a large gathering of Jews. At a set time, a crowd came to Paul’s rented house and listened to him preach from morning till evening. Some believed. Most (apparently) did not. Paul reminded them of Isaiah 6:9–10 and announced God would send His salvation to the nations and they would listen.

3) Confinement in the city. For two years, Paul preached while waiting for his trial. Acts does not report the outcome of the hearing. Many evangelicals believe Paul was released (innocent of the charges) and had a further period of ministry during which he traveled as far as Spain and perhaps the British Isles, and wrote the pastoral letters.

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