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Paul’s Advice – Initially Rejected

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To the graduating class, I bequeath the good advice that I gave to the students of former years. It really is as good as new, for very few have ever used it. (Raymond L. Nooman). … More

Advice

As Paul embarked upon his last journey, at least three things must have encouraged him (vv. 1-3). Luke, who dropped out of sight after leaving Paul in the hands of James and the elders of the Jerusalem church, (21:18) is with him. Julius, a hardened Roman centurion who was assigned to guard Paul, developed a respect for him and gave a certain amount of freedom (v. 3) and later spared his life (v. 43). The third blessing was Aristarchus, the man who was dragged into the theater at the beginning of the riot in Ephesus (19:29; 20:4), chose to act as a slave to Paul on this journey, rather than be separated from him. Loyalty can go no deeper than this.

The voyage began by coasting up to Sidon, where Paul was allowed to visit His Christian friends in the Church, presumably with a soldier to accompany him (v. 3). It is interesting to trace this journey on a map and try to visualize the trip. The centurion took his prisoners off the ship at Myra, and changed them to another ship which had come across the Mediterranean Sea from Alexandria, in North Africa, and was going to Rome (vv. 4-8).

“The Fast” in verse 9 alludes to Yom Kippur, which that year fell in October, so they were in the dangerous period for travel, which ran from about mid-September to mid-November, at which time all navigation ceased until winter was over. This led Paul to predict that serious danger was ahead of them, and he recommended that they remain at Fair Havens and not attempt to go on (v. 8). But Fair Havens was not a very good harbor, nor was it near any sizeable town where the winter days might be enjoyed by the crew. So the centurion and the pilot of the ship disregarded Paul’s advice, maybe thinking “What do preachers know about navigation?” (vv. 10-12). That is the way it so often is. The scales come down on the side of the so called expert, on the side of science and scholarship, on the side of the man whose opinion is weighted by his position, by his learning.

Application

It has been said that the trouble with good advice is that it interferes with your plans. Lord, help me to be a person who searches your Word and seeks advice from those who are in touch with You. I don’t want to be a person who thinks I have all the answers.

Acts 27:1-12 (English Standard Version)

And when it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius. And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. The next day we put in at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for. And putting out to sea from there we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us. And when we had sailed across the open sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy and put us on board. We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea. Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous because even the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, saying, "Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives." But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. And because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority decided to put out to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing both southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there.

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