It’s interesting to see Paul’s relationship with Julius in Acts 27. As a Roman centurion, Julius was charged with delivering Paul and his fellow prisoners to Rome and helping them to have safe passage. At the beginning of the chapter, when the Adramyttium boat lands at Sidon, Julius has such a strong relationship with Paul that he allows Paul (even though he is a prisoner) to go visit his friends that were there and receive care from them. Julius trusted and had so much respect for Paul that he knew Paul would come back. I’m sure this was because Paul showed Julius the same respect.
As the chapter and the difficult trials continue, Paul tries in verses 9 and 10 to warn all the men that they needed to stay where they were at the Fair Havens port because traveling was going to be awful to try and accomplish. But, think about the relationship that Julius and Paul had, and notice what verse 11 says, “Nevertheless the centurion (Julius) was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul.” In a normal situation, it’s easy to understand why he wouldn’t necessarily heed the warning of a prisoner, but we’ve already seen the mutual respect that he and Paul have for each other.
Then, as the tempest, Euroclydon (verse 14), tosses the boat to and fro, they had to secure the ship and throw almost everything out to make it lighter. Verse 20 tells us that they did not see the sun nor the stars for several days which was a disaster on the ocean. They didn’t have the fancy GPS navigation systems we have nowadays. So, at this point, they felt totally lost. Verse 20 continues, “… all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.” It is at this point in the journey, that Paul steps up and tells the men … “I told you so,” probably one of the toughest phrases to swallow when everything is going wrong. He says, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed…” Talk about a tough pill to swallow. He reassures them that if they listen to him, they will not suffer a loss of life, and they all begin to listen to him. In fact, it seems that Julius is now more willing to listen to Paul, and I’m sure their relationship grew. In the latter part of the chapter, the soldiers have a plan to kill all the prisoners to make things easier for them, but in verse 43, “… the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose…” I hope that Julius learned to listen to Paul and that Paul taught him about Jesus and he became a Christian, but I don’t know.
I think we can all relate to this story because at some point, we have all been Julius, … and Paul. Have you been in a position where the storms of life are tossing you to and fro and you’re looking for anything that will help you steer the ship straight? Then, you’ve been Julius at some point. Have you been in a situation where you were trying to be the voice of reason, and felt like saying, or actually did say, “I told you so”? Then, you’ve been Paul at some point. Whatever side we find ourselves on, the important thing to remember is that Julius and Paul showed each other mutual respect and were not rude to one another, and they established a strong relationship between them.