The Apostle Paul: Shipwrecked!

39 “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. 40 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. 41 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. 42 The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape. 43 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, 44 and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.” (Acts 27:39–44 (ESV)

A shipwreck are the remains of a ship that has wrecked, which are found either beached on land or sunken to the bottom of a body of water. Shipwrecking may be deliberate or accidental.

It has been estimated that there are some 3 million shipwrecks spread across the earth’s ocean floors. There are over 6,000 shipwrecks in the North American Great Lakes, having caused an estimated loss of 30,000 mariners’ lives. It is also estimated that there are about 550 wrecks in Lake Superior alone, most of which are undiscovered.

Some shipwrecks are historically famous such as the sinking of the Titanic (April 14-15, 1912), and the freighter S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald (November 10, 1975). Not only have books, feature films and documentaries been written and produced about shipwrecks, but also about the survivors of the same. From the dramatic to the comedic, stories about survivors of shipwrecks, otherwise known as castaways, abound. These include such titles as Cast Away, Gilligan’s Island, Swiss Family Robinson, Lost in Space, and Robinson Crusoe.

The Apostle Paul, Luke and others aboard the ill-fated cargo ship bound for Rome knew what it meant to be shipwrecked. Luke recorded in today’s text the circumstances leading to the destruction of their vessel. With the ship’s bow striking a reef and running aground, along with the breaking of the ship’s stern by the surf, the passengers abandoned ship and made for land. Some swam to shore, while others floated on wooden planks or other pieces of the ship. All 276 passengers and crew (Acts 27:37) made it safely to shore. This was one of three shipwrecks the Apostle Paul experienced (2 Corinthians 11:25).

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Why did God allow His servant to suffer so, especially to bring him to an island where he would have gone willingly if asked? God’s ways are often mysterious, but Scripture assures us they are altogether righteous.”

Resolve today to not only praise God for His wisdom in your life, but also to trust Him throughout the circumstances of your life.

Soli deo Gloria!

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