The Tempest

In Your Bible: Acts 27: 1-40

With his appeal for a verdict from Caesar granted, Governor Festus readied a ship to send Paul to Rome with guards and several other prisoners. Amidst a disastrous storm, a messenger from God encouraged Paul. God can strengthen hearts of those who call on His Name in any circumstance.

Sail for Rome

On their sail they stopped in Sidon where Paul was allowed to go ashore to receive kindness and provision for his needs from friends. The entire journey took many months. In Myra they changed to a grain ship * from Egypt and had 276 people onboard.

This was a larger ship, possibly as long as 140 feet, 36 feet wide, and a draft of 33 feet. With no rudder at the stern as we now have, it was steered by two great paddles from each side – very difficult to manage.

Luke thoroughly documents time frames i.e. noting rulers, feasts, and festivals. In Acts 27:9 NIV he states the challenging storm was just after the Day of Atonement, most likely in early October on our calendar. ** Truly a challenging time to travel by sea!

Paul admonished the crew . . . “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship (Acts 27:10,11 NIV). They sailed into the storm

The Tempest

For days, the storm caused chaos and fear for all onboard. The crew had serious safety tasks:

  • Gird the hull with ropes – to gain strength
  • Place sea anchors – for stability
  • Jettison excess ship tackle and grain – to lighten the load

They were so busy that they failed to eat! This enraged Paul, so he strongly urged all onboard to eat for their own safety and well-being.

Stay in God’s hands

To assure the crew and all onboard, Paul revealed what a messenger of God (an angel) told him . . . “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. So, keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God” (Acts 27:24, 25a NIV).

It was determined by God that Paul should go to Rome. God chose the route and difficulties to be encountered. He encourages all who trust him to know they will also suffer for him. God can strengthen hearts of those who call on His Name in any circumstance.

Prayer: Father, it’s comforting in times of trial to know that you have me in the palm of your hand. You know my upcoming successes and troubles long before I encounter them. I trust You.

Questions: When have you encountered seemingly impossible challenges? Did this build or diminish your trust? Why/how?

* The Daily Study Bible Series, Acts of the Apostles, William Barclay, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1955, p 201.

** Note from John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, Acts 27:9, website

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