Scripture reading – Acts 27-28
Today’s Scripture reading brings us to the close of our study in the book we identify as The Acts of the Apostles. Our study has taken us from the historic fact of Jesus’ bodily resurrection and public appearances (Acts 1:1-3), to Him commissioning the disciples to be His apostles (1:4-8), before He ascended to heaven (1:9). After receiving the promise that Jesus would return (1:10-11), the disciples returned to an “upper room” (1:12-13), and there waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit, who came on the Day of Pentecost (2:1), fifty days after the Passover and Christ’s death on the Cross.
There are many other events that are essential to the historical narrative of the early church that are found in the Book of Acts, including the death of Stephen, the first of many martyrs (7:55-8:1), the salvation and transformation of Saul, the great persecutor (8:1; 9:1-9), who became Paul, and the apostle to the Gentiles (9:10-16).
Our study of Acts has followed Paul’s three missionary journeys as the Gospel spread throughout Asia, Greece, and Europe (reaching at least as far west as Spain).
Taken prisoner in Jerusalem, Paul was held in the fortress of Caesarea, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, where he was tried and falsely accused of sedition by enemies who would have killed him (24:1-6). Knowing by revelation that he was to be a witness in Rome, Paul had exercised his right as a Roman citizen, and appealed for a hearing before Caesar (25:10-11).
Acts 27 – Paul’s Shipwreck on the Mediterranean Sea
Arrangements having been made for Paul to sail to Rome, he was assigned a military escort with “one named Julius, a centurion of [Caesar] Augusts’ band [regiment]” (27:1). The ship had stopped at several ports in its journey, including Sidon where Luke noted the centurion’s favor in allowing Paul to fellowship with other believers (27:3).
Departing from Sidon, the centurion transferred Paul and other prisoners to a “ship of Alexandria [i.e. Egypt]“ that was sailing to Italy (27:4-6). The sailing was slow (27:9), and knowing storms would soon make sailing hazardous, “Paul admonished” the captain of the ship and his centurion guard to seek safe harbor (27:9-10). Those men, however, dismissed Paul’s concerns, and set sail until the vessel was caught up in a great storm so that, in Luke’s words, “all hope that we should be saved was then taken away” (27:11-20).
Acts 28:11-31 – Paul’s Final Journey
Beginning with Acts 28:11, we follow Paul from his ministry on Melita, to his arrival in Rome. Although a prisoner of Caesar, he was a captive of God’s grace, and for the next two years preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Rome, the capital of the world in the first century (28:17-22).
A rented house, serving as his prison and sanctuary (28:30), Paul opened his door and heart to “all that came in unto him,” and faithfully preached “the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him” (28:31).
What happened during the years that Paul was a prisoner in Rome?
We will answer that question as our chronological study takes us next to the letters Paul wrote while a prisoner in Rome.
Copyright 2020– Travis D. Smith