We're almost through Acts. Isn't that a shame? It gets really exciting sometimes!
Acts 27--Paul's voyage to Rome
Suddenly, there's a "we" in the story again. It seems odd at this point to note that "we" are with Paul, when he had seemed to be on his own through all the abuse and trials. Maybe it all works out, though, as apparently, people are allowed to accompany Paul to Rome. I'm pretty sure the police don't allow prisoners to have friends with them when they're extradited somewhere today, or to stop off and visit friends along the way. I know that prisoners had to have people bring them food and care for them, but I have a hard time envisioning what prison must have been like in that culture.
So, they get on a boat. In verse 11, I can't blame the centurion for believing the captain of the boat over Paul, can you? Was Paul being a jerk here, or are we to understand that he is led by the Spirit? I guess we should probably assume the latter, since we know that the Spirit's leading is a pretty significant theme in the book of Acts. I should also probably be a little more charitable toward Paul. I mean, he is, after all, the prime apostle that we in the Western church attribute our theology and doctrine to...
Anyway, Paul is right and the ship doesn't fare well. That was one serious storm, if they couldn't see the sun or the moon for "many days"! And then in verse 21, Paul starts talking to them all, telling them what is ultimately good news, but it doesn't sound that great, to start with. I wonder how they received this prophecy from a prisoner. They've been in this storm for untold time; they threw out the cargo and the gear; they haven't eaten for days. What did they all think of Paul??
I like verse 29: "they hurled out four anchors from the stern and began to pray for daylight"--I bet they did!!
In verse 31, Paul tells the centurion that "Unless they stay in the ship, you can't be saved." What does it mean that the soldiers have to stay in the ship in order for the centurion to be saved? Isn't that what the pronouns are saying here? That's really interesting...
We learn in verses 33-35 that they did have food. They didn't throw it all overboard until after Paul told them to eat something and then fed them. We might assume that the way they broke bread indicates that they had communion, but is that really a reasonable assumption to make, with a group of people who undoubtedly were of mixed faiths? It may be code for having communion, and it probably did remind Paul of times he had shared meals with groups of believers, but it may not have been communion, as we think of it.
So, they all manage to survive, but the soldiers want to kill the prisoners. Say what?! This is a crazy story! At least we are led to believe the centurion was a decent guy. What a long, strange trip, eh?