Southern Christian University

Acts Class Session #11

James A. Turner

 

Hello students.  Tonight we begin with Acts chapter twenty-seven. We just like two chapters completing the book of Acts, and so this class session will be the last Class Session for the book of Acts.  We will go ahead and read chapters twenty-seven and twenty-eight, and then if I can get some help, we will go from there and trace the voyage to Rome.  Paul would have been sent at liberty had he not appealed to Caesar, but if he had not appealed unto Caesar, the Jews might have killed him.  You remember that Festus wanted to show the Jews a favor.  They wanted Governor Festus to send him to Jerusalem for them to try him, but they had planned to kill him in the way.  Paul told Festus in substance that was his responsibility to determine his guilt or innocence, and he refused to go to Jerusalem to be tried again by the Jews. He was tried first by Caiaphas and then by governor Felix, and then by Festus, and then in chapter twenty-six by king Agrippa.  Neither Caiphes, nor Felix, nor Festus had found him guilty of any of the charges of the Council of the Jews. Paul was a Roman Citizen, and when Festus refused to set him free he appealed unto Caesar. Then when Festus told king Agrippa about the case he wanted to try him. After the trial  before king Agrippa, there was a common agreement that this man has done “nothing worthy of death or of bonds.”  That is the last part of verse thirty-one.  And Agrippa said unto Festus, this man might have been set at liberty if he had not appealed unto Caesar.  But he had appealed unto Caesar, and so he had to go to Rome, Italy, for trial. 

 

Chapter Twenty-seven

This chapter is about Paul’s journey to Rome for trial before Caesar.  "And when it was determined that we should set sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners to a centurion named Julius of the Augustus' band."  A centurion was over a hundred soldiers, and Julius  is in charge of the prisoners on board the ship.  Now, whether there was  a hundred soldiers on board the ship Luke does not tell us, but at least there were a number of soldiers on board the ship as the account shows.  "And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail unto places on the coast of Asia, we put to sea, Aristarchus, a Mascedonian of Thessalonica, being with us."  Do you remember from Acts nineteen that Aristarchus was one of those that was in great danger when the silversmiths and the other craftsmen caused that riot at Ephesus.  Paul was ready to go in when the brethren insisted that he not go in, and those in charge of public gatherings encouraged Paul not to go in.  Aristarchus was also one of the messengers that carried the bounty to Jerusalem, and he and Luke go with Paul to that first Roman imprisonment.  And it looks like they were with him during the entire period of that two years imprisonment at Rome. 

 

Going back to 27:1, "And when it was determined that we."  Luke is the author, and by the pronoun we, we know that he is with Paul on that journey.  "And Aristarchus a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us."  Now, in Colossians 4:10, Paul sends salutations from some of those that were with him at the time of writing, he mentions “Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner soluteth you  And in Philemon verse twenty-four, he mentions Aristarchus and Luke, if I remember correctly. Philemon verse twenty-four, "Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus saluteth thee; and so do Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers."  So notice that according to the salutation there in Philemon, Paul had a number of helpers with him during the time of his first Roman imprisonment.   And when we read those last two verses of Acts, we see that Paul must have carried on a continuous evangelistic campaign while he lived in his own hired house at Rome.  So Mark, and Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke were with him when he wrote Philemon, and he speaks of them as my fellow workers.  But in Colossians 4:10, he speaks of Aristarchus as being his fellow prisoner.  Colossians 4:10, "Aristarchus my fellow prisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, the cousin of Barnabas."  And I do not believe he mentions Luke there.  Yes, he does in verse fourteen,  "Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, salute you."  So all four of them are with Paul when he wrote the Colossian letter. 

 

It looks like to me that Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon were written at the same time and went forth at the same time.  Paul had converted Philemon's slave Onesimus, and he needed to send Onesimus back to his master, because he legally belonged to his master.  And although Paul wanted to keep Onesimus because he was very helpful in the evangelistic work that he was doing but without the consent of his master Philemon, he would not do such a thing.  He wanted to send Onesimus back to his master Philemon, and request in a very appropriate way that Philemon send him back to Paul at Rome, that he needed him.  Paul wanted to give Philemon a choice, and if Philemon sent him back, and I surely think that he did, that would have been put unto Philemon's account.  If Paul had just written to Philemon and said, I have converted your former slave, Onesimus, but I have decided to keep him, Philemon might have had a little different attitude, and said, well, that old preacher, he did not have any right to keep my slave, but by sending him back he was giving Philemon a choice.  And he pleaded with him to receive Onesimus in a good way and to send him back to him.  My guess is that he surely sent him back.  But I got a little sidetracked there. 

 

But, anyway, if these all went forth at the same time, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon -- See, those are two of the churches of Asia that were evidently established during that period of time that Paul was at Ephesus.  Look on the map and see how that would have given him an opportunity to send those two epistles.  Philemon's home was at Colosse, and so it would have given him an opportunity to send that epistle to the church at Ephesus and then another one to the church at Colossi and that short epistle to Philemon.  Note that Aristarchus is spoken of as a fellow prisoner in Colossians 4:10 and a fellow worker in Philemon twenty-four.  Was he actually a prisoner or was Paul just speaking of him as a fellow prisoner in that he was willing to go with Paul and be there?  It is possible that in the work that he was doing of going out and inviting people to go and hear Paul, it is possible that some charges could have been brought against him, but it is strange still that he would be spoken of as a fellow prisoner in one and just a fellow worker in Philemon. 

 

So back to Acts twenty-seven.  I believe we were just on verse two.  "And embarking on a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail unto the place on the coast of Asia, we put to sea.  Aristarchus, a Mascedonian of Thessalonica, being with us.  And the next day we touched at Sidon."  Remember they are leaving from Caesarea, so they are going up the coastline there for a little while.  "And the next day we touched at Sidon.  And Julius treated Paul kindly, and gave him leave to go unto his friends and refresh himself."  Don't you guess that Julius had heard about Paul.  I guess he had gotten news that there were really no formal charges against Paul.  And, of course, Paul was such a man of character that a wise man could have disconcerted that they would not have any problems with this man, and so Julius treated him kindly and let him go visit his friends at the church at Sidon.  "And putting to sea from thence, we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary.  And when we had sailed across the sea, which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.  The centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing from Italy, and he put us therein." 

 

The ship from Alexandria, I think surely would have been from Alexandria of Egypt, and it was loaded with a cargo of wheat.  After the shipwreck on the island of Melita, the centurions put them on another ship of Alexandria (Acts 28:11).  There must have been a lot of commerce between Egypt and Rome.  It must have been Alexandria of Egypt carrying the wheat to Rome, Italy.  It must have been the bread basket for Rome.  There must have been ships going almost continually during the seasonal months to carry wheat to Italy.  "And he put us therein.  And when he had sailed slowly many days, and were come with difficulty over against Cnidus, the wind not further suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone; and with difficulty, coasted along it, came unto a certain place called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.  And when much time was spent, and the voyage was now dangerous, because the Fast was now already gone by, Paul admonished them."  Notice that Fast is capitalized, because it was considered the day of annual atonement.  In Leviticus chapter sixteen, that whole chapter talks about what was done on that day of annual atonement which came in the seventh month and the tenth day of each year.  It speaks of how that they were to afflict themselves on that day, and that is commonly recognized as being that they fasted on that day.  That was the tenth day and the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, which would be the early part of October for our time.  The Fast was now already gone by, and so Paul knew by experience that it was very dangerous to go any further, and he is evidently telling them that on the basis of his experience.  He had been shipwrecked already more than once.  He states in II Corinthians eleven that he had been a day and a night in the deep, and I guess he did not want to have that experience anymore. 

 

We will turn to II Corinthians chapter eleven and read about some of those things that Paul had suffered by the time he wrote that second epistle to the Corinthians in about 57 AD.  Let us begin with verse twenty-two, II Corinthians chapter eleven, "Are they Hebrews?  So am I.  Are they Israelites?  So am I.  Are they the seed of Abraham?  So am I.  Are they ministers of Christ?  I speak as one beside himself.  I am more; in labors more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths oft.  Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.  Thrice I was beaten with rods, and once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck."  And so he had already experienced three shipwrecks and from one of those.  "And a night and a day I have been in the deep."  Probably on some part of the ship.  And you can imagine he did not want to have an experience like that again.  "And journeyings often, in perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in perils from mine countrymen, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city."  Paul had suffered a lot of things prior to his voyage to Rome, and he would be going to Rome in about 60 AD.  And II Corinthians was written about three years before this voyage to Rome. 

 

Back to 27:9, "And when much time was spent, and the voyage was now dangerous, because the Fast was now already gone back, Paul admonished them, and said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the lading of the ship, but also of our lives."  Now, this must have been a big ship for the day because there were two hundred and seventy-six men on board the ship and plus that cargo of wheat, and the cargo of wheat would be heavy.  They did not have the wheat in large crates like we would have today, but it was loose in the ship.  And you can imagine as the storm moved the ship over to one side, that it would shift the wheat and would make it even more dangerous, and the ship would either be turned over or tear apart.  It looks like that the ship is primarily a merchant vessel, big enough that they have two hundred and seventy-six men on board other than the cargo of wheat.  "But the centurion gave more heed to the master and to the owner of the ship, than to those things which were spoken by Paul."  Actually the centurion could control whether or not they sailed further, and I guess he wished a number of times that he had listened to Paul and had not gone any further. 

 

Acts 27:12, "And because the haven was not the commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart from thence, if by any means they could reach Phenice, and winter there."  Phenice is on the other side of the island of Crete.  "Which is the haven of Crete, and would be northeast and southeast.  And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor, and sailed along Crete close in shore."  They were hoping that they could just go down by the shore to the other end of the island of Crete, and when the wind blew softly, they thought they had an opportune time.  But it did not turn out that way, a terrible storm came up.  "But after a long time, there beat down from it acontemptuous wind, which is called the Euroclydon."  It is spelled differently in the King James version, The NIV says Northeaster.  It was a very strong violent wind.  "And when the ship was caught, and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven.  And running under the lee of a small island called Claudia, we were able with difficulty to secure the boat."  That would be the life boat.  They had planned just to move along very close to the shoreline of  the island of Crete to the other side of the island, but the wind would not allow them to do that.  That terrible storm pulled them away from the island of Crete, and they have trouble even getting the life boat up into the ship.  "And when they had hoisted it up, they used helps, undergirding the ship."  That would be putting cables or chains around the ship to try to prevent it from breaking into pieces during the storm.  They have another name for that, but, anyway that is what Luke is talking about, them putting cables around the ship to try to prevent it from breaking in pieces.  "And fearing less they should be cast upon the Syrtis."  And I believe the King James says quicksand, and that is what it would be.  "And they lowered the gear, and so were driven."  That would be lowered the sailing gear.  You see that the storm is so bad that it would be more dangerous with the sails up,  and so they lower them.  "And as we labored exceedingly with the storm, the next day they began to throw the grain overboard."  That would be the wheat.  And the third day they cast out with their hands the tackling of the ship."  The footnote in my Bible says the furniture of the ship.  "And when neither sun nor stars shown upon us for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was now taken away."  Don't you know that all those who voted to move around to the other side of the island are thinking about how that Paul advised them not to, that it would be dangerous.  And then an angel of the Lord appears to Paul in the night and tells him that the ship will be wrecked, but there will be no loss of lives. 

 

Verse twenty-one, "And when they had been long without food, then Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not set sail from Crete, and gotten this injury and loss.  And now I exhort you to be of good cheer:  For there shall be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship."  So the ship will be shipwrecked, but no loss of any lives of the people on the ship.  "For there stood by me this night an angel of the God, whose I am, and whom also I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul:  Thou must stand before Caesar."  He is going to finish that journey to go before Caesar, the ruler.  "Thou must stand before Caesar, and lo, God hath granted thee all them that sail with thee."  Now, I have not read from anybody that has any kind of thinking near mine, but he calls attention when the sailors were trying to get away from the ship, Paul told them they would have to remain on the ship. I wonder if somehow those men did not have some part in Paul being set at liberty from that first Roman imprisonment, but that is just my thinking.  I do not know of anyone else that would reason that way. 

 

Acts 27:25, "Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer:  For I believe God, that it shall be even so as it has been spoken unto me.  But we must be cast upon a certain island.  But when the fourteenth night was come, and as we were driven to and fro in the sea of Adria about midnight the sailors surmised that they were drawing near to some country; and they sounded, and found twenty fathoms."  A fathom is six feet, so six times twenty, the water was a hundred and twenty feet deep when they sounded the first time.  "And after a little space, they sounded again, and found fifteen fathoms."  And that would be ninety feet.  So you see the depth of the water decreased thirty feet in the a short space of travel, and they had a strong indication that they were nearing land.  "And fearing lest haply we should be cast ashore on rocky ground, they let go four anchors from the stern, and wished for the day.”  And as the sailors were seeking to flee out of the ship.  They were just going to leave everybody on the ship, and they were going to try to flee in that life boat and seek the land, but as the sailors were lowering the boat into the sea, under color as though they would lay out anchors from the foreship, Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, “Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved."  And so the angel of the Lord had told Paul that there would not be any loss of life of any on board the ship because God had granted to him all of those who were on the ship. If the sailors left, that would be a violation of what the angel had told Paul, and so he said to the centurion and to the soldiers, "Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.  Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off."  So that solved that problem.  "And while the day was coming up, Paul besought them all to take some food, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that we wait and continue fasting, having taken nothing.  Wherefore I beseech you to take some food:  For this will be for your safety:  For there shall not a hair perish from the head of any of you.  And when he had said this, and had taken bread, he gave thanks to God in the presence of all:  And he breaketh and he began to eat."  Don't you know that had an impression on those people on board the ship,   and that must have been good news to them.  Luke has already said back there that all hope was gone.  They did not have any hope back there.  Note verse twenty, "And when neither the sun nor stars hath shown on us many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was now taken away."  So just a short while ago, all of them thought that they were going to be killed in that storm, and then the good news by the angel of the Lord to Paul that there would be no loss of life, and now Paul gives thanks for the food, and he encourages them to eat, and they were encouraged to eat.  Verse thirty-six, "Then were they all of good cheer, and themselves also took food.  And we were all in the ship two hundred and threescore and sixteen souls."  Now, if you are reading from a newer version, it probably reads two hundred and seventy-six souls.  Threescore, a score is twenty,  so two hundred and threescore would be sixty and sixteen, and that would surely be two hundred and seventy-six.  "And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea."  I guess they had saved part of the cargo for food, and so they threw the rest of it out.  "And when it was day, they knew not the land:  But they perceived a certain bay with a beach, and they took counsel, whether they could drive the ship upon it.  And casting off the anchors, they let them in the sea, and at the same time loosed bands of the rudders and housed up the foresail to the wind, and made for the beach.  And gliding upon a place where two seas met, they ran the vessel aground; and the foreship struck, and remained unmovable, but the stern began to brake up by the violence of the waves.  And the soldier's' counsel was to kill the prisoners."  According to Roman authority, if soldiers were in charge of prisoners and they let them escape, then their life was to be taken because they let the prisoner escape.  You remember that this was the case of the Philippian jailer in Acts sixteen.  That centurion by now must have had a lot of confidence in the apostle Paul,   and he does not want him to be killed.  "And the soldier's counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.  But the centurion desiring to save Paul, saved them from their purpose; and commanded that they who could swim should cast themselves overboard and get first to the land."  If the soldiers  got first to the land, they could be in control of the situation and see that those prisoners did not escape when they got to land.  "And the rest, some on planks, and some on other things from the ship.  And so it came to pass, that they all escaped safe to the land. 

 

Chapter Twenty-eight

When we were escaped, then we knew that the island was called Melita."  A footnote in my Bible says it had been called Meline, and if you are reading from one of the newer versions, it probably says Malta, and on the map, it is Malta.  "And the barbarians showed us no common kindness:  For they kindled a fire, and received us all, because of the present rain, and because of the cold."  What is the meaning of that word barbarians as Luke uses it there?  It does not mean that those people were wicked or uneducated, but they spoke a language that the Romans and the Greeks did not know, and so in that sense they are spoken of as barbarians.  In I Corinthians chapter fourteen, Paul uses the same kind of language in talking about the people at Corinth speaking in tongues.  They had miraculous gifts of speaking in tongues, and they were speaking in a foreign language to the people at Corinth.  And, of course, those people in the church at Corinth could not begin to understand what they were saying, and Paul uses the word barbarian in talking about that.  I Corinthians 14:11, "If then I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be to him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh will be a barbarian unto me."  The problem was they were speaking a foreign language that the brethren in the church could not understand.  They wanted to demonstrate their ability to speak in tongues.  And Paul told them that unless there was an interpreter present, for them to keep silent in the church. 

 

Back to Acts 28:2, "And the barbarians showed us no common kindness."  And that shows that they were not wicked people.  They treated them very kindly by building a fire.  Evidently they must have built a big fire for them.  Don't you know that those two hundred and seventy-six men appreciated that big fire they built for them.  In the first place, that terrible wind, they had been cold with that, and they had been in the water, and so their clothes were wet, and my how they must have welcomed a warm fire.  "And the barbarians showed us no common kindness:  For they kindled a fire, and received us all, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.  But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks."  Now, I think that shows something about the character of Paul.  He was not going to stand there by the warmth of the fire and expect somebody else to keep the fire going, but he gathered a bundle of sticks.  I imagine he was one of the persons there keeping that fire going in a big way.  "Gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire.  A viper came out by reason of the heat, and fastened on his hand."  The text shows that the people of the island recognized that it was a very venomous snake, and they expected him to die from it.  Verse four, "And when the barbarians saw the venomous. Venomous is added in different print, but, anyway, it shows that they recognized that it was a poisonous viper, creature hanging from his hand.  They said one to another, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped from the sea, yet Justice hath not suffereth to live."  In my Bible Justice is capitalized, and that would evidently be the name of one of their gods, the god of Justice.  And so they reasoned that this man must be a murderer for him to escape this awful shipwreck, and now Justice will not allow him to live.  Of course, they are just expecting him to swell up and fall down dead any time.  "Howbeit, he shook off the creature into the fire, and took no harm." 

 

Now, I believe I read from one writer that the snake or viper never did bite him.  Well, remember that the apostles had miraculous powers.  And as given in Mark the sixteenth chapter, Jesus, in talking to the apostles about how such things would not harm them, reading from Mark 16:17, "And these signs shall accompany them that believe in my name shall they cast out demons:  They shall speak with new tongues.  They shall take up serpents.  And if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them.  And they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."  Those were the words of Jesus just before he ascended, “then the Lord Jesus after he had spoken unto them was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.  And they went forth and preached everywhere  (the twelve apostles)  and the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that followed.  Amen."  The apostles with all the miraculous power that they were given by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on that day of Pentecost, as we read about in Acts chapter two, certainly such things would not harm them.  And remember that they could bestow nine different miraculous gifts on other Christians by the laying on of their hands.  Those miraculous gifts are listed in I Corinthians 12:4-11. 

 

Back to Acts twenty-eight.  They are expecting Paul to fall over dead.  Verse five, "Howbeit he shook off the creature, into the fire, and took no harm.  But they expected that he would have swollen or fallen down dead suddenly:  But when they were long in expectation, and held nothing of this come to him, they changed their minds, and they said that he was a god."  But, of course, they regarded him as being like one of their idol gods.  "Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius; who received us, and entertained us three days courteously." 

 

And I wonder, does that just mean Paul and those companions that were with him or did Publius entertain all of those people?  It looks like that there would have been a problem if he entertained all of them.  He at least entertained Paul and his company courteously for three days. "And it was so that the father of Publius lay sick of fever and dysentery:  unto whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.  And when this was done, the rest also that had diseases in the island, came, and were healed.  Who also honored us with many honors; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary."  Some of those honors could have been their telling how that they appreciated what Paul had done for all of those sick people on the island,  and how much they appreciated them being with them.  And, of course, it could have also included that they were giving Paul, and I would think especially those companions of Paul and Luke and Aristarchus too a lot of things.  But note that it not only would have included them, but the latter part of the verse would have included all on board that ship.  "And when they sailed, they put on board such things as we needed."  And again that shows that those people were kind-hearted people and a liberal people that they would put on. board that ship enough supplies to take care of the needs of two hundred and seventy-six men aboard that ship.  "And then after three months we set sail in the ship of Alexandria." See, we have the ship named Alexandria again, and it is going to Rome.  "Which had wintered in the island."  The master of that ship must have used good sense and stopped at the proper time.  A brief recess was taken.

 

We are ready to begin again with Acts 28:11, "And after three months we set sail in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the island, whose sign was the twin brothers."  And, see, three months, then winter would have been over, and it would have been safe to travel again.  So the master of that ship had used good wisdom to stop at the right time.  But notice that it also was a ship of Alexandria of Egypt that evidently was carrying wheat to Rome.  "And touching at Syracuse, we tarried there three days.  And from thence we made a circuit, and arrived at Rhegium:  And after one day the south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli."  It looks like they were moving pretty fast because of that south wind.  "Where we found brethren, and were entreated to tarry with them seven days:  And so we came to Rome."  Don't you think that meant that those brethren wanted them to stay?  They must have gotten there on Monday, and they wanted them to stay and worship with them on the first day of the week, the brethren at Puteoli.  “And from thence, the brethren when they heard of us, came to meet us as far as the market of Appii, and the Three taverns."  I believe one of those places would have been thirty or more miles and the other one forty or fifty miles.  So the brethren came a considerable distance to meet Paul.  And when they met him, Luke says that he thanked God and took courage.  Let us read that verse again.  "And from thence, the brethren when they heard of us, came to meet us as far as the market of Appii, and the three taverns.  Whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage." 

 

Does that statement not imply that Paul was lacking in courage?  He was going to Rome as a prisoner. He had told them in that letter to Rome, as he was ready to carry that bounty to Jerusalem, that he knew that he would come to them in the fullness of the blessings of Christ, which thing he did, but not in the way he expected, but as a prisoner.  Don't you know that that must have been embarrassing to him, thinking about what will the brethren think, here I am counted as a criminal.  "And when we entered into Rome, Paul was suffered to abide by himself, with the soldier that guarded him."  So Paul has a lot of freedom during this first Roman imprisonment.  It is very different from the second Roman imprisonment.  He has gone to Rome and there are not any formal charges against him.  That evidently is the reason why he is given such freedom.  "And it came to pass, that after three days he called together those that were the chief of the Jews:  And when they were come together, he said unto them."  He wants to explain to them that he does not have anything against the Jewish people, and he wants to explain to them how it occurred. They heeded his request.  "When they were come together, he said unto them."  They were his Jewish brethren according to the flesh..  "Though I had done nothing against the people or the customs of our fathers, yet was delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.  Who, when they had examined me, desired to set me at liberty, because there was no cause of death in me.  But when the Jews spake against it."  He must be speaking of what occurred when Festus wanted him to go to Jerusalem to be tried by the Jews again. Festus wanted to show the Jews a favor (Acts 25:9-12).  "When the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation.  For this cause therefore did I entreat to see you, and to speak with me:  For because of the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.  And they said unto him, We neither received letters from Judaea concerning thee, nor did any of the brethren come hither and report or speak any harm of thee.  But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest:  For as concerning this sect." They are referring to Christianity as a sect "It is known to us that everywhere it is spoken against.  And when they had appointed him a day, they came into his lodging in great numbers." 

 

Acts 28:23, That hired house, or hired dwelling must have been a large house to accommodate the number of Jews that went on that occasion to hear him.  "And when they had appointed him a day, they came to him in his lodging in great numbers; to whom he expounded the matter, testifying the kingdom of God, and persuading them concerning Jesus, both from the law of the Moses, and from the prophets, from morning till evening."  He may have even referred to Genesis 3:15, the first promise concerning the savior, after man had sinned that the seed of woman would bruise the head of the serpent, the devil.  And then Moses had said as recorded in Deuteronomy eighteen, that a prophet shall the Lord your God raise up from among your brethren likened to me.  And when you consider all the prophecies that are given in the Old Testament prophets, as usually counted there are more than three hundred prophecies concerning Christ in the Old Testament scriptures.  Paul must have used a lot of them in talking to the Jewish leaders, and showing that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament scriptures.  So he was testifying of the kingdom of God, and persuading them concerning Jesus, both from the law of Moses, and from the prophets, from morning till evening.  It looks like they gave him respect and were at least very polite to him, that they stayed there and listened to him from morning till evening.  Paul of course was able to carry through in a straight course showing them so many things from the scriptures. 

 

Acts 28:24, "And some believed the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved.  And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Spirit through Isaiah the prophet unto your father, saying, by hearing ye shall hear, and shall no wise understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall in no wise perceive."  Why?  "For this people's heart is waxed gross,  and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest haply they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should turn again, and I should heal them."  Is not that the same reference that Jesus quoted when he began to teach the people in parables?  When the disciples asked why, he told them, Matthew chapter thirteen.  "Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and they will also hear."  Now, do you remember Acts 1:8, “ye shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.”  But you see everywhere Paul went, even in Gentile territory, if there was a Jewish synagogue, it was his custom, as we have studied from Acts seventeen, to use the synagogue first.  And here he speaks to the leaders of the Jewish people first, and he tells them that the Gentiles are going to hear. 

 

And for that whole two-year period, verses thirty and thirty-one tell us that he carried on an evangelistic campaign.  With good and capable brethren like Luke, and Aristarchus and Timothy and Demas and Mark, and Onesimus part of the time, he surely had a lot of good helpers during that two years' imprisonment.  Evidently they were going out and bringing in people to hear Paul.  "And he abode two whole years."  Does verses thirty and thirty-one not show that that two years' imprisonment was up when Luke completed the book of Acts.  "And he abode two whole years in his own hired dwelling, and received all that went unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, with all boldness, none forbidding him."  And remember that not only did he carry on that evangelistic campaign during that two years period of time, but he wrote four more epistles.  He wrote Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, that I strongly believe went forth at the same time, and then at a later date during the end of that two years' imprisonment, he wrote that letter to the Philippians. 

 

When he wrote to the Colossians, he asked them to pray that a door might be opened, and evidently he was standing in that open door all the time, but had not recognized it.  Well, let us notice from Ephesians, he asked them to pray for him.  Ephesians 6:19-20, "And on my behalf that utterance may be given unto me, that opening my mouth to make known with boldness, the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains:  that if it I may speak boldly as I ought to speak."  And in the Philippian letter, it comes next, notice that he states that his bonds have turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.  Philippians 1:12, "Now I would have you know brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the Gospel; so that my bonds became manifest in Christ, throughout the whole palace guard."  The guard of the emperor.  "And to all the rest; and that most of the brethren, in the Lord, being confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word without fear."  So evidently Paul had done more for the cause of Christ as a prisoner then he would have been able to have done as a free man.  When he wrote the Philippian letter, he was expecting a showdown almost immediately, and told them that he would send Timothy to them as soon as he learned how it would go with him.  But in the Colossian letter, Colossians chapter 4:2, "Continue steadfastly in prayer, and watching therein with thanksgiving; withal praying for us also, that God may open unto us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:  That I may make it manifest, as I ought to."  Don't you know that Paul was in that open door, but had not recognized it at least to the point that he did when he wrote the Philippian letter. 

 

And now let me see if I can get some help so that I can trace the journey on the map, the journey to Rome.  What I would like to do, I would just like for us to begin again and trace the voyage to Rome.  Turning back to chapter twenty-seven, notice that Luke and Aristarchus are going with Paul to Rome.  And remember they are leaving from Caesarea.  Paul has been in prison at Caesarea for about two years.  And reading from verse two, "And embarking in the ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail unto the places on the coast of Asia, and be put to sea, Aristarchus a Mascedonian of Thessalonica being with us.  And the next day we touch at Sidon."  And so you see from Caesarea to Sidon is not very far.  And then from there they go into the Mediterranean sea then.  And the centurion Julius showed Paul no common kindness and let him go and visit the brethren at Sidon seemingly without even soldiers with him.  "And putting to sea from thence, we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary."  The lee of Cyprus, it looks like to me they would have been coming over here and coming around, because of the wind. The lee of Cyprus would have been protection from the strong winds.  But this map is showing it by going a more direct route.  If the winds were very strong, there would have been protection from the land there from the wind.  "And when he had sailed across the sea."  Which is off of Cilicia.  This is Cilicia.  "And Pamphylia." Here is Pamphylia.  "We came to Myra, a city of Lycia."  Myra is right here.  And then they really have trouble with the storm.  And I am having trouble looking at my Bible and following the map too.  "And when we had sailed slowly many days, and were come with difficulty over against Cnidus, the wind not further suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone."  And from Myra over to Cnidus is on the map there, and said it took many days.  And so you can see that the travel was very slow because of the winds being contrary.  And then they go from there, they go down to The Fair Havens. 

 

And that is where they were when Paul advised that they better winter in The Fair Havens, that it would be dangerous for them to go any further.  Evidently Paul was not speaking by inspiration, but by his own experience.  And remember that we turned and read from II Corinthians eleven, he had already been shipwrecked three times, and a night and a day he spent in the deep, and he did not want to be shipwrecked again.  But they did not listen to him.  They wanted to get around to Lasea that was considered a better place to winter.  And when the wind blew softly, they thought they had an opportune time, and they planned to stay close to the island.  And they didn't even take up the boat, the life boat.  And then the storm came up almost immediately, and it threw them off course, and for fourteen days and nights neither sun nor stars shinned.  Luke states that all hope was gone that any of them would be saved, and they end up being shipwrecked on the island of Malta.  The people of the island showed them no common kindness as we discussed. 

 

Please remember that Paul healed all the diseased people on the island.  And three months later when the ship was ready to leave, another ship from Alexandria of Egypt carrying grain to Rome, they got on board the ship three months later.  That ship had spent the winter at that small island,   and so we are picking up there.  Chapter twenty-eight, "And after three months we set sail in the ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the island, whose sign was the twin brothers."  If you are reading from a newer translation, it will probably give the names of those twin brothers, or twin gods.  "And touching at Syracuse."  So from Cyprus they go up to Syracuse right here.  And they tarried three days at Syracuse.  And then they went up to Rhegium right here.  “And touching at Syracuse we tarried three days.  And from thence we made a circuit, and arrived at Rhegium:  And after one day the south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli."  That south wind must have pushed them on to Syracuse in a hurry.  See, it was a great distance there in that short period of time.  And the brethren of Rome then came to meet Paul.  Well, at Puteoli there were brethren there, and they wanted them to stay there seven days, as we talked about, evidently and worship with them on the first day of the week. 

 

Verse fifteen, "And from thence, the brethren when they heard of us, they came to meet us as far as the market of Appii."  That is up here, and also there is the three taverns.  I believe it would have been forty or fifty miles from Rome to Appii and thirty or forty to the three taverns.  But that shows that the brethren were interested in Paul.  And Luke says that when they came to meet him, that he thanked God and took courage.  And so that pretty well shows the course that they went in going to Rome.  But if they had listened to Paul, that shipwreck would have been avoided.  Thank you for your kind attention.  I surely hope you have learned a lot in this study of the book of Acts.