Rome or Bust (Acts 27)

Rome or Bust (Acts 27)


  • Paul’s 3MJ ended abruptly with his unlawful arrest. Now, more than two years later, he is still in custody awaiting a hearing before Nero in Rome.
  • That hearing as apparently been granted.

Read Acts 27

  • The length of this account points to its significance for Luke.
  • God doesn’t fulfill his promise to Paul in predictable fashion.
  • We can better understand an episode like this when it happens to someone like Jonah. In his case, the storm was a means of correcting a wayward prophet. But that doesn’t describe Paul. He never wavered from his commission or his evangelistic zeal. Even after two years of imprisonment and delay!
  • Once again, Paul gives us an example of faithfulness despite repeated suffering.
  • Providence is rarely predictable, but it always works all things for our good.
    1. The Voice of Experience (1-12)
    2. The Voice of Confidence (13-38)
    3. The Voice of Providence (39-44)

The Voice of Experience (1-12)

  • Who?
    • Paul Most experienced? Traveled over 3,000mi!
    • Luke (“we”) Detailed record.
    • Aristarchus Paul’s traveling companion (19:29; Col. 4:10; Philem. 24).
    • Other prisoners future participants in the Colosseum?
    • Julius Kind to Paul (eventually trusting).
  • When?
    • “the Fast” (Day of Atonement), late Sep / early Oct.
    • Sea closed mid-Nov.
  • What?
    • Dangerous weather threatens shipwreck (already experienced 3, 2 Cor. 11:25-26).
    • The centurion yielded to the pilot and the owner (11).
  • Where?
    • Fair Havens not suitable for wintering,
    • Phoenix “the majority” wanted to reach the larger harbor (12).
  • Paul’s leadership skills assert themselves even where he is one of three Christians among a crowd of 276 prisoners, soldiers, and crew members.
  • His influence not forced, but a reflection of his consistent character.
  • Do you trust God’s sovereign will wherever you are and whoever you’re with?
  • WSC Q.11: “God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions.”
  • William Cowper “God Moves In A Mysterious Way” ,

“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face. His purposes will ripen fast, Unfolding every hour; The bud may have a bitter taste, But sweet will be the flower.”

Why was Paul able to speak with such confidence?

The Voice of Confidence (13-38)

  • Soon after setting sail the “north-easter” blew them off course (13-15).
  • The first three days (16-19):
    1. Brought the lifeboat in and secured it. Lowered the “gear” to slowly drift.
    2. Got rid of cargo. Financial loss for everyone.
    3. Got rid of essential tackle.
  • The next eleven days (20):
    • Ruthless storm > those onboard despaired of ever being rescued (including Luke!).
    • Unable to eat < fear/seasickness (21a), Paul’s word of hope:
      • Not self-vindicating, but accuracy lends credence to future words (21b).
      • Shipwreck, but no deaths (22-26).
  • Trusting Paul’s judgment (27-38) Praying, No escaping, eating.
  • Paul’s proven leadership among the community gave him a place to confidently speak an encouragement to them.
  • His integration rather than segregation led to opportunity.
  • His evangelistic speech.
  • The wording “granted to you” (24) indicates that Paul had been praying for the survival of everyone on board.
  • Paul’s prayer before they ate also served as a not-so-subtle witness.

Johnson, “The depth of your trust in God’s promises is shown not when you enjoy smooth sailing on calm seas, but when the hurricane howls, the breakers crash, and those around you lose all hope. Faith grows strong as you lean on God in tough times, and find him faithful (James 1:2-3).”

Paul’s confidence ultimately came from his trust in…

The Voice of Providence (39-44)

  • After cutting anchors, they tried to navigate towards a beach. But striking a reef/sandbar prevents further movement (40-41).
  • The soldiers plan on killing the prisoners to prevent their escape (42), but the centurion thwarts their plans in order to protect Paul (43).
  • Those who could swim were ordered to jump and everyone else was instructed to hold onto something.
  • In the end, the crew of 276 all arrive safely on land.

Thomas, “I attended a funeral of a young Christian woman who had tragically drowned. The preacher chose as his text Isaiah 43:1-7, which includes the words: ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you’ (Isa. 43:2). She had not been promised that her life would be spared the watery ordeal. Paul had been promised that he would be spared to live on this earth; this young woman, on the others hand, had been promised that she would be spared to live a life in heaven.”

  • Believing in providence doesn’t mean you will always understand why something is happening.
  • In fact, there will be times when believers despair of their circumstances (Psalm 77).
  • Providence doesn’t always provide answers, but it never fails to provide hope!

The question isn’t, “What will I go through?” but “Who will go with me?”


  • Paul spoke with the voice of experience which gave him confidence to provide a word of hope.
  • That was only possible because Paul trusted in God’s providence completely, even when the circumstances might have left many questions unanswered.
  • If there is one act of providence that should consistently amaze us, it is that God the Father would send His perfectly obedient Son to be crucified in our place.
  • “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).
  • Is that your hope?