Have you ever sailed the high seas? felt the wind and spray of salt water on your face? listened to the roar as the ship cut through the water and felt the power of the oceanâ€™s raw strength? For Paul, who had been confined for more than two years, this must have been a welcome change. But what started out as a Mediterranean cruise soon turned into a ship of terror. Before you begin, pray that God will reveal exactly what He wants to teach you on this voyage.
1. A. Who was charged with Paul's care and custody on the journey? What can you learn about him from verses 1 and 3?
B. Who else accompanied Paul? (27:1, 2) What do you think may have been their roles? (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24)
The route they followed from Caesarea to Rome was not the shortest but it was the safest. They sailed along the coastline and charted through the Greek Islands where they could restock and find shelter in case of bad weather. (27:2-5)
2. A. At Myra, they changed ships. What kind of ship did they board there? (27:6, 37, 38)
(Note: Ancient ships had no rudder and only one sail. They steered with great difficulty using large oars which protruded out of each side of the back of the ship.)
B. Why did Paul call the first leg of their journey out of Myra "difficult "? Why were they behind schedule when they arrived at the port of Fair Havens? (27:7-9a)
C. Why was sailing already dangerous? (27:9)
(Note: "The Fast" was the Day of Atonement which occurred on October 5 in 59 AD. Sea travel was already considered unwise because of winter storms. Only a fool ever sailed between November and March.)
Apparently, Paul was included in a meeting of sailors and officers to set the itinerary.
3. A. What did Paul advise? (27:10) Was his advice heeded? (27:11)
B. Where did they decide to spend the winter and why? (27:12)
4. A. Soon after they set sail, what did they encounter? (27:13, 14)
B. Describe the severity of the storm. (27:15) What extreme measures were taken? (27:16-19) (Note: The life boat was normally pulled in tow.).
C. The sighting of sun and stars was essential to navigation. What added to their terror? (27:20)
D. Have you ever been seasick? in a storm at sea? If so, describe how you felt. Were you able to eat? sleep?
5. A. After saying "I told you so" (27:21), what words of encouragement did Paul have for these weary seamen? (27:22)
B. What two specific promises did Paul reveal in verse 24? Why was he so sure? (27:23, Acts 23: 11)
C. What do you think the angel meant by saying that God had graciously given Paul the lives of his fellow passengers? (27:24) What does this show us that Paul had been doing?
D. What did Paul predict would happen before they would go ashore? (27:26)
E. Verse 27 indicates they had been lost at sea for two weeks. How would you have felt by the end of the first week? second week? What would be the tone of your ships' journal during the ordeal? How do you think the crew looked by the end of the second week?
6. A. During the fourteenth night, what happened to raise their spirits? (27:27, 28)
B. What did some sailors do as a result? (27:30) How did Paul stop them? (27:3 1)
C. What evidence is there that Paul's status had changed since verse 11? What effect do his words, actions and demeanor seem to have on others? (27:29b, 32)
D. How did Paul exhibit compassion and practicality in verses 33-36?
At daylight they ran the ship aground and the pounding surf broke the stern into pieces. (27:39-41)
7. A. What did the soldiers plan to do before swimming or riding debris ashore? (27:42)
Why? (Acts 16:27, 28)
B. Who rescued Paul? (27:43, Psalm 91:14)
8. A. (Digging Deeper) As each of the 276 set foot on dry land, what do you think was going through their minds? Read Psalm 107:1, 2, 23-32. Relate this Psalm to their ordeal.
B. Do you think some of the 276 came to faith in Christ? Why or why not?
9. A. Can you remember a situation or incident when God protected you or someone you love from danger or serious injury? Describe the experience. How did you feel?
B. In emergencies and danger, we often reveal who we really are and what we truly believe. Compare Paul's actions and attitudes during this episode with those of the soldiers and sailors.
C. If you were aboard a plane or ship having engine trouble, what could you say to encourage and comfort others? Would you take the initiative as Paul did? How do you usually respond in a crisis?
10. What is the greatest pressure situation you are facing now? How might Paul's example help you next time you are caught in a "northeaster"?
11. (Digging Deeper) Paul had endured several years of difficulties and stress. It would have been easy for him to become self-absorbed during this time. How do you see him ministering to others since he was arrested in 21:27?
12. (Summit) Compare Jonah and Paul as they sailed the high seas.