Acts Chapter 27         Next chapter         Back to Bible Studies  

In verse 1 of this chapter we find that Luke has once again joined Paul, as we can see from the first person address '...we should sail...' As we read the chapter, we were immediately struck by the tremendous attention to detail by the author. Sometimes the thought actually crossed our minds to 'skip' to the next section, because it seemed as if it is simply a very detailed travel log, of very little spiritual significance. However, it is important that we pause and reflect on the reason for the detailed account. For Paul, and indeed for all the souls on board the ship during the storm which began in verse 13, it was a matter of life and death, and Luke wants us to be clear on that. Everything humanly possible was done, and that is painstakingly noted. The climax comes in verse 20 where we read '...and all hope that we should be saved was taken away'. The detailed account of the events leading up to this verse leaves us in no doubt as to the dire position of those aboard the ship. However, it is at this exact low point, when everything humanly possible has been done and everyone has lost hope, that God makes His plan known. Paul speaks up and relates the events of the previous night where the Lord Himself appeared to him and told him that none would perish.

We need to take a closer look at Paul's statement in verse 25: "...I believe God that it shall be even as it was told me". Now, was Paul just making a positive statement meant to lift the spirits of his hearers? Are the people going to be saved because of Paul's 'faith'? We need to carefully differentiate between positive thinking and affirmation, and actual faith, which is believing God when he says something. This is what Paul displayed. He was absolutely convinced of the outcome of the disaster because God had told him so. In this regard we read an extract from the book "Beyond Seduction" by author Dave Hunt concerning what 'faith' really means:

"Many sincere Christians imagine that faith is believing that what they are praying for will happen. That is not faith but presumption. If what we pray for comes to pass because we believed it would, then God in actual fact has played no real part in the answer to our prayer, but we have produced the results by the power of our own belief. There is a vast difference between believing that what I am praying for will happen because I believe it will happen and believing that God will make it happen in response to my faith in Him. Recognizing this difference becomes crucially important if we are to understand what Jesus meant when He said: 'Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you that whoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed and be cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them (Mark 11:22-24). Many Christians mistakenly conclude that faith is a power which enables those who possess it to move mountains at command and to gain their every desire simply through a positive confession. That this is not true ought to be clear from the fact that Christ prefaces this entire statement with these words: "Have faith in God." Rather than being a power that we direct, faith is confidence in God and in what He will do. The key element in faith is knowing the will of God. Surely no one would want to effect through the power of belief anything contrary to God's will, even if that were possible. Nor would God give anyone faith to believe what is not according to His will. To attempt to believe what we are not certain of is His will would be presumptuous. Clearly I cannot have faith in God to command a mountain to move in His name unless I know when and where it is God's will to move it and that I am His chosen vessel to do so. Nor can I believe that I will receive what I pray for unless I know that it is God's will and that I am in a relationship of purity and obedience that will allow Him to bless me this way (1 John 3:22; 5:14,15)." Dave Hunt, Beyond Seduction, (Harvest House Publishers, 1987), pp.48, 49.

It is interesting to note that Paul does not say anything to those on board the ship until the Lord appears to him and speaks to him. We must remember that in his mind must have rung those words spoken by the Lord Jesus in Acts 23:11 "...be of good cheer Paul, for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome." In other words, he was well aware that he would make it to Rome somehow, but he probably was not so sure about the rest! Their fate was only made known to him the night before.

In conclusion we looked at the astonishing fact that between Acts chapter 9 and Acts chapter 28 Paul had travelled approximately 3000 miles by ship and been shipwrecked many times, making his advice to the owner of the ship and the captain in verse 10, very sound advice indeed - advice that could have saved them their ship!