Melita

"After we had escaped, we then learned that the island was called Malta. And the natives showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold." (Acts 28:1-2 RSV)

And so it was that the apostle Paul found himself safely on land after surviving a terrible storm at sea (Acts 27:13-44) while being taken as a prisoner to Rome (see Paul's Journey To Rome). The wreck resulted when the Roman army officer (see Roman Legions) ignored Paul's warning and instead "the centurion paid more attention to the captain and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said." (Acts 27:11 RSV).

Also known as Melita, from the Greek Melite, Malta is located in the The Mediterranean Sea about 60 miles / 100 kilometers south of Sicily. The largest of the five islands, Malta, is about 17 miles / 28 kilometers long and 9 miles (15 kilometers) wide. The bay in which the shipwreck occurred is today called "St. Paul's Bay" (see map below). The other islands are Gozo, Comino, Comminotto and Filfla.

Originally colonized by the Phoenicians (see Tyre), Malta was held by the Greeks from about 736 B.C. (see Ancient Empires - Greece), from whom it was later taken by the Carthaginians in 528 B.C. By 242 B.C., it was conquered by the Romans (see Ancient Empires - Rome), who governed it, through a Roman governor, when Paul was shipwrecked (Acts 28:7).

Paul remained on Malta for three months (Acts 28:11), during which the good people there treated him with much honor and hospitality (the people of Malta are still very kind and friendly - Daily Bible Study has heard from a number of Maltese Christians who are regular readers). When the time came to continue the voyage on a ship that had wintered on the island (Acts 28:11), the people of Malta provided them with all of the supplies that they needed (Acts 28:10).

Fact Finder: What miracle saved Paul's life while he was building a campfire on shore after the shipwreck?
Acts 28:2-6

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