The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping.
But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan.
He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. (Acts 27:42-43)
During Paul’s voyage, the crew had to overcome the storm of Euragulo, which was a powerful storm with
winds blowing from the northeast. However, in order to take control of the voyage, they turned the bow
towards the storm and dropped the anchor. They were unsuccessful in this tactic because the winds and
waves were way too strong for the boat to be controlled. The storm caused the boat to crash into a sandbar
and the crew was overwhelmed with terror and fear. They suddenly realized the power of mother nature
and how human power can only do so much.
Getting close to land
For 14 days, the crew and the boat suffered major damages and uncertainty from the powerful storm.
They were unable to do anything about controlling the direction of the boat or destination. The dark
clouds and strong waves made it impossible for the crew to see one inch in any direction, and had no idea
if or when land would approach. The sailors began to measure the depth of the water, and eventually
found a depth of fifteen lengths, which they thought would be best to drop four anchors in the stern and
wait for the coming dawn to properly assess their situation before facing more challenges.
Advice to a sailing expert
Some of the sailors decided to take an emergency boat into the sea in hopes to reach land without the
knowledge of the rest of the crew. However, Paul witnessed this and persuaded them to stay on the main
boat to avoid further danger and possible loss of life from the powerful storm. Paul convinced and
reassured the crew that God made a promise to them before the voyage that there would be no damage to
their lives, and there was no need to try anything unreasonable. The sailors decided to listen to Paul and
didn’t take the emergency boat to search for land. As a result, Paul’s vigilance and prudence saved the
lives of the entire crew.
The end in the hands of the Lord
Once dawn came, the crew prepared for drifting. After 14 days of hunger and starvation, everyone was
weak with little to no energy. The crew was encouraged to eat because they needed the strength to swim
to land once the opportunity arose. Before eating the food that was leftover, Paul held the food in his
hand, gave thanks to God, and began to eat first. Paul blessed the food and distributed it to the rest of the
crew, which was reminiscent of performing the sacrament that Jesus did. All 276 crew members followed
and ate the food in peace. Everyone ate their fill and tossed the rest of the remaining grain into the sea.
Through this sacrament-like action, it shows us that the power of Christ’s resurrection to save life is
apparent. Every crew member on the boat were people that God gave to Paul to lead. Paul was entrusted
by the Lord to do his best to bring everyone to salvation.
It is God’s will to save
The time and opportunity finally came when it was possible to enter into the harbor. The anchor line was
cut to prevent the ship from stopping and the rudder tied to it was released to head towards the port to
prevent the boat from severe flooding. Two huge waves came together and severely damaged the ship,
causing all crew members to jump ship and swim to land. During this moment, the crew feared that the
prisoners who were onboard the ship would flee from their imprisonment, including Paul. Everyone
found a floating piece of wood from the damaged ship to stay afloat until they eventually reached land.
Paul and the entire crew survived the dangerous storm and voyage. But this was God’s plan from the
beginning. The centurion was a wise man and important figure in this voyage because he showed goodwill towards Paul, who was a prisoner, and carefully observed Paul’s moves and accompanied him from Jerusalem. Being saved physically is important, but being saved spiritually is even more important.
We, too, are commanded by God to save our neighbors. Even today, we are swept away by storms and
severe waves, but even in the midst of it, the work of salvation to save people will have to be done together.