When the time came, we set sail for Italy. Paul and several other prisoners were placed in the custody of a Roman officer named Julius, a captain of the Imperial Regiment. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was also with us. We left on a ship whose home port was Adramyttium on the northwest coast of the province of Asia; it was scheduled to make several stops at ports along the coast of the province. The next day when we docked at Sidon, Julius was very kind to Paul and let him go ashore to visit with friends so they could provide for his needs. Putting out to sea from there, we encountered strong headwinds that made it difficult to keep the ship on course, so we sailed north of Cyprus between the island and the mainland. Keeping to the open sea, we passed along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, landing at Myra, in the province of Lycia. There the commanding officer found an Egyptian ship from Alexandria that was bound for Italy, and he put us on board. We had several days of slow sailing, and after great difficulty we finally neared Cnidus. But the wind was against us, so we sailed across to Crete and along the sheltered coast of the island, past the cape of Salmone. We struggled along the coast with great difficulty and finally arrived at Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea. We had lost a lot of time. The weather was becoming dangerous for sea travel because it was so late in the fall, and Paul spoke to the ship’s officers about it. “Men,” he said, “I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on—shipwreck, loss of cargo, and danger to our lives as well.” But the officer in charge of the prisoners listened more to the ship’s captain and the owner than to Paul. And since Fair Havens was an exposed harbor—a poor place to spend the winter—most of the crew wanted to go on to Phoenix, farther up the coast of Crete, and spend the winter there. Phoenix was a good harbor with only a southwest and northwest exposure.
(Acts of the Apostles 27:1-12 NLT)
Neither Felix, Festus, or Agrippa could find lawful reason for Paul's detainment, but, because Paul had appealed to Caesar, they had to forward hm in his journey to Rome where the emperor's palace was. (See Acts 26:30-32). Here in chapter 27, Paul, and other prisoners, were put aboard ship to make the voyage to Rome, Italy. The voyage was on a ship with a Roman Centurion (one who is over 100 soldiers) from Caesars own royal regiment, named Julius. Caesar is a title, not a name. It represents the Roman Emperor. Stops were made along the way and Paul was allowed, by the commander's permission, to freely visit friends and family in Sidon of Syria (now Lebanon). As they voyaged Northwest in the Mediterranean, they passed between the large island of Cyprus and the mainland of Asia Minor (Turkey today). Continuing west, they came to a port at Myra, Lycia (Western Asia Minor). There, the commander found a ship from Alexandria, Egypt that was in Route to Italy. This was a large ship because we read later in the chapter that there were 276 passengers (verse 37). The next stop, as the winds drove them, was on the island named Crete. There they landed in Fair Havens port. This was not, normally, the best place to stop for the winter so the decision was made, against Paul's advice, to go a bit further west to Phoenix, Crete, and there winter.
We will step into the rest of the story tomorrow. The suspense only thickens.
When we understand the tremendous hardship that has been endured for the Gospel, we are left only to cower in humility as we contemplate the price paid. We are recipients of God's great grace, mercy, and wondrous love. I STAND IN AWE!!!
Rev. Curtis Norris