An alternate route

Paul’s determination to reach Rome in his journey across the continents of Asia and Europe was somewhat hindered, but also helped by his imprisonment in Cesarea. Because he was a Roman citizen, Paul was able to appeal to Caesar and set in motion his transport to the capital of the Roman Empire (Acts 25:12). After sharing his testimony with King Agrippa and his sister Bernice, Paul was finally sent to Rome by way of a military escort. It says in Acts 27:1-2, “And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Agustus’ band. And entering a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedomian of Thessalonica, being with us.”

Apparently, Paul was allowed to take at least two of his traveling companions with him when he was taken to Rome. Aristarchus is identified in Acts 19:29 and 20:4 as a Macedonian of Thessalonica that accompanied Paul on his third missionary journey. Luke, the author of the book of Acts indicated he went with Paul to Rome by using the pronoun we when he said “we should sail” in Acts 27:1. Even though Paul was a prisoner, he was treated with respect, perhaps because of his Roman citizenship. It says in Acts 27:3, “And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.”

The timing of Paul’s voyage was an issue because Luke tells us, “And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary” (Acts 27:4). The prevailing winds in the summer were westernly making a 1000 plus mile trip to Rome very easy, but the contrary winds caused their journey to become nearly impossible. Paul’s guard decided to change their route and sail directly to Rome from Alexandria (Acts 27:6). Paul told his captors, “Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives” (Acts 27:10). The centurion responsible for transporting the prisoners to Rome ignored Paul’s warning and in spite of their effort to get to Rome via an alternate route, they ran into a typhoon-like, east-northeast wind, which drove the ship away from their destination (note on Acts 27:14).

Luke tells us the situation became desperate “when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was taken away” (Acts 27:20). Paul’s confidence was evident when he “stood in the midst of them and said, ‘Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss'” (Acts 27:21, NKJV). Afterward, Paul reassured everyone by stating, “For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me” (Acts 27:23-25, NKJV).

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