A fictional diary entry based on the observations of Julius, the centurion assigned to guard Paul on the journey to Rome in Acts 27:1 – 28:16
This is a true account of the journey which I, Julius, a centurion of Rome’s Imperial Regiment undertook with the prisoner Paul, servant of the one true God.
When Agrippa and Festus decided that Paul should go to face trial before Caesar in Rome, I was sent to guard him along the way. The trip began uneventfully, but things changed soon after our stop at Sidon. The winds began to rage against us, and we made it to Lycia with great difficulty. There, we boarded an Alexandrian ship headed for Italy. But if we hoped for fairer fortune, it was not to be. The wind’s intensity increased, and we lost many days making slow progress. By the time we arrived at Fair Havens, the Day of Atonement had already passed.
Paul warned us that to continue the voyage would be disastrous, but the ship’s owner advised me that we should sail on so that we could winter at the more suitable harbor in Phoenix. The wind’s shift to a gentler breeze sealed the decision in my mind, so we went ahead. That was the first and last time I did not heed Paul’s counsel.
Our gentle breeze soon turned into a hurricane and we lost all control of the ship. We suffered such violent assault from the Northeaster that we had to throw our cargo overboard. For many days, we saw neither sun nor stars and lost all hope of being saved. Then Paul encouraged us with a word from his God and told us not to be afraid, for our lives would be spared. After 14 days adrift, he convinced us to eat, and we did. Praise God! The very next day, we saw land and decided to run the ship aground. One by one, we left the ship and either swam ashore or floated there on planks from the damaged ship.
We soon learned that we had arrived on the Island of Malta. The islanders welcomed us kindly and built a fire to warm our chilled bodies. As Paul gathered brushwood, he was bitten by a snake, but merely shrugged it off into the fire and suffered no harm. The islanders began to call him a god, but Paul proclaimed the name of the one true God. Then Publius, the island chief, showed us generous hospitality in his home for three days. While there, Paul laid hands on and prayed for Publius’ father, who was sick with fever and dysentery. Praise God! The man was healed, and the entire village brought in the rest of their sick to be cured. After three months, we left Malta and eventually arrived safely in Rome.
I am back in my home, a changed man. All my life, I was taught that Caesar is divine, a son of God, the one who brings us peace via Pax Romana. And all my life, I believed it. But during that journey which should have killed me, I found life instead through Paul’s testimony. Now I know that Caesar is but a man like me. Jesus alone is the Savior of the world, Prince of Peace, the true Son of God. May His name be praised forever!
Note: This work of fiction assumes that Julius was a believer. Scholars believe his actions in Biblical accounts suggest that he may have been.