Devotion 9-5-16

Acts 27:1-12

When it was decided that we were to sail for Italy, they transferred Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort, named Julius. 2Embarking on a ship of Adramyttium that was about to set sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. 3The next day we put in at Sidon; and Julius treated Paul kindly, and allowed him to go to his friends to be cared for. 4Putting out to sea from there, we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us. 5After we had sailed across the sea that is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. 6There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship bound for Italy and put us on board. 7We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind was against us, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. 8Sailing past it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea. 9Since much time had been lost and sailing was now dangerous, because even the Fast had already gone by, Paul advised them, 10saying, “Sirs, I can see that the voyage will be with danger and much heavy loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” 11But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said.

12Since the harbor was not suitable for spending the winter, the majority was in favor of putting to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, where they could spend the winter. It was a harbor of Crete, facing southwest and northwest.

It is decided, Paul will be sent to Rome. He is assigned, along with other prisoners, to a centurion named Julius, who will prove to be a good man. They leave Caesarea on a merchant ship that is sailing up the coast of Asia. Paul’s companions, at least Luke and Aristarchus, go along. If you look back at Acts 21:29, you will find that Aristarchus was one of Paul’s companions who was dragged into the arena during the riot at Ephesus. He is, apparently, a loyal friend; he is now accompanying Paul across the world, to Rome. How many of us would go with a friend who is going to jail half-way around the world? Luke gives us a great deal of detail about this journey, writing from first-hand experience (note the “we”). At Sidon, Julius treated Paul kindly, and allowed his friends to care for him.

From Sidon, the little ship sailed slowly for a number of days, the winds being against them. Eventually, they came to a port called Myra in Lycia, where the centurion found another ship, one from Alexandria, that was bound for Italy. Remember, now, who is on board at this time – there is the ship’s crew, the soldiers who accompany Julius to guard the prisoners, the prisoners along with Paul, and at least two of Paul’s companions. This in addition to any other passengers and merchants who are along – the captain, the pilot, and the ship’s owner.

Again the voyage is delayed by poor winds and slow sailing, the ship arriving with difficulty at a port on Crete called Fair Havens. Sailing in this part of the Mediterranean generally ceased in the winter months, the winds being fierce and storms frequent. It has passed the autumn fast of Yom Kippur, and Paul warns that it is too late in the year to continue this voyage. He suggests that they winter where they are, saying that continuing would bring danger and heavy loss, not only of cargo and ship, but of lives. But the pilot and the owner of the ship wish to go on, considering that harbor unsuitable for staying the winter, and plan to reach Phoenix, at the Western end of Crete. Somehow, I am reminded of the White Star Lines owner on board the Titanic, insisting that the ship go full steam ahead into the field of icebergs!

The little ship sails on a moderate south wind, staying close to shore – and the story continues.

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