Paulís trip to Rome.

 

Starting in Acts 27 begins Paulís travel to roam as a prisoner. What is very interesting about the voyage that Paul takes is how accurate Luke records it. It has been said that even though Luke was not a professional seaman he was very accurate in his observation of the winds and storms and the management and movement of the ship. He gives us more information about ancient navigation than any other single document of antiquity. Again, this shows the historical accuracy of the word of God.

 

1. We find out here that Luke was with Paul here. Now when he joined up with Paul we do not know and we do not know if he was on the ship as a prisoner or perhaps went along on the trip as a doctor. The prisoners were delivered to a centurion name Julius. There are only 2 Centurions named in the bible 1 being Julius the other being Cornelius.

 

From vrs 2 we learn that they set sail and that Aristarchus was with them as well. He was a faithful helper to Paul and shared in some of the sufferings of Paul. If you remember he had been roughed up at Ephesus and he was also with Paul on his 3rd missionary journey. He is mentioned in 2 of Paulís letters Col 4:10, Philem. 24.

 

They come to Sidon and while they were there Julius apparently had enough respect and trust for Paul to allow him to go speak with his friends. It also say that he received care from them. Some have suggested that Paul might of needed some medical assistance. They set sail again, but they had to sail on the eastern side of Cyprus because the seasonally winds were very strong. They make it to Myra. The city itself was about 2 miles inland from the harbor. This port served as a major port for grain vessels from Alexandria. In fact Archaeologists have discovered the ruins of grain storage facilities at Myra.It was here that Julius found another ship that was from Alexandria that was going to Italy and he boarded all his prisoners. This was a fairly large boat because there were 276 passengers aboard. Vr 37. These bigger ships were not uncommon during this time. Josephus who was 1century historian talked about how he had sailed on a ship with 600 passengers. Some of the warships during that time could carry as many as a 1000 soldiers.

 

They set sail but it was a very difficult journey because the winds were blowing so hard. When they reached Cnidus the wind was blowing to hard for them to continue on that way so they had to turn southward to Crete. Create was a mountainous island and it was roughly 155 miles long east to west and about 35 miles north to south. There were people from this island present at the day of Pentacost. Acts 2:11. With great difficulty they finally made it to Fair Havens. They stayed here for quite some time but this harbor was not spacious enough to stay for the winter. Basically they were in no win situation. They didnít want to stay there but it was late in the season some time after early October and this is one of more dangerous times to try and sail. According to one ancient writer named Vegetius the most risky time to navigate the sea was from Sept 14 to Nov 11. After that all travel on the open sea ceased until the middle of March. So these men got together to discuss what they were going to do and Paul urged them not to go on because he perceived that voyage would end in disaster and much loss. I do not believe that this was a prophecy but was the result of Pauls past experience and observations. 2Cor 11:25-26.Well they didnít heed Pauls advice and they decided to make a run for it and try to make to Phoenix 40 miles west and winter there.

 

A gentile south wind was blowing so that felt it was ok to raise the anchor and begin their journey to Phonenix. The sailed close to Crete but it wasnít long till they had a rude awakening. A tempestuous head wind which we call a Typhoon today hammered them. The wind changed from a gentle south wind to an unbearable north wind and they could not sail into it so they had no choice but to ride the wind. They got a small break by the island Cauda about 24 miles miles from Fair Havens. Here they secured a small boat they were towing and brought it aboard so that they would not lose it. They secured this boat wrapping ropes and possible chains around the hull. They were very concerned that they would get stuck in the sand at Syrtis. These sands were legendary in the ancient world because the tides could easily cause a ship to get stuck in the sand bars.

 

They took off from there and let the wind drive them. The next day they were tossed to and fro so much so that it was becoming very dangerous so they lightened the ship. The storm was relentless and by the 3rd day they decided to throw there tackle overboard this would of included equipment and furniture. Day after day painfully crept by where the storm covered the sky by day and night. During ancient times they used the stars to navigate by but they hadnít seen the sky for days so they had no idea where they were. There hope of surviving the sea was passing away. Because of their distress they had not eaten. At some point during this time Paul stands in the middle of these men on this ship and tells them that they should of listened to him and never set sail from Crete. But, Paul had some new uplifting news for them. Paul tells them that an angel from God told him that their would be no loss of life only the ship would be lost. Now look at vrs 24. Paul was afraid just like the rest of them. But the angel calms him down with these words. Notice that all those that were with Paul were going to get to live as well. Many times people that donít even know God are blessed by their proximity to Gods people. For instance if there had only been 10 righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah God would not of destroyed the city.

 

Vrs 25-26. Paul wanted the men to be encouraged because Paul had no doubt in the message given to him from God. I can just imagine how confident Paul must of looked when told this to these men. He also tells them that they were going to run a ground on a certain island. We learn latter that this island was Malta. It was only 17 miles long and 9 miles wide. It was the only significant island out there in a 300 mile area of the sea. What are the odd that they would run aground on this needle in the haystack. Clearly, the providence of God was involved in the navigation.

 

Luke tells us that they were being driven to and fro in sea of Adria. The water was rough and doubt many on board suffered sea sickness.Finally after 2 weeks they were getting closer to land. Look at vrs 28. I always wondered what that this meant. How did the do their sounding and what in the world was fathom. The term SOUNDED means to heave the lead. What they would do is take a lead weight and tie to arope and cast it into the water in order to measure the depth of the water. The lead weight was also designed to bring up some dirt from the bottom of the sea so that they could use this as well to determine if they were getting close to land. Now a fathom is approximately 6 feet. So when they first do their sounding they water is about 120 feet deep and they are approximately ľ of mile from land. The second time they takethere sounding the water is only 90 feet deep so they were definitely getting closer to land.†††

 

Nowa new fear comes over them. They are afraid that they will crash into the rocks so they drop all 4 anchors to stabilize and slow them down and they prayed for the day to come. They hoped they could survive the night. The sailors were trying sneak away off of the ship in the boat that they had pulled in earlier. They were not concerned about the crew but had the attitude of every man for himself. Paul put a big kink in their plans when he told Julius and the soldiers that if these soldiers left the boat then you can not be saved. So the soldiers cut the ropes to the little boat and it fell into the sea. You see God had stated earlier that no one would loss their life but the sailors were to be part of saving the lives on board because God was going to save thesepeople providentially and not miraculously.

 

Paul kind of took charge of the situationhere and now it was almost daylight and Paul pleaded with the mean to eat so they could gain their strength. He reminded how they had not eaten for the last 14 days. He reassured them about their lives being spared by telling that that not one hair of the head would be lost. This phrase has been used many times in the bible which signifies total deliverance. 1Sam 14:45, 2 Sam 14:11, 1kings 1:52, Luke 21:18. After, Paul had said this he took some bread and gave thanks to it in front of all these people and then he broke it and ate it. Well Pauls words and action had encouraged the men on that ship so they to began to eat. When they had eaten enough they lightened the ship some more and even through their food overboard. They did this so the ship would be able to get a little closer to the beach before it got stuck in the dirt. When morning came they did recognize the land but they saw a beach they were going to try and run the ship on to. So, they removed the anchors leaving them in the sea and loosed the rudders and raised the sail to the wind and started heading to the beech. They ran into a sandbar and the stern began to break up from the waves. Can you just imagine the cracking and popping noises that were being made as the Stern was being torn apart by these waves. The soldiers decided they were going to kill of the prisoners in case they tried to escape but Julius put a stop to this because he wanted to save Paul. He obviously had a great respect for him. So instead they were all told to try and make to the beech some wouldswim others would use parts of the ship to make it to safety. They all made it safely to shore just like Paul told them they would. Gods promises never fail however they are conditional.

 

We can only wonder how this whole experience affected the men on this ship. I just wonder if any of them would ask Paul more about his God and if any of them were converted from this experience. Well, I would like to thinkthat some of them were but the bible just doesnít tell us about their fate.

 

Now we have reached the last chapter in Acts. We learn here that after these men had escaped to safety on the island they found out that the island was called Malta. As they struggled to shore on that land I am sure they may have been fearful for their lives because of the natives there. But, once again the Providence of God was a work because these natives showed unusually kindness to this shipwrecked crew and even started them a fire so they could stay warm in the cold. Paul was always a busy man so he was gathering up some sticks and he laid them on the fire but because ofthe heat a viper came out latched onto his hand. This was dangerous because vipers are poisonous and they can kill a human being. Well these natives saw this viper attached to Paulís hand and they started drawing their own conclusions. They thought for sure Paul must be a murder since he had made it through the Sea alive but know he was going to die there on that island. This is a common thought today people think that if you do something bad something bad will happen to you. This simply is not true because good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. Besides this not all accounts are settled in this life. Ps 73 1-12, 27-28.

 

Now these natives were watching Paul close because they were expecting him to swell up or to die but he didnít. Instead he just shook the snake off into the fire and nothing happened to him so this caused the Natives to change their mind about Paul and thought that he was God now. This wasnít the first time people had thought he was a God. This had been a miracle and it was consistent with what the Lord had pledged. Mark 16:18, Luke 10:19. This is quite a bit different picture today with todays snake handlers those that think that these biblical miracles that defy the law of nature are still here today because they might survive the snakes that are biting them but they suffer all the symptoms that go with a snake bite. They get sick the bite swells up and it has been know for them to even die from their snake handling. But, Paul never showed any signs that he had been bitten by a snake powerful enough to kill a man easily with its venom. ††††††

 

After this one of the leading citizens there names Publius took Paul and his companions in and entertained them for 3 days. During this time Publius father was bed ridden from a fever and dysentery. This was really dangerous because most people die from this. But Paul went to his father and prayed to God and then he laid his hands on him and healed him. After this the rest of those on the island that had diseases came and were healed. These natives were so happy about being healed that they willingly gave them provision that would be necessary for them to survive.

 

Paul and his companions were stranded onthe island for 3 months waiting until the sea was safe to sail. They had found another Alexandria ship thatwas wintering there for the winter and they allowed them to comea board so that they could finish there journey to Rome. It has been estimated they probably set sail in mid February . Luke tells us that this ship had a sign on it that said TWIN BROTHERS. This named meant Sons of Zeus. Ancient ships usually had a name on both sides of the ship and a sculptured figure of some sort that carried the same meaning.

 

They set sail for about a day and anchored at Syracuse. Now Syracuse was the main city on the SE cost of Sicily. Sicily was famous for its shipbuilding, fishing, and bronze work. Its also noted as being the toe of Italyís boot. They stayed here for 3 days. The text does not tell us if the evangelized here or not but its noteworthy that archaeologists have found the ruins of Christian catacombs here. From there they sailed to Rhegium and then to Puteoli. This was an important trading port. There was an excellent harbor here which made this city Romeís chief port. Today there is still intact the massive mole that was a part of this harbor. Now a mole was rock wall that they would construct out in the water to keep the waves from being so strong in the harbor. There are some other ruins here as well. It has been estimated that the population of this city was 100,000. Rome was a 142 miles from this city. Well we find out that Paul and his companions found some brothers there and they stayed with them for a week. Again, we see that Julius was very accommodating to Paul and his friends. After this they go toward Rome. People had heard that Paul was on his way to Rome and they came from Appii Forum and the Three Taverns to meet him. When Paul saw them it encouraged him and he gave thanks to God. He had finally made it to Rome as he had longed to do. Rom 1:11ff .

 

This must have been quite a site because Rome was the largest city in the world at that time. Rome was built on 7 hills situated on the east bank of the Tiber River. The city limits had a circumference just over 13 miles. The rich lived in sumptuous villas, while the poor were packed together inless desirable sections of the community, which is where Paul probably stayed. The streets were lined withapartment styled houses. Some of these houses were 6 stories or higher and the jammed close together with only a few feet between them. These apartments housed around 1million people. The estimated population during this time was 4,100,000.

 

The Caesars had many elegant public buildings built in the heart of Rome that surpassed any other buildings in the world. Entertainment, food, and luxury items could be found everywhere in this town. In fact half of the years calendar days were designated as holidays. They had a huge arena that was called Circus Maximus and it could hold 250,000 spectators, this is where theyhad their chariot races. Paul would of passed by the famous arena on his way into Rome. I can just imagine Paul was sadden by this cities worldliness but on the same hand it would be a great place to proclaim the word of God.

 

Vrs 16 Here again we see that Paul found favor in the officials he came in contact with. Instead of having to stay with the rest of the prisoners he was allowed to stay by himself with only 1 guard watching over him. He was allowed to rent his own apartment and he could have as many visitors as he wanted. This apartmenthe rented must have been a pretty descent size because we see from vrs 23 that a great number meet in his house. Hereís a good question who paid for Paulís rent? Perhaps he was allowed to work and do his trade as a tentmaker or maybe one of the churches supplied the funds. Its possible that even some the saints in Rome helped out. It nice to speculate but we just donít know for sure.

 

Read Vrs 17-20 Here we see that Paul took 3 days to settle into his new place and somehow he called the Jewish leaders together to his house. It has been estimated that there were about 20,000 Jews living in Rome at this time and there were about 13 synagogues there. Paul gives his defense to these Jewish leaders telling them how the Jews had handed him over to the Romans as a prisoner even though had not done anything against the Jewish way. He further tells them that the Roman officials could notfind anything against Paul and wanted to let him go but the Jews kept speaking against him so it was for that reason he appealed to Caesar. Paul wanted the Jews to know the truth about his story and tell them the only reason he was bound was because of the hope of Isreal. This of course refers to the coming Messiah which Paul knew had already had come.

 

Vrs 21-22 These Jewish leaders had not so much as heard of any accusations made against Paul. It was very unlikely that anyone from Judeacould of made it there by this time. These Jews wanted to hear what Paul thought about the sect they had been hearing about which had spoken against. Again, this shows just how widespread Christianity had become. It was talked about everywhere. One thing about these Jews at least they seemed to have more open minds than the Jews in Judea because they wanted to learn more about what this Sect was all about.

 

Read vrs 23-29 make comments.

 

Vrs 30-31 During this 2 year period Paul had a remarkable freedom. He kept on teaching the kingdom God to everyone that came to him and the Romans did not stop him from doing so. During this time he was there he wrote Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians and Philippians. It is from these letters that we can learn a little bit more information about Paul during this time. We find out that he was under great stress at times Phil 1:16 He seemed to have some anxiety about how things would work out for him Phil2:23. We know that sometime during this 2 years that Timothy was with Paul because his name is inthe salutation in Colossians, Ephesians, and Philippians. At some point Paul came in contact with a run away slave name Onesimus and led him to the Lord. Philemon 1:10. Even John Mark was there Col 4:10-12. Remember he was Barnabas cousin.Even though this was a troubling time for Paul he lookedat it in a positive manner. Phi.1:12ff. What a man. All though Acts ends here Pauls life does not. It is believed that Paul was finally released from Rome and he traveled about at least 2 more years or more before he was imprisoned again. Even though we donít have a detailed layout of what happened after acts we are now going to look at some of the places that he was at and we will see that he still had 3 more letters to write 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus.

 

Refer to hand out.

 

According to historical records Paul was beheaded at Aquae Salviae about 3 miles outside of Rome on the Ostrian Way. In the last 5 years of Neroís life he had turned against the Christians and was killing them left and right and it was most likely that Paulís death was part of this generally killing of Christians by Nero. He began the killing spree around 65 AD. There was chapel built in memory of Paul at this site where Paul was killed in the 5th century. Above it now stands the present day Church of Saint Paul.

 

Of course the end of this story is not in Rome its in heaven. What a great man this was the apostle Paul of almighty God.