As Paul sets sail for Rome the opening verses of Acts 27 set the scene for the dramatic events that will unfold as the narrative develops. Although held in the custody of the Roman authorities, this is a journey Paul has instigated by making an appeal to the Emperor’s tribunal. Paul is in prison not because of any crimes he has committed but because the chief priests and the elders of the Jews had points of disagreement with him. The local authorities realise the nonsense of Paul’s imprisonment but it’s too late as has he has already made his appeal to the Emperor.
Verses 1 to 8 of Acts 27 give us the facts as Paul sets out on this journey.
Although Paul is travelling as someone in the custody of the Roman authorities, he is not like the other prisoners. They would be condemned men on their way to face death in the arena. Paul has acquaintances on board, either travelling undercover as his slaves or as a paying passenger and a ship’s doctor. The centurion charged with this prisoner transfer recognises Paul’s status and is perhaps interested in his message so cuts him some slack. The detail of the route and mention of the ships taken makes it easy for us to plot on a map and appreciate the extent of this journey. The reporting of the wind conditions being against them hints of what is to come and emphasises that even on the first stage of this voyage to Rome it is no pleasant Mediterranean cruise.
Journeying is a common Biblical theme. In these verses we are reminded that we may be able to influence aspects of our life experience and have the support of those around us but we are not in control. Sometimes we have to just go with it, face the challenges and make the best of it especially when we are unsure or anxious about where this journey will take us.
Paul embarks on this journey with confidence as he has already disclosed in Acts 26 verse 22; “to this day I have had help from God”.