Since many of them had no desire to eat, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not put out to sea from Crete, thus avoiding this damage and loss. And now I advise you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only the ship will be lost. For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve came to me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul! You must stand before Caesar, and God has graciously granted you the safety of all who are sailing with you.’ Therefore keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be just as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island” —Acts 27:21-26
Luke puts the matter so delicately: “. . . many of them had no desire to eat . . .” Can you imagine what it would have been like on board that ship? Yes, I was in the Navy, but I have only been on the ocean three times, and that was on family cruises several years ago. So, I am no expert on this, but having read many books about sea travel and having seen documentaries on the seas, I have learned that even in normal seas, men will hang over the rail to “feed the fish,” if you know what I mean. So in the midst of this horrendous storm, who would have thought about eating? The whole bunch of them must have been seasick, so I doubt any of them would have wanted to eat.
From a purely human standpoint, there was no hope of being saved. But an angel of God appeared to Paul in the night. He told Paul not to be afraid, which obviously implied that, just like the rest of the crew, Paul was afraid. It looked as though his warning would be fulfilled. However, the angel assured Paul that he would stand before Caesar so there was no doubt that God was going to deliver Paul. Not only that, because our Lord is so grascious, He was going to give Paul the lives of all his shipmates. Now I do not know about you, but that gives me a lot of comfort. Yehoveh promised Paul that he would stand before Caesar . . . and no wind, rain, trouble, jail, beatings, or even mistakes made along the way—could hinder His promises. God’s promise would be fulfilled! They always are.
As you would expect, Paul told everyone not to be afraid, but to have courage. Granted, they should have listened to Paul when he first warned them about the dangers of leaving the safety of Fair Havens, but they didn’t. So now, they should listen to the good news Paul had for them. An angel of God had appeared to Paul in the night, assuring him that everyone would be saved from the this storm. This was because God was protecting Paul, who must stand before Caesar. It was because of Paul that his shipmates as well would survive the storm. No life would be lost, but only the ship, which would run aground on some island (as yet unnamed). Paul’s shipmates should be encouraged by Paul’s faith in God, trusting that what God had promised, He would do.
I wonder how many of us would be encouraged by something like that? When you are in the midst of a storm, and someone offers you words of encouragement, will you listen? Will you be willing to follow their directions? Now if you knew the person and had confidence they could hear of God, that is one thing, but none of those men knew Paul. He was a prisoner, just like them, and here is saying, “All will be well . . .” How would you react?
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Story of Acts