The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 27:1-44 – Week 46 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 27:1-44

Week 46

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session, we will cover all of chapter 27. We will move quickly through the shipwreck narrative because it is an exciting account and I would not want to hold us in suspense and divide this chapter into two Sessions. As we travel through the narrative in chapter 27, I would like us to consider the following:

1 – The spiritual warfare against Paul shifts from religious and political persecution, to a massive storm being manifested on the Mediterranean that almost takes the lives of Paul and the 276 passengers on the ship.

2 – Godly character in our lives gives us favor with unbelievers.

3 – Faith in God’s word is a powerful dynamic that not only strengthens us, but strengthens those who hear it.

4 – The Lord will always accomplish His word and we can trust Him in every situation.
For the sake of time, let’s jump right into the text.

Acts 27:1-8

a) At this point, Paul begins what many call his Fourth Missionary Journey. Although this was not a planned Missionary Journey like the previous three, Paul is a walking open heaven, and signs, wonders, encounters, healings and salvations happen because he is present. Paul walks in a naturally supernatural lifestyle, so everywhere he is, so is the Kingdom of God.

b) Paul was travelling with other prisoners on their way to Rome. This would have been a mix of some on trial like Paul, and some condemned to die in the Circus Maximus in Rome. It was common for Roman troops to accompany merchant ships, providing security from pirates, and transporting prisoners. Paul was travelling under the covering of the Augustan Cohort, led by Julius.

c) Aristarchus is mentioned specifically in verse 2. He was a representative of the Thessalonian Church’s gifts to the Jerusalem Church and apparently stayed with Paul through his incarceration. Aristarchus is mentioned in Colossians and Philemon, and at some point, was taken into custody and jailed with Paul in Rome. Thank God for faithful friends and partners who are faithful to us in the worst of times. Paul was probably travelling with Timothy, Aristarchus, and Luke.

d) Julius showed Paul kindness. Godly character releases favor on our lives. Colossians 4:5 – Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Proverbs 4:6 – Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.

e) Paul meets the Church in Sidon and most likely ministers to them and takes an offering to support himself on the journey. They change ships and continue their way. The ship was probably full of grain and goods from Egypt on its way to Rome.

Acts 27:8-12

a) Verse 9 gives us a time stamp of Fall of AD59. The day of Atonement is Yom Kippur, which would have been October 5 that year. Maritime historians said that the window of navigating the Mediterranean Sea would be best in Spring through Summer. Beginning in September to November it was very risky to sail. In winter, it was a death sentence.

b) By this time, Paul had already been in 3 shipwrecks. 2 Corinthians 11:25 – Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea. Paul was speaking from experience when he warned Julius the Centurion. At this point, Paul had travelled approximately 3,500 miles on the sea if wencount his 3 Missionary Journeys. The ship owner and the pilot won the decision to travel.

Acts 27:13-20

a) The captain saw a gentle wind and decided to sail. The type of storm that they encounter was not called a Northeaster. That is an English idiom to describe a terrible storm. The storm in the Greek was an EURAKYLŌN (violent storm from the European Continent). This type of storm is so violent that they were unable to navigate. All they could do is yield to it and be pressed along by the storm.

b) We learn about ancient sailing and life-saving protocol from the account of the storm. 1 – Cables were used to keep the hull of the boat from leaking and from breaking apart from the repetitive crashing of the waves. 2- The life boat was towed behind the ship. Notice Luke’s reference to “we”. They were probably all forced into labor to survive and secure the lifeboat. 3 – The Syrtis sandbars were located off Northern Africa. This area is one of the most dangerous sailing areas of the whole Mediterranean. They lowered the sails so that they would not be driven into that area by the direction of the wind. 4 – Throwing cargo overboard would have lightened the ship so that it would have a higher draft in the water. It would minimize the water that the ship was taking on. 5 – No sun, moon or stars meant that there was no way to navigate.

c) “Gave up all hope” – There are times in our lives where there is no other place to turn, except to Jesus.

Acts 27:21-26

a) The text mentions they had gone a long time without food. This was due to the motion sickness.

b) Paul gives the crew a good preacher, “I told you so”.

c) We should note that Paul received revelation because he pressed in and strengthened himself in God in a time of trouble. We know from Acts 19:21 and Acts 23:11 that God promised him he would appear before Caesar. We can rightly assume that during the storm, Paul pressed into the promises of God and the Lord sent an angel to confirm His words. Words from God break fear in our lives.

d) The crew is saved because of Paul. The favor on Paul’s life extended to those around him.

e) Paul believed God. Faith is an anchor and the unmovable confidence in what
God says is true. Faith promoted Paul from prisoner to leader, because of his faith and hope in God’s words. Paul gets a word of knowledge that would be shipwrecked on an island.

Acts 27:27-32

a) This was a 14-day storm and these men were aware that land was near because of the sound of crashing waves. Their response was dropping anchors and praying. Without daylight, there would be no way to steer the ship in order to ground it.

b) Some of the crew tried to escape via the lifeboat. Notice that Paul is leading the ship. Paul’s demonstration of faith, and his words of hope positioned him to be heard and respected.

Acts 27:33-38

a) They would have needed to eat, so that they would have the energy to swim ashore and survive.

b) Notice that we have an indirect reference to the Lord’s Supper in the text. Most scholars see Paul celebrating Communion and extending the grace of God to the others.

Acts 27:39-44

a) Paul’s word of knowledge about the ship running aground on an island comes just as he prophesied it.

b) As the boat begins to break up, 276 people were in the hands of God for their survival. God’s word to Paul and his faith in the Lord was the catalyst for the intervention of God.

c) The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners because it was customary for a Roman soldier who lost a prisoner, to suffer the same penalty as the lost prisoner. The favor of God on Paul’s life delivered all of them.

d) They all reached shore just as God said to Paul. Proverbs 30:5 – Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

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The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 26:1-32 – Week 45 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 26:1-32

Week 45

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session, Paul begins his defense before king Agrippa so that Festus might have something intelligent to write about Paul in his letter to Caesar Nero. In Acts 26 we see the power of testimonies as Paul shares his personal story of his salvation, his ministry and the truth of Jesus Christ.

Acts 26 is a partial fulfillment of Paul’s prophetic destiny in Acts 9:15 – “This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.” Acts 26 demonstrates to us, that as we co-labor with God in faith, our prophetic destinies are realized and we will see the fullness of their promise. Our time stamp is approximately AD59.

Acts 26:1-3

a) Paul stands before King Agrippa whose great-grandfather tried to persecute and kill the Christ Child in Bethlehem, his grand-father beheaded John the Baptist, and so Paul stands before a man who can do great damage to him. Agrippa is supposed to help craft a letter of charges against Paul so he can stand trial before Caesar Nero in Rome.

b) Notice that Paul acknowledges that Agrippa understands the nuances of Jewish culture and would understand Paul’s defense.

c) Paul demonstrates honor. Proverbs 15:33 – Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD, and humility comes before honor. – Paul’s humble attitude and honor towards Agrippa earn him the right to speak and be heard. Many people speak but cannot be heard because they lack humility and honor towards the ones they are speaking to.

Acts 26:4-8

a) It is important to note that Paul was well known to the High Priest, Chief Priests, Scribes, Sanhedrin, Sadducees and Pharisees. Paul was a protégé of Gamaliel, and formerly a member of the Sanhedrin. Paul, at one time was a respected member of the Jewish ruling elite.

b) Notice that Paul begins his defense by referencing the promise of Messiah and the prophecy of Scripture. These things are not explicitly mentioned, but all Israel was hoping in the promise of Messiah as prophesied by the Scriptures.

c) If God is Creator and He is Omnipotent and Omniscient than raising the dead is believable. Jesus raised the widow’s son from the dead in Nain, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and Paul had raised Eutychus from the dead.

Acts 26:9-11

a) Paul begins to shift from an introduction to the story of his testimony of salvation. We should never discount the power of our testimonies. Testimonies give
permission for people to onramp faith and believe in Jesus Christ.

b) Notice that verse 10 clearly indicates to us that Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin. Paul had to have been married to be a member of the Sanhedrin. We know that Paul remained single during the remainder of his lifetime as Christian Apostle (1 Corinthians 7:7-9). It very possible that Paul and his wife divorced because of the pressure that his faith in Jesus Christ would have brought to the marriage. 1 Corinthians 4:13 – when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment. Philippians 3:8 – What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.

c) Paul knew the grace of God by experiencing grace. He wrote in 1 Timothy 1:1516 – Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. – When we know grace by experience; then we are empowered to respond to grace and live in our new creation identities.

Acts 26:12-18

a) Paul mentions other trips to persecute followers of the Way. There was approximately a 2-year span of Paul persecuting the Church after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

b) Paul’s testimony shows us the goodness, grace and mercy of God. The Lord intervenes in Paul’s life, even as he is killing His people and blaspheming His Name.

c) Jesus speaks to Paul with authority, grace and truth. “Get up and stand on your feet” – Jesus will never keep you down, but will raise you up.

d) Jesus shows Paul maximum grace as he redefines Paul’s life from persecutor to servant/minister – Greek – HYPĒRETĒS – an attendant to a king, a magistrate, an officer, a government minister, metaphor later, for a servant of God, a Christian minister.

e) “A witness of what you have seen and will see” – Revelation is an ever-unfolding knowledge of God.

f) Jesus promises to deliver Paul and defend his destiny.

g) The gospel of Jesus Christ brings light, turns hearts from darkness and delivers people from the power of Satan. The gospel of Jesus Christ releases the forgiveness of God in our lives and gives us a place in God.

Acts 26:19-24

a) Paul obeys the word of the Lord straight away and does not delay. In this we see that obedience to the call of God on our lives, unlocks destiny and greatness in our lives.

b) Repentance is always demonstrated by leaving sin and engaging the process of discipleship. 1 John 3:4-7 – Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins.
And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.

c) As Paul continues his defense, he clearly presents the truth of Messiah as fulfilling the prophecy of Scripture. This is the greatest qualifiers that Jesus is Messiah. Jesus fulfills prophetic predictions in Scripture.

d) Festus interrupts Paul and makes the charge that he is insane. 1 Corinthians 1:18 – For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Acts 26:25

a) Believing in Jesus Christ is reasonable. No matter who we are, all people wrestle with the knowledge of their sin, the sting of pain in their hearts, and emptiness of life. All of these things remain either resolved in Jesus Christ, or unresolved unto death.

Acts 26:26-30

a) Agrippa was brought to the valley of decision. The knowledge of Jesus Christ always demands a response from the human heart. All of us are free to choose Christ or to choose to reject Christ. It comes down to this; are we willing to count the cost?

b) For Agrippa, Bernice and Festus to become like Paul, with the exception of his chains, would mean loss of reputation, political power, and the choice to leave immoral lifestyles. As these 3 rise, they choose the fear of man and the pleasure of the world over the life of Christ.

c) Is it better to be chained with physical chains like Paul and be free in your heart? Or is it better to be free from physical chains and be bound by spiritual chains of darkness? To be like Paul is to be free from the power of sin, to have identity in Christ, and to be powerful and courageous in life.

Acts 26:31-32

a) Some would say that Paul errored by appealing to Caesar because he could have been set free. However, as Paul testifies to Caesar Nero he fulfills personal prophesy, gets a free ride to Rome, and meets the Church in Rome that he longed for. Romans 1:11-12 – I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. As we move on in the Acts narrative, things will get very exciting as this amazing history of the Early Church lands with Paul in Rome waiting for his appeal before Nero.

Acts of the Apostles – Acts 25:1-27 – Week 44 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 25:1-27

Week 44

Rob Covell

Introduction – As we cover Acts 25 in this Session, it will become clearly evident that Acts 25 is a transitional chapter that documents the events leading up to Paul being transferred as a prisoner to Rome from Judea. Acts 25 reminds us of what Paul wrote to Roman Church from Corinth just before he left for Judea; “Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed”, Romans 15:31-32. Little did Paul know that he would indeed visit the Church in Rome as Roman prisoner who appealed to Caesar Nero as we will see in Acts 25.

If we were to see the most important revelation about the Nature and Character of the Lord in Acts 25, it would be His Providence and His faithfulness to His children. As we begin Acts 25, Paul has been imprisoned for 2 years for doing nothing wrong and is being dealt with as a political pawn by the Romans and a religious criminal by the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem. However, we see that in the midst of these circumstances, Paul neither loses faith or lapses in his testimony for Jesus Christ. He writes in 1 Timothy 4:16 – “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers”. It is one thing to watch out that you are believing truth. It is whole different thing all together to be able to watch over how you conduct your life. We know from the outcome of Paul’s life that he did both well. May we live in the same way.

Acts 25:1-5

a) We are introduced to Festus, the new governor of Judea that succeeded Felix. Now we know from history that Felix was a very immoral and base human being. But history records Festus as being more politically astute, and as one who governed with more wisdom than Felix. We know that Festus was appointed governor by Nero in AD59, so that is our time stamp in our study of Acts 25.

b) He arrived in Caesarea which is the massive Roman cultural center of Judea and the seat of Roman power in Judea. Naturally Festus would need to go to Jerusalem to meet with the high priest, the chief priests and the Sanhedrin, since he would be in charge of ruling over them. The Jewish leadership in Jerusalem decides that it is an opportune time to re-accuse Paul and charge him with religious and political crimes.

c) We can see the deception, lies and the plot to murder Paul as the natural outflow of the antichrist spirit operating in his accusers. The spiritual warfare directed at Paul in the attempted plots on his life, are the enemy’s strategy of silencing the power of the Gospel and stealing Paul’s destiny. However, the Lord knows people’s hearts and knows how to Father His children. In regards to the Providence of God, we see that Paul’s 2-year prison stay was most likely a season of much needed rest from his ministry and time of deep contemplation. It is times like these where we wrestle with the question; “Is God good? Or is He not?”. Deuteronomy 32:4 – “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he”.

d) Festus being a Law and Order Roman does not grant their request. It is doubtful that Festus knew about the plot to kill Paul. But Paul, being in Roman custody and being a Roman citizen would never be handed over to local religious court for a capital punishment trial.

Acts 25:6-8

a) Festus and the Jews arrived in Caesarea and reopened Paul’s case. The reference to the Jews would have included the high priest, members of the Sanhedrin and probably some leading scribes. We should keep in mind that the high priesthood were politically appointed men who were not in the succession of the sons of Aaron according to the Law of Moses. This is a religiously corrupt ruling body, that was politically affiliated with Rome and not in fidelity to the Law.

b) Imagine the scene. Paul sitting in their presence, with all of these men making accusations of Paul defiling the Temple, breaking the Law, causing riots, and orchestrating subversive activities against the Roman authorities.

c) Paul makes his defense and stands in integrity and truth. Paul’s response shows that he was accused a religious criminal in regards to the Old Covenant, and as a Roman political criminal.

Acts 25:9-12

a) Festus trying to start his administration and gain favor with the Temple leaders seeks to do them a favor and give Paul over to them. But Paul would have to agree because of his Roman citizenship.

b) Many people see Paul moving in the word of knowledge and wisdom here as he appeals to Caesar Nero. 1 Corinthians 12:8 – “To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit”. Paul had no knowledge of the murder plot, so we could say this is definitely a supernaturally inspired decision.

c) Every Roman citizen had the legal right to appeal directly to Caesar to have their case heard and settled. It is interesting to note that at this point, Nero was not a threat to Christianity. But in a few years from this point, he would be commonly known as the Beast by the Roman Senate and become the great persecutor of the Christian Church as he killed them in the Circus Maximus. Nero would eventually martyr Paul and Peter in there.

d) In Rome as Paul waited for trial before Nero he would write the Epistle of Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians and Philippians. This was Paul’s first imprisonment.

Acts 25:13-22

a) King Agrippa Herod was the provincial vassal king that was under Roman authority. His great-grandfather commanded the genocide of infants in Bethlehem as he tried to kill the Christ-Child, Jesus. Agrippa’s grandfather murdered John the Baptist. Agrippa was raised in Rome in the care of the Roman Emperor Claudius. He had control over the Temple and the priesthood. He was extremely devoted to Rome and tried to stop the Jewish revolt that ended with the destruction of the Temple. He was rumored to be living in an incestuous relationship with his sister Bernice. He died childless at 70, and was the last Herod.

b) We can see in the text that the charges against Paul seem illogical to the Roman authorities because of the resurrection of Jesus. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:18 – “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”.

c) Festus could not send Paul to appeal to Caesar Nero with a charge of “this man believes that Jesus is alive after being crucified, and being in a tomb for 3 days”. So, Festus tries to gain more information from Agrippa, the vassal king of the Jews so that he could write an intelligent letter to Nero.

Acts 25:23-27

a) Notice that Agrippa and Bernice enter the hearing/investigation with all of the fanfare of the rich and famous with the accolades of the world. Contrast that with Paul, the humble prisoner who possesses spiritual power, humility, faithfulness, integrity and truth. The witness of history shows us that living for eternal things will be eternally remembered. Almost all people know who St. Paul is or have heard of him. Only ancient history nerds know about Agrippa and Bernice! Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”.

b) After this hearing, Paul will be going to Rome. Finally, his desire to see the Roman Christian Community will be granted to him. Romans 1:10 – “in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you”.