As they had been [at work with no respite for days] without food, Paul then came to them saying, "Yes indeed, you fellows should have listened to me, and should not have set sail from Crete to incur such disaster and ruin. But now [forget that and] and take heart. There will be no loss of life among you, even if the ship is to go. This very same night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship came to me and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; since it is necessary for you to present yourself before Caesar; and indeed God has spared the life of all sailing with you.' So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we shall have to run aground onto some island." - Acts 27: 21-26


HOPE IN THE STORM: Paul encouraged the crew to "take heart". PICTURE: Rubens Mittag/Unsplash


Paul informs those on the ship of his dream. They will be saved. They are to take heart.

Interpretation depends on many things. How do we interpret this moment when Paul presents his dream among the disheartened sailors and crew?

Is Paul not saying "I told you so!" Yes, indeed, he had warned that the trip would be full of danger. No doubt it was very hard for the centurion to rally support from his soldiers after so long. The prisoners, passengers and even the crew would have been deeply depressed, wondering whether it was worth all the effort they needed to expend...were they not going to drown anyway? The captain of the ship seems to have given up all hope and everyone else with him.

But Paul's evident authority was not diminished by the events. The advice he had given to the captain, the owner and the centurion back at Fair Havens was to be the basis upon which he gathered the crew and passengers and encouraged them for what was ahead.

Luke describes this intriguing exchange. But "I warned you something like this could happen!" does not have to be interpreted as the narking comment of a smart-alec. No doubt this was Paul's response to a frantic crew during these dark hours. Had they, having lost all hope, begun to retrospectively say, "if only we had heeded your advice..."? Luke tells us what Paul said upon taking charge. He was a person who could act with insight and understanding in that situation. He clearly saw what had to be done to calm the frantic fears of all involved. In fact, he became totally absorbed in saving the passengers, just as the angel had said.

The angel had reassured Paul that he was in God's care. Jesus had sent him to Rome; he had appealed to Caesar and God would be with him throughout the process, however long it took, and however it turned out for him.

This was now the bedrock reason for this boat being driven before the 'Euroquilo' wind in the direction of Malta. Paul wanted to get to Rome alive. That was why he had earlier advised against sailing into dangerous seas from Fair Havens. But now they had to accept that wrong decision and he took a leaf out of the book of his old friend Barnabas, encouraging the passengers: "Take heart, he said, we're going to get through this."