What a trip! You can tell from the very beginning of this chapter that things aren’t alway going to go as planned. But from the very beginning, starting at vs.10 where Paul discourages the ship from setting sail, he gives insight as to what is going to happen on the journey. Those in charge do not pay attention to the point of almost jeopardizing the entire journey along with the ship and the people on board. You can find the different times when Paul gives his insight starting at vs. 10, vs. 31, vs. 33. Keep in mind that he is a prisoner and so why would they listen to him? They don’t listen to him in vs.10 and they pay for it. The commander of the ship does listen to him in vs.31 and so the lives are saved.
I do want to focus on what Paul does in vs.33-38. When you read this what did you hear? Did you see Jesus and his disciples at the last supper? Look at the words that the Scripture uses. Paul took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and they ate. Does it sound at all like: Matthew 26:26 “While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”” Luke 22:9 says this: “Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them.” Mark 14:22 says the following: “While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them.” Even the Scripture that I prefer using on communion Sundays we find Paul says this in I Corinthians 11:23-24: “the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it.”
There is definitely a formula that Paul buys into in these verses. Those four steps happen in all of them: taking bread, giving thanks, breaking it, and distributing it. Our Book of Order, which is part of our constitution in the Presbyterian Church (USA), states that those who have been baptized are welcome to take part in the Lord’s Supper. But who takes part in this supper that Paul gives to those present? We have a scene where over 276 people are on board. I can assure you that they were not all baptized. I would guarantee you that less than 10% were baptized but it didn’t cause a theological dilemma for Paul. He served the meal and whoever was moved to see the presence of the Lord in that act would be able to take advantage of the situation. I’m wondering if we need to more closely examine what we believe about the Lord’s Supper. We don’t have to change a thing about what we believe in the presence of Jesus, he is present in the Lord’s supper, but rather who is welcome to receive it. All of us prisoners/sinners should be able to advance to the table.