“The next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius, in kindness to Paul, allowed him to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs.” [Acts 27:3 (NIV2011)].
I call your attention to the words, “…and Julius, in kindness to Paul, allowed him to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs.” Who is this Julius who shows this kindness to Paul? Verse one of Acts 27 tells us that he was a centurion. This means that he was a professional military commander of a company of 100 soldiers.
Verse one adds that Julius belonged to the Imperial Regiment. Julius served at the will of the Emperor of Rome. It further tells us that Julius had distinguished himself in some significant way to have been selected for this regiment. The fact that in Myra, Julius put Paul and the other prisoners on board an Alexandrian grain ship clearly indicates the authority he possessed.
From his training and military experience Julius would be a person to take and give orders. He would have demonstrated his ability to show leadership in difficult situations. We can assume that he was a hardened soldier able to deal with rebellion and other unsavory circumstances. Kindness would not be a quality one would expect from such a military personality.
So why would Julius show kindness to Paul? Paul had been held for over two years as a prisoner of the governor, Festus, in Caesarea. It is likely that Julius had seen Paul, maybe even been assigned as his guard. We know that Paul did not hesitate to share Christ with the military personnel that surrounded him. To the Philippian church Paul wrote: “As a result it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.” The Palace Guard would be the select Praetorian Guard who served as the personal bodyguard to the Emperor in Rome.
While I cannot prove my thesis, I am confident of this possibility that explains the kindness that Julius showed to Paul. Let us draw courage from this to be faithful in bearing witness of Christ to everyone we meet. Who knows but that that person may be the angel God places in our path years later who will show kindness to you or to me.
—Written by Rev. Ivan L. Schwenn, 2019-11—