Home » ST.PAUL’S BIBLICAL MALTESE LEGACY

ST.PAUL’S BIBLICAL MALTESE LEGACY

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Kevin will be reflecting on a recent trip to Malta and what it was like to see the lasting legacy made by the apostle Paul. St. Paul was shipwrecked on the island & stayed until winter had passed and the bad weather so that he could sail onwards towards his Rome destination.

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Kevin looking out over St.Paul’s Bay with the monument in the distance marking the area the St.Paul was shipwrecked across the bay. The account in Acts records that none of the crew or prisoners were lost at sea and they were to hang on to wreckage to swim across the bay to dry ground. The weather was rough, the seas breaking and the swim across the bay exhausting. The Shipwreck Chapel, nearby on a hill in the bay, stands on the location Paul was bitten by a snake and threw it into the fire.

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Kevin was encouraged to see the lasting legacy of St.Paul’s stay on the island of Malta, famous for it’s history and Christian influence. St.Paul’s Bay is now a bustling town with a fair population. The climate during the summer is very hot 30-40 degrees and the sea is warm to swim in.  St.Paul’s first experience was in much harsher conditions when it was cold, wet and windy. The ship was lost in the severe storm and the sailors and prisoners on board had not eaten for some days.

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The island during the summer would be an entirely different experience that sailing in during the stormy seas of winter. What must it been like for St.Paul, 2000 years ago on the island? How was he treated, where did he live?

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First let us look at the photographic evidence of the shipwreck site from further out at sea. You can clearly see two areas of rocks that are slightly separate from the main island and it was on the large one of these that St.Paul’s ship came to smash against the rocks. Being a good swimmer, it would be possible to swim across the bay, but given the conditions, the breaking, swirling waves, the tide, the cold weather and the lack of food the men had eaten over the past week or so, it would have been a tough swim across the bay.

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After throwing the snake in the fire [that had bitten him when building a campfire to keep warm], the islanders noticed he had no after affects, he did not become ill and die. This caused them to hold Paul with respect and esteem as they had initially thought it was judgement on him for something bad he had done.

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Luke in Acts records that the islanders from Malta showed them unusual kindness. Paul was looked after, recuperated from any tiredness & weakness from the journey & would be based on the island for some months before sailing again.

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The apostle Paul was to be accommodated in the Rabat area of Malta, now a famous distinctive area of old narrow streets, archways, adorned by lovely flowers & interesting door knockers.

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What was it like in Paul’s day on the island, around Rabat where he was to stay for 3 months or so until his new ship was prepared & ready to set sail following the winter season? Paul would make a quick impression with people & show his god fearing life of service & dedication to the risen Christ. He became famous for his teaching & bold speaking & his ability to articulate biblical teaching to an audience without any knowledge of Jesus Christ. In Malta we know he performed miracles of healing in the name of Jesus & many were touched & believed. Paul’s life was used by the Holy Spirit to plant churches & encourage believers wherever he travelled & this would be true on the island of Malta. The Church of Malta today, reflects the deep impression Paul made on the islanders.

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 Buildings now commemorate famous historical places & people. This Church is built in an area where St.Paul lived, I can imagine him writing, praying, visiting people & they him in a stony grotto near St.Publius Square. Above & below are views Paul would have seen of Malta, this rocky island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea & an important trading route.

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A view from where Paul lived most of his stay in Malta. Although effectively a prisoner under Roman escort, with clear restrictions on his life, he nevertheless would have had some freedom during his stay on Malta & had one over the respect of the Roman officer in charge by his godly living & character.

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I am sure when he reflected on his life, Paul was very aware of the continued grace of God with him in all situations. He experienced many close encounters with death during his time as an apostle, whether it was through beatings, stoning, storms or shipwreck experiences. He knew that the Lord would look after him until it was his time for promotion to glory.

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As he left behind the site of Malta, he would have been praying for the people he had met & come to know on the island, the believers who were starting to meet & pray together. The embryonic Christian Church that had begun, that he had been used to encourage & perhaps even instigate. Now as he looked at the sheer rock cliff edges, he asked the Holy Spirit to prepare him for the next stage of his life. What was to happen next, where would they stop, who would they meet, what believers would come to meet him on his voyage to Rome?

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The ship had now been repaired, scrubbed & cargo restocked & loaded on board. The crew were fresh & everyone had benefited from the season in the safe Maltese dock. Paul was prayerful, emboldened in his faith & greatly encouraged by the way the Lord had worked on the island. He was ready for the next stage with Christ at the centre of his life & service.

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 14.37.50Face2Face Educational Trust is a Christian Trust that runs educational projects for children, young people, families and adults. Using a range of skills, Kevin puts on events in the region and local area as well as working in schools and churches. Kevin will often use art, chess and RE to share biblical truths. If you are interested in booking Kevin please contact.