What did God say last?
Heroes are heroes no matter what they are going through. Each of us have storms and situations in our lives; sometimes of our own doing and sometimes out of nowhere. When those storms come our way do we stop doing what we’re supposed to or do we stay the course and keep being who Jesus has called us to be?
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (Acts 27:13-26)
1. What are some of the storms—literal or figurative—that appeared to create a hopeless situation in your life? How did you respond to those situations?
2. How do you think non-Christians view difficulty in life?
3. What did Paul mean by his statement in verse 21?
4. On what basis did Paul encourage the men to keep up their courage (vv. 22-26)? How would you have felt as a sailor on board?
5. What are practical ways we can maintain our courage when facing difficulties?
6. How can such situations be seen as Paul saw them—as opportunities to share the gospel?
7. Compare verse 31 with verse 11. How did the centurion’s feelings about Paul change? About the God Paul served?
8. How did Paul’s words and his example serve to encourage the others? How have you been encouraged by other people’s trust in God’s promises while facing difficulties
What is the greatest pressure situation you’re facing now? How can Paul’s example help you? How might people see Christ through your experience?
What needs can you meet this week that might open the door to spiritual conversations?
27:13-18 When a gentle south wind arose, they started out for Phoenix. That was a mistake. Suddenly the ship was shaken by a violent storm, the dreaded “northeaster.” They were blown south to a small island called Cauda in the middle of the Mediterranean. As the ship came under the shelter of the island, the sailors began to take elaborate measures to ride out the storm. They tied down the lifeboat and ran cables underneath the ship to hold the timbers together. Apparently they put out drift anchors from the stern to slow the progress of the ship as the wind propelled it along. On the second day of the storm, as it intensified, the crew took even more desperate measures. They began to throw the cargo overboard. In all likelihood their cargo was grain. Egypt was the bread-basket of the Roman empire. Alexandrian ships such as theirs usually carried cargoes of grain. If water leaked into a full hold, the grain could swell and burst the timbers of the ship. Dumping the grain would both eliminate that hazard and lighten the ship.
27:19-22 On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard, which probably refers to the main yard, the huge beam that carried the ship’s mainsail. This was a desperate measure. Without a main yard, the ship would not be able to sail. Still, it was better to have no sail than to sink. The storm continued. Everyone went without food. They had no appetite in the tossing seas, especially since they assumed they soon would be drowned. In the midst of the seemingly hopeless situation, Paul offered a word of encouragement. Paul was about to give them even more explicit words from God. They would be well-advised to heed them. He assured his fellow voyagers that they would be delivered. Not a soul would perish. The ship would be lost, he said, but none of them would be harmed.
27:23 Paul explained that an angel of the God to whom He belonged and whom he served had given him a special message in a night vision. God earlier had directed Paul by means of such visions. At Troas, the Lord had called him to a new field of witness through the vision of a Macedonian (16:10). At Corinth in a night vision the Lord assured Paul that He would protect his ministry there (18:9). The Lord again had spoken to Paul as he lay imprisoned in Jerusalem, assuring him that he would be delivered to testify in Rome (23:11).
27:24-26 In the middle of the storm’s turmoil, the Lord again assured Paul he would live to appear before Caesar. God was preserving him for that special witness. Also, everyone aboard the ship would be saved. Paul had trusted the Lord’s promises before. The Lord had never failed him. He had no reason to believe He would fail him now. Paul told his fellow travelers that he had placed his faith in God; he was sure things would turn out just as God had told him. Therefore, they should keep up their courage as well. Paul’s faith was a key to his effective ministry.
27:27-32 Paul’s predictions soon came true. After 14 days of storm, the crew could hear waves crashing on rocks and knew that they were near land. As they took soundings and realized they were sailing into ever more shallow waters, they put out four anchors from the stern to hold the ship and direct it toward the shore. The sailors recognized that the waters were treacherous and decided to abandon ship and make for land in the small lifeboat. They pretended that they were going to put out an anchor from the bow. Paul saw through their ruse and reported it to the centurion, who by then fully trusted Paul. The centurion made sure that the sailors would remain on board to help in the beaching operations; he had his soldiers set the lifeboat adrift.
27:33-36 After two weeks without a decent meal, Paul urged everyone on board to eat some food. God had already warned him that the ship would be lost (27:22); so he knew that no easy course lay ahead and that all on board would need their strength. Paul reminded them of his earlier vision—none of them would be lost. Now Paul gave an even stronger assurance—none would suffer any harm, not even the loss of a hair from his head. Paul was confident that they would be delivered. He set the example himself, being the first to take food. He gave thanks over the food, following the same pattern of blessing so often exemplified by Jesus. He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it before them all. It was the familiar pattern that Jews followed in giving thanks before each meal. Thanking God before the pagans aboard ship was a means for Paul to remind them of the God who was delivering them. When everyone saw Paul’s confidence and hope in God, they all joined in and ate to strengthen themselves.
27:37-38 A large party was on board ship, 276 people in all. Not all were crew. Probably, most were passengers. The Roman world had no passenger vessels. Travelers depended on merchant vessels. Ships such as this cargo vessel often carried large groups of passengers. They obviously had not thrown all the grain overboard on the second day of the storm (27:18). Now they did so, in order to lighten the ship as much as possible for the attempt to beach it.