Paul gave his defense in front of Festus and Agrippa, and their conclusion was that Paul had done nothing unlawful and that he could have been set free, if it were not for the fact that Paul had exercised his right as a Roman citizen to appeal to the emperor.
Under guard, Paul’s journey to Italy by sea begins. The winds were against them, and it took much longer to reach Fair Havens. Paul advised against continuing because of the dangerous conditions, but the pilot and the owner of the ship thought they could make it to Crete, where they could spend the winter, so they head out.
But they ran into a violent storm, and they had to throw the cargo overboard. The storm was persistent, and they could not see the sun nor stars for many days, and they started to think that they were not going to make it.
An angel appeared to Paul assuring him that he, as well as all on board, will make it safely to land. Paul urged them to eat some food, since they had not been able to eat for 14 days.
The next morning, they thought they were going to make it, but the boat struck a reef and started to sink. The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners, so that none would escape, but since the centurion wanted to keep Paul safe, he stopped them. They all jumped overboard, and all 276 passengers of the ship made it safely to land.
There are several things that stand out about Paul in this chapter. When everything is going wrong and people are assuming the worst and expecting to die, Paul calms them down and even gets them to eat. And when the soldiers are about to kill all the prisoners so that they cannot escape, the centurion saves them because the centurion does not want Paul to die. Without Paul, not all 276 people on board would have survived this voyage.
Verse 1 tells us that the name of the centurion who was put in charge of Paul and the other prisoners on this trip was Julius. It appears that Paul and Julius had established some kind of a rapport, since verse 3 tells us that “Julius treated Paul kindly, and allowed him to go to his friends to be cared for.”
The passage does not tell us how Paul established this kind of a relationship with the centurion. However, Paul’s own writings can shed some light on this.
1 Corinthians 10:33 . . . just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.
2 Timothy 2:24-25 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, 25correcting opponents with gentleness.
Titus 3:1-2 1Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show every courtesy to everyone.
It does not mean that just because we treat others as Paul teaches, that we will be able to establish good relations with people. However, if we do not follow Paul’s teachings, it would be very difficult to establish any sort of relationship with the people we encounter. It is good to remember that there are no coincidences when it comes to God – We need to consider everyone we come across in our lives as someone God intended us to encounter.
When all seemed lost, Paul witnesses to the people, telling them what the angel of God told him – That not only Paul will make it to Rome, but that also not one of them would perish. He then declares that he has faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. He then proceeds to encourage everyone to eat, which gives further belief that Paul expects everyone to live.
Paul ends up saving the lives of everyone on board through his faith in God as manifested in his words and his actions, as well as with the relationship he has established with the centurion.
What can we learn from this? In this instance, Paul had the advantage of an angel appearing to him and assuring him that all on board would be saved. Paul basically just had to believe it and announce it to the others with confidence that God can and will do what He says.
For us, when we are in the midst of some crisis, we normally do not have an angel appearing to us as to what is going to happen. So, we are not able to confidently stand and tell others that they are all going to come through the crisis just fine. We are not able to tell people that they are going to be healed of their disease or find a new job or that a war can be avoided.
However, even if angels are not sent to us to tell us what is going to happen, we do have the Bible and the Holy Spirit to help us interpret it. Although the Bible does not tell us about what is going to happen in our lives, it does tell us some very important things. Things like being assured of an eternity with the Lord once this life is over, and the fact that God had created us to do works for Him, to spread the good news of the Kingdom and of Jesus Christ. Once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we can be assured of these things, to the point where we can confidently declare that “I have faith in God”.
And if we live our lives as if we really have faith in God, then this is going to affect the people around us, both Christians and non-believers alike. This is how Paul lived, and we can also, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
(the above is a summary of the message shared by Shun Takano with us during our worship on November 13, 2022.)