God’s Word for You
Acts 27:21-26 The angel
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, March 4, 2021
21 And also the men had gone a long time without food. So Paul stood up among them and said: “Men, you should have listened to me and not sailed from Crete. You wouldn’t have had this damage and loss. 22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost except for the ship. 23 Last night an angel of the God who is my God and who I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar, and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I believe God, that it will happen just as he told me. 26 But we have to run aground on some island.”
Sometime between the third day and the fourteenth, an angel came to Paul and spoke to him. Before he shared the message, Paul’s human nature allowed him an “I told you so” moment. But he brought them comfort right away: “Not one of you will be lost, except for the ship.” He had been afraid earlier that they would all die (Acts 27:10), but now he had the word of the Lord through the angel: “God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” None of them would die as a result of this storm. Since they were on the verge of starving and of dying of thirst, this was remarkable and miraculous. One of the more serious problems with sailing ships has always been the means of transporting drinking water in large amounts. The angel affirmed what Jesus had told Paul earlier: You must stand trial before Caesar.
Paul explains his belief in the angel’s message with simple words. The heathen sailors would have understood what an angel is even if they had a pagan idea about it. But Paul just lets them know that this was an angel from “the God who is my God and who I serve.”
“Angel” is a title. In their essence, angels should really be categorized as spirits (Hebrews 1:14), the same way that human souls are spirits. Angels have intellect (Ephesians 3:10) and a will of their own which we see in the devil tempting Eve (Genesis 3:1-5) and Jesus (Matthew 4:1-9; Mark 1:13). Angels, including the devil, cannot read our thoughts, since Solomon confesses to God, “You alone know the hearts of all men” (1 Kings 8:39). The Lutheran theologian Johann Wilhelm Baier (1647-1695) said, “On the hidden thoughts of men, the angels can form only a conjectural opinion based on signs and effects.” Angels are strong (Psalm 103:20; 2 Thessalonians 1:7). They can interact with the physical world, such as when we see the angels pulling Lot and his family from the house in Sodom (Genesis 19:16), when an angel wakes Peter up by striking or kicking him (Acts 12:7), when the angel rolled away the stone at the entrance of Jesus’ tomb (Matthew 28:2), and when the angels ate a meal (bread, calf, curds, and milk) with Abraham and God (Genesis 18:6-8). This eating was not for the angels’ nourishment, but to show the reality of their existence. Osiander’s opinion was that “Men eat and drink from necessity; but the angels are able to consume food in the manner of a flame.”
The primary task of the good angels is to worship God (Isaiah 6:2-3; Revelation 14:6-7). They are present among us in our public worship (1 Corinthians 11:10). They also carry messages for God at the bidding and permission of the Son of God (“ascending and descending on the Son of Man,” John 1:51; Genesis 28:12). They proclaim law and gospel (Zechariah 1:14-15). Thirdly, they serve Christians (“Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” Hebrews 1:14). Fourthly (although this might only be an extension of the third point) they fight unseen battles with the demons on our behalf (Daniel 10:13, 10:20). Fifthly, the angels pray for mankind (Zechariah 1:12), and finally the angels also take part at the death of believers, carrying the soul of the departed Christian to heaven (Luke 16:22).
In this case, Paul was comforted by an angel who brought him a gospel promise. This is the best work for either men or angels. This is the work we do for one another, forgiving one another’s faults whenever they are admitted, and sharing the love of Jesus with the world, beginning with the people we love the most.
Pastor Timothy Smith