Exegetic study Acts 27-28 In Acts 26 we see Paul being arrested by the Jews in Rome and then being released but the Jews demand that Paul be put to death so Paul asserts his Roman citizenship and demands to be allowed to plead his case before Caesar. Todo this Paul is put on a ship to sail to Rome but he is a prisoner and is under the guard of a centurion named Julius. However the ship runs into rather dreadful weather and the apostle is given a chance to care for the ship’s crew and to witness about Christ once again. In Acts 27 Paul is put on a boat and under the custody of a centurion names Julius.
Now centurions were Roman officers who had earned their rank and were used to being in command. We know from our prior reading that Romans are pagans and we can assume that Julius is also a pagan and he is now in charge ofa Christian. Don’t forget the Romans enjoyed watching Christians being attacked by lions for sport so I would think that Paul is in rather dire straits. He is put on a ship as a prisoner, the lowest of the low, and a Roman centurion is his master. For all Paul knew this Roman would shackle him to the bowels of the ship and leave him there until the ship ocked weeks later in Italy.
But this is not the case. Instead Paul uses his time with Julius and makes him his friend post-haste! According to the bible it’s a bond formed overnight! (NIV, 1991) Right here is a moment of cross-culture ministry. Paul is in the clutches ofa Christian killer. But instead of being afraid, overnight he and Julius bond and are friends. The bible is not clear exactly what was done or said but the very next day Julius shows kindness to Paul when the ship docks by allowing Paul to go to his friends so they can attend to his needs. Paul has certainly acquired Julius’ trust if he lets Paul leave and believes Paul will return.
Paul must have treated Julius with respect and honor in order to receive such freedom and trust. Anything less and it’s doubtful Julius would have let him off the ship at all! So we see here that even when facing a pagan (non-believer) treat them as Jesus would have. With kindness, respect, and honor and Just see if that behavior alone would change your circumstance. That behavior could change the opinion the person has of you, and together the whole circumstance can change for the better and become fertile round for witnessing about Jesus. Later in Acts 28 the ship lands in Malta which if way off course.
They hit bad weather and drift off and end up in Malta. The ship is destroyed by the storm and the whole crew is stranded on the island. We can assume that the islanders are not Christian and not Roman. Here is a group of men from places unknown to the Maltese and they have come ashore on their island. Keep in mind they have not come ashore at a port but on a beach shipwrecked. Do the Maltese attack with spears? No. Does the ship’s crew attack with swords? No. Instead the Maltese make fire and warm up their guests and provide for their needs. Verse 28:2 says the islanders show “unusual kindness” to the ships men.
Now wouldn’t that be something if a group of Americans showed up at the airport and met a group of attended to the Somalis’ needs. That would be wonderful! Not only do the Maltese attend to their needs right then, but they give them shelter through the entire winter. During their winter stay we see Paul using this time to witness to the people of Malta. Not only does he witness about Jesus but he uses God’s power to heal the sick slanders and he even heals the father of the islands chief, Publius. Imagine if Paul still had not wanted to witness to gentiles as was the case earlier?
Then all this fertile ground would have been lost. Church plant opportunity gone by the wayside. So that had me wondering if Paul’s presence was known in Malta to this day. If Paul had healed a Maltese ruler’s father I wondered of Paul would still be a part of Malta history today? I began to research Malta’s religious history. I found out its population is 98% Catholic. Catholics are Christians and remember Catholic religion s traceable back to Jesus in Jerusalem during Roman occupation. So the main religion in Malta today is traceable back to Jesus.
But also that Publius, whom Luke referred to as a chief, later becomes the islands first Bishop following his conversion to Christianity. (Dina, 2009) And St. Paul is the patron saint of the island to this day. (Dem, D. 2011) How remarkable is that? Even though Malta underwent Muslim rule and the Maltese constitution allows freedom of all religion still 98% of the population consider themselves Catholic making it the largest Christian- Catholic country in the world. It’s important to note that it is also known as the oldest Christian community in the world. Holton, C. 2011) So let’s recap this fantastic Journey of Paul’s. So Paul, a lowly prisoner from a ship headed to Rome, becomes a witness to a centurion who later allows him to witness to the Maltese people and we find that thousands of years later that island has as their patron saint, St. Paul, and a large percent of their population still consider themselves Christians. Their first known bishop is a former island chief, Bishop Publius, who history states became a bishop after his conversion to Christianity! Bishop Publius goes on to become the Bishop of Athens.
It is recorded in Malta’s history books that he is the chief that befriended Paul when Paul’s ship wrecked on Malta. All this because of Paul, who was not afraid of the islanders, was not looking down on them for not being Roman or Jewish, witnessed to them and Christianity has taken a strong hold in this community that stands to this day. I found this astonishing. I actually had goose bumps going up and down my arms while reading Malta’s history. This is exactly what God and Jesus wants. If Paul had not wanted to witness to entiles he would not have witnessed to the Maltese.
Maybe not have befriended Julius, and then Christianity might not be a part of the Maltese history. We as Christians must be willing to minister no matter what our position, be it king or prisoner, wealthy or poor, beautiful or plain, we need to know that God wants us to witness to others, Just as we are now. And witness as Paul did- as Jesus would have. In a kind and respectful way, so people will listen, so people will want to hear what you have to say. We are to plant the seed, to everyone, all peoples and its God who rows the seed.
But we must be willing to go out and plant the seeds of God’s word. Look how big Malta’s story became from a religious perspective. And it all started with a former Jew, who persecuted Christians, who was a prisoner, who was not faith as Paul was. Imagine what God could do through each one of us! References Dem, D. (2011, September 2). History of religion in Malta – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved March 21, 2013, from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/History_of_religion_in_Malta Holton, C. (2011 , July 4).
Searching for Paul’s Shipwreck on Malta – World – CBN News – Christian News 24-7 – CBN. com. CBN. com – The Christian Broadcasting Network. Retrieved March 19, 2013, from http://www. cbn. com/cbnnews/world/2010/february/searching-for-pauls- shipwreck-on-malta/ Life application study Bible: New International Version. (Large print ed. ). (1991). Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House ;. Dina, D. N. (2009, February 8). Malta daily photo: St. Paul’s Shipwreck – Malta. Malta daily photo. Retrieved March 17, 2013, from http://maltadailyphoto. blogspot. com/2009/02/st-pauls-shipwreck-malta. html