Can Other People Take an Apostle ‘Off Course’?
Is it possible for others to adversely affect an apostle’s time and ministry, or cause events to turn out contrary to the apostle’s knowledge of the will of God? Yes again! At least one of the shipwrecks Paul endured, it seems, was not intended by the will of God. “Paul warned them, ‘Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.’ But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship” (Acts 27:9-12). Nevertheless, a sovereign God has His hand upon His apostles, as He does with all who walk in the covenant of Christ. Despite many small things that might seem to work contrary to God’s purpose, even at odds with His revealed will, grace continually intervenes to bring about God’s ultimate purpose. This is particularly true with the servant of God who continually submits his life and circumstances to God in prayer. The record of God’s dealing with His called, chosen and faithful servants (Revelation 17:14) shows that He always knows the way ahead, no matter what the circumstances.
The shipwreck story continues, “After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island” ” (Acts 27:21-26).
God’s hand held the apostle safely, to bring him to his ultimate purpose (“You must stand trial before Caesar”). The grace of God was such, however, that extended to Paul was an additional gift — the deliverance of all those with him (“God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you”). It is usual that, when God’s grace and power is on an anointed servant, such as an apostle, the grace and power of that anointing carries the favour of God, causing blessing and miraculous outcomes for people and circumstances nearby. Notice that the text said that “God has graciously given you”. Both the grace and the gift was because of the apostle, not because of the lives or the circumstances of any other person on the ship. That is an example of the favour
of God that comes with the anointing.