In the narrative of Acts, the sea journey of 27:1–28:15 has long been a puzzle. While it resembles other sea-journey stories from antiquity, its relevance to the narrative is far from clear. Though most interpreters emphasize particular symbolic meanings discernible in the story, these emphases sidestep the most distinctive features of the passage: its length, vivid detail, and location near the end of the narrative. I seek to correct this oversight by drawing attention not simply to what the story says but also to what it does to the reader. Located where it is, the Final Sea Journey builds anticipation concerning Paul’s fate, raises doubts about whether he will arrive and testify in Rome, slows the pace of the story dramatically, and suspends questions about the story’s outcome in ways that provoke tension and expectation. In these ways, the “slow sailing” of Acts 27:1–28:15 gives an experiential dimension to the final two chapters, provokes the reader to engaged reflection, depicts openness and uncertainty as prime places for witness, and draws attention to the journey itself as sacred space for divine activity.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.