Voyage to Rome | A Late Start - Part 1
Updated: Jan 27
Matala Beach, Crete, Greece ©CanStock Photo/gatsi
This post will be the first in a series about the Apostle Paul's Voyage to Rome in the year 60-61 A.D. The Jewish leadership of Jerusalem has accused Paul of sedition according to their law (Acts 24:1-9). After possibly being held for ransom in Caesarea for two years by then Governor Felix, Paul’s case is heard by the new Governor Portius Festus and yet another politico named King Herod Agrippa II (Acts 26).
Paul eloquently defends himself to these authorities and also gives witness about Jesus to everyone there with no evidence of belief in the room. Paul would have been set free, as no evidence of the charges against him were found, but Paul, being a free man and Roman citizen, requested to be tried in Rome. You see, Jesus had appeared to Paul, saying:
"Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well." ~ Acts 23:11 NLT
Paul is granted his appeal to be tried by Caesar and handed over to a Roman centurion of the Augustan Regiment named Julius.
How many times have I thought I was headed in the right direction and then out of the blue I’m derailed into some kind of weird time-loop-thing I can’t seem to make any sense of that is hindering my progress! Not just me, but other people tell me they experience the same thing. Praise God! His timing is perfect! …. I tend to blunder along and sometimes God sends me a big, “WHOA, SLOW DOWN!” command … anyway, back to our story of Paul, who appears to be two years late from the git-go on heading over to Rome …
Time to shove off!
Julius wastes no time in setting sail for Rome with Paul, Luke, Aristarchus, and some other prisoners in tow. Within a day, they reach the port of Sidon, where Julius shows a bit of kindness toward Paul and allows him freedom to visit with friends before setting sail again. A bit of a wind tosses the ship, so the captain steers along the leeward shoreline of Cyprus and hugs the southern coastline of today’s Turkey (a great little map of Paul's voyage if you scroll down that page at the link) before pulling into Myla, a city of Lycia. Julius quickly books passage on an Alexandrian ship heading to Italy, and as soon as his responsibilities are all aboard, probably kicks back for a game of dice with his officers; thinking that the voyage to Rome is going along better than he could have expected.
Not so fast!
“When we had sailed slowly many days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone. Passing it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.” ~ Acts 27:7-8 NKJV
Now winter is pressing upon this little ship of fools – Ooops! I mean souls. So much time has passed by now that even The Fast is mentioned in verse 9, or Tisri (The Day of Atonement), indicating the date to be September 24th in that year. After much time spent debating whether to put up here for the winter or to press forward to Crete, Paul warns Julius against proceeding. Paul predicts loss of cargo, the ship, and even lives if the ship continues.
Against Paul’s warning Julius accepts the captain’s and ship-owner’s advice to continue onward to Crete. There is a better winter harbor at Phoenix on Crete and perhaps Julius values the judgement of experienced sailors over a prisoner who may or may not want to delay legal proceedings in Rome. Regardless, the winds let down, majority rules, and off they sail … thinking they have favor with the sea gods!
Ancient Greek Ship ©CanStock Photo/Diomedes66
How often do I launch my boat against good advice? – Or even worse, against God’s will? Hah! Too many times for me to confess here. At least with the Holy Spirit’s help I chose the right harbor – Jesus is my rest. How about you, friend?
Stay tuned to hear Luke’s account of what happens next as the wind changes and calamity strikes!