The following lesson is based on Paul’s trip to Rome. The focus of this lesson is that no matter how hard the enemy tries to stop God’s work in a believer’s life, believers can trust that God will do what He says He will do. The Holy Spirit enables believers to trust God and persevere during difficult times.
This lesson was created for older elementary students and is only a suggested guide for your ministry needs. Click here to see all the lessons in this curriculum series.
Bible Story: Paul Sails to Rome
Scripture: Acts 27
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Supply List: Bibles, cardboard boxes to create a ‘ship’, map of ship’s travels,
Learning Goal: Students will learn that God keeps His promises and the Holy Spirit enables believers to trust God when facing difficulties.
Learning Activity #1: Create a ‘ship’ from card board boxes. On the inside of the ship students can draw a picture, write a favorite Scripture verse and initial and date it (that way if you teach this lesson each year there will be a memorial of the students that ‘traveled’ with Paul on his way to Rome). This can be a very simple (or complicated) project. If you need inspiration, just search for cardboard boats on Google images.
Test: Review Questions
Memory Verse: Job 42:2 “Then Job replied to the LORD: I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted.” You can use our Bible memory games to help the kids have fun while learning.
Bible Lesson: Paul Sails to Rome
(Begin with prayer)
Every day there is a battle going on. We can’t always see this battle with our eyes because it is an unseen war. The enemy is Satan and he hates God and does anything he can to destroy God and the things God loves. Satan knows God loves believers. He knows that once a man, woman, boy or girl believes in Jesus he can do nothing to destroy their soul by keeping them from heaven. He does know that he can wage war against God’s work in this world by attacking believers and fighting against them.
Satan knows he is fighting a losing battle but that doesn’t stop him from trying to do as much damage and destruction as he can to keep believers from spreading the Good News.
We have witnessed this unseen battle throughout our study of Acts. Whenever there has been persecution against followers of Jesus it was the unseen spiritual battle taking place. Can you think of examples of persecution against believers that was intended to keep them from sharing that Jesus died, was buried and rose again? (Stoning Stephen, Simon the sorcerer, imprisonment, etc.)
- Believers do not need to fear Satan because God is all-powerful. Nothing that God’s enemy does against Him will ever stop God from doing all that He has said He will do. When we face difficulties that the enemy has intended to harm us or keep us from obeying God we can trust that God will take care of us and enable us to get through whatever comes against us.
Paul has been a perfect example to us from God’s Word how believers can trust God in any situation. The Holy Spirit has given Paul power to share the Good News. The Holy Spirit has enabled Paul to persevere in times of great difficulty.
- All believers will face difficulties as we serve God and share the Good News with others. We can trust the Holy Spirit to give us power to obey God and persevere no matter what difficulty we face.
(Depending on the size of your ‘ship’ and your class you can tell the story from inside the ship)
Let’s turn in our Bibles to Acts 27. Finally after 2 years of being imprisoned in Caesarea, Paul is finally on a ship heading for the destination God told him he would go. (Acts 23:11 “Take courage! As you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”)
Paul boards a ship along with other prisoners. A centurion named Julius is in charge of making sure the prisoners do not escape on this long journey to Italy. Also on this ship are two of Paul’s friends. Luke (his name isn’t mentioned but remember he wrote Acts and he writes ‘we ‘indicating he is with Paul) and Aristarchus a believer that had traveled from Thessalonica travel with Paul.
(Use map showing the travel route) The ship sets sail from Caesarea and stops in Sidon the next day. Let’s read verse 3. Why do you think Julius showed Paul kindness? (Allow responses. Paul treated others with gentleness and respect even when he was being unfairly treated)
The winds were making sailing very difficult so the captain sailed the ship as safely as he could arriving in Myra. In Myra, Julius found that an Alexandrian ship was leaving for Italy. He got all the prisoners and Paul’s friends on the ship and they began to sail. The traveling went slowly because the winds made it difficult to travel. The captain of the ship traveled slowly along the coast of Crete and with great difficulty arrived at a place called Fair Havens.
A lot of time had passed since Paul had left Caesarea. At this time it is in the fall (after the Day of Atonement). Travelling at this time of year is very dangerous. Read verse 10. Julius heard what Paul said but listened to the advice of the captain and the owner of the ship. They felt that Fair Havens was not a good place to stay for the winter. They decided to sail to Phoenix hoping they could stay there for the winter.
As the winds softly blew they set sail thinking they would be able to get to Phoenix liked they planned. Unfortunately as they began to sail the Northeaster, a very strong wind storm with hurricane force winds came against them. The ship was unable to go in the direction the captain wanted to take it so the ship was driven along where the wind sent it.
- Sometimes ‘storms’ or difficulties come into our lives quickly and the confusion that comes may feel like the ship that Paul is on that is just traveling along where the storm takes it. We can trust God to help us when these storms come. God is powerful and in control even when things in our lives seem out of control. He will give us peace even when the difficulties like the loud winds of the storm make it hard to understand.
Read 16-18. If you were on this ship, how would you feel?
In the days that Paul was traveling by ship they didn’t have gps systems to tell them where they were so they could make corrections and go the way they wanted to. Sailors used the stars in the sky to help them to navigate. Let’s read verse 20. How would these weather conditions affect the navigation of the ship? (They couldn’t see the stars so they had no idea where they were)
How did the passengers on the ship feel about ever making it to dry land alive? (They gave up all hope of being saved)
Through physical eyes this situation looked impossible. Nothing is impossible with God. He had a plan for Paul’s life and He told Paul he would go to Rome. If God said Paul would go, nothing not even a life-threatening storm was going to stop him.
Let’s read verses 21-26. God sent an angel to encourage Paul. The Holy Spirit gave Paul courage and he encouraged the frightened passengers to trust God.
- When believers face difficult times, God comforts us. When we are comforted by God we can share that comfort with others. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Fourteen days of drifting on the sea in a terrible storm have passed. The sailors were afraid and wanted to save their own lives. Even after hearing Paul’s share that God would keep them safe, they pretended to let down some anchors they planned to escape on the life boat. Paul said to Julius, “Unless these men stay on the ship you cannot be saved.” Julius told his soldiers to cut the ropes from the lifeboat and it fell into the ocean.
Early the next morning before the sun came up Paul encouraged the passengers to eat something. He knew that they would need strength to swim once they were close to shore. Let’s read the words he spoke to encourage the passengers in verses 33-37. Luke tells us how many people are on the ship. How many were there? (276)
The Holy Spirit gave Paul courage to speak words of encouragement to all the passengers. He helps all believers to encourage others when they are facing difficult times.
When the sun began to rise they could see a sandy beach. The sailors decided to steer the ship to run aground. The ship hit a sand bar and the force of the ship crashing into it caused the ship to break into pieces because the waves were still strong.
As the ship is quickly falling apart the soldiers didn’t want any prisoners to escape so they planned to kill them all. Julius did not want Paul to be harmed so he told them they could not kill the prisoners. Julius ordered all who could swim to jump in and swim. Those who could not swim need to grab a board and paddle to safety.
Let’s read verse 44. Every person reached the land safely just as God said. Not one life was lost. God’s Word can be trusted. He will always do what He says He is going to do.
We began our lesson by talking about God’s enemy trying to keep God’s people from doing what God told them to do. In this story in the unseen world it seems like Satan was doing everything in his power to kill Paul in a shipwreck. God’s power kept Paul safe. God’s power will keep you and I safe from the enemy’s attempts to destroy. Let’s trust Him!
Close in prayer.
- What are some difficulties that children your age face? How can you be like Paul and encourage others to trust God in that difficulty?
- What encouraged you from this lesson about Paul’s difficult journey to Rome?
- What Scriptures can you memorize to help you trust God when ‘storms’ come into your life and threaten to discourage you? (Teacher: Prepare a sample of helpful memory verses)
You might enjoy our Boats in the Bible lesson as a possible follow-up to this one. It includes a “ship themed” Gospel illustration.