Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Thursday, July 12, 2012


The Apostle Paul boards a ship on his way to Rome. He is held prisoner, along with others, by a centurion named Julius. Julius is a kind man who treats Paul with courtesy. They change ships in Alexandria and then go into port at Fair Havens. They wait too much time there; the sea is dangerous at this time of the year. Paul warns them of the “hurt and damage” to come, but the centurion believes the owner of the ship more than Paul’s prophetic words. (This hits me as normal. I don’t think I would listen to a prisoner over the owner of the ship, either.)

So, they leave Fair Havens and set sail again. The wind is blowing softly—perfect conditions for travel.

“Not long after,” a very strong wind, called Euroclydon whips up. (To me, Euroclydon sounds like a European dinosaur! Seriously though, the only named “winds” I know about are tropical storms: hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons. This must have been a whopper!) The ship is caught in the storm. The sailors let it go with the wind. It is tossed with the waves, and the crew decides to lighten the ship. The third day of the storm, everyone was throwing things overboard, even the “tackling” of the ship. The Bible tells us that there were “many days” where they didn’t see the sun or the stars. Can you imagine?

“All hope that we should be saved was then taken away.”  

Paul gets up and stands in the middle of these desperate people and says something that in any other situation would be hilarious: “Be of good cheer; we’re only going to lose the ship.” (My paraphrase.) Yeah, right! This is the good news!

Thankfully, Paul explains by telling them he had seen a vision from God, and God had revealed to him that no one would die, but that the ship would be lost.

The fourteenth night has come. They are close to land. The sailors plan to abandon ship, but Paul tells the centurion and the soldiers that the sailors have to stay on the ship or all will be lost.

This time, they listen. The sailors cut the ship free.

Paul tells them to eat, so they do. They are listening to him again. (It seems strange to me that these people would be fasting fourteen days, but they were. I’m sure they really were “of good cheer” after a meal!) The Bible says there were 276 souls aboard.

The ship breaks up, battered by the waves. The soldiers want to kill the prisoners to keep them from escaping, but the centurion, with Paul in mind, keeps them from it. Everyone either swims or floats on boards from the ship to the land. Not one person loses his life.

Paul’s prophecy from God comes true!

I’m sure all on the ship were thinking, “Why didn’t we listen to Paul in the first place?” If they had, they could have saved themselves from leaving Fair Havens and getting themselves into more than fourteen days of battling the storm, hunger, and fear. They could have wintered there, even if it wasn’t “commodious to winter in.” (The storm couldn’t have been very commodious either!) The ship’s owner would still have a boat. The prisoners could be transferred at a later time, and no one would have gone through the tempest.

Why didn’t they listen in the first place?
            They may not have recognized Paul as a messenger from God.
            They might have simply trusted the guy with the greater riches, the ship’s owner.

We get warnings from God, too. The Bible is full of them. It cautions us about the consequences of sin, yet we don’t always heed. We might leave our Fair Haven for someplace we want to go, not listening to the wise advice of the Word of God. When we get into trouble, we want to “kill” the messenger—not literally, but we’re not happy that we really knew what was right, did things our own way, and are now in a mess. We might even be headed for shipwreck.

The good news is that God is gracious. He can forgive. He provides “a way to escape” with every temptation, and He is a “refuge from the storm.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, Isaiah 25:4)

(You can read the shipwreck story in Acts 27:1-44.)


  1. As always, you are right on target with a meaningful practical message from the Word. Thanks again for sharing the insight God has given you.


Please share your thoughts.