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Paul's Shipwreck

When it was decided that we were to sail for Italy, Paul and certain other prisoners were placed in charge of Julius, an officer of the Emperor's regiment. We went on board a ship which was bound for the seaports of Asia Minor. The next day we stopped at Sidon, where Julius very kindly allowed Paul to visit his friends and be entertained by them. Putting to sea again, we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, for the wind was against us. Then after sailing past Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. There the officer found a ship from Alexandria bound for Italy and put us on board. For many days we made slow progress and it was only with great difficulty that we arrived off Cnidus. Then as the wind was against us we sailed under the lee of Crete, opposite Cape Salmone, and after coasting along with great difficulty came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.
      
      As our voyage had taken some time and sailing had become dangerous (for it was already late in October) Paul warned them, saying, "Men, I see that the voyage will mean serious injury and loss, not only to the cargo and the ship but also to our own lives." But the officer paid more attention to the captain and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. As the harbor was not a good one in which to winter, most of them advised putting to sea from there, hoping that they could get to Phoenix (a safe harbor) so as to winter there.
      
      When a light breeze from the south sprang up, they thought that they could reach Phoenix. So, after lifting up the anchor, they ran close along the coast of Crete: but in a short time a tempestuous wind called a "Northeaster" beat down upon them. The ship was caught in it and was unable to keep her head to the wind. So we had to give up and run before it. Running under the lee of a little island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to haul in the ship's boat. After lifting it on board, the men used ropes to bind together the lower part of the ship. As they were afraid that they might run ashore on the African quicksands, they lowered the sail and drifted. But as we were being terribly battered by the storm, the next day the men began to throw out the ship's cargo. On the third day, with their own hands, they threw overboard the ship's tackle. For many days neither sun nor stars were seen and the heavy gale continued, so at last all hope that we would be saved was given up.
      
      When the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up among them and said, "Men, you should have listened to me and not have sailed from Crete, then you would have escaped this hardship and loss. But now I urge you to cheer up, for there will be no loss of life, but only of the ship. For last night, an angel of the God, to whom I belong and whom I serve, stood beside me and said, 'Paul, have no fear, for you must stand before the Emperor. God also has granted you the lives of all of those who sail with you.' Therefore, men, cheer up! For I believe God and am sure that it will be just as I have been told; but we will be wrecked on a certain island."
      
      When the fourteenth night came and we were drifting about in the Adriatic Sea, the sailors about midnight thought that they were nearing land. So they took soundings and found one hundred and twenty feet of water; and when they had gone a little farther they found ninety feet. Fearing that we might be wrecked on the rocks, they threw out four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. The sailors wanted to escape from the ship and had even lowered the boat into the sea, pretending that they were going to lay out anchors from the bow, when Paul said to the officer and to the soldiers, "Unless these men stay on board, we cannot be saved." Then the soldiers cut the ropes which held the boat and let her drift away.
      
      Just before daybreak Paul begged them all to take some food, and said, "This is the fourteenth day that you have been constantly on the watch, taking little or no food. Take some food, then, I beg of you, because this will keep you alive, for not one of you will lose even a hair from his head." When he had said this, he took bread, and gave thanks to God before them all, and he broke the bread and began to eat it. Then they were all cheered up and they also took food. There were about seventy-six of us on board. When they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship by throwing the wheat into the sea.
      
      When it was day they could not make out what land it was; but they saw an inlet with a sandy beach on which they planned, if possible, to run the ship ashore. So cutting away the anchors they left them in the sea. At the same time unloosing the ropes which tied the rudders and hoisting the foresail to the wind, they made for the beach; but coming to a place where two seas met they ran the ship aground. The prow stuck fast and could not be moved, but the stern began to break up under the beating of the waves. Then the soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners for fear some of them might swim ashore and escape. But as the officer wished to save Paul, he kept them from carrying out their plan, and ordered those who could swim to jump overboard and get first to the land; the rest followed, some on planks and some on other things from the ship. In this way they all got safely to land. After we had escaped we found that the island was called Malta.

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The End Of Paul's Long Journey

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A Prisoner Who Preached To His Judges


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