And when it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius. And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica.
The next day we put in at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for. And putting out to sea from there we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us. And when we had sailed across the open sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. ’
When I used to read these sections about them sailing, I always imagined pirate ships or Columbus or the Mayflower kind of thing.
Those boats wouldn’t be invented for hundreds of years after Paul was dead.
These boats were much more primitive. They steered with great difficulty. Oars on each side would rotate the boat around to face the right way, kind of like a huge rowboat. The deck and the hold below were separate. Stuff went in the hold, and people went on the deck. It was like camping for everyone aboard. You typically had to bring your own food and maybe a tent or a big robe. Passengers and crew would lay out on the flat deck to sleep, sit around all day, and sometimes help with the work.
Most boats would take short day trips from harbor to harbor during the windy daytime. At night, the wind would stop and you could be stuck out in the water with nothing to protect you from your superstitions about the deep! They had developed some ways of navigation at night, but it depended on clear skies or a clear view of the shore. Compasses wouldn’t be used in boats for at least 900 years.
So this is risky.
It’s not a government boat.
There are other prisoners.
And they don’t know how long it’s going to take to get there.
But in the midst of all of this uncertainty, Luke is traveling with Paul and they are getting to know the names of the folks they are traveling with. Paul, is of course, well known among them because he is one of the prisoners they are transporting. Julius the centurion is called that because he has 100 men under his leadership.
The picture just changed, didn’t it?
If every soldier takes a shift being chained to a prisoner, and you’re transporting 50 prisoners, every one of your soldiers can have a half-day off. Some of the prisoners are going to be punks, and others are going to be saints.
Paul finds favor with Julius and is allowed to do some visiting on their way. Since the boats would stop every night and the passengers would stay in the cities, Paul had plenty of chances to revisit the Church of Asia. Sometimes it would be hard to find a boat the next morning, so the travelers would stay a day or so in one of the towns.
Visit this site to look at a map of the trip. You’ll appreciate how much God is even using this captivity voyage to continue to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
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