As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.” And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. (We were in all 276 persons in the ship.) And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea.
Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned if possible to run the ship ashore. So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that tied the rudders. Then hoisting the foresail to the wind they made for the beach. But striking a reef, they ran the vessel aground. The bow stuck and remained immovable, and the stern was being broken up by the surf. The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape. But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land. Acts 27:33-44.
Paul’s faith, confidence, and kindness toward his captors pays off when the chips are down. The centurion spares not only Paul, but all the other prisoners when it’s common to kill them rather than let them escape. Paul has distinguished himself as a man of God, and when you need to survive a shipwreck, you might want to cling to the friend of God.
We must remember that Rome was an oppressive government that ruled most of the world with an iron fist. We in America bemoan our petty tyrant bureaucrats and our demagogues in elected office, but they are amateurs next to Caesar. Let us find a way to bring grace to our own government now by praying for them, warning them, and even asking God to rescue them from themselves. As Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Not all will turn to Christ, but we will have obeyed our commission. That is all Paul wanted to do, whether he was in chains or free.