Sermons

Summary:  God’s favour surpasses all boundaries  God’s wisdom surpasses the wisdom of the world  God’s timing surpasses human comprehension  God’s purpose for our lives surpasses our imagination

A Study on Acts 27

It is a familiar chapter that talks about the shipwreck of Paul.

As we know, Paul undertook three missionary journeys in his lifetime. After Paul had returned to Jerusalem from his third missionary journey he was arrested and had to face charges before the Roman authorities. Since Paul was a Roman citizen, he demanded that he be tried before Caesar.

In Acts 27, he was being taken to Italy in Rome by a ship. So Paul was travelling in a ship from Caesarea to Rome. He is being taken to Italy in Rome as a prisoner. This can be considered the fourth missionary journey of Paul. And this would be his last journey as Paul would soon die as a martyr.

This is different from the other missionary journeys of Paul. In a sense, the other journeys were Paul’s choice. He was going in all freedom to preach the gospel. But not so this time. He is now a prisoner. He really doesn’t know the outcome of his trial. An unpredictable future laid ahead of him.

Along with Paul there were 276 people in the ship. And as we know, God delivered them all from the shipwreck. But the lesson for us is how God works in our lives in the midst of all the stormy situation we face or the experiences we go through.

There are four important lessons about God that we can learn through this stormy experience that Paul faced. We shall unfold them one by one.

1. GOD’S FAVOUR SURPASSES ALL BOUNDARIES

27:1-3 ¬ – “When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment.

We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us.

The next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius, in kindness to Paul, allowed him to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs.”

These three verses are easy to ignore, because they are full of names - names of places and names of men - but they have something important to tell us. These verses point to the favour of God that was so extensively available for Paul in the midst of the hardships that he was going through.

Every individual mentioned here were not there by chance. You will find that God had specially placed them to favour Paul.

1. Julius

Who is this Julius? We do not know except that he was a centurion of the Roman regiment. But he didn’t not appear there all of the sudden. God had placed him there at that time to help Paul. Scripture says he was kind to Paul. I think he showed unusual kindness to Paul. A Roman centurion showing kindness to prisoner is rather noteworthy. Verse 3 tells us that he allowed Paul to go to his friends in Sidon. The fact that Julius showed unusual kindness is a sign of God’s favour upon Paul. So many other prisoners were along with Paul in the ship, but I am not sure if all of them got the same treatment.

2. Friends at Sidon

The ship’s first stop was at Sidon. Paul was given permission to meet his friends there. Who were those friends?

Sidon was a city in ancient Phoenicia. Although there is no evidence of Paul having started the church there, a church probably began shortly after Stephen’s death. We read about that in Acts 11:19.

Those who were scattered abroad by the oppression that arose about Stephen, consequently traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. They spoke the word to Jews only, although some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene who came to Antioch, spoke to the Greeks, preaching the Lord Jesus. (Acts 11:19-20).

Paul had visited the churches in the area at least twice, and probably knew many of the disciples in Sidon. Acts 15:3 - The church sent them on their way, and as they travelled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted.

Acts 21:7 - We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went on board and set sail.

There didn’t just happen to be a group of believers in Sidon who was ready to help Paul, God placed them there. God had planned it a long way back. Paul was in a hopeless, lonely situation and at this juncture, God extends his favour to him through these people at Sidon.

3. Luke

The use of the pronoun ‘WE’ in vs 2 indicates Luke’s presence in the ship, as we is the author the book. Luke apparently was with Paul during the entire journey. That is why he is able to give minute details with such precision. He talks of the wind directions, efforts they take, the names of place with such an accuracy, because he personally witnessed everything.

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