The text for this lesson is Acts 27:13–44
- God pours out His love for me by assuring me that He will never leave me or forsake me. Through Jesus’ saving work, I am kept with God forever.
- Law: When suffering comes, I respond in fear and thanklessness.
- Gospel: In the midst of my unbelief, Jesus, my Savior, comes to me, promises to calm my fears, and provides me with whatever is best.
- In Acts 24, Paul is accused of sedition by the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem. He is arrested by Felix and imprisoned for two years before Felix’s successor, Festus, hears his case. Paul, exercising his rights as a Roman citizen, appeals his case to Caesar. The events of Acts 27:13–44 take place while Paul is en route to Rome so that his case can be heard. He is shipwrecked on Malta, a small island in the Mediterranean Sea fifty miles south of Sicily (see 28:1).
- The fact that Paul was a citizen of Rome becomes important in the later chapters of Acts. Because of his citizenship, Paul could not legally be tortured. Also, he had the right to a trial and the right to appeal directly to Caesar. In the apostolic period, Roman citizenship in the outlying provinces was rare. A man could become a citizen in three ways. (1) He could be born a citizen (as was Paul). (2) He could purchase citizenship (as did the tribune in Acts 22). (3) He could be granted citizenship as a reward for some special service to the empire. The Acts 27 account takes place while Paul is traveling from Jerusalem to Rome, where he can appeal the charge of sedition levied against him by the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem.During this trip, a storm arises that lasts for “many days” (v. 20) and threatens to sink the ship on which Paul and his companions are traveling. At the moment when fear and despair are peaking in the hearts of all who are on the ship, an angel appears to Paul. The angel confirms that it is God’s will that Paul appear before Caesar and that God has promised that none who are on Paul’s ship will be harmed.
On the last night aboard ship, Paul encourages everyone to eat. We read that before he distributed the food to the passengers, Paul “took bread” and gave “thanks to God in the presence of all” (v. 35). After this, the ship is dismantled, and its passengers float to shore on planks and pieces of debris.
God’s gracious provision is one important theme that runs through this account. The Lord uses the storm and the resulting shipwreck to accomplish His good purposes. Without the events of this voyage, the people on the ship would not have heard about God’s promise to preserve their lives. Nevertheless, God still sees to it that Paul will have the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel before Nero Caesar.
We also are given a wonderful example of giving thanks to God, even in the worst of circumstances. Though it appears to the crew that they are all going to die, when they eat their final meal on the ship, Paul thanks God for providing the food they are about to share.
Finally, we see in this text that God is faithful and keeps His promises. Even more significant, God’s promises are for everyone, even those who do not believe. God’s promise is for Paul, his friends, and even the Roman soldiers on the ship. All are saved from death. All are brought safely to the shore of the island. Jesus is for everyone. His blood covers them all, and His desire is for all of them to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.