INFLUENCE IN ROME
Lord, protect us in all our journeys.
Read ACTS 27:1–12
Paul Sails for Rome
27 When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment. 2 We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us.
3 The next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius, in kindness to Paul, allowed him to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs. 4 From there we put out to sea again and passed to the lee of Cyprus because the winds were against us. 5 When we had sailed across the open sea off the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia. 6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy and put us on board. 7 We made slow headway for many days and had difficulty arriving off Cnidus. When the wind did not allow us to hold our course, we sailed to the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone. 8 We moved along the coast with difficulty and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea.
9 Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Day of Atonement.[a] So Paul warned them, 10 “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” 11 But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship. 12 Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there. This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest.
a Acts 27:9 That is, Yom Kippur
New International Version (NIV)
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Holy Father, please open our eyes to see the stories of Acts anew and afresh, looking past our over-familiarity and recognizing the beauty which they really contain.
Chapter 27 is one of the literary high points in the New Testament—it contains some of the most sophisticated classical Greek and is full of cues to other ancient Hellenistic writings. It also contains a swashbuckling adventure, placing Luke in the serious Greek historical tradition with its emphasis on travel, investigation and eyewitness testimony. This is the most important of the three “we” passages in Acts—Luke is attempting to give his work credibility as a piece of Greek history through his personal involvement. It makes for compelling and vivid reading.
Paul’s journey to Rome underscores the theme that Paul’s missionary efforts include a focus on people of influence. We have seen this in all of the previous trial audiences, but Caesar constitutes the ultimate person of influence. Paul would not be granted the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of an audience with Caesar any other way than through the exceedingly slow Roman legal system (Acts 25:12; 26:31,32).
God in his sovereignty is orchestrating circumstances so that Paul encounters many people of means and influence. Whether this is Sergius Paulus on Cyprus, Lydia and the jailer in Philippi, the prominent women in Thessalonica, Justus and Crispus in Corinth, Felix, Festus, Agrippa, or Julius the centurion, Paul knows the benefits these gatekeepers will provide to his mission. Caesar rules the entire Roman Empire, and Paul knows that sailing as a prisoner is the only way he may be able to meet him face to face.
How can you, like Paul, be more strategic and missions-minded in the social networks of which you are a part? Who are the gatekeepers and people of influence in your networks?
Lord, thank You for all the open doors that You give me, whether with rich people or poor people.