Paul Is Taken to Rome
1When it was time for us to sail to Rome, Captain Julius from the Emperor's special troops was put in charge of Paul and the other prisoners. 2We went aboard a ship from Adramyttium that was about to sail to some ports along the coast of Asia. Aristarchus from Thessalonica in Macedonia sailed on the ship with us.
3The next day we came to shore at Sidon. Captain Julius was very kind to Paul. He even let him visit his friends, so they could give him whatever he needed. 4When we left Sidon, the winds were blowing against us, and we sailed close to the island of Cyprus to be safe from the wind. 5Then we sailed south of Cilicia and Pamphylia until we came to the port of Myra in Lycia. 6There the army captain found a ship from Alexandria that was going to Italy. So he ordered us to board that ship.
7We sailed along slowly for several days and had a hard time reaching Cnidus. The wind would not let us go any farther in that direction, so we sailed past Cape Salmone, where the island of Crete would protect us from the wind. 8We went slowly along the coast and finally reached a place called Fair Havens, not far from the town of Lasea.
9By now we had already lost a lot of time, and sailing was no longer safe. In fact, even the Great Day of Forgiveness was past. 10Then Paul spoke to the crew of the ship, “Men, listen to me! If we sail now, our ship and its cargo will be badly damaged, and many lives will be lost.” 11But Julius listened to the captain of the ship and its owner, rather than to Paul.
12The harbor at Fair Havens wasn't a good place to spend the winter. Because of this, almost everyone agreed that we should at least try to sail along the coast of Crete as far as Phoenix. It had a harbor that opened toward the southwest and northwest, and we could spend the winter there.
Luke wrote the Gospel and the Acts with what Floyd V. Filson called “the journey motif.” In the Gospel, Jesus is journeying from Galilee to Jerusalem and in Acts the journey progresses from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria and beyond (Acts 1:8). From Acts 19:21 through to the end of the book Paul is journeying from Jerusalem to Rome. This signifies how Jerusalem and the temple are no longer the geographical nexus of worship. It also indicates how Paul, like Jesus, stayed true to God’s direction and destination for his life (19:21, 23:11, 25:12, 27:24, 28:14).
Paul is not alone as he journeys to Rome. His close companions, Luke and Aristarchus, are by his side every step of the way (v.2). Luke is the writer of Acts and a physician. Aristarchus is first mentioned in Acts 19:29, almost immediately after Paul had said he must visit Rome (Acts 19:21), and he goes to Rome and remains with Paul throughout his imprisonment (Colossians 4:10, Philemon1:24). So as the narrative unfolds we should remember Luke and Aristarchus, two faithful friends of one mind and heart who support Paul in his ministry.
In addition to Luke and Aristarchus, mention is also made of a centurion named Julius (v.1). After the trials in the Jewish and Roman courts, it’s noteworthy to see a Roman officer treating Paul with kindness (v.3). And it’s a reminder “that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him” Romans 8:28.
Another aspect of this story is the suggestion that the man in touch with God is the best person to listen to. At face value one would think that the captain of the ship and the owner of the ship would know what was sensible concerning the sailing conditions (v.11). It comes as no surprise then that “almost everyone agreed” (v.12) that they should sail on to another port, even though Paul warned them that the voyage would be disastrous (v.10). As the story progresses we’ll see how, when revelation is ignored, catastrophe strikes.
Lord, thank you for the people who journey with us as we serve you. Thank you for their care and kindness. Please bless them as they bless others. Amen.