On to Rome, Just as God Said
Paul had appealed to Caesar, so to Caesar he would go, which is exactly what the Lord said to him the night after his first interview before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem at least two years before: “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome” (23:11).
Acts 27 is the account of that voyage across the Mediterranean Sea from Caesarea along the coast of Palestine all the way to Rome. We instantly notice the return of “we” in verse one indicating that Luke is also along for the ride. We left him in Jerusalem in 21:18 and are unsure where he was those two years Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea (perhaps he was gathering materials for his Gospel and Acts). But he has returned again and though some might find this chapter rather dull, Luke truly outdoes himself as an historian who pays attention to detail. New Testament scholar, F. F. Bruce, writes: “[Acts 27] has long been acknowledged as ‘one of the most instructive documents for the knowledge of ancient seamanship’” (NICNT, 474). And though I have not read the book, Bruce acknowledges one, James Smith, in his book, The Voyage and the Shipwreck of St. Paul, who, as an experienced yachtsman and classical scholar, was able to verify the accuracy of Luke’s account across the Mediterranean, once again showing us the integrity of Scripture even to the smallest details (Ibid., 475-76).
But our concern is what God would show us here, for even in what seems to us to be an insignificant passage, God still speaks, for He speaks to us through all of His word. The first thing I would like to point out is Paul’s courage and level-headedness when all around him, including the experienced sailors, were giving themselves up for lost. It is a mark of a mature Christian to keep a calm demeanor and sober presence. Why? Because the Christian trusts in a God who is greater than the storm. Now this does not mean that all will turn out well. Paul knew it would only because God had revealed to him that He was sending him to Rome. But the Christian always places himself in God’s gracious hands, no matter what happens. And this is why he can remain calm in every circumstance. Second, the fact that God revealed to Paul His plan did not mean that Paul was to do nothing. On two occasions, he encouraged the men, and on another, informed the centurion not to let the sailors leave the boat. In other words, God’s providence establishes our freedom of will; it does not exclude it. And finally, God will have His way; Paul will get to Rome.