“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.”
Acts 1:8 outlines the entirety of the book of Acts. The movement of the Holy Spirit began in Jerusalem but spread quickly. At the conversion of Saul, we have a man uniquely qualified to fulfill Acts 1:8.
Its initial fulfillment of spreading the Gospel outside Jerusalem kicked into high gear with the stoning of Stephen and the persecution of Greek Christians. Then the great persecutor of the Church came face to face with the resurrected Lord on the Damascus Road. Saul/Paul was a learned Jewish scholar yet understood Gentile culture hailing from Tarsus. Not only that, but he was a Roman citizen. His citizenship is what allowed him to appeal to Caesar, such that the Gospel spread from this little backwater city, Jerusalem, to the global hub of world power, Rome. Yet, as we see in Acts 27, the journey wasn’t easy.
Paul was an experienced traveler. As such, Paul warned them in verse 10, “Men, I can see the voyage is going to end in disaster and great loss not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” Verse 9 says that the “fast was already over.” The Fast referred to here was probably the Day of Atonement which occurred in late September to early October. After that time of year, the unsettled weather patterns over the Mediterranean Sea made sailing hazardous. In those days sea traffic ceased by early November. (Bible Knowledge Commentary)
Paul’s prediction was, of course, correct. The Mediterranean is known for sudden fierce storms, and the one Paul and the others experienced didn’t disappoint. After days of storms, Dr. Luke records in verse 20, “We finally abandoned all hope of being saved.” However, Acts 1:8 had not yet been fulfilled.
In the night, an angel appeared to Paul saying, “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” (v. 24). For two weeks, the ship was tossed around, but they knew at that point, they were close to landfall. They took depth readings and decided to anchor. Running a ship aground was dangerous and must happen on purpose. They didn’t want to get smashed on the rocks.
There are a few interesting things that happen that give us insight into Paul’s character and his ‘way’ with people. First, some sailors attempt to escape on a life-boat. Paul tells the Roman soldiers their plans and the disastrous consequences of their escape. The soldiers heeded Paul’s words, “the soldiers cut the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it drift away” (v. 32). That’s incredible! Secondly, Paul advised everyone to eat and they ate. Lastly, when the soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners, fearing they would escape, the centurion stopped it “wanting to save Paul’s life” (v. 43).
Paul was a man uniquely qualified to fulfill God’s mission. How has God qualified you? What skills and abilities do you possess? What relationships and influence do you have that you might accomplish His plans?
The fact that people heeded Paul’s words, even as a prisoner, illustrates Paul’s winsomeness while fulfilling God’s mission. It’s not just what you do for the Lord, but how you do it. God has a mission and you have a part in it. You may be highly qualified, but you might also be a jerk. Don’t be a jerk. By His Spirit, let the love, mercy, and grace of God flow through you to others, such that your efforts might win people to the Lord.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate