All three of these events confirm the direction of the prevailing wind. Luke, in Acts In other words, the ship was not bound for Rome, but was making ports of call along the southern coast of what today is Turkey. The harbor at Myra was one of the great trans-shipping ports of the ancient Mediterranean. Thus it makes sense that Paul and the others would leave the coastal vessel there and board the larger grain ship for the final leg of the voyage to Rome.
The Egyptian grain ship leaves Myra, then sails slowly westward for several days. Finally, they stand off the town of Cnidus, having reached that point only with the greatest difficulty.
Paul's Stay in Malta - Acts 28:1-10
After passing Cape Salome on the eastern end of the island, they make their way along the southern coast. It is with difficulty that they reach the harbor called Fair Havens. The distance from Myra to Cnidus is land miles. The ship could have covered that distance in a single day with a favoring wind. Luke says that it took several days, which again confirms that the prevailing wind was against them. In sailing west to Cnidus, they were leaving the shelter of the Turkish land mass.
Finding it impossible to proceed any farther west at Cnidus, the ship turned to the southwest to get behind Crete. This change in course is an important piece of evidence. It tells us that the wind had shifted, though Luke does not actually say that this occurred. The wind must now have been blowing from the northwest, since if it had been blowing from the west they could have crossed the Aegean Sea north of Crete. More importantly, a westerly wind would have made it impossible for them to sail to the southwest to get behind Crete.
Luke does not mention this change of wind direction, but he records its consequences. Meteorological evidence reveals that in late summer and early fall the prevailing wind often shifts to the northwest in the Mediterranean.
Paul travels to Troas
Since this was the time of year they sailed, this is a further confirmation that the wind was now blowing from the northwest. There is another interesting piece of nautical evidence. The islands in their path would have prevented them from turning to get behind Crete until the angle of descent was such that the northwest wind would have made that maneuver impossible. Southern Crete could not be reached by an ancient sailing ship from any point along their route, except by turning southwest at Cnidus. Luke records that it was with difficulty that they reached the harbor of Fair Havens.
- The Bible Smuggler (Louise A. Vernon Religious Heritage Series);
- Paul the Apostle.
He then states that they halted there, but does not say why. Meteorological and nautical evidence tells us why. Looking at the map of southern Crete, you will see that Cape Matala lies just four miles west of Fair Havens harbor. At the Cape, the coast curves to the north.
Had their ship sailed past Cape Matala, they would have been exposed to the northwest wind and would have found it impossible to continue westward. The reason for their halt at Fair Havens was to wait for a change in the wind. A sailing ship working its way westward against a northwest wind, even under the shelter of Crete, would have had problems reaching Fair Havens. It was past the Jewish Day of Atonement, or mid-October, when the wind finally changed.
A fair wind from the south began to blow and the captain decided to make for a better harbor at Phoenix, on the western end of Crete. Because of the lateness of the season, his decision was controversial. During the winter, no ships sailed on the Mediterranean. As Luke records, they could either winter at Fair Havens or use the temporary southern wind to make for Phoenix. Luke maintains that Fair Havens was not a good winter harbor, and that the captain and the sailors wanted to try for Phoenix.
The argument against sailing for Phoenix was the lateness of the season, with the real possibility of a sudden, adverse wind that could wreck the ship. There are two pieces of evidence that bear on this passage. First, although Fair Havens is not the best of harbors, modern surveys reveal that it is a safe winter harbor. Second, Luke implies that the Centurion made the final decision to sail. Although it may seem odd to us today that an army commander would make this decision, in the Roman military there was no separation between land and sea forces. The Roman navy was an extension of the army, with army commanders serving as naval officers.
However, this was a private ship and not a naval vessel. Some scholars argue that the captain, who was the owner of the ship, would have made the decision, rather than the Centurion. But inscriptional evidence from the first century indicates that ship owners who took part in the vital grain trade between Egypt and Rome were generally licensed as agents of the Roman state.
They were a kind of public utility and were under strict government regulation.
Paul the Apostle - Wikipedia
Since the Centurion represented the Roman state, his permission may have been needed to sail. However, according to the Roman historian Suetonius, throughout this era the city of Rome faced continuing shortages of food during the winter months. Thus the Emperor Claudius offered substantial bonuses to ship owners who took the chance of sailing late in the season. From there, it would have been possible to make for Rome if the weather held.
Today this bay is not deep enough to serve as a harbor, though it may have been of sufficient depth two thousand years ago. A geological survey has established that parts of the western coast of Crete are twenty feet higher today than in antiquity, the result of earthquake activity over the centuries.
Whether it was deep enough for use as a harbor remains an open question. The second bay, which has a deep harbor and is used by ships today, faces the opposite direction from that recorded by Luke. On the other hand, he may not have been mistaken. There is simply not enough evidence to decide which of the two bays was the site of the ancient harbor. In verse thirteen, Luke says that after leaving Fair Havens the ship sailed close to shore.
The ship did not sail close to shore on purpose. They had no choice in the matter.
Cape Matala lies four miles south by west of Fair Havens, with the wind now coming from the south. Because ancient ships could not lie closer to the wind than seven points, they would have had a struggle to keep the ship from being blown against the coast until finally rounding the Cape. From Cape Matala, it was 34 miles to Phoenix, with the southern wind now favoring their course. They should have reached the harbor in a few hours. First Journey of St. Second Journey of St. Third Journey of St.
Summer 53 A.D.
Journey to Rome of St. His travel companions were Barnabas and John Mark. Barnabas was both a Levite, namely a member a Jewish priestly family, descended from Aaron the brother of Moses and Hellenistic Jew from the diaspora.
He could speak Greek and was familiar with Gentiles. His name was Joseph. His given name, Barnabas Hebrew barnabas, 'son of a prophet' may infer a role as teacher or prophet, son of 'prophecy'. In Acts his name is interpreted as 'son of consolation'. He had previously 'sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money at the feet of the apostles' Acts 4,37 , Barnabas had introduced Paul to Peter and James, the Lord's brother and related to them Paul's conversion story when the apostle fled from Damascus to Jerusalem about decade before Acts 9, It was also Barnabas who had gone from Antioch to Tarsus, found Paul and explained him what was being asked from them.
Barnabas was a native of Salamis and would have known the island well, hence perhaps the decision to go there. John Mark, who is usually identified both with 'Mark the cousin of Barnabas' of Col 4,10 and with Mark, the writer of one of the Gospels, probably owed his participance in the journey as the third member of the group to the necessity of having a young assistant in such missions; to take care of the minor travel arrangements, carrying messages, baptising converts and like.
It has been suggested that John Mark was the unnamed young man of Gethsemane 'wearing nothing but a linen cloth' who left his garment 'behind and ran off naked' Mk 14, , he must have seen the previous events here and known Jesus personally and thus could help the preaching of his companions as an eyewitness; first-hand news of Jesus' life, miracles, death and resurrection would attract the attention of listeners.
According to Acts , 'After some time' the Gentile mission, although with limitations, now accepted, Paul decided for a second missionary journey to 'all the cities' that they had visited during the first journey. Paul wanted to see with his own eyes how his first converts in the churches of southern Galatia were doing since he wrote them a while earlier.
Later developments show that he did not have a plan after this point. Barnabas, despite the problem reflected in Gal 2,13 agreed with him; but they went their separate ways, because they disagreed over the suitability of John Mark.
- The Caregiver: Families of Honor, Book One?
- Paul's Journey to Rome Map.
- At the Drop of a Dime: A novel;
- Paul’s 4th Missionary Journey (And I Don’t Mean His Trip to Rome)!
At this date Paul had not yet forgiven Mark's desertion in Perge. His Roman citizenship is implied in Acts after the jail episode in Philippi.