Exhausted, Paul lay on the sandy beach. In the turbulent and stormy seas the ship had bobbed like a cork. The bow of the ship struck a reef, and the ship began to break apart as it ran aground on a sand bar.
It took every ounce of his strength to swim from the shipwreck to the island of Malta. The other 275 shipmates also made it to safety, just as the Lord had told Paul would happen. However, the ship, its anchors and the cargo they were transporting to Rome “drowned” in the Mediterranean.
For readers who may not be familiar with the details of this story about Paul, here is some background information. Paul, who is known as the apostle Paul, had been arrested in Jerusalem about 57 AD and falsely accused by the Jewish Council of being a trouble maker. Paul denied all the charges, and the Jewish Council could not prove their accusations. A disagreement arose between members of the Council.
At that time Rome ruled over Jerusalem. The Jewish Council did not have the authority to try him. so Paul was turned over to the Romans. Paul had claimed he was a Roman citizen and asked to have his case tried by Caesar in Rome. After several more hearings, the Roman governor in Caesarea declared,
“Very well! You have appealed to Caesar and to Caesar (in Rome) you will go!” (Acts 25:11-12)
Arrangements were then made for Paul to be sent to Rome by ship to stand trial. It was during this trip, that the shipwreck occurred.
Arrangements were made to sail from the coastal town of Caesarea to Italy. The journey was slow-sailing with the wind against them. After several delays they arrived at Fair Havens on the island of Crete. It was now late fall, and winter weather was approaching.
Paul suggested they port there for the season, as he predicted trouble ahead. The captain did not agree and decided to sail on, sailing close to the shore of Crete. The weather changed abruptly, and they encountered a violent storm. The crew had to let the ship run before the gale.
Paul had been told by an angel of God that everyone would survive. Paul then told the crew:
“Men, you ought to have followed my advice and not to have set sail from Crete and incurred this damage and loss. Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.’ Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on a certain island.” Acts 27:21-26 NASB
After two weeks of battling the severe stormy weather, the ship was shattered on a reef at the place where the Ionian and Mediterranean Seas converge near Malta. As the Lord had said, everyone on board made it to shore, safely. Acts 27:27-44.
Paul lay on the beach catching his breath. Some friendly natives on the island of Malta built a fire for them. After regaining his strength, Paul gathered some sticks to keep the flames alive. When he put the sticks of wood on the fire a poisonous snake, awakened by the warmth of the fire, bit him on the hand. The natives expected he might swell up and die, but were amazed when he wasn’t harmed.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of shipwrecks have occurred over the 2,000 years since this took place. Few can name specifics about these other shipwrecks. Yet, in one of GOD’S OTHER WAYS, we are still talking, reading and writing about this one shipwreck in which no life was lost.
God made sure Paul got to Rome, as the Lord had previously promised him. (…the Lord appeared to Paul and said, "Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well." Acts 23:11)
As a result of Paul's work, Christianity soon became a worldwide religion. Today Christianity is the world's largest religion, with an estimated 2.1 billion believers--nearly a third of the 6.9 billion people on Earth.
Luke wrote a detailed account of these events in Acts 27-28:10. Expeditions have been undertaken that have used his descriptions of that fateful voyage as a “treasure map”. Several years ago, four anchors were found precisely where Luke’s account says they should be.
Unfortunately, the divers who found them did not know the historical value of what they had found, and three of the anchors were melted down and lost.
However, Dr. Anthony Bonano, head of the Department of Classics and Archaeology at the University of Malta, has verified that the remaining anchor does come from a Roman ship of the first to second century A.D. Could this be the one described in Acts? The evidence seems overwhelming that it is.
For more about this amazing find, go to: http://www.baseinstitute.org/pages/pauls_shipwreck/20