1 Now it came to pass, that when we had departed from them and set sail, running a straight course we came to Cos, the following day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. 2 And finding a ship sailing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. 3 When we had sighted Cyprus, we passed it on the left, sailed to Syria, and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload her cargo.
After departing from the Ephesian elders in Miletus, Paul and his team sailed to Tyre. Verses 1-14 contain several warnings against Paul going to Jerusalem. The apostle did not heed their warnings.
Now it came to pass, that when we had departed from them and set sail, running a straight course we came to Cos, the following day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara.
Paul’s team sailed around the southwestern coast of Asia to Cos, the home of Hippocrates. Cos and Rhodes are both islands.
The colossal statue of Apollo, one of the seven wonders of the world, stood astride the entrance to the harbor years before Paul arrived.
Patara was located on the provincial Lycian mainland, the seat of the oracle Apollo.
And finding a ship sailing over to Phoenicia [Lebanon], we went aboard and set sail.
At Patara, they found another ship going to Phoenicia, about a 400-mile journey by sea. Phoenicia became the Roman province of Syria. Christian refugees from the persecution of Stephen fled to Phoenicia and then evangelized the region (Acts 11:19).
When we had sighted Cyprus,
The team passed the island of Cyprus.
we passed it on the left, sailed to Syria,
Paul’s group passed by Cyprus on their left on their way to Syria.
and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload her cargo.
The group landed at Tyre, where the ship unloaded its cargo.
God has an ultimate purpose through all the maze of human events.
Throughout chapter 21, we see Paul’s determination to do God’s will no matter the cost. He was on a mission to deliver supporting funds for the churches of Judea. His heart was to share the gospel with both Jews and Gentiles in Jerusalem. Although his well-meaning friends attempted to detain him from going, he obtained his direction from the Holy Spirit and the will of God. Going to Jerusalem was how God directed Paul to Rome, which event became strategic in spreading the gospel. The road to Rome lay through Jerusalem with all the problems that occurred there (2 Co 4:17; Php 1:12-14). The providential hand of God was upon him through it all. God was in all the turbulence of Paul’s life (Ro 8:28).