So after waiting out the winter storms at the island of Malta, it’s time for departure. The Apostle Paul and two hundred seventy-five other prisoners, Roman soldiers, and crew begin the last leg of the journey to Rome.
And landing at Syracuse, we stayed three days. ~ Acts 28:12 NKJV
Syracuse is only 80 miles or so from Malta, so this is only a day trip out. Being a trading vessel, The Twin Brothers puts into Syracuse, the ancient capital of the island of Sicily. Cargo is offloaded, and new merchandise is brought aboard. Then the captain of the ship awaits a favorable south wind for immediate departure to the next port …
Not happening …
My heart says that if Paul can manage permission to go ashore, he is anxious to evangelize at Sicily. Indeed, modern Sicilians claim that their present day church was founded by the Apostle Paul. On the surface, that may sound like a walk in the park, but not necessarily. Ancient Syracuse is a city of great commerce, wealth, beauty, and splendor. The city is full of grand marble structures, statues and fountains. Temples to Jupiter, Fortune, Diana, and Minerva evidence the idolatry at Syracuse. There must be resistance to Paul’s Gospel if the centurion, Julius, allows Paul shore leave.
Finally after three days the winds turn around, the captain barks departure orders, and the crew casts off.
13From there we circled round and reached Rhegium. And after one day the south wind blew; and the next day we came to Puteoli, 14where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome. ~Acts 28:13-14 NKJV
How encouraging to meet up with brethren! The week is certainly full of mystery about who these believers are. There has long been a Jewish colony at Puteoli, but nothing is said here about the history of this group of believers. Imagine how warm the greetings are at Paul’s arrival! Perhaps they host the entire ship of people with food and celebration while Paul makes new disciples and teaches about Jesus.
Then everyone aboard The Twin Brothers disembarks at Puteoli, as the remaining journey to Rome is overland. Julius organizes his soldiers and prisoners for the 129-mile march to Rome.
Excited believers in Rome hear that Paul is getting close. They rush out to meet the group of travelers as they arrive forty miles outside of Rome. Luke states that Paul is very encouraged by this gesture and thanks God for the love shown to him by the believers of Rome.
Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him. ~Acts 28:16 NKJV
Ah, that Julius! He surely cares for Paul’s well-being. And the Lord provides for Paul’s needs through Julius!
So what is to be gleaned from retelling this story of Paul’s Voyage to Rome? I see God’s divine guidance upon this journey. The Lord mapped out the route and the timing; mastered the weather, and selected kindly authority – namely the centurion, Julius. God placed Luke there as physician and recorder of the events. Nothing happens by chance with Almighty God. He let it be known to all people on and off both ships of His Supreme Power juxtaposed to the impotency of pagan idols encountered on the voyage.
And God is just getting started! Paul remains at Rome for two more years while God prepares Roman authority to hear Paul’s legal case. Roman and Jewish leadership is moved around by God as on a chessboard. Paul meets with the Jewish leadership in Rome right away in order to explain about his reason for being there and about Jesus, Who fulfills both the Law of Moses and the Prophets. Paul preaches from his rented house to any and all who come to hear the Gospel of Christ. During that time God’s powerful plans for the spreading of the Gospel press forward, with Paul standing up for Jesus as the Messiah against powerful worldly opposition.
The best thing about Paul is that he is willing to do God’s work. He focuses on the prize, and not his surroundings. He trusts the Lord. Isn’t that exactly what our Lord expects from Jesus’ followers today?
“Father God, today I trust that Your will be done as it was for Paul; that Your hand will direct the route, the timing, the means, weather, and favorable authority over my steps. Forgive me for passing up opportunities to share Your Gospel in favor of my own vain materialistic pursuits. Give me the heart of a servant, so I may grow by Your Holy Spirit to become more like Jesus; and increasingly share Your Word in the time remaining. In the Blessed Name Above All Names, Yeshua (Jesus) Messiah, Amen.”
We may have to check in on that meeting between Paul and the Jewish leadership at Rome. In the meantime, thank you for following