God’s Word for You
Acts 27:1-4 The voyage to Rome begins
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, February 23, 2021
This chapter takes place almost entirely at sea. Paul and Luke begin in a small ship, are transferred to a larger one, and end the chapter in the sea with no ship at all, reminding us somewhat of Jonah 1:15-17 and 2:1-10. All the while, the Lord was in control. The Lord was providing just what his people needed.
27 When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Augustan Regiment.
When Paul had been under arrest in Caesarea he had been guarded by a centurion. Now he was handed off to another soldier of the same rank, but of a very different regiment. The Augustan or Imperial Regiment was a group of soldiers on special detached duty for the Emperor. They were an important communications link between regiments and armies out in the provinces, and when they were in Rome they were called peregrinii, “foreign soldiers.” They arranged for the food supplies of the armies, they were sometimes spies, and they handled the transport of prisoners. This last was the task of the centurion we meet in our text, Julius.
2 We boarded a ship from Adramyttium that was about to sail for ports along the coast of Asia Minor, and we put to sea. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us. 3 The next day we put in at Sidon; and in kindness to Paul Julius allowed him to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs. 4 From there we set sail again and passed to the lee of Cyprus because the winds were against us.
The ship seems to have been a small vessel, the kind sometimes described as a “coaster.” It was not suited to the heavy seas and stormy gales out in the middle of the sea. It skirted around the coast, “the ports of Asia Minor,” first heading north to Sidon. There Paul had won the confidence of Julius the soldier to such a degree that he was allowed to leave the ship and see some friends who could provide for his needs. After two years in prison he certainly needed clothes, money, and some other supplies. It’s possible that Julius went with Paul, but Werner Franzmann thinks Paul was able to go “unfettered and unguarded.” This is a good example of using your spiritual gifts to the glory of God. If you have the gift of being completely trustworthy to others, then be completely trustworthy. There is also the old classical concept of giving ones parole. A prisoner might be allowed to leave the prison on the condition that, on his honor, he would return. If he did not, other prisoners might be executed, and if he were caught, he could be killed on the spot without honor and without any reprieve.
The small ship finished its business at Sidon and proceeded north around the rim of the Mediterranean, using the big island of Cyprus to protect them from the prevailing westerly winds. The “lee” of an island or a ship is that area away from the wind no matter which direction one is traveling. A calf moves or stands in the lee of its mother. So we should do with Christ. When we keep our Savior between us and the storms and gales of our lives we are better protected against dangers.
In these verses, Paul, Luke and Aristarchus do not have the ideal vessel for getting to their destination, but they are able to make some progress toward their goal. Sometimes we must use the tools we have and the circumstances we are in even though we might wish for something more suitable. But whatever we have, if we need something more, God will provide. He teaches us to trust in him at all times. When the Israelites left Egypt and they found that they were pursued by Pharaoh’s army and pinned against the Red Sea, God provided a way through the water on dry ground “with a wall of water on their right and on their left” (Exodus 14:29). When God commanded Abraham to take his son Isaac and sacrifice him on the mountain, Abraham trusted in God, even voicing his belief in the resurrection of the dead should it come to that, but God provided a substitute for the child just as God provided a substitute for us all in Christ (Genesis 22:12-13). Paul and his companions did not yet have the right vehicle to get to Rome, but God would provide. God is faithful (1 Corinthians 10:13). He will provide whatever you need. Put your trust in him.
Pastor Timothy Smith