Paul's Journey to Rome

Paul's Final Journey - Rome


Map of the Journey of Paul to Rome

They traveled from Antipatris to Caesarea, which is considered the starting point of Paul's trip to Rome. Luke and Aristarchus of Thessalonica (he was a traveler with Paul from Macedonia v 19:29) traveled with Paul. The centurion in charge of Paul was Julius. They went to Adramyttium, a port of Mysia, to depart to Italy.


Map of the Journey of Paul to Rome

They stopped in Sidon another port approximately 70 miles up the coast (Acts 27:3). Paul and his companions were allowed to rest.

Around Cyprus

Map of the Journey of Paul to Rome

They sailed by Cyprus (Acts 27:4) between Cyprus and Asia Minor. This was for natural protection from strong winds. The prevailing early autumn winds came from the NW, making head winds difficult for a coastal vessel to handle in open ocean. So the ship sailed around the eastern end of Cyprus and headed north for the coast of Cilicia, where it would then head west, close to shore for many miles. They sailed near Cilicia and Pamphylia.


Map of the Journey of Paul to Rome

They stopped here to change ships. They found a large ship coming from Alexandria to Italy. There were 276 persons aboard (Acts 27:37).


Map of the Journey of Paul to Rome

The ship was on its way to Cnidus (Acts 27:7-8), a port further west, perhaps to stop. It is not known for sure, but whatever the goal, the ship sailed for Crete, a Greek island more southwest.


Map of the Journey of Paul to Rome

This city was on the eastery end of Crete (Acts 27:7-8). Their goal was to sail past it to the south for protection from northerly winds.

Fair Havens

Map of the Journey of Paul to Rome

The ship ported in the sheltered ports near Lasia on the southern side of Crete (Acts 27:8-12). They were to wait for more favorable winds. The "fast" mentioned is the only fast proclaimed by the Law, the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:29-34). This is the day when the high priests can go to the inner sanctuary of the Temple to make sacrifices for the sins of the entire nation. If this were the year 59 A.D., the fast was on Oct. 5. To sail this late was very hazardous. This means Paul left Caesarea in Aug. or Sept. and did not arrive in Rome until the following March. This mention allows dating of the trip to the dangerous times on the waters, the winter. Sometimes, ships would dock for weeks or months in certain cities along the Mediterranean waiting for better weather. The weather became bad about mid September. Approximately mid November all sea travel stopped until approximately early February.

W.M.Ramsay suggests, since Paul was a seasoned traveler, Paul was asked for an opinion on whether to continue. Paul advised them to stay (Acts 27:10). However, since the facilities were limited in Fair Haven, the captain or owner decided to proceed to a better port of Phoenix, modern Phineka. They now had a favorable south wind (Acts 27:12-13).

Open Sea

Map of the Journey of Paul to Rome

The ship ran into a storm called an Euraquilo (Acts 27:14-29). This is a hybrid word, half Greek, half Latin, meaning "east-north" and standing for a treacherous E-NE wind raising mighty waves. They were pulled out into the sea. They were trying to use the small island of Clauda for protection. The sea kicked them about for 14 days. They (now meaning everybody on the ship working together) ungirded the ship. This means cables are dropped off the side, pulled up on the other side, then tied together. This was done to hold the ship together. They feared being swept into the "shallows of Syrtis" (Syrtia Sands), i.e. quicksand, off the coast of Africa. They set direction west northwest. During the days that followed, they tried to reduce weight by throwing overboard wheat (the actual cargo) and much ship tackle (hardware needed for sailing).

Paul had a vision (Acts 27:21-26) of an angel of God. The angel said be or good cheer; do not fear; all would be saved, although they would shipwreck first. The angel told Paul he must go before Caesar.

By "sounding" (Acts 27:28) the sailors would drop measured lines into the water to measure the depth. The depth was getting less and less. Scholars feel they were passing Koura and Malta's east coast (about 475 miles east of Clauda). Adria or Adriatic (Acts 27) is referring to the Adriatic Sea. In this period the Adriatic Sea was a name applied to the Mediterranean east of Sicily, and not merely to the present Adriatic Sea.

Simplified Timeline of Journey to Rome


Map of the Journey of Paul to Rome

The crew was going to let down the dinghy to put anchors on the bow. Actually they were running away. Paul knew and told Julius who then had the dinghy ropes cut so the dinghy fell away (Acts 27:29-32).

Paul was encouraging people to eat as he did. They needed strength. Apparently, most of them were seasick so they had not been eating. In addition, Paul wanted them to have one big "last supper" because they were going to eliminate all the remaining cargo so the ship would be lighter and ride higher in the water.

They eliminated the rest of the cargo (wheat) to lighten the ship. At daybreak, they saw land and headed for it. They got stuck on a mud reef. Now the ship is breaking up.

They must abandon ship; but what about the prisoners. The guards could be killed for letting prisoners got away. If they kill the prisoners, the prisoners will not escape. Julius said no. Julius commanded all who could swim to swim to safety. The others would float on ship debris to land (Acts 27:42-44). This place where it is thought they landed is now called St. Paul's Bay.

On Malta, they met non Greek speaking persons. Picirilli says when the KJV says "barbarous" (Acts 28:2) does not mean vicious. The Greeks had a term barbaras which referred to language like "bar bar bar". These people were actually very hospitable, nice people who greatly helped the shipwrecked people.

While gathering wood, Paul was bitten by a poisonous snake (Acts 28:4). The superstitious people thought this was the gods' way of preventing the escape of Paul. However, Paul threw off the snake and lived with no ill effects. Now the people thought he was a god (Acts 28:6).

The chief called Publius put them up for three days. The father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. Paul healed hem (v 8). Now others came to Paul for healing.

After three months they left on another Alexandrian ship that made it into port many months ago and was wintering there. "Casto and Pollux" or "Twin Brothers" refers to the figurehead on the ship.

Syracuse, Rhegium, and Puteoli

Map of the Journey of Paul to Rome

They sailed for Syracuse (Acts 28:11-12) and stayed there three days.

The next stop was Rhegium (Acts 28:13-14). "Fetched a compass" means to "sail around". They sailed around the tow of the Italy "boot".

The final port was Puteoli (Acts 28:13-14). The remaining trip to Rome was on land. Julius accepted Paul's request to visit with Christians there. So Paul's team visited for seven days.

Matthew Henry says: "The Christians at Rome were so far from being ashamed of Paul, or afraid of owning him, because he was a prisoner, that they were the more careful to show him respect. He had great comfort in this. And if our friends are kind to us, God puts it into their hearts, and we must give him the glory. When we see those even in strange places, who bear Christ's name, fear God, and serve him, we should lift up our hearts to heaven in thanksgiving. How many great men have made their entry into Rome, crowned and in triumph, who really were plagues to the world! But here a good man makes his entry into Rome, chained as a poor captive, who was a greater blessing to the world than any other merely a man. Is not this enough to put us forever out of conceit with worldly favour? This may encourage God's prisoners, that he can give them favour in the eyes of those that carry them captives. When God does not soon deliver his people out of bondage, yet makes it easy to them, or them easy under it, they have reason to be thankful."


Map of the Journey of Paul to Rome

Already people were on the road to meet Paul. They were coming to see Paul in Rome from places like the Market of Appius, which is approximately 40-45 miles from Rome, and Three Inns, which is approximately 30-35 miles from Rome. These were on the Appian Way.

A few extra words will help get a better understanding of the Rome atmosphere. Rome was founded off the east bank of the Tiber in 735B.C. on the famous seven hills. This was a strategic place - easy to cross the river. The city walls were 13 miles long and the enclosed area of the city was about six square miles. The city was divided into 14 districts. There was a main road from the center of the city to all directions. The Appian Way was the south road. The Ostian Way, toward Ostra in the southwest, according to tradition was where Paul was killed.

Centers of life were forums and open markets. The Roman Forum was the heart of the government. It included the Senate House, assembly hall, and Mars and Saturn Temples. Remember the Romans sophisticated road system also included mileage markers. In the Forum was the golden milepost from which all mileage markers were measures.

On other Roman hills were temples (such as Jupiter), other magnificent building and other great forms. Palaces and other special places for noblemen were all over. On the Caelian Hill was the temple of the deified Claudius. The magnificence of the arches, fountains, basilicas, and the like cannot be overstated. There were great aqueducts, public baths, and circuses. The aqueducts supplied from many miles away 200-300 million gallons of water a day. In Augustus's time, there were about 170 public baths. That increased to about 1000 by end of first century. The circuses were for athletic events and the famous chariot races and gladiator games. Gambling was popular. Riots were common. It is true the bloodthirsty spectators could choose life or death by signals. BY the time of Claudius, there were 159 holidays per year, 93 dedicated to games.

In contrast were the living areas of the majority of the Romans, the lower and middle classes. They were single room apartments of block construction, a maximum of six stories. There was very high rent. They were build poorly and sometimes collapsed. The people did receive free wheat and water. Wine was very cheap. Thomas Africa says, "Rome was on great slum." There was terrible traffic congestion that no vehicles were allowed during the day. At night, Rome was a crime jungle. From the time of Augustus, there were police and fire forces: three cohorts police, five cohorts firemen.

Meager salaries were paid. Prostitution, especially around the Circus Maximus, was legal and under government control. There were thousands of small shops. Grain brought from Africa and Egypt, as a tribute to Rome, supplied the bread for the diet of bread, olive oil, and wine. There were a few vegetables and no meat except for the rich.

There were kinds and nationalities represented by the people. In at least four districts there were 13 synagogues for the Jews.

When the party arrived in Rome (Acts 28:16), the other prisoners were transferred to the captain of the guard. Paul was transferred to a "soldier that kept him". This soldier is thought to be a member of the Praitorian Guard, native Italians in an elite troop of the emperial Roman army. Because of Paul's good behavior, Paul was chained to a responsible guard but lived in an imperial compound or very good civilian quarters.

Paul was able have as may visitors as he wished. So Paul started as he usually did in his journeys. Within three days he called the local Jews to hear what he had to say (Acts 17:29). Also as usual, the majority did not believe him. They left him but hi preached to others who wished to hear.

The final two verses (Acts 28:30-31) summarize his life for two years. The objective of Roman law was to have the accusers go to Rome in person. Because of travel problems, they maybe the accusers long periods of time. However, Nero probably had a large backlog of cased that he really did not care. In addition, Paul's accusers could keep putting it off. Some scholars think there is no time limit; some say it might have been two years. It could be the accusers knew they would not win anyway.

Paul had relative freedom of movement and preaching for these two years. Whatever the reason, Luke stops the account of Paul at this point in the Bible.