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Acts 27: The Church Age

In Acts chapter 27, Luke records Paul’s sea voyage to Rome as a prisoner, which ends in shipwreck, but not
in the loss of even a single life. Although this is certainly a remarkable occurrence, Luke gives the account
in unusual detail – unusual, that is, if it were just a simple record of one of Paul’s journeys, which Luke
usually presents in summary.

But when Luke, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is recording a spiritual picture, we have seen such
details mentioned – as we have seen recently in the picture of Eutychus in Acts chapter 20. In fact, the
picture that we will see in this sea voyage involves the same subject as the picture in Eutychus – the
professing church. The sea voyage shows us the progression of the church through time, from its early
days until the end of the church age, before the Great Tribulation.

Last week, we looked at the account on the surface, so that we could understand the actual voyage. Now
we’ll look to see the spiritual picture in the account.

Where did this journey begin? We might initially think, in Caesarea; but for Paul, it had really begun
earlier than that – when he was taken prisoner – where was that? In Jerusalem (Acts 21:33). When Paul
had entered that city, he was a free man; but by the time he left, he was a prisoner – of whom? Of the
Jews? No – of the Romans – the Gentiles.

In our picture, Paul represents the Word of God. That is particularly fitting, as that is how Paul has been
known to believers throughout the church age – by his letters, preserved in the NT. The Word of God in the
epistles is what the church has of Paul – both those who truly believe, as well as those who merely profess
to believe. So Paul is the Word of God in the church age, in this picture.

The church began in Jerusalem, where it freely received the Word of God – as Jerusalem had received Paul,
at first (Acts 21:17). The name Jerusalem means “dual peace shall be taught”.

In the early church in Jerusalem, the apostles preached the gospel, and those who received it had peace
with God, as they were reconciled to Him. The apostles also taught the Word of God to the new believers,
and as they received that Word, they had the peace of God, to rule over their hearts (Phil 4:7). Peace with
God; peace of God – dual peace. That’s how the church began – with the apostles teaching the Word of
God – by which men were reconciled to God; then abode in submission to Him.

And that was the teaching that went out from Jerusalem, to both Jew and Gentile – the apostles’ doctrine;
the doctrine of Jesus. So the early church took in the pure milk of the Word – the truth – and they grew by
it (1 Pet 2:2). God’s Word was freely received by the early church.

But then Paul, representing the Word of God, was taken prisoner. Paul was bound; he was no longer free to
go and do what he desired – and what did Paul desire to do? God’s will, which had been to preach and to
teach among the Gentiles. But now it was God’s will for Paul to be bound, to be a prisoner. So Paul
submitted to God, becoming the prisoner of the Lord (Eph 4:1).

Paul first was put in chains in Jerusalem, under the authority of Lysias (Acts 21:33); then he was taken to
Caesarea (Acts 23:33), where he remained for a time, the prisoner of first Felix, then Festus (Acts 24:27).
It was in Caesarea that they decided to send Paul as prisoner to Italy, by ship, under the authority of one
Julius, a centurion (Acts 27:1). The ship was of Adramyttium (v. 2).
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Initially, the early church freely received the Word of God; but during the time period when the Word began
to penetrate the Gentile nations, and the Word was subject to the authority of men, it became bound. How?
The gospel of Christ was perverted.

The gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Rm 1:16); but if that
gospel is changed, it is no longer the gospel (Gal 1:6-7); no longer the Word of God; and it loses its power.
It is bound, so to speak; it is powerless to save.

How is the gospel of Christ perverted? One way is by making works a condition of salvation, instead of
simple faith in Jesus. That’s what the Judaizers tried to do in the Galatian assemblies, and elsewhere. As
Paul wrote, the Judaizers were false brethren who came in to spy out the liberty that the assemblies had in
Christ Jesus, to bring them into bondage (Gal 2:4).

Those who believed the Judaizers, that they must add works to believing in Jesus, in order to be saved,
were never saved at all; for they did not believe the work of Jesus was sufficient for their salvation. Yet
they would have considered themselves believers, and they continued to fellowship and worship with those
who truly believed into Jesus.

In this way, the assemblies became mixed, with some members who were part of the Body of Christ, and
other members of the assembly who were not truly part of the Body. These were severed from the Head,
Christ; severed from the Light and the Life and the Love of God. That’s what the name Caesarea means;
“severed”.

The church had moved into a period when it had some members who professed to believe, but were in
reality severed from the Life of the Body of Christ. This was the beginning of what we call Christendom –
those who name the name of Christ, but do not have His Life in them.

Soon Christendom took on a more structured form – which we see in the ship that Paul boarded. A ship
sails the seas – it is essentially dead wood that floats above the sea of humanity – an apt picture of
Christendom, which views itself as being above the heathen hordes – but in reality, has no Life in it.

This particular ship is of Adramyttium. That name means “not in the race; I shall abide in death”.
Christendom is indeed not in the race, for that race has only been set before those who have believed into
Jesus (Heb 12:1), who have the Life and the Power to run; while Christendom abides in death.

Nonetheless, one will find the Word of God in Christendom, but bound; powerless, under the authority of
men; as Paul the prisoner was, under the centurion on the ship. Meanwhile, the ship put out to sea, sailing
further and further away from Jerusalem, as the church did from its origin, from the purity and fervency
which occupied it at first; Christendom left that behind.

We’re going to turn for a little help in filling out our picture to the book of Revelation. The apostle John
received a revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Jesus, to show His servants things which were to
take place (Rev 1:1). A small part of that revelation concerned the church, which we find primarily in
chapters 2 and 3.

Turn to Revelation chapter 2. Chapters 2 and 3 contain the words of Jesus to seven churches, regarding
their condition as assemblies. These were all actual assemblies that existed in Asia Minor at the time when
John received this revelation.
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The first assembly, Ephesus, had been evangelized by Paul directly; the remaining six, which were in close
proximity to Ephesus, were thought to have been evangelized by disciples from Ephesus (Acts 19:10).

Jesus had told John that, what he saw, he was to write in a book, and send to these seven assemblies (Rev
1:11); book here means literally, a scroll. We understand, then, that this scroll, which contained the
revelation of Jesus Christ, including His words to all of these assemblies, were received by each assembly;
each had the complete revelation.

To each of these assemblies, Jesus had John record a specific description of Jesus as the Christ, followed by
His knowledge of their works, His words of reproof and counsel, and His promises to overcomers (see
sheets). Although the words recorded were specifically applicable to the given assembly, it is remarkable
that, taken together in the sequence given, they also provide a prophetic description of the church down
through the ages, until the time it will be caught up to be with the Lord (1 Thes 4:17).

Now, you might remember that I mentioned Paul’s sea voyage also pictures this very thing; a prophetic
history of the church age. Should we expect to find parallels between the two passages, then? Yes; in fact,
we will use the prophetic picture as found in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 to unveil the picture of the church
age in the sea voyage.

The first assembly addressed by Jesus was Ephesus, which we find in Revelation 2:1-7. [Turn there]. The
assembly at Ephesus pictures the church in the late apostolic period, near the end of the first century. Jesus
commended this church for their works and endurance, and for their intolerance of false teachers.

But Jesus had something against them – what was it? Verse 4 – they left their first love. The word “left”
here means deserted. Now, who was their first love? Jesus. They had deserted Jesus.

In what way had they deserted Him? They had distanced themselves from Him – which caused their love
to cool toward Him. They were less fervent, less sincere, less intimate with Him. What had begun as a
personal relationship was becoming somewhat impersonal; they were less inclined to listen to Him, more
inclined to work apart from Him, based on what they already knew; to live by principle, instead of the
Person of Jesus.

This was a subtle change which first occurred among believers in the church. It eventually led to there
being other members in the assembly who had no relationship with Jesus at all, but merely professed to
believe, some of whom came to believe that they needed to work for their own salvation. As such, the
Word had no power in their lives; it was bound, as we saw with Paul being imprisoned.

So the imprisonment of Paul in Jerusalem, in Caesarea and then on the ship which puts out to sea show us
this period in church history, when the church left behind her first love– Jesus.

Let’s return to the account in Acts. We recognize by the use of the first person plural (“we”, verse 1, etc.)
that Luke was accompanying Paul, and he indicates that Aristarchus was with them (v. 2), also. As
mentioned last time, Aristarchus was a convert from Thessalonica who became the traveling companion of
Paul in his missionary journeys, and shared in his imprisonment, as well.

The name Aristarchus means “best ruler”; and Luke means “light”. If you were to look through the entire
44-verse account, you would find no further mention of them; they are present on the ship, they are there as
Paul’s companions, but their thoughts and actions are unnoted.
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These two believers represent the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth who witnesses of Jesus (Jn 15:26). (Two is
the number of witness). The Holy Spirit is the light that leads those believers who submit to His rule in
their hearts. The Spirit was always the travelling companion of Paul, whether bound or free. But the Spirit
is virtually unseen in Christendom; His wisdom and His power are of no effect, because there is no
submission to Him. The best ruler is not permitted to rule.

Leaving Caesarea, the ship sailed to Sidon, where it docked (v. 3). The centurion Julius, who must have
known Paul well enough, allowed him the liberty to visit friends in this city. From his friends, Paul
received attention and care; clearly, they had a heart for Paul.

The ship then headed out from that port, intending, as mentioned in verse 2, to sail along the coasts of Asia.
But the winds were contrary (v. 4). Now, these winds were the usual winds, for this time and place; but
these winds were blowing in opposition to the direction that the ship intended to go; and these winds were
so adverse that they were impeding the ship’s progress.

So the ship sailed under the lee of Cyprus, which protected it, and made it possible for the ship to continue
on its journey. Finally, the ship came into the port of the city of Myra.

This part of the sea voyage represents the next period in the history of the church: a time of severe
persecution, which took place during the second and third centuries. Turn again to Revelation chapter two.
In verses 8-11, it can be seen that the church of Smyrna also represents this time period.

Jesus commended this church, offering no words of reproof to them at all – for persecution had purified and
strengthened the church during this time. The persecution intensified, to the point of loss of life; but Jesus
forewarned of this in the prophecy, and encouraged the church not to fear.

Though death would take their bodies, what would Jesus give them? At the end of verse 10 – the crown of
Life – life everlasting, in a body of glory. For them, death would be just a door – for they went through it
under the protection of Love.

Let’s think about this in terms of the sea voyage in Acts. The centurion, who represents man’s authority in
the church, allowed Paul the liberty in Sidon to visit his friends, who gave Paul attention and care. The
Word of God found full liberty of expression among those who truly had a heart for it – who care for it –
those who believe it.

Sidon means “hunting”. Those with a heart for the Word were found in the place of hunting; that’s the
persecuted church. The Word of God gave strength, and comfort, and direction to those who were
persecuted; and they devoted their full attention to it, carefully watching over the Word, to preserve the
truth.

The severe winds of persecution from the Roman world did not impede the true church within Christendom
from going forward, from continuing to grow; for they sailed under the shelter of Love – that’s what
“Cyprus” means - love.

And where did the ship pull into port? In Myra, which means “myrrh” – that’s what Smyrna means, also.
Myrrh is a gum which is used for embalming of the dead; it is therefore associated with death. As Jesus
had said, this church would persevere, being faithful until death; but they would receive the crown of life.
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We return to our sea voyage in Acts, verses 6-8. In Myra, the centurion located a ship from Alexandria that
was sailing to Italy – a ship of the imperial grain fleet - and transferred his soldiers and the prisoners,
including Paul, to this vessel (v. 6). This ship would have been much larger than the previous ship; it could
take many more souls aboard, and would have allowed the centurion’s party to travel much more
comfortably.

The ship made slow progress along the coastline of the province of Asia, but by the time they came near
Cnidus, they couldn’t make port, and the winds impeded them from continuing in the direction they were
trying to go; so they gave in to the winds to an extent – compromised with them, you might say – and sailed
south to Crete, making their way around the eastern tip to the south side of the island and took shelter in the
harbor known as Fair Havens.

This brings us to the next period in church history, during, and following, the time of the emperor
Constantine, in the fourth through sixth centuries. This period is reflected in the address of Jesus to the
church at Pergamos, found in Revelation chapter 2, verses 12-17. Let’s go back there.

Jesus commended this church; where did they dwell? Verse 13 - where Satan’s throne was. This city was
the seat of the pagan cultic religions, and yet there were those who were faithful to Jesus, even to the point
of death. Rome had become Satan’s throne by the time reflected in the history of the church; the imperial
cult and the pagan cults were centered there.

Persecution of the church had continued, but then there was a dramatic change – when the emperor
Constantine made Christianity the state religion. This brought the persecution of the church to an end, but
also had an unexpected, deleterious effect: for in becoming the state religion, the state came into the
church; and the church, into the state. The name Pergamos means “much married”. This was the age in
which the church as a whole became compromised by the world system.

Jesus spoke of what He had against this church – there were those in it who held the doctrine of Balaam (v.
14), and also of the Nicolaitans (v. 15). The doctrine of Balaam reflects adopting pagan practices, such as
eating foods sacrificed to idols, and fornication; the doctrine of the Nicolatians speaks of a hierarchical
religious system; a separation of clergy and laity, which Jesus hates.

In the age of Constantine, pagan images, practices and holidays were brought into the church, and they
were merged with true worship. What does true worship then become? False worship. And a hierarchal
system was introduced into the church, where bishops became like rulers over the people, and priests were
a separate order of believers, over the common people. This Jesus hates, as believers are all a kingdom of
priests (Rev 1:6), with each one responsible to Him directly, as their heavenly Head.

How is this reflected in our passage in Acts? As with the church at Pergamos, the winds of persecution
were still blowing. At Myra, the centurion transferred his party to the more spacious Alexandrian ship.

Alexandria means “help given to, or by, man”. Constantine provided that “help” to the church. It appeared
to be a relief from the persecution; but it wound up being a compromise for the church. Alexandria is in
Egypt; a type of the world. Christendom had now become part of the world system.

The ship was one of the imperial grain fleet; a means of transport serving the purposes of the emperor,
Constantine. Christendom flourished at this time – it was easily accommodated in this expanded role. And
as it grew in popularity, it became more and more mired in the world system – just as the ship that sailed
along the coast of Asia, which means “mired”.
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And once it became the religion of the state, Christendom no longer had to contend against the winds of
adversity; in fact, Christendom gave in to the influences of the world, just as the ship had, eventually taking
shelter in Fair Havens, that comfortable harbor of Crete – which means “fleshly”. The professing church
was at ease in the world.

[Return to Acts 27]

In the next part of the passage in Acts, verses 9-15, those in the ship must make a decision. Paul was
counselling the centurion to take the ship no further, for in doing so, it would end in disaster and much loss.
But the owner-captain had different advice, based on his own investment in the ship and its cargo. He
advised that they continue to sail, and try to reach Phoenix, a harbor that the owner-captain knew would be
a place where the ship could spend the winter, safe from the storms.

The centurion chose to heed the advice of this man over Paul’s counsel, based on the owner-captain’s
greater knowledge of the ship and the circumstances. When a favourable wind began to blow, the ship set
out on the owner-captain’s course; but the wind was deceptive; the ship became caught in a tempest, and
was completely at its mercy.

The time represented here is the period of papal apostasy, when Christendom chose as their head a man in
place of the true Head, Christ. We see this in Revelation chapter two, verses 18-29, where Jesus addressed
the church of Thyatira. Let’s take a look at it together.

Jesus speaks to this church as the judge (v. 18). He commends the true members of the Body of Christ in
this assembly, but then speaks of what He has against other members of this assembly, starting in verse 20.

They had allowed a false prophetess named Jezebel to teach in their assembly, and she was leading its
members astray. The name Jezebel means “unchaste”. Jesus indicated he would judge this unrepentant
false prophetess, and those who had believed into her impure doctrine. This corresponds to the time when
the popes reigned over Christendom as political as well as religious rulers – a time of great apostasy and
wickedness, from about the sixth through the fifteenth centuries.

We see the same picture reflected in the sea voyage. During this time, the Word of God had completely lost
its position of authority in the church. Instead, Christendom placed themselves in the hands of a single
man, the pope, who had a vested interest in their preservation and success in the world system; for it was
tied up with his own preservation and success.

This is what we see in the centurion passing over the counsel of Paul, in favor of the advice of the owner-
captain of the ship. And what was his advice? To keep going forward; keep on sailing, even though Paul’s
counsel declared there would be judgment for doing so – disaster and much loss, of the cargo, the ship, and
even their lives.

And the owner-captain had a destination in mind – the harbor of Phoenix, where they would be safe from
the storm – if by any means, they could reach it (Acts 27:12). The name Phoenix means “palm-land”. In
Scripture, palms speak of victory; they are also a figure of the righteous. Phoenix represents the land of
victory; the land of the righteous. What land would that represent? Heaven.

That’s the stated goal of the whole religious system of works which Christendom became – the goal is
heaven – if by any means, they can reach heaven. That’s a hope-so hope; not a know-so hope.
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Their hope is founded, not in the One who is mankind’s only hope (Rm 5:5), but in the words of a man –
and in their own efforts – by any means. Therefore, this is a hope that will certainly disappoint.

Carried along by the wind of that false doctrine, men are lulled into thinking they have attained their desire
(Acts 27:13). But they will find they are deceived, and come into the storm of God’s judgment instead.
They never can make it into palm-land. That storm was really one of Christendom’s own making; a
retributive judgment, reaping what they had sowed.

The name of the storm was Euraquilon. As mentioned last week, it comes from the Greek word euros,
meaning east wind, and the Latin word aquilo – north wind. These were the winds of false doctrine which
had brought Christendom into judgment: the Greek influence of paganism, with their mystery religions,
including the mother-son cult, and the Roman influence of imperialism – emperor worship – which was
adopted by the pope for himself.

One of the late popes of this period, Innocent III, assumed the title “Supreme Sovereign over the Church
and the World”. The Lord’s judgment, on those who ascribe to that system of works which negates the
work of His Christ, will be finalized at the Great White Throne judgment.

With the first three churches addressed by Jesus in the Revelation – Ephesus, Smyrna, and Pergamos –
Jesus ends by exhorting them to heed what He says to them (“He who has an ear, let him hear what the
Spirit says to the churches”). This is followed by a promise to those who overcome.

But beginning with this church, in Thyatira, and continuing with the churches in Sardis, Philadelphia and
Laodicea, we find the exhortation and the promises reversed; the exhortation is last. This denotes a
difference. It has been observed that the churches described in the last four church periods all will still be
in existence when the church age ends.

Returning to our sea voyage in Acts, in verses 16-19, we find the ship still exceedingly tempest-tossed (v.
18). The people on board were trying by various means to save the ship, and themselves in it; they sought
the shelter of islands (v. 16); they secured the skiff, which threatened to collide with the ship and sink it (v.
16); they used cables to undergird the ship (v. 17); they dropped the sea anchor, to avoid hitting sand shoals
(“struck sail”, v. 17); they lightened the ship by throwing away what they considered to be non-essential (v.
18); and they finally threw over the tackle, including some sails and the main mast of the ship (v. 19).

We find the corresponding church period described in Revelation chapter 3. Turn there. Jesus addressed
these words to the church in Sardis, found in verses 1-6. Notice that Jesus did not have a commendation
for this church at all; instead, He said that they had a name that they were alive; but they were dead.

This church was filled with hypocrites; they were Christians in name alone. They might have done many
so-called good works, but they were not the works of Christ, for the members of this church, in general, did
not possess His Life.

How do we know this? Verse 2 – Jesus said their works were not perfect before God. The members of this
assembly, in general, had never completed the work of believing God for His Christ - only a few
individuals had believed into Him (v. 4).

Jesus encouraged this church to remember back to what they had seen and heard – to lay hold of it, by faith
– or else He will come upon them as a thief (v. 3). That speaks of His second coming, in judgment. Jesus
was saying that unless this assembly repented and believed into Him, they would miss the moment when
He comes for His Bride; they would meet Him only in judgment.
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This corresponds to the church period known as the Reformation, in the early sixteenth through the
eighteenth centuries. Men within Christendom rightly discerned the error and the wickedness of the church
under the popes; but instead of recognizing the need to return to the authenticity of the early church, what
was generally done was to try to reform the existing church – thus the term “Reformation”.

As seen in the picture in the sea voyage, they tried to save the ship. In so doing, they did wind up with
changes; but it was still the same ship, going in the same direction – and how did Paul say this voyage
would end? In disaster and much loss.

The reformers tried to minimize dangers from the papacy, that threatened the church, such as the sailors
securing the skiff; they tried to undergird the church, establishing a firmer foundation with catechisms and
statements of belief; they tried to secure the church, anchoring it on the teaching of church doctrine; and
they eliminated much of the customs, rituals and even the false teaching that had crept into the church over
the centuries – just as the sailors had lightened their ship.

But in the end, what did they still have? They still had the ship – and it was still being driven by the storm
– driven to disaster. And the reformers still have Christendom – and it will share the same destiny as the
ship.

Nevertheless, there were individuals who became enlightened to the truth during this period in church
history (v. 4). Jesus made it clear that these, as are all true believers, were His.

In our account in Acts, we next read, in verse 20, that the ship had no vision, and had no direction, because
of the lack of light. Those who were on board came to recognize that they were hopelessly lost. It was this
very realization – that there was no hope that they could save themselves – which was the beginning of their
salvation, which continues to unfold in verses 21-40.

Paul spoke to the men on the ship, and encouraged them, with what the Lord had shared with him: the ship
would be lost, but God had granted Paul all those who sailed with him; and they would be cast on a certain
island.

The sailors sensed they were coming near land; they tried to make their own way to it in the little skiff, but
at Paul’s word, the soldiers cut it loose. At the further encouragement of Paul, the men all partook of some
bread, and then were encouraged. Having their fill of bread, they then cast the wheat they were
transporting into the sea, which lightened the ship. Then, by the light of day, they saw land, and persevered
to reach it.

This describes the church period known as the Missionary Age, in the early eighteenth through the
nineteenth centuries. This period of church history was marked by evangelism and revival throughout
America and Europe; a return of the true church to their first love, Jesus. During this time, the Word of
God was taken in, it was believed, and it was shared through missionary movements, which took the Word
to the uttermost parts of the earth.

We find this period in the letters to the churches also. Turn back to Revelation chapter 3. The missionary
age was reflected in the words of Jesus to the church in Philadelphia, which means “brotherly love”. Jesus
had only commendation for this church; there was no rebuke.
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This was the true church, which would receive honor before men, because men would know Jesus loved
them (v. 9). The door to eternal life was open to this church, for they had watched over carefully to
preserve the word of Jesus, believing Him at His word; and they proclaimed Him before men, to the ends of
the earth.

This church had a little strength – they were not as strong as the persecuted church of Smyrna – but the
strength of Jesus is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor 12:9), for those who will submit to Him – as these did.

Jesus assured this church that since they kept His command to persevere – to stay under the load – He
would keep them from the hour of trial – the judgment – that was coming upon the whole earth. These
would be taken up, before that judgment came – for Christ would come for His Bride before the time of
Great Tribulation would begin.

How is this pictured in our sea voyage? First we see that the men realized that they were lost, and that they
could not save themselves – that’s repentance. And then, we see them begin to be enlightened to the Word
of God – Paul’s words, in the picture. They must accept that the ship would be lost, but that they would all
be saved, by being cast up on a certain island.

There is no hope for Christendom; it is a mixture of truth and lies, which cannot be unmixed. It is destined
for judgment. But all those who sail with Paul – that is, those who believe the Word of God – they will be
saved; saved on a certain island; made safe from the storm.

All of those who believe will be saved together, for they are one church; there can be no other means of
salvation, as seen in the attempt by the sailors to make their own way.

Now, the men on board had heard the truth spoken by Paul, but when does it say that they actually became
encouraged? Verse 36 – after Paul took the bread, and gave thanks, broke the bread, and ate it. Paul’s
action brings us back to the Lord’s supper with His disciples, when Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke
it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (Lk
22:19). The broken bread, then, represents the death of Jesus for mankind.

The men on ship were encouraged when they saw Paul eat of the bread; and those who are added to the true
church take heart when they hear the words of the gospel – how Jesus died to save them – and believe those
words; they take them in themselves, as the men did the bread – and then, they are saved.

The men on the ship ate their fill of the bread – as those in the true church continue to partake of the
fellowship with the Father and the Son, which Jesus made possible for them. It was after that that the men
cast the wheat into the sea. This speaks of the missionary movement, when the Word of God was taken out
into the sea of humanity – a movement that continues today.

By the light of the Holy Spirit, the true church can see the land that they are headed for – heaven. They
don’t recognize it, for they have not yet been there; but they know it is the land spoken of in the Word of
God – the “certain island” of which Paul spoke to the men (v. 26). And the true church perseveres to reach
that land; staying under the load, as Jesus has commanded; until the land is reached – the land of their
know-so hope.

The last part of the voyage, in verses 41-44, shows the words of Paul fulfilled; the ship was destroyed, but
all the men escaped safely to the land.
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We see this end also in Revelation chapter 3, with the church of Laodicea, in verses 14-22. This represents
the last church of the age – the hypocritical church – which has characterized Christendom since the
nineteenth century until the present. This period will end when the true church is caught up to be with her
Lord.

In the Lord’s address to this church, we find no commendation; only a rebuke. Jesus spoke of their works as
being neither cold nor hot, like a beverage. A cold drink quenches the thirst. A hot drink can soothe the
body. But a warm drink is neither cold nor hot; it is nauseating. As such, Jesus spoke of vomiting them out
of His mouth. Jesus was saying there was not one redeeming feature in this church; not one; and as such,
He rejects this church.

Jesus said that this church was lukewarm – which reflects mixture. This church had completely taken in the
world and its thinking, producing a uniform mixture of God’s thinking and the world’s thinking. Jesus
hates mixture; there is nothing to do, but to reject it.

That mixture of thinking resulted in this church being deceived. They think they are rich in spiritual things,
that they can see spiritual realities, that they have received a robe of righteousness, by which they are fitted
for heaven. Does that not describe our church, even today?

But Jesus told them the truth – that they are poor, and blind and naked. For them to truly have what they
only think they have, they must humble themselves, admit they are sinners, and come to Jesus, as their
Savior. Apart from Jesus, they are fitted for nothing but destruction.

This was how the voyage at sea ended. The sailors tried to bring the ship into the bay, but the bow got
stuck on a sand shoal, and the stern was broken up by the waves. God’s judgment will finally be brought
down upon Christendom, and it will be utterly destroyed.

But what of the men on the ship? Well, the soldiers thought they should kill the prisoners. That’s God’s
justice: “the wages of sin is death” (Rm 6:23a). But the centurion kept them from their purpose – why?
Verse 43 – because he wanted to save Paul. That’s God’s mercy: “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ
Jesus our Lord” (Rm 6:23b).

And they all made it to land. What land? The bay, on this certain island. The Greek word for “bay” means
the bosom; the breast of the body. To be in or on the bosom of someone means to be in his embrace, to be
cherished by him as the object of intimate care and dearest affection; to be a bosom friend. It is the place of
intimate communion.

And so the true church will be gathered to their Lord; saved from the storm of God’s judgment, which will
fall upon Christendom, and all unbelievers on the earth.

The name of this island is Malta, which means “escape”. This was the way of escape that God made for
those who were born in Adam – through His Son, Jesus Christ.