In the 27th chapter of Acts, Luke gives a graphic account of the tragic sea voyage in which the Apostle Paul, as prisoner, sailed from Caesarea to Italy, in the custody of Julius the Centurion. And in that account, he tells us that 276 souls were saved alive from the shipwreck, not one being lost to the raging sea. This is the location of the number 276 in the New Testament, and in due course we shall find that this precisely stated number is full of significance, in exactly the same way that we saw the significance of 153 in the last paper. But the secret must remain until the end of this paper.
Let us first of all investigate some interesting Gematria based on this number. Strangely enough, the examples showing 276 are more numerous than almost any other number. They focus on Satan, his devices, demons, fallen man, sin and the flesh, the law, and the way out from the bondage of Satan, sin, and law. The examples will be presented in groups defined by the classification just given. In displaying them in this paper, I give tribute to Jerry Lucas and Del Washburn, who did all the “donkey work” and presented the results in their book entitled THEOMATICS. This of course also applies for all the examples in the previous paper on 153. It has been commonly assumed that 666 is the Devil’s major signature, but it would certainly seem to be otherwise from the following list. I expect you will be as surprised as I was when first I saw them in THEOMATICS.
|GROUP ONE. SATAN AND DEMONS|
|Isaiah 14:12 “How art thou fallen from heaven, Lucifer, son of the morning.”
|1656||276 × 6|
|I beheld Satan falling from heaven. Luke 10:18||3864||276 × 14|
|And he laid hold of the Dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan. Rev.20:2||5244||276 × 19|
|The ruler of the demons. Luke 11:15||4416||276 × 16|
|Your adversary the Devil goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.
1 Peter 5:8
|8566||276 × 31|
|The one having the power of death is the Devil. Heb.2:14||4140||276 × 15|
|Immediately comes Satan and takes away the word. Matt.4:15||3588||276 × 13|
|Get thee behind me Satan, for you savour not the things of God but the things of man. Mark 8:33||8004||276 × 29|
|He casts out demons by Beelzebub the ruler of the demons. Luke 11:15||3036||276 × 11|
|He is possessed by Beelzebub, and by the ruler of demons he casts them out. Mark 3:22||5520||276 × 20|
|Depart from me, you who work iniquity. Matt.7:23||3588||276 × 13|
|Now is the ruler of this world cast out. John 12:31||6624||276 × 24|
|GROUP TWO. THE LEGACY OF ADAM|
|Man||1380||276 × 5|
|All men. Luke 13:4||3312||276 × 12|
|“All flesh”. The Hebrew of Gen.6:12||552||276 × 2|
|Uncircumcision. Rom.2:25||1104||276 × 4|
|Death from Adam. Rom.5:14||828||276 × 3|
|Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death. Rom.5:12||7452||276 × 27|
|GROUP THREE. “THE FLESH”. MAN’S FALLEN NATURE.|
|Those who live according to the flesh. Rom.8:5||828||276 × 3|
|The flesh with its passions and lusts. Gal. 5:24||3036||276 × 11|
|Deliver us out of this present evil age. Gal.1:4||6072||276 × 22|
|Out of this present evil age. Gal.1:4||3864||276 × 14|
|The sting of death is sin. 1 Cor.15:56||3036||276 × 11|
|Lust having conceived brings forth sin. James 1:15||3036||276 × 11|
|Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, neither does corruption inherit incorruption. 1 Cor. 15:50||5520||276 × 20|
|GROUP FOUR. THE LAWS OF GOD|
|The law of sin in my members, taking me captive. Rom.7:23||8556||276 × 31|
|Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law. Rom.3:19||2484||276 × 9|
|Why the law? It was added because of transgressions. Gal.3:19||3588||276 × 13|
|For through the law comes the full-knowledge of sin Rom.3:20||2760||276 × 10|
|Tablets of the Covenant. Heb.9:4||1104||276 × 4|
|All things written in the law of Moses. Luke 24:44||4140||276 × 15|
|The Sabbath Day. Luke 13:14||2208||276 × 8|
|The law of commandments in ordinances. Eph.2:15||3588||276 × 13|
|GROUP FIVE. RELEASE FROM ADAM’S LEGACY|
|Be merciful to me a sinner! Luke 18:13||2760||276 × 10|
|Released from the law of sin and death Rom.8:2||4416||276 × 16|
|Be subject to God and resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7||9384||276 × 34|
|THE CONNECTION WITH THE SHIPWRECK|
|And we were in all two hundred and seventy six souls Acts 27:37||3036||276 × 11|
Before making any further comment, let’s have a look at the story of the shipwreck, as told in the Translator’s New Testament.
When it was decided that we should sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, of the Augustan Cohort. We embarked on a ship from Adramyttium which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, and we put out to sea. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us. [The word “us” shows that Luke was also with Paul] The next day we put in at Sidon, and Julius treated Paul kindly, allowing him to go to his friends and be cared for. We put out from there and sailed under the shelter of Cyprus because the wind was against us. Then we sailed across the open sea off Cilicia and Pamphylia, and reached Myra in Lycia.
There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship bound for Italy and he put us on board. For many days we sailed slowly, and we arrived with difficulty off Cnidus. As the wind was still unfavourable, we sailed under the shelter of Crete, passingSalmone. We made our way along the coast with difficulty, and came to a place called Fair Harbours, near to which was the city of Lasea.
A long time had now passed, and sailing was already unsafe, because even the Fast was now over.[The Fast being the Day of Atonement, which would have been in October]
So Paul offered them advice, saying, ‘Gentlemen, I see that sailing will involve damage and much loss, both to the cargo and to the ship; our lives also will be in danger.’ But the centurion was persuaded by the captain and the ship-owner rather than by what Paul was saying.
Because the harbour was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority were in favour of putting out from it, in the hope of being able to reach Phoenix and spend the winter there. This was a harbour of Crete facing south-west and north-west.
When a moderate south wind began to blow, they thought they had got what they wanted, and they raised anchor and sailed along the coast of Crete as close as possible. After a little time a violent wind, called the Euraquilo [North-Easter,] swept down from the land. The ship was caught in it and could not face the wind; so we gave ourselves up to it and were carried along. Running under the shelter of a little island called Cauda we were able with difficulty to get the ship’s boat under control. hen the crew had pulled it up, they used supporting cables to undergird the ship. Being afraid of running on to the Syrtis sands, they lowered the mainsail, and in that condition they were carried along.
Next day, because we continued to be driven violently by the storm, they began to jettison the cargo, and on the third day they threw the ship’s gear overboard with their own hands.
For many days neither sun nor stars appeared and the storm continued with great severity, so that in the end we began to lose all hope of being saved.
At this point when they had been a long time without eating, Paul stood up among them and said,
‘Gentlemen, you should have heeded my words and not sailed from Crete.Then you would not have sustained this damage and loss. But now I advise you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, only the ship will be lost. Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship stood by me. He said, “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar, and God has graciously given you all who are sailing with you.” So take heart, gentlemen, for I believe God, that it will be just as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island.’
When the fourteenth night came, while we were still drifting in the sea of Adria, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were approaching land. They took a sounding and found twenty fathoms, and going a little further they took another sounding and found fifteen fathoms. Being afraid that we might run aground on a rocky coast, they threw out four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come.
The sailors were trying to escape from the ship and had lowered the boat into the sea, pretending that they were going to let anchors down from the bow. Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, ‘If these men do not remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved.’
Then the soldiers cut the boat’s ropes and let it fall away. Just before daybreak, Paul urged them all to eat, saying,
“For fourteen days now you have been in suspense and without food; you have not eaten anything. I urge you to eat, for you will need it if you are to live. But not a hair from the head of any one of you will be lost.”
After saying this he took a loaf and gave thanks to God in the presence of all; then he broke it and began to eat. Then they were all encouraged and themselves took food.
In all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons in the ship.
When they had eaten enough they began to lighten the ship by throwing the wheat into the sea.
When day came they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, and decided, if possible, to run the ship on to it.
They cast off the anchors and let them go into the sea; at the same time they unfastened the steering-oars, set the foresail to the wind, and made for the beach.
They chanced upon a place where two seas met, and ran the ship aground. The bow became jammed and remained immovable, while the stern began to break up under the force of the waves.
The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners, to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping.
But the centurion wished to save Paul, and stopped them from carrying out their plan. He ordered that first those who could swim should jump overboard and get away to land, and that the rest should get away on planks or upon other pieces of wood from the ship.
So it was that all were brought safe to land.
lsn’t is amazing that there should be TWO stories in the N.T. where specific numbers are mentioned? We have investigated the story of the 153 great fishes, and seen that it is God’s guarantee that ALL HIS ELECT will be gathered, not one shall be lost. But these are a SELECTED GROUP, not because of any intrinsic righteousness of their own, but because of God’s purpose and calling. And now we come to this second story, and how it fits in with the former account. The shipwreck depicts the situation in this world. In the ship there were Egyptians from Alexandria, including the crew AND the ship’s owner, and there was a contingent of Roman soldiers, together with their Centurion, by the name of Julius. Also we are told that there was a band of Jewish prisoners, the Apostle Paul being one of them, and finally two of Paul’s friends,Aristarchus and Doctor Luke.
Paul’s advice to Julius was NOT to sail. But he preferred to listen to the Captain and the Owner of the vessel. They wereconcerned for their cargo, and the profits that would accrue, and greed was the underlying factor in their minds.The Centurion was swayed by their “logic” rather than Paul’s spiritual sense. Hence the ship’s company was a divided company, as are the people of this world. And because the motives that drove them on were impure, risky to life and limb, and purely selfish, the wrath of God was unleashed upon them in the storm, as it had done centuries before to the disobedient prophet Jonah. Jonah was miraculously preserved, that he might deliver a message to Nineveh, whereby ALLNineveh repented and were saved from impending destruction. But here is a similar situation, with the exception of Paul, who is NOT a disobedient prophet, but one, like Moses, who interceded for the people he was with. And the Angel of the Lord attended him, and gave him God’s assurance of salvation for the entire company of 276 souls.
But other factors come into play as we read the account of what happened. See how [by observing the coloured portions of the text above] first the cargo was ditched in the ocean, then the ship’s equipment, then the lifeboat was cut loose as the crew were caught out trying to make their escape. Finally, the wheat was cast overboard, the anchors were cut loose and lost, the rudder was loosened, and last of all the stern broke up on the rocks. In other words, all the worldly goods had to be forfeited in stages, so that the people might be saved. Paul warned the Centurion about the sailors wanting to escape, and he knew that if they went, there would be no hope for the rest, hence the cutting loose of the lifeboat. And later the soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners, but this action was also thwarted by Paul’s word from the Lord.
In other words, it was only by the word of the Lord, and the eventual obedience to that word, via His messengers (the Angel and Paul) that everyone was saved. The clear message of this story is that God’s elect are sent back into the world, into the ship of greed and selfishness, during the days of God’s judgment, in order that mankind shall be saved. God’s desire is that all men shall be brought to repentance, that none shall be lost, and here is the guarantee that God shall achieve His goal. Just as the great fishes of Peter were ALL preserved from the deep, so here ALL the mixed company of this world’s people, the Egyptians, the Romans, the Jews, the prisoners, the merchantmen, ALL were saved. But in the process they had to jettison EVERYTHING of value in human terms. Nothing could be saved other than their lives.
The preservation of the 153 of God’s elect is universally accepted by Christians. Nobody would argue the point about that. God’s elect are always only too happy to think about their own salvation, and the security of it. But when it comes to the salvation of the REST OF THE WORLD, they are not so keen to adopt the idea. But why should God be so careful to save His elect, if it is not as a GUARANTEE OF THE SALVATION OF THE REST? And here in this story of the shipwreck we find exactly the same emphasis, by the use of TRIANGLE NUMBERS and the prophetic message delivered by the Angel to Paul, that God desires the salvation of ALL.