Finally Paul Arrives at Rome

by Dr. Samuel Lee   09/10/2000     0 reads


Acts 27:1-28:31

Key Verse: 28:20b

 “It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.”


1.  Review the Lord's leading in Paul's life that gave him assurance

  that he would go to Rome to testify to Jesus. (19:21; 22:21; 23:11;

  Ro 1:10,11)

2.  Read verses 1-12. Trace their journey to Fair Havens. What advice

  did Paul give the centurion?  Read verses 13-20. How were they

  deceived by a gentle wind? Why did they give up hope?

3.  Read verses 21-26. Why was Paul not afraid? How did he encourage

  others?  Read verses 27-32. What crisis occurred? How did Paul deal

  with it? Contrast his attitude with that of the officers in


4.  Read verses 33-34. How did Paul show himself to be the leader? Why

  was this important? How did they all get ashore? (33-44)

5.  Read 28:1-10. What happened on Malta? How did God turn an adverse

  situation into an opportunity for fruitful ministry? (See Mark

  16:18) Read 28:11-16. Describe the last leg of the journey.

6.  Read 28:17-20. What was Paul's initial testimony to the Jews in

  Rome? What did he mean by "because of the hope of Israel"? (Ex

  19:4-6) What were the key points of his Bible teaching? (21-23)

7.  Read 28:24-31. How did the Jews respond to his teaching? How did

  Paul view their rejection? (Isa 6:9-10) How did God use it to open

  a wider door? Describe Paul's ministry in Rome.



Acts 27:1-28:31

Key Verse: 28:20b

 “It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.”

  Paul, after meeting the Risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, was

converted from Judaism to Christianity. Next he spent three years in

Arabia preparing himself to be a servant of God. Then he spent six

years at Tarsus. He was at Antioch intermittently for two or three

years. Then he traveled over Asia Minor and Greece for about 15 years.

And he spent three years in prison in Caesarea before going to Rome.

Paul had experienced many vicissitudes in his short pilgrimage.

  Today's passage deals with Paul's voyage to Rome and his grassroots

work in Rome. Why did Paul go to Rome? As we have studied, it was out

of his obedience to his Lord Jesus. Initially, Paul had no idea to go

to Rome. But after seeing the vision of the Macedonian begging him to

come to help him, Paul realized that God was leading him to work in

European countries, and finally, to Rome. So he said in 19:21b, "After

I have been there, I must visit Rome also." But Paul's way of going to

Rome was not easy. When he visited Jerusalem to report about the great

work of God among the Gentiles, the Jews stirred up people, seized him,

and beat him up simply because Paul preached the gospel of Jesus to the

Gentiles whom they did not like. Then the commander of the Roman army

arrested him to prevent a possible riot. Thus he was imprisoned for

three long years in Caesarea before going to Rome. Paul was fearful

from time to time. But the Lord Jesus visited him and renewed his

spirit (23:11).

  Paul was very obedient to his Lord Jesus because of God's grace to

him. So he knew what his Lord Jesus wanted him to do (22:21; 23:11) and

he was always willing to do whatever the Lord wanted to be done.

Whenever the name "Jesus" came across his mind, he was greatly

strengthened and overjoyed. Paul was happy to fulfill his Lord Jesus'

will. When he stayed at Corinth for three months, he wrote Romans, the

most important book in the New Testament next to the Gospels. Paul

really wanted to go to Rome to impart the secrets of the gospel.

Romans 1:10,11 says, " my prayers at all times; and I pray that

now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to

make you strong...." Finally, Paul was able to go to Rome as a

missionary in chains.

I. Paul's voyage to Rome (27:1-44)

  It was decided that Paul stand trial before Caesar. So Paul and

some other prisoners who were to be sent to Rome were handed over to a

centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment. At last

Paul embarked on his final journey. His voyage to Rome required three

ships: one from Caesarea to Myra (27:1-5); another from Myra to Malta

(27:6-28:10); another from Malta to Puteoli (28:11-13). Paul boarded a

ship with other prisoners. They say that it was a cargo ship carrying

corn. The ship put out to sea; it dropped by Sidon and passed to the

lee of Cyprus and landed at Myra. There the centurion found an

Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy and put the people on board. But the

voyage was not smooth.  Let's see how Paul helped others when the

voyage became dangerous.

First, Paul's advice was ignored (27:9-20). Paul had much experience in

sea travel.  He knew that it was late in the year to travel because it

was after the Fast. The Fast was the Day of Atonement, about the middle

of September. From that time on, navigation on the Mediterranean Sea

was dangerous. So Paul warned them:  "Men, I can see that our voyage is

going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to

our own lives also" (10). What was the response of the centurion in

charge of the ship? Instead of listening to what Paul said, he followed

the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship (11). It was

natural for him to listen to the advice of the pilot, who was a skilled

professional. But the centurion had no insight to see why they wanted

to sail on; he did not figure out their motive in wanting to leave Fair

Havens; the sailors thought it was too small a town to winter in,

because there they could not enjoy wild pleasures as sailors.

  When they put out to sea, a gentle south wind began to blow, and

they thought they had obtained what they wanted. So they sailed along,

expecting that they could winter in a larger city where they could

enjoy the wild life of sailors.  Before long, a wind of hurricane force

began to strike the ship. The ship was caught by the storm and could

not head into the wind; so they gave way to it and were driven along

(27:15). They took such a violent battering from the storm that the

next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day,

they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands. When

neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued

raging, they finally gave up all hope of being saved (27:18-20).

Second, Paul said, "Do not be afraid" (27:21-26). After the men had

gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said:

"Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you

would have spared yourselves this damage and loss." After saying this,

Paul urged them to keep up their courage, because not one of them would

be lost; only the ship would be destroyed.  How could Paul say this? It

was because he knew well about winter weather through many journeys;

moreover, Paul knew why they were in for a disaster. Paul saw the

nature of the sailors who had ventured out so as to spend a

pleasure-seeking winter in a bigger city. Most of all, Paul had the

word of his Lord Jesus.  So he encouraged the crew and prisoners and

all others in the ship. Look at verses 23-25. "Last night an angel of

the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, 'Do not

be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has

graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.' So keep up

your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as

he told me."

  How easy it is for us to be deceived by a gentle wind, ignoring the

fact that at any time a wind storm can arise in our voyage of life! We

are accustomed to listen to the advice of a skilled man and

unconditionally reject the advice of a spiritual man like Paul. But it

is foolish for us to depend on science only, for it has a great

limitation. Science cannot go beyond science. Therefore, though it may

seem stupid, we must listen to the advice of a spiritual man, who can

be a true help in the storms of life! Spiritual men are those who have

the word of God, and who are courageous during storms; only they can

help those troubled by storms.

Third, Paul said, "Eat" (27:27-38). On the fourteenth night the sailors

sensed they were approaching land. They were afraid that the ship would

be dashed against the rocks. So the sailors attempted to escape by

lifeboats, abandoning the passengers. Paul said, "Unless these men stay

with the ship, you cannot be saved" (31b).  So the soldiers cut the

ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away. What did Paul do

next? "Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. 'For the last

fourteen days,' he said, 'you have been in constant suspense and have

gone without food--you haven't eaten anything. Now I urge you to take

some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single

hair from his head.' After he said this, he took some bread and gave

thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat.

They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves." Paul had faith

that overcomes the situation because he had God's word in his heart.

Fourth, God spared Paul's life (27:39-44). When daylight came, they

were getting ready to run the ship aground. So they cut loose the

anchors. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the

beach. But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck

fast and would not move. "The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to

prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping" (42). What

happened next? The centurion wanted to spare Paul's life and kept them

from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump

overboard first and get to land. They did so. The rest got on planks or

on pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely

(43-44). Here we learn God was with Paul even in the shipwreck.

II. Paul on the island of Malta (28:1-10)

First, Paul, a practical man. Generally great men try hard to look

dignified and austere. They want to say to others, "Do this and do

that." But Paul was different; he was a great man, but he was really a

practical man. Look at 28:1. "Once safely on shore, we found out that

the island was called Malta." The islanders showed them unusual

kindness. They built a fire and welcomed them. It was lucky for them

that the islanders were not savage people. After being in command

during the shipwreck, Paul could have taken a rest. But he did not.

Though he was such a great man, he was always ready to be useful in the

smallest thing; he was diligently gathering a pile of brushwood for the

campfire so that others could warm themselves. Only little men turn up

their noses at little tasks. Great men are faithful in small tasks.

Paul was indeed a great man who could gather a pile of brushwood. We

remember the words of our Lord Jesus, "Well done, good and faithful

servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in

charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness" (Mt


  Paul was also a cool man. When Paul put a pile of brushwood on the

fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand.

Paul could have been shocked and cried out for help. But he did not. He

was cool and unexcited. "When the islanders saw the snake hanging from

his hand, they said to each other, 'This man must be a murderer; for

though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.'"

At this embarrassing moment, what did Paul do? Look at verse 5. "But

Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects."

What was the people's response? The people expected him to swell up or

suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing

unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god

(6). If Paul had died on account of the viper, his hope to go to Rome

would have been stopped.  If Paul had not been able to go to Rome, he

would not have been able to write his prison Epistles--Ephesians,

Philippians, Colossians and Philemon--which are still living in the

hearts of Jesus' people. But God was with him. And Paul also believed

that God was with him. So he could be a "cool man." Through this event

we remember Mark 16:18, which says, "...they will pick up snakes with

their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them

at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get


Second, Paul, a healer. Paul's people were 276 in number (27:37). How

they would supply their needs while waiting for another ship going to

Rome was a question.  In this situation God helped Paul to heal the

father of the chief official of the island. When Paul healed him, they

honored Paul's people in many ways. They supplied all their needs for a

long three month's time. In addition, when they were ready to sail,

they furnished them with all the supplies they needed.

III. Finally Paul arrived at Rome (28:11-31)

  After three months Paul and his people put out to sea and boarded a

ship of Alexandria with a figurehead of the twin gods, Castor and

Pollux. They arrived first at Rhegium, next at Puteoli. There Paul met

the brothers who came to Puteoli to greet him. At the sight of these

men, Paul thanked God and was encouraged, realizing that God was with

him as he had promised. Finally Paul arrived at Rome.  When they got to

Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him

(16). What did Paul do when he arrived at Rome?

First, Paul said, "It is because of the hope of Israel" (28:17-22).

Three days later they called together the leaders of the Jews. "When

they had assembled, Paul said to them: 'My brothers, although I have

done nothing against our people or against the customs of our

ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans.

They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of

any crime deserving death. But when the Jews objected, I was compelled

to appeal to Caesar--not that I had any charge to bring against my own

people. For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It

is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain'"

(17-20). Paul did his best to explain to his people why he came to Rome

in chains. It was because of the hope of Israel. The hope of Israel is

well explained in Exodus 19:5,6: "Now if you obey me fully and keep my

covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.

Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of

priests and a holy nation." Peter also knew the hope of Israel well and

said in 1 Peter 2:9, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood,

a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the

praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful

light." The hope of Israel was the hope of God for his chosen people

Israel. God wanted to make his people a priestly nation and a light for

the Gentiles. Humanly speaking, Romans had security and peace. But from

God's point of view, they were living under the rule of Satan. God sent

Paul to bring them from darkness to the marvelous light of Jesus; God

wanted to give them true security and true peace. What was the response

of the Jewish brothers to Paul? They said they had not heard anything

about him and that they wanted to hear his views, for they knew that

people everywhere were talking against the sect of the Nazarene Jesus.

Second, Paul taught them the Bible (28:23-31). Many people made

appointments to study the Bible at the place where Paul stayed. From

morning until evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of

God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and

from the Prophets. Here we learn the key points of Paul's Bible

teaching were the kingdom of God and that Jesus is the Son of God.

  How did they respond? Some believed, but most of them rejected his

teaching. Paul was greatly discouraged. But he was comforted by the

words of prophecy of Isaiah 6:9,10. The people heard the good news of

Jesus. But they intentionally rejected it and remained in sin. Because

of the rejection of the Jews in Rome, the word of God began to spread

to the Gentiles (Ro 11:11).

  It was indeed a discouraging situation to Paul. But Paul overcame

discouragement in the realization of the characteristics of God's work

and history.  In God's work it always seems that there are only a few

who believe the gospel of Jesus, and among these few, some give up the

life of faith and defect, and many reject the gospel of Jesus

intentionally and publicly. But as history attests, though it is indeed

unbelievable, the church of Jesus has conquered the whole world. Paul,

who had a sense of God's work and history, said in 28:28, "Therefore I

want you to know that God's salvation has been sent to the Gentiles,

and they will listen!" So many people rejected his teaching. But Paul

believed that, in the end, they would listen and the whole world would

be saved. Because of his faith in God's work and history, Paul kept on

teaching the Bible to people in his own rented house. Most likely, Paul

worked part time as a tentmaker and supported himself. Even though his

teaching seemed to be in vain, Paul was full of spirit.  Verse 31 says,

"Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught

about the Lord Jesus Christ."

  In this passage we learn that one person Paul's faith was very

important.  Because of his faith 276 members were saved in the

shipwreck. Because of one person Paul's faith, the work of God at Rome

was going on. Most importantly, God could conquer the Roman world

because there was Paul who had faith in his word. Sometimes we are

discouraged because the work of God does not grow as we expect it to.

But visible work is not so important. The visible work of God is always

discouraging, but God is fulfilling the work of world salvation

according to his own time schedule. It was possible for Paul to keep on

doing God's work when he remembered God's grace and God's great purpose

for him. Most importantly, Paul was willing to fulfill God's will, that

through Roman roads the whole world might be evangelized by the gospel

of Jesus. Paul was happy to see God's salvation work fulfilled through

him if God was willing. Because of the hope of Israel Paul came to Rome

as a missionary in chains.

  St. Luke did not record how Paul died, for though he died, the work

he did is still going on through those who know God's grace through our

Lord Jesus.  May God help us realize that God has a great hope in each

of us.