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4 Anchors and a Shipwreck

Apostle Paul Survives

Exciting archaeological discoveries from Israel and across the ancient Roman Empire are continuing to confirm stories from the Bible. One such event is a shipwreck that left the Apostle Paul stranded on an arid and barren piece of land in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.

This story of shipwreck is dramatic. Over two years had passed since Paul was arrested by Roman soldiers in Jerusalem.  Jewish leaders had falsely accused him of inciting riots and showing disrespect towards the Jewish temple.  They demanded his death. However, Paul’s Roman citizenship required officials to adhere to the proceedings of Roman law and provide protection and a fair hearing.

Blown Off Course

Paul warned his centurion escort of troublesome weather ahead. He said, “I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on; shipwreck, loss of cargo, and danger to our lives as well.” But the officer in charge listened to the ship’s captain and owner, rather than to prisoner Paul.

Despite his warnings, on a winter day somewhere around 60 A.D., Paul and several other prisoners boarded an Alexandrian grain freighter to make their way to Rome. A fierce northeaster wind called an Euroclydon pushed the ship well off course and further into the Mediterranean.  

Gale-force winds continued for days to batter the ship. The situation became so desperate that cargo, and eventually even the ship’s tackle, were thrown overboard to stay afloat. Finally, on the 14th night, the sailors sensed land approaching. They took soundings and found that the land was 120 feet deep. A short time later, they took soundings again and found that it was 90 feet deep. Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, the sailors dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight.

It looked like all was lost. The men were afraid. An angel appeared to Paul and he was able to give everyone on board a word from God that all lives would be spared.


In the daylight of the next morning, they found that they did not recognize the land. However, they saw a bay with a sandy beach where they decided to run the ship aground. Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea.

The storm raged as they approached. The ship hit a sandbar and began to break up. Miraculously, with the vessel and her cargo a total loss, all 276 passengers and crew on board made it safely to shore by swimming or floating in on boards from the ship.  

The Island of Malta 

Once safely on shore, they learned the island was called Malta. Paul, the other prisoners, and the military escort stayed on the island for three months while they waited for the winter weather to pass. While there, Paul evangelized the islanders and worked miracles. And, so began a Christian influence in Malta that has continued down through the centuries. Today, Malta is the most religious nation in Europe. Ninety-eight percent of its citizens are members of the Catholic Church.

In our Footsteps of Paul Cruise 2017 we will take you to the museum where one of Paul’s anchors resides. We will also take you on a boat trip to the site where the anchors were found and visit the cave where the Apostle Paul lived and much more! 

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