Pastor's Bible Study
Bible Study May 23, 2018
I. Where have you seen God at work this week?
II. Have you ever felt God wanted you to go somewhere or do something (big)? Did you? What happened?
III. Tonight we read about Paul’s trip from Judea to Rome—most of it, anyway.
A. Why was Paul taken into custody by the Romans? Where has he been for the last couple of years or so?
B. Why is he going to Rome?
IV. MAPS—READ ACTS 27:1-12.
A. This is the last of the “we” sections—usually taken to refer to Luke (author of Luke/Acts).
1. Trip is told in detail—locations and nautical terms, familiarity with sailing in the sea that time of year (like many ancient novels but without monsters or gods—The Iliad and the Odyssey)
2.Jesus’ prophecy that his followers would witness “to the ends of the earth” (1:8) is nearing fulfillment here at the other end of the book. [Spain?]
3. Paul has been told that Rome is the city of his destiny. (“divine necessity”)
a. Delays in Casearea have pushed the timetable for a sea journey beyond safe limits [Great Lakes].
b. Paul is a prisoner for safe passage to Rome—not because he is considered guilty.
c. Roman institutions are public instruments of God’s sovereign purpose.
4. The first ship they board is from Adramyttium—on the northwest coast of Asia—probably a ferry for goods and people along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean—not for the open sea.
5. They stop at Sidon—known for purple dye and glass-blowing [UW Madison! Cleveland?]
6. They hug the coasts of Asia Minor and Crete to avoid the high winds from the west.
7. Alexandria—Egypt was breadbasket of Italy.
8. The Fast—Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) in fall. People did not sail in the winter. (October- April)
9. Phoenix—presumably a better harbor for ships. Wherever they stopped, Paul would be delayed getting to Rome until spring.
V. READ ACTS 27:13-26.
A. How is the story of Paul like and unlike the story of Jonah?
1. Like Jonah, Paul is caught in a storm at sea responding to the call of God.
2. Unlike Jonah, Paul has decided to respond in faith and obedience.
3. Unlike Jonah, Paul has a calming and saving effect—he is a seasoned traveler.
4. In both cases—a witness to God before Gentiles.
B. God’s saving grace triumphs over elements that provoke human despair.
1. God’s future plans are disclosed to Paul during a time of personal suffering and bring comfort [most often when we pay attention?].
2. Paul comforts companions and crew.
3. Paul personifies the scope of God’s provident care over all people, but especially the role the church must perform as the agent of God’s salvation.
a. v. 25: The faith in God’s grace that prompts the church to petition God for the salvation of others—“So keep up your courage, men.”
b. is legitimized not only by what God has promised in the scriptures—“it will be exactly as I have been told”
c. but also by our confidence that God keeps precisely what God has promised—“for I have faith in God.”
VI. READ ACTS 27:27-44.
A. Two weeks is a long time.
1. Confirmed by modern calculations
2. Paul’s words/actions over the meal have Eucharistic overtones (based in Jewish ritual).
B. Which parts of this story are most interesting? Speak to you spiritually?
1. How many different ways is God’s providence/grace shown?
2. Who or what is used(?) to bring about God’s purposes? Weather, soldiers, sailors, Paul?
3. Is it surprising that God uses nonbelievers to bring his will about? Or our relationships with nonbelievers? I wonder whether the Roman officer had been somehow affected by Paul and his faith.
4. Outreach/Service Sunday/youth discussion. Best advertising is word-of-mouth: invitation.