In Acts 22, Paul was placed on board a ship to sail to Rome, so that he could stand trial before Caesar. Paul sailed along the coast of Asia, through Cyprus and boarded another ship to Italy. The ship sailed with a lot of difficulty and Paul advised the crew of what he sensed would happen. “saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives”” (Acts 27:10). The Centurion who transported Paul, paid more attention to what the crew had to say that what Paul said. As they were in winter, it was not deemed suitable to remain at the harbour, but to sail to Italy.
As the ship set out at sea, they encountered a storm which carried them along for days. The crew threw cargo and other items overboard in order to lighten the ship. They eventually gave up hope that they would be saved, after being in the storm for days. They were so anxious that no one aboard had anything to eat for days. Paul decided to address the crew and scolded them for not listening to his earlier advise. Nevertheless, he encouraged them that there would be no loss of life, because an angel assured him that he would make it to see Caesar. In addition, God would spare the lives of everyone on board the ship. “So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told” (Acts 27:25).
The ship continued to sail for another fourteen days and the sailors intended to use a boat to escape the ship. Paul warned them that they needed to stay on board in order to live. He also encouraged the men to eat and took bread, gave thanks to God and began to eat. “Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves” (Acts 27:36). Once they had enough to eat, they threw the rest of the wheat overboard. The next day they discovered land and those who could swim were encouraged to jump overboard and swim to shore. The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners because they feared that they would try to escape. The Centurion stopped the soldiers from carrying out their plan, as he wanted to save Paul.
In the end, not one person aboard the ship died, either to the storm, at the shipwreck or at the hands of the soldiers. God kept his word and Paul and the entire crew were spared from the storm. We could say that it would have helped if the men had listened to Paul and not set sail. In any event, God was gracious to spare not only Paul, but everyone on board. Paul’s faith was a witness to them that he served the true and living God. Although a prisoner, Paul spoke with authority and overtime the men listened. They even took caution and remained on board, when they wanted to use a boat to escape. They also followed Paul’s lead and ate in order to maintain their strength.
God kept his word and they were spared from death, but they were required to listen and obey. They lost the ship and their cargo, but every life was spared. The crew had to throw thing overboard that was deemed valuable. They had to choose between saving lives, rather than holding unto material possessions. Isn’t it strange that during times of difficulty, we may be willing to part with material possession, if it means the preservation of life. God was with Paul during the storm which assured him that they would be safe.