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Faith And Fellowship

Acts 28:11-16
After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island – it was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux. We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days. From there we set sail and arrived at Rhegium. The next day the south wind came up, and on the following day we reached Puteoli. There we found some brothers and sisters who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome. The brothers and sisters there had heard that we were coming, and they travelled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these people Paul thanked God and was encouraged. When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him. (NIVUK)

After the dramatic shipwreck, Paul, his travelling companions and the military escort spent the winter on Malta. The unpredictably strong winds made commercial shipping impossible until springtime. When the weather looked more settled, another ship from Alexandria, presumably carrying grain from Egypt (Acts 27:6,38), which over-wintered in Malta planned to go north to Italy. The centurion in charge of the prisoner party decided that it was time to move on towards Rome. But it would take some courage to go to sea again after the shipwreck.

Perhaps the superstitious soldiers and sailors were comforted to see that the ship had a double figurehead of Castor and Pollux, the mythical 'sons' of the seafarers' guardian, Zeus. But Paul, Luke and Aristarchus had no such need. They trusted in the Lord, who promised that Paul would reach Rome to present the gospel of Christ Jesus to Caesar (Acts 27:23-24). So, they sailed north to Syracuse in Sicily and then a short hop to Rhegium on the 'toe' of Italy. They then sailed up the west coast to Puteoli, a safe commercial port for Rome (around that time some grain ships had sunk in Portus which was much closer to Rome).

Some Christians lived in Puteoli and gave Paul's party hospitality for a week. The rest of the journey was overland. News about Paul had reached the church in Rome and believers came out to meet them. Paul had not been in the city before, but had written to them (the Epistle to the Romans) a few years previously, probably when he was in Corinth. The meeting point was about 45 miles from Rome, but their fellowship greatly encouraged the apostle until he arrived in the capital. As he was not charged with any crime, Paul was allowed to rent a house and live there under the watchful eye of a soldier. Nevertheless, he had freedom to welcome people to his home so that he could introduce them to Jesus (Acts 28:30-31).

Paul did not work alone. He understood that fellowship was an essential part of belonging to Jesus and serving Him. Apart from the early days in Athens and Corinth, the apostle always had other believers with him; people he was training by letting them help him in the ministry. But Paul also needed fellowship (Philippians 4:10): we all do. It is an essential part of being in the Lord's family (Acts 2:42). Wherever you go, look out for other believers, at work, in the city, at leisure, as you travel and where you stay. The Lord has arranged to bless you through them, and they through you.

Father God. Thank You for the fellowship You have provided within Your family. Forgive me when I have isolated myself from other believers. Give me a fresh eagerness to connect with my spiritual brothers and sisters, so that I am a blessing to them and they to me. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams