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At the time of the writing of the book of Acts, Lycia was a Roman province (see Ancient Empires - Rome; also Province) in what is today southwestern Turkey, with coasts on the Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea (the island of Rhodes is located off the coast of Lycia; see also The Colossus of Rhodes). As such, it was a central point of travel for the apostle Paul (see Paul's Ministry) during his three major missionary journeys, as well as when he was later taken as a prisoner to Rome - a voyage that was interrupted by the shipwreck on Malta.

Paul's Third Missionary Journey

"And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy"

Lycia is identified in the Scriptures by means of reference to two of the cities of the province, Patara and Myra. In this example, Paul landed at Patara on his return voyage to Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary journey (his first journey is found in Acts 13:1 to 15:35, his second journey in Acts 15:36 to 18:22, his third journey in Acts 18:23 to 21:17 and his shipwreck voyage to Rome in Acts chapters 27 and 28).

"And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara: And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth. Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden. And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem." (Acts 21:1-4 KJV)

It was from "Myra, a city of Lycia" that the apostle Paul, as a Roman military prisoner, boarded the ship that would be shipwrecked at Malta.

"And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band. And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us."

"And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself. And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein." (Acts 27:1-6 KJV)

Fact Finder: How was a sandbank involved in Paul's shipwreck on Malta?
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