Rome, the Unexpected Way
Paul is now on his last “missionary journey” although this time, he is in chains. That doesn’t stop him from sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with everyone he meets on his way to Rome.
Acts 27 reads like a ship’s log, recording the voyage of criminals on their way to Rome to become gladiators in the Colosseum. What a great opportunity this gave Paul to bring the gospel to them.
Winter on the open sea would be downright dangerous. Throughout this voyage the captain, the soldiers, and the sailors depended on their wits alone. Paul looked to God.
Soon enough, Paul’s ship is caught in a wild, tempestuous wind called Euroclydon (a navigational term for a storm out of Europe). To maintain control, they threw overboard everything possible. No one thought they would make it out alive. But it was in the storm that the men heard God’s voice speaking through Paul.
After two weeks of waves and wind, the Lord appeared to Paul and assured him he would make it to Rome. He would stand before Caesar, and God will give him the lives of all who sail with him. So the crew hung on to Paul’s encouragement like a life preserver. They finally made it across the Mediterranean to Malta, south of Sicily. All 276 survived, just as God had promised Paul.
Imagine what it was like for the local people to watch hundreds of desperate people jump off the shipwrecked boat and swim to shore. These locals graciously accepted the strangers and, since it was cold and rainy, they started a big fire to help warm them up.
As they sat on the beach warming themselves and the fire needed more wood, Paul gathered a bundle of sticks and threw them on the fire. He didn’t realize a snake in the sticks grabbed hold of his hand.
When the locals saw the snake hanging off Paul’s hand, they superstitiously thought that meant Paul was a criminal. He had escaped the sea, but justice was catching up with him. Now his hand would certainly swell up and he would die.
When Paul survived unphased, the locals then thought Paul must be a god. Although they were wrong on both counts, it led Paul to an important relationship with Publius, the leader of the island.
Publius’ father was deathly ill. When Paul laid hands on him and asked God to heal him, God answered. Like other apostles, Paul’s ability to heal was the proof what he taught them was true.
For three wonderful months, Paul stays with these new friends on Malta until he boarded a boat for Italy. When they make land, many brothers and sisters in Christ meet them and encouraged Paul in the Lord.
In Rome, Paul has the freedom to live in a house, but he’s always guarded by soldiers. At first, many Jews crowd Paul’s home, listening to him teach through the entire Old Testament—urging them to believe Jesus is Messiah. As always, some believe; others do not. Then Paul takes the good news to the Gentiles, who already are gladly receiving God’s gift of salvation.
The movement of the gospel begun in Jerusalem now is going to the ends of the earth. This book of Acts ends with Paul preaching the Lord Jesus Christ to everyone who will listen. But this record is not complete. The acts of the Holy Spirit continue to work today. The work of the church is a continuing story that will end with the Rapture of God’s church. What we do today in the power of the Holy Spirit will be included in this final record.
God continues to write His story in the lives of those who believe Him even today.