Today we finish up Acts (27-28). Paul is placed under the care of a centurion named Julius and they begin the journey by ship towards Rome. It is not the right time of year to take a cruise, and Paul warns Julius if he insists on sailing for Rome now, the journey will be a disaster. The pilot and the owner of the ship disagree, so they set out across the Mediterranean.
Paul’s prediction comes true. A Northeasterly wind sweeps in and for many days they battle the storms, sure that they will all go down with the ship. About this time, Paul tells them that an angel of the Lord has spoken to him, promising that he will make it to Rome and that no one on board will perish. The ship, however, will not survive the journey. After two more weeks, they run aground on an island called Malta, where they are welcomed by the inhabitants. They stay there for three months until another Alexandrian ship is able to take them on to Rome.
Paul and his companions’ arrival in Rome is almost anti-climactic. He does not appear in court, but simply placed under house arrest with one soldier to guard him. None of his accusers show up to press charges, and no letters have been sent to the Jews living in Rome. In fact, they are curious to hear from Paul, as they have heard about this new “Way.” Paul is allowed to have people in his rented house from morning until evening, where he spends his time sharing the gospel and discipling the believers. The book of Acts ends with this amazing summary:
“For two whole years, Paul stayed there in his own rented home and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance.” (28:30-31)
Every obstacle that the enemy of the gospel threw in front of Paul turned out to advance the gospel! I must believe that there was spiritual warfare going on behind the scenes in Paul’s life. Our enemy, Satan, surely stirred up the Jews in Jerusalem against him, feeding the insecurity and doubt and hatred of any talk about Jesus. Their plan seems to succeed as Paul is carried out of the city as a prisoner, yet along the way, 275 people onboard a ship see the power of God displayed and spend three months listening to Paul teach. Don’t you know many believed by the time they got to Rome? Then, instead of being thrown in prison or executed, which would have delighted the enemy, Paul is positioned in the crossroads of the known world, preaching the gospel with boldness and strengthening the church.
The attacks of the enemy will never succeed, even though at the moment you might think your ship is going down. God will always use what Satan means for evil, for good, both in our lives and for the sake of the gospel. What are you facing today that seems to have no purpose, or that you feel might destroy you? Trust God to see you through and look for the opportunities to proclaim the kingdom of God. The enemy will not have his way.