Some of the soldiers proposed to kill all the prisoners, to make sure they couldn’t swim away & escape during the shipwreck (316). But Julius was determined to save Paul, so he vetoed that proposal.
Instead, he commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first & get to shore. The rest made their way to shore by paddling on boards or other parts of the ship. Ultimately, everyone on board, including all the prisoners, escaped safely to land.
Malta, they learned, was the name of the island where they were shipwrecked. Because of the rain & cold, the natives kindly kindled a fire & made them all welcome. Paul gathered some kindling & was laying it on the fire, when the heat drove a snake out from the sticks. The snake fastened on Paul’s hand, and the natives were sure Paul would soon be dead — assuming he was some sort of criminal, perhaps even a murderer.
But Paul simply shook off the snake into the fire, having suffered no real harm.
When, after a long time, Paul’s hand didn’t swell up & he didn’t fall down dead, the natives changed their tune & decided Paul was some sort of god!
The leading citizen of the island, whose name was Publius, had an estate nearby. He welcomed the shipwreck survivors & entertained them courteously for three days. During this time, his father lay sick with a fever & dysentery. The Holy Spirit led Paul to go in to him & pray & lay hands on him.
Immediately, the old man was healed by the power of God! When word of this got around, other sick people came from different parts of the island & they were also healed.
The natives honored their guests in many ways for the next three months. When the weather broke & they were finally able to leave Malta, they were given all necessary provisions.
The Twin Brothers was the figurehead of the ship on which Paul’s party finally left Malta. That ship had come from Alexandria in Egypt, had wintered on Malta, and was now headed to Italy.
- After sailing northward, they landed at Syracuse on the island of Sicily, where they stayed three days.
- From there they continued northward until they reached Rhegium, at the southern tip of the Italian mainland.
- After waiting there one day, the south wind again became favorable & the ship sailed further north to Puteoli, on Italy’s western coast. There Paul & his companions enjoyed the hospitality of local Christians for seven days.
(316) Acts 27:42-28:14a