Paul’s Shipwreck

Scripture Reference: Acts 27-28:10

Story Overview: Paul was placed under guard and put aboard a ship so that he could go to Rome for his trial. Bad weather caused the ship to be delayed along the way. Paul asked his guard to tell the captain that disaster would strike if they continued to sail. The guard ignored Paul and the ship sailed into hurricane strength winds and was tossed about for many days. Paul told them all that an angel of the Lord had told him that no one would die and that they would run aground on an island. Just as Paul said, the ship ran aground near the island of Malta and everyone got to shore safely. While there, Paul was bitten by a poisonous snake and miraculously lived. He also healed the father of the island’s chief official. After three months they boarded another ship heading to Rome.

Suggested Emphasis: God protected Paul and gave him strength. When we trust him he will do the same for us.

Memory Verse: I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

Background Study
Way to Introduce the Story
The Story
Review Questions
Craft and Activity Ideas
Online Resources

Background Study:

Click here for an overview of the Book of Acts

Way to Introduce the Story:
Share with the class a time when you (or someone else) were very frightened about something. If there was a time when you were afraid of a storm that would be perfect. Tell the class if you prayed to God when you were afraid. “Paul was often in situations where he was probably very scared”. (Review some of the times from past lessons.) “Even when he was afraid, Paul knew that God would take care of him. He knew that He could do anything if God was with him.”

The Story:
The Jewish people who did not believe in Jesus did not like Paul. Some of them told lies about Paul and said that he should be put in prison. Even though no one could prove that he had done anything wrong, he had to stay in prison a long time. Finally, Paul said he wanted to go to the city of Rome, Italy and tell his story to the Ruler of Rome–Caesar. Paul thought that Caesar would listen to his story and let him go free.

Rome, Italy was a long way from the city of Caesarea where Paul had been kept prisoner. Paul had to sail in a ship. A special Roman guard named Julius had to stay with Paul at all times. Julius was very nice to Paul and when the ship would stop at ports, he would let Paul visit friends.

Bad storms made the trip very hard. Paul told the captain and the owner of the ship that it was very dangerous and that they should wait until the winter was over before they continued the voyage. The captain and the owner did not listen to Paul. They probably thought that Paul didn’t know anything because he was just a prisoner.

Soon everyone wished they had listened to Paul because the storms grew even worse. The captain tried to dock the ship at an island called Crete but the wind was too hard and blew the ship out to sea again. The sailors on the ship were so afraid that the ship would fall apart that they tied a rope around it to hold it together. The storm kept blowing day after day. It was so bad that Paul and the rest of the people on the ship could not even see the sun during the day or the stars at night. It seemed like the ship was going to sink so they threw everything on the ship into the sea. They even had to throw out most of their food. Of course everyone on the ship was scared and hungry.

One day Paul stood up and said to everyone on the ship, “You should have listened to me before. Be sure and listen this time because I have good news. An angel came to me last night and gave me a special message from God. The angel said that none of us will die. The ship will crash on an island but none of us will die. I know now that God will take care of us. Everyone should cheer up because what the angel said is true.” This must have seemed impossible to the people on the ship.

Finally, after two weeks, the ship got close to an island. It was the island of Malta. Paul told everyone not to worry. He told them to eat so that they would all feel better. The captain tried to sail the ship to the beach but the ship crashed on some rocks. Everyone who could swim jumped into the water. Some of the people could not swim so they floated on boards and paddled to shore. Some people on the ship wanted to kill the prisoners so that they would not escape. Julius took care of Paul and told the men that none of the prisoners should be killed.

Remember how Paul had told the captain that the ship would crash but that no one would die? It happened just the way the angel told Paul it would happen. There were 276 people on the ship and not one of them drowned!

It was raining and very cold but the people of Malta began making a fire for the people from the ship. Paul wanted to help so he began collecting sticks to put on the fire. Once, when he bent down to put one of the sticks on the fire, a poisonous snake jumped out and bit him. Paul just shook the snake off and threw it into the fire. The island people could not believe what they saw! Anyone else who was bitten by a poisonous snake would die. Paul did not die! They thought he must be some kind of god.

Since the ship had wrecked, all of the passengers had to find places to stay until another ship could come. Paul went to the house of Publius who was an important man on the island. Publius’ father was very sick but Paul prayed for him and the man’s sickness went away. The islanders thought Paul was wonderful. All the sick people on the island wanted to visit Paul so he could make them well. Paul and Julius stayed on the island three months until another ship came.

Review Questions:

  1. Why did Paul sail to Rome? To go to a trial with Caesar as the judge
  2. What happened to the ship Paul was on? It crashed in the rocks near an island
  3. How many people died on the ship? Not one person!
  4. When Paul was gathering firewood on the island, what happened to him? A poisonous snake bit him but he did not die

Craft and Activity ideas for the class (choose age appropriate ones):

  • Make a poster, refrigerator magnet, plaque or some other craft with the memory verse on it.
  • Blue-tac a large piece of newsprint to the wall. Let the children use gray and blue tempera paint to paint a storm and Paul’s ship.
  • Act out the story.
  • Edible Activity: Make blue jelly (jello) in a clear plastic cup before class. Make enough so each child can have one. As you review the story distribute the cups to the children. Give them each a small piece of chocolate (or another appropriate food item) to represent the boat. In the review, when you get to the part about the storm clouds building up before the storm, dollop whipped cream on the top of the “water”. When it is time for the storm have the children stir it all together.
  • Songs: My God is So Big or Jesus Loves Me This I Know or I Can Be a Missionary
  • Craft: Make a relief map of Paul’s Journies featuring the place in today’s story. If you are studying about Paul’s journies over a few lessons then you could add more details to the map each time you learn about another stop on the journey. Instructions on how to make a relief map at
  • Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
  • Acts_PaulFind other ideas on the Pinterest Board “Acts:Life of Paul”


Other Online Resources:


6 Responses to Paul’s Shipwreck

  1. Cindy says:

    I just want to THANK you sooooo much.’i have to teach This lesson to kids dand I did not know how to simplify it. Sooo now I do thanks to you. God have blessed you with as a teacher. Great job ! Very much appreciated.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Cindy,
      You are most welcome. This is such a great story to share with kids. All of that drama (storm, ship sinking, swimming to safety, snake biting Paul)!!!! I hope your class goes well.

  2. Hannah Merlin says:

    Hi this is a wonderful job.. I am really impressed.. it helps to me share this with my Sunday school kids.. God bless you..

  3. Tom VS says:

    Dear Brothers/Sisters in Jesus Christ,
    Excellent job done, we came across ur website for some resources for VBS and this came out well.
    God Bless u in all u do!
    Prayers, Tom

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