Acts 26 -- 28
When Saul of Tarsus was threatening believers and having them arrested, his friends thought he was wise. However, when he confessed his faith in Jesus Christ as the risen Savior and Messiah, even Festus, the new Roman governor of Judea, said with a loud voice, Paul, you are beside yourself; much learning has made you mad. But Paul said, I am not mad . . . but speak forth the words of truth (Acts 26:24-25). Since Paul had appealed his case to Caesar, Festus placed him in the custody of Julius, a centurion (officer) of Augustus' imperial guard (27:1). Julius was to take Paul to Rome to stand trial before Nero, the Roman Emperor. They set sail, and, after a brief docking at Sidon, continued along the eastern coast of Cyprus. Stormy winds kept them from making much progress. On reaching Fair Havens in Crete (27:8), Paul urged them to stay there during the winter months, warning: I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage; but the majority urged Julius to continue on to Phenice (Phoenix), and there to winter; which is a haven (harbor) of Crete (27:10-12).
Shortly afterwards, furious hurricane winds beat upon them. After two stormy weeks, their ship began to sink off the coast of Melita. Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said . . . be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the Angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar: and God has given you all that sail with you (27:21-24). None of the 276 aboard lost their lives (27:37,44). The inhabitants of Melita showed extraordinary kindness during that winter, and many of them were healed through Paul's ministry (28:7-10). Three months later, they again set sail in an Alexandrian ship which had wintered in Melita and was continuing on to Rome (28:11).
Three days after Paul arrived in Rome, he called together the local Jewish leadership and explained: For the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain. . . . And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified of the Kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the Law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning until evening (28:17,20,23). The Book of Acts closes with Paul preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord (28:31).
At times, our life's voyage may also be filled with violent storms. It may also appear that all hope of our being saved is gone. But there will come a day when the tempests we have weathered will seem insignificant compared to what God accomplished as a result of them. This assurance is one of the great satisfactions of being a Christian. Paul could confidently say: I take pleasure in . . . reproaches . . . in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake (II Corinthians 12:10).
For Acts 28:26-27: See Isa. 6:9-10.
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