New Testament Stories My Daddy Told Me
SHIPWRECK (Acts 27:21-44)
By Wayne S. Walker
Following his arrest in Jerusalem and trials in Caesarea, Paul was sent to Rome to appear before Caesar. While on his way, the ship on which he was traveling was caught in a terrible windstorm when the captain tried to make it from one end of Crete to the other. For fourteen days, they were tossed to and fro on the Mediterranean Sea. After a long abstinence from food, Paul finally spoke up and told them that they should have listened to him when he warned them against sailing from Crete. However, he said that an angel of the Lord promised him that he would make it to Rome and that there would be no loss of life but only of the ship, although they would run aground on a certain island.
Eventually, one night about midnight, the sailors sensed that they were nearing some land. They took some soundings, finding it at first twenty fathoms and then later at fifteen fathoms. Afraid of running aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors and waited for daylight. Some of the sailors tried to escape by letting down the skiff and pretending to put out more anchors. But Paul, knowing that their skill would be needed, warned the Centurion, who had the soldiers cut the ropes off the skiff and let it float away. The next morning, Paul encouraged everyone to eat. There were 276 people on the ship.
After eating, they lightened the ship by throwing all the wheat overboard. They did not recognize the land but saw a bay in which they hoped to run the ship. So they cut the anchors, loosened the rudder, hoisted the mainsail, and made for shore. However, the ship ran into some kind of bank or reef at the mouth of the bay; the prow stuck fast while the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves. The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to keep them from escaping, but the Centurion wished to save Paul and stopped them. He told everyone to jump into the sea and either swim to land or float on boards and other parts of the ship to safety. Thus, everyone was saved. (And who says that the Bible is not an exciting book?)
- How long was Paul’s ship tossed to and fro on the sea?
- From where had Paul warned them against sailing?
- Who spoke to Paul promising that he would make it to Rome?
- At what time of day did the sailors sense that they were nearing land?
- How did some of the sailors try to escape?
- How many people were on board the ship?
- After they ate, how did they lighten the ship?
- What happened to the ship when it reached the mouth of the bay?
- What did the soldiers plan to do to the prisoners?
- What did the Centurion tell everyone to do to get to land?