LIVE Bible Study Guide – Session 54 – The Book of Acts

LIVE STREAM Bible Study Guide

The Book of Acts 26.30-27.44 – Homily 53

  • May 18, 2016

With Father Athanasios Haros

Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST

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Study Guide to Prepare for LIVE Bible Study on May 18, 2016 – Session 54

THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY APOSTLES; A BIBLE STUDY ON THE BOOK OF ACTS

Based upon the Homilies of St John Chrysostom (SJC)

Study Guide – May 18, 2016, Acts 26.30-27.44 Homily 53

Prayer before reading of the Holy Scriptures: Shine within our hearts, loving Master, the pure light of Your divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds that we may comprehend the message of Your Gospel. Instill in us also reverence for Your blessed commandments so that, having conquered sinful desires, we may pursue a spiritual life, thinking and doing all those things which are pleasing to You. For You, Christ our God, are the light of our souls and bodies, and to You we give glory, together with Your Father who is without beginning and Your all holy, good and life giving Spirit, always now and forever and to the ages of ages.

Chapter 26 v. 30-32 When he had said these things, the king stood up, as well as the governor and Bernice and those who sat with them; and when they had gone aside, they talked among themselves, saying, “This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains.” Then Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

Yet another acquittal for Saint Paul, this time complete! It was providential that Paul appealed to Caesar; otherwise he would not have been able to go to Rome IN BONDS. SJC “For if the Lord ‘was reckoned among the transgressors,’ (Mark 15.28) much more he: but as the Lord did not share with them in their character, so neither did Paul.” PATTERN

Chapter 27 v. 1-12 And when it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to one named Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment. So, entering a ship of Adramyttium, we put to sea, meaning to sail along the coasts of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, was with us. And the next day we landed at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him liberty to go to his friends and receive care. When we had put to sea from there, we sailed under the shelter of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. And when we had sailed over the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing to Italy, and he put us on board. When we had sailed slowly many days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone. Passing it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea. Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.” Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul. And because the harbor was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised to set sail from there also, if by any means they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete opening toward the southwest and northwest, and winter there.

Aristarchus will be able to bring the story all the way back to Macedonia.

Paul is treated kindly so he can REFRESH himself after so many trials. SJC “See how the life of the saints is thus interwoven.”

God allows the natural order to events to play out (weather, storms, free will) but keeps everyone safe.

“The Fast” probably refers to the Jewish fast for the Day of Atonement. “THEY” were the ones keeping the fast.

Chapter 27 v. 13-44 When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete. But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon. So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive. And running under the shelter of an island called Clauda, we secured the skiff with difficulty. When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands, they struck sail and so were driven. And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship. On the third day we threw the ship’s tackle overboard with our own hands. Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up. But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. “And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. “For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, “saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ “Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. “However, we must run aground on a certain island.” Now when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven up and down in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors sensed that they were drawing near some land. And they took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms; and when they had gone a little farther, they took soundings again and found it to be fifteen fathoms. Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come. And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, when they had let down the skiff into the sea, under pretense of putting out anchors from the prow, Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let it fall off. And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing. “Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.” And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat. Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves. And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship. So when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship and threw out the wheat into the sea. When it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible. And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudder ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore. But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves. And the soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape. But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land, and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.

Paul speaks gently but factually to gain their listening and trust. They would otherwise have ignored him.

Paul foretells two things: 1)Shipwreck 2)All people would be saved. SJC “That they might believe what he was saying. ‘God hath given thee;’ as much as to say, ‘They are worthy indeed of death, since they would not listen to thee: however, this is done out of favor to thee.’”

Providential that Paul is first not believed so they will believe him after the proof for the next time.

Total fear consumes the crew to the point they don’t even eat.

SJC “Observe his giving thanks after all that had happened strengthened them. For this showed an assured mind they would be saved.”

Devil keeps trying to interfere with the prophecy

The ship is destroyed in the daytime so they wouldn’t be totally taken by fear, but still have some hope and believe.

SJC “Do you mark what good came of the storm?…It is natural to suppose they would ask the reason why they were sailing, and would learn all. Nor was it for nothing that the voyage was so protracted; if offered Paul an opportunity for teaching.”

Teaching on “There are blessings in keeping holy company” – (see Homily 53)

  1. Having a holy man in your house is a blessing.

If (here was) a ship in danger and suffering wreck, and prisoners were saved for Paul’s sake, consider what a thing it is to have a holy man in a house: for many are the tempests which assail us also, tempests far more grievous than these (natural ones), but He can also give us to be delivered, if only we obey holy men as those (in the ship) did, if we do what they enjoin.

  1. Our entire life is like the shipwreck

Look at our whole life: it is just such (as was this voyage). For at one time we meet with kindliness, at another with a tempest; sometimes from our own want of counsel, sometimes from our idleness, we fall into numberless evils; from our not hearkening to Paul, when we are eager to go somewhere, where he bids us not.

  1. The Saints are guiding us even now

For Paul is sailing even now with us, only not bound as he was then: he admonishes us even now, and says to those who are (sailing) on this sea, take heed unto yourselves: for after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you (Acts 20:29): and again, In the last times perilous times shall come: and men shall be lovers of their own selves, lovers of money, boasters. (2 Timothy 3:2) This is more grievous than all storms.

  1. Follow the advice of the Saints before it is too late

Let us not learn (to our cost) by experience, but before the experience let us avoid both harm and loss. Hear what he says: They that will be rich fall into temptation. (1 Timothy 6:9) Let us therefore obey him; else, see what they suffered, because they did not take his counsel.

  1. Sins and passions are the chains that bind us

Or think you not that sins and passions are grievous bonds? For it is not the hands only that are bound, but the whole man. For tell me, when any one possessed of much money uses it not, nor spends it, but keeps it close, is he not bound more grievously than any prisoner by his miserliness, a bond that cannot be broken? What again, when a man gives himself up to (the belief in) Fate, is not he too bound with other fetters?

Life Application Challenge – (Homily 53) Keep the Saints Near!

So is it now: let us keep the saints near us, and there will be no tempest: or rather, though there be a tempest, there will be great calm and tranquillity, and freedom from dangers: since that widow had the saint for her friend, and the death of her child was loosed, and she received back her son alive again. (1 Kings 17:17) Where the feet of saints step, there will be nothing painful; and if such should happen, it is for proving us and for the greater glory of God. Accustom the floor of your house to be trodden by such feet, and an evil spirit will not tread there. For as where a sweet odor is, there a bad odor will not find place: so where the holy ointment is, there the evil spirit is choked, and it gladdens those who are near it, it delights, it refreshes the soul. Where thorns are, there are wild beasts: where hospitality is, there are no thorns: for almsgiving having entered in, more keenly than any sickle it destroys the thorns, more violently than any fire.

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