Acts 27 Commentary

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Chart from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission


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John Hannah's Outline for Third  Missionary Journey (see map)

  • The third missionary journey of Paul  (Acts 18:23-21:16)
    1. The ministry in Galatia and Phrygia  (Acts 18:23)
    2. The ministry in Ephesus  (Acts 18:24-19:41)
      1. Instruction of Apollos  (Acts 18:24-28)
      2. Instruction of some of John's followers  (Acts 19:1-7)
      3. Instruction of the Ephesians  (Acts 19:8-20)
      4. Instructions concerning his plans  (Acts 19:21-22)
      5. The riots in Ephesus  (Acts 19:23-41)
    3. The ministry in Macedonia and Achaia  (Acts 20:1-5)
    4. The ministry in Troas  (Acts 20:6-12)
    5. The ministry in Miletus  (Acts 20:13-38)
      1. His journey to Miletus  (Acts 20:13-16)
      2. His message to the Ephesian elders  (Acts 20:17-35)
        1. Concerning his ministry  (Acts 20:17-27)
        2. Concerning the church  (Acts 20:28-35)
      3. His farewell to the Ephesians  (Acts 20:36-38)
    6. The  ministry at Tyre  (Acts 21:1-6)
      1. His journey to Tyre  (Acts 21:1-3)
      2. His ministry in Tyre  (Acts 21:4-6)
    7. The ministry in Caesarea  (Acts 21:7-16)
      1. Agabus' prediction  (Acts 21:7-12)
      2. Paul's reply  (Acts 21:13-14)
      3. The journey toward Jerusalem  (Acts 21:15-16)
  • The journey of Paul to Rome  (Acts 21:17-28:31)
    1. His witness in Jerusalem  (Acts 21:17-23:35)
      1. Paul's report to the elders  (Acts 21:17-26)
      2. Paul's arrest  (Acts 21:27-36)
      3. Paul's defense  (Acts 21:37-23:10)
        1. His first defense  (Acts 21:37-22:23)
          1. The background  (Acts 21:37-40)
          2. The content  (Acts 22:1-21)
          3. The result  (Acts 22:22-23)
        2. His second defense  (Acts 22:24-23:10)
          1. The background  (Acts 22:24-29)
          2. The council  (Acts 22:30)
          3. The content  (Acts 23:1-9)
          4. The conflict  (Acts 23:10)
      4. Paul's deliverance  (Acts 23:11-35)
        1. The encouragement  (Acts 23:11)
        2. The plot  (Acts 23:12-16)
        3. The counterplot  (Acts 23:17-24)
        4. The letter to Felix  (Acts 23:25-30)
        5. The deliverance to Felix  (Acts 23:31-35)
    2. His witness in Caesarea  (Acts 24:1-26:32)
      1. Paul's defense before Felix  (Acts 24:1-27)
        1. The setting  (Acts 24:1)
        2. The accusations of Tertullus  (Acts 24:2-9)
        3. The reply of Paul  (Acts 24:10-21)
        4. The consequences  (Acts 24:22-27)
      2. Paul's defense before Festus  (Acts 25:1-12)
        1. The setting  (Acts 25:1-5)
        2. The trial  (Acts 25:6-11)
        3. The result  (Acts 25:12)
      3. Paul's defense before Agrippa  (Acts 25:13-26:32)
        1. The arrival of Agrippa  (Acts 25:13)
        2. Festus' presentation of Paul's case  (Acts 25:14-22)
        3. Festus' presentation of Paul  (Acts 25:23-27)
        4. Paul's defense before Agrippa  (Acts 26:1-23)
        5. Paul's answer to Festus  (Acts 26:24-26)
        6. Paul's interaction with Agrippa  (Acts 26:27-29)
        7. The conclusion  (Acts 26:30-32)
    3. His witness on the way to Rome  (Acts 27:1-28:15)
      1. His witness aboard ship  (Acts 27:1-44)
      2. His witness on Malta  (Acts 28:1-15)
        1. Paul's miraculous preservation  (Acts 28:1-6)
        2. Paul's healing of Publius' father  (Acts 28:7-10)
        3. Paul's continued journey toward Rome  (Acts 28:11-15)
    4. His witness in Rome  (Acts 28:16-31)
      1. The occasion for his witness  (Acts 28:16-22)
      2. The content of his witness  (Acts 28:23-28)
      3. The result of his witness  (Acts 28:29)
      4. The summary of Paul's witness in Rome  (Acts 28:30-31)
  • Hannah's Bible Outlines - Recommended Resource

Acts 27:1-28:16
Jerusalem to Caesarea 65
Caesarea to Sidon 70
Sidon to Myra 500
Myra to Cnidus 130
Cnidus to Salmone 130
Salmone to Fair Havens 80
Fair Havens to Phoenix 40
Phoenix to Cauda 50
Cauda to Malta 500+
Malta to Syracuse 85
Syracuse to Rhegium 85
Rhegium to Puteoli 200
Puteoli to Forum of Appius 100
Forum of Appius to Three Taverns 10
Three Taverns to Rome 35
Approximate Distance Traveled 2,130

Note click names of the places above that have active links to go to verse and the related map. 

Acts 27:1  When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, they proceeded to deliver Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan cohort named Julius.

  • when: Ac 19:21 23:11 25:12,25 Ge 50:20 Ps 33:11 76:10 Pr 19:21 La 3:27 Da 4:35 Ro 15:22-29 
  • Italy: Ac 10:1 18:2 Heb 13:24 
  • a centurion: Ac 27:11,43 10:22 21:32 22:26 23:17 24:23 28:16 Mt 8:5-10 27:54 Lu 7:2 23:47 
  • Augustan: Ac 25:25 

Note regarding map below (click map to enlarge) - This excellent map is from the Holman Bible Atlas which is available for purchase in digital book and Hardcover/Paperback versions and is copyright © 1998 B&H Publishing Group, and is used by permission with all rights reserved. The Holman Bible Atlas is one of the best resources for Bible maps as all of the maps also include helpful short descriptions of the events portrayed. Please do not download for use on another website. Thank you.


Some writers refer to Acts 27-28 as Paul's "Fourth Missionary Journey," which is an apt description considering he is evangelizing territories (including the imperial court) that were new to him, even if there was an established church in Rome. And in one sense this last voyage of Paul might in a sense be seen as a fulfillment of Jesus' commission in Acts 1:8+ "even to the remotest part of the earth.” Of course, in time the "remotest part of the earth" would encompass the entire circumference of the globe for we have the sure Word of God that there will be members from all four corners of the world, John writing

And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. (Rev 5:9+)

William MacDonald writes that "This chapter presents the thrilling saga of the apostle's voyage from Caesarea to Malta, en route to Rome. If Paul had not been a passenger, we would never have heard of the trip, or of the shipwreck. The passage is full of nautical terms, and is therefore not always easy to follow." (Believer's Bible Commentary)

Kent Hughes writes that "Acts 27 is the tale of one of the most famous shipwrecks in history—that of the Apostle Paul on his way to Rome. It is also one of the best-told, most-detailed shipwreck accounts in ancient history—and certainly the most profitable to the hearer. (Preaching the Word - Preaching the Word – Acts: The Church Afire)

Constable adds that Acts 27-28 "also throws more light on the personality and character of Paul. Though he was a prisoner, he became the leader and savior of all those who travelled with him. Though he was weak, God made him strong. He was God's man, the Holy Spirit working in and through him, for the blessing of everyone he touched. Paul is the main subject. Some people on the trip even concluded that he was a god (Acts 28:6; cf. Luke 8:25; 23:47)."

H A Ironside has an interesting note on how this chapter changed an unbeliever's life! - 

Acts 27 is one of the chapters of the Bible that we really ought to study with a map of the Mediterranean before us. Those who have carefully investigated Luke’s record are amazed at the accuracy with which he refers to the various ports and to ancient shipping routes. Some people have suggested that perhaps certain portions of the Bible were written at a date later than they professed to be. The book of Acts has been particularly attacked. Some years ago a little group of freethinkers in Scotland (UNBELIEVERS) decided on a plan whereby they might show up the supposed inaccuracies of Scripture, and so discredit the Word of God. One member was given the task of going to Asia Minor, southern Europe, and the islands of the Mediterranean, visiting all the places mentioned by Luke in connection with Paul’s journeys. It was hoped that he would be able to unearth enough information to make evident any falsity in Luke’s record, so that many who had pinned their faith to the book of Acts as a part of God’s inspired Word would have to give it up. The young man chosen was Sir William Mitchell Ramsay. He investigated very carefully, and after the most minute examination concluded that Luke was absolutely accurate in every particular. He himself, once a freethinker, became a Christian and wrote some splendid books in defense of the Word of God. (Acts 27 Commentary

When it was decided that we would sail for Italy - It was decided by the Roman authorities, presumably Festus and/or King Agrippa (Acts 26:31, 32+) Notice the "we" indicating that Luke is on board the ship with Paul. There are four "we" sections in Acts and this is the last and the longest. Why is this section so long? Constable things Luke wanted to "wanted to demonstrate God's protection of Paul, to illustrate the increasingly Gentile nature of gospel expansion, and to document the sovereign Lord's building of His church." (See more detailed discussion below)

The reappearance of "we" at the onset of the trip to Rome raises the possibility that Luke was not with Paul during his appearances before Felix, Festus and Agrippa. On the other hand the fact that "we" was not used in the passages on Paul's trial would make sense as Paul was the continual focus of attention so that it would have been unnecessary to even use the plural pronoun "we." I personally think Luke was on the scene but just in the background. Why would he all of a sudden appear after the trial and the inception of the trip? 

Richard Rackham comments that Luke tells this story "with such a wealth of detail that in all classical literature there is no passage which gives us so much information about the working of an ancient ship." (Acts 27 Commentary)

  • Acts 16:10-17+
  • Acts 20:5-15+
  • Acts 21:1-18+
  • Acts 27:1-28:16

What was the approximate date of Paul's departure for Rome? Sometime about October, A.D 59 (some sources say 60), but definitely during the reign of Nero which was from AD 54 to AD 68. Below is a timeline from Ryrie's Study Bible with approximate dates of key events to help you keep a temporal perspective of Paul's travels in these closing chapters.

Related Resource:

Was decided (2919)(krino) has the basic meaning of to divide or separate and thus to be of opinion. Louw-Nida "to come to a conclusion in the process of thinking and thus to be in a position to make a decision." And so in this context krino means to reach a decision that it was now right, proper and expedient to set sail for Rome. 

Homer Kent "Ever since the purpose of going to Rome had been planted in Paul's mind by the Holy Spirit, his plans had been formulated with that goal in view (Acts 19:21+). No warnings of dangers to come could make him deviate from that ultimate aim, nor from the intermediate stages (Macedonia, Achaia, Jerusalem). The intervening weeks had stretched into months and then into years, and Paul had been confronted with one crisis after another, but he had divine assurance that Rome would yet be reached (Acts 23:11+). The means were not what Paul could have foreseen nor what he might have chosen, but God was in control and the apostle was fully willing to leave the details in His hands (ED: Simple Application - Am I willing to trust the "multi-colored" details of my life to my Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer?)." (Jerusalem to Rome: Studies in the Book of Acts)

They proceeded to deliver Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan cohort (speira) named Julius - The Augustan was an honorary title given to more than one legion of the Roman army. These cohorts may have acted as bodyguards for the emperor or procurators.

Robertson on some other prisoners Bound (desmōtas) like Paul, but not necessarily appellants to Caesar, perhaps some of them condemned criminals to amuse the Roman populace in the gladiatorial shows, most likely pagans though heterous (other) does not have to mean different kind of prisoners from Paul.

Proceeded to deliver (hand over) (3860)(paradidomi from para = alongside, beside, to the side of, over to + didomi = to give) conveys the basic meaning of to give over from one's hand to someone or something, especially to give over to the power of another.

Paradidomi in Acts - 

 Acts 3:13; Acts 6:14; Acts 7:42; Acts 8:3; Acts 12:4; Acts 14:26; Acts 15:26; Acts 15:40; Acts 16:4; Acts 21:11; Acts 22:4; Acts 27:1; Acts 28:17

Prisoners (1202)(desmotes from desmos = bond, band, shackles that impede) one who is involuntarily bound, under custody or confinement

Demostes uses in Septuagint and NT - Ge 39:20 = "king’s prisoners were confined"; Jer. 24:1; Jer. 29:2; Acts 27:1; Acts 27:42

Centurion (1543)(Hekatontarches from hekaton = one hundred + archo = to command) means a commander of a hundred soldiers, a centurion, and would be our equivalent of an army captain or company commander. Centurion is from Latin centurio an officer in charge of a hundred soldiers (the Latin equivalent being used by Mk 15:39-45). "The favourable references to centurions in the New Testament suggest that they may have been carefully chosen because of their quality of character. Some even became believers in Jesus Christ (Matthew 8:5-13; Matthew 27:54; Acts 10:1-2; Acts 23:17-18; Acts 27:43)." (Bridgeway) Centurions received double the salary of ordinary soldiers. It usually took fifteen years or more of military service to work one's way to the rank of centurion.  Polybius says "that the centurions were chosen by merit, and so were men remarkable not so much for their daring courage as for their deliberation, constancy, and strength of mind." Another translation says “They wish centurions not so much to be venturesome and daredevil as natural leaders, of a steady and sedate spirit. They do not desire them so much to be men who will initiate attacks and open the battle, but men who will hold their ground when worsted and hard pressed and be ready to die at their posts” (Histories 6.24.9). Barclay translates it this way "Centurions are desired not to be overbold and reckless so much as good leaders, of steady and prudent mind, not prone to take the offensive to start fighting wantonly, but able when overwhelmed and hard-pressed to stand fast and die at their posts." 

Hekatontarches  in Acts

Acts 10:1; Acts 10:22; Acts 21:32; Acts 22:25; Acts 22:26; Acts 23:17; Acts 23:23; Acts 24:23; Acts 27:1; Acts 27:6; Acts 27:11; Acts 27:31; Acts 27:43

Julius - This Roman centurion was a man of superior character and was very kind to Paul, treating him with consideration and kindness (Acts 27:3, 43; cf Acts 28:16). One wonders if we will meet him in Heaven, for we know Paul shared the Gospel with him and undoubtedly every soul on the good ship. Some suggest, but it is only supposition, that Julius was among those dignitaries in the court when Paul made his defense before King Agrippa (Acts 25:23+). 

Here is one summary of Acts 27 from Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible - 

1.  The journey to Rome began (Acts 27:1-3).

2.  A picture of greed and godly counsel (Acts 27:4-12).

3.  A picture of deceptive calm and great courage (Acts 27:13-26).

4.  A picture of man's way vs. God's way to save men (Acts 27:27-32).

5.  A picture of fear and hunger and godly trust (Acts 27:33-38).

6.  A picture of trial and God's providence (Acts 27:39-44).

H A Ironside - As we read the book of Acts we are struck by the way in which Paul the prisoner takes command. This man of God, wherever you find him, seems to be master of every situation. When they put him and Silas in jail and made their feet fast in the stocks, he and his companion put on a sacred concert. There were only two of them and they had no organ accompaniment, but they gave such a splendid performance that they brought down the house! There was an earthquake, and next thing you know the jailer and all of his household were converted.

Then when Paul was arraigned before various dignitaries, he always came out as the real master of the situation. Again and again we have seen the roles reversed-the prisoner questioning the judge! When he appeared before Felix he dared to reason with him concerning righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come. When he stood before Festus he said, “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead?” To King Agrippa he declared, “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day. were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds”-a Christian.

In this present chapter, when he was a prisoner on shipboard, it was not long before all the crew, the soldiers, the master of the ship, and Julius the centurion, were taking orders from Paul. He is God’s man for every occasion. There is one thing about a man who walks with God-circumstances never affect his fellowship and communion with the Lord. Paul could say, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Php 4:11-13+) A brother once asked another brother in my hearing, “How are you getting on?” The other answered, “I am doing very well under the circumstances.” The first brother replied, “I am very sorry to hear that you are under the circumstances. You know, if you keep your eyes on the Lord, He will keep you above the circumstances.” So Paul always seemed to be above the circumstances. (Acts 27 Commentary) (See comments on Proverbs 18:10 on how to get "above" the circumstances) (Acts 27 Commentary)

Michael Trull -  On April 15, 1912, at approximately 2:20 A.M. the stern of the White Star liner Titanic (picture of Titanic) swung slowly upward toward the stars. Her lights went out, flashed on again, and then went out for good. Only a single kerosene lantern flickered high in the after mast. As her stern reached higher, a steady roar thundered across the water as every movable thing aboard her broke loose. There has never been a mixture like it: 15,000 bottles of ale and stout, huge anchor chains (each link weighed 175 pounds), thirty cases of golf clubs, 30,000 fresh eggs, potted palms, five grand pianos, a cask of china from Tiffany’s, a case of gloves from Marshall Fields, and, most valuable of all, 1,500 passengers who had not been able to get off the great ship.

The great and the unknown tumbled together in a writhing heap as the bow eased deeper and the stern rose higher. The Titanic was now absolutely vertical, with her three dripping propellers glistening in the darkness. For nearly two minutes she stood poised as the noise finally stopped. Then she began sliding slowly under, until the sea closed over the flagstaff on her stern with an audible gulp.

A wreck of any kind is a terrifying experience, whether it is a train derailment, an automobile collision, or a crash of an airplane. But probably the most terrifying of all is a shipwreck, because of the prolonged agony that the passengers and crew endure. Well, probably one of the most famous shipwrecks ever told is found in the Scriptures. It was the shipwreck that Paul and his crew experienced while heading to Rome. Luke describes every detail of the shipwreck vividly so that we can imagine being on board that ship. (Acts 27 - The Anchor Holds)

Stanley D. Toussaint addresses the question - Why did Luke go into such lengthy detail about the voyage from Caesarea to Rome? There is no easy answer.

(1) It may simply be a device to emphasize Paul's journey to and his arrival at Rome. As the Gospel writers stressed the Lord's final approach to Jerusalem and His last days there to heighten the impact of His death and resurrection, so Luke climaxed his Luke-Acts work with the proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom to Gentiles in the Roman capital.

(2) Luke may have used the example of great ancient epics of his day which commonly employed the theme of a storm and shipwreck. This would parallel the modern use of a chase scene in a movie or television drama. The problem with this view is a simple one. How does this contribute to Luke's purpose in writing? Simply following the example of ancient epics would not really add to the book.

(3) Possibly the writer desired to show a parallel with Jonah and his storm (Jonah 1:4-15). After Jonah lived through the storm by miraculous means he preached to a large Gentile capital city. The comparison with Paul is obvious.

(4) The purpose of this account is to show God's sovereign protection and direction in Paul's ministry. It was God's will for the apostle to minister the gospel in Rome.

(5) It was Luke's intention to show Paul's leadership and thereby to underscore the fact that God's program had become primarily Gentile and therefore Paul was God's man of the hour. In the account Paul certainly does come off as the one who is in control even in the spheres of ocean travel and shipwreck.

(6) Some think the story is something of an allegory. In the Old Testament the sea was portrayed as an enemy; so here it figures opposition to the spread of the gospel. In spite of all antagonism the good news of the kingdom will survive and will ultimately reach its predetermined goal. But this is so allegorical it is a highly improbable view.

The answer to the question of Luke's great emphasis on the journey to Rome may be a combination of answers 1, 3, 4, and 5, though it is difficult to be dogmatic. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty)

Background on the Sea Voyages
In the Ancient World & Acts 27-28

Richard Rackham - The modern joy and delight in the sea was a sentiment almost unknown to the peoples of antiquity. One Greek poet, Aeschylus, could write of ‘the many-twinkling smile of ocean,’ but to the ancients generally the sea only inspired emotions of dislike and dread. The incommodious ships and the possibilities of long delays owing to contrary winds made a voyage anything but a pleasure: the lack of nautical instruments and the imperfect knowledge of navigation made the perils of the sea ten times worse than they are to-day. Hence the allusions to the sea in classical literature are generally prompted by the violence of storms and the horrors of shipwreck, or (in private correspondence) by the tediousness of a voyage or the unexpected good luck of a quick passage. During the winter months the sea was practically closed for navigation; and the present narrative is an illustration of what a traveller who ventured too near that season might expect. The party start from Palestine in August or September and do not reach Rome till the following March, having in the meanwhile lost their ship with all their belongings.

If the sea had perils and drawbacks even for born sailors such as the Greeks and Phenicians, to the agricultural Israelites the Mediterranean which formed their western boundary must have indeed been an object of awe. This aspect of the sea was part of their most ancient heritage. In Babylonian mythology, before the earth was created there had existed chaos, a waste of waters, the realm of disorder and confusion. From this the earth or kingdom of order had been won, and the existing ocean was a remnant of the original waste, and therefore it was the symbol and the sphere of evil both physical and spiritual. These ideas we find reflected in the OT. There was the primeval chaos when ‘darkness was upon the face of the deep and the wind of God was brooding upon the face of the waters.’ In prophecy and apocalypse the raging waves were the symbol, as of confusion in general, so of the restless and tumultuous surging of the nations. The passage of the Red Sea made the sea the established type of the greatest peril through which man must pass on his way to the promised land,—the peril of death. Lastly, as the home of evil, the ocean represented the pit: it was the abyss, and the swallowing up of shipwrecked men in its cruel billows was the fittest picture of man’s going down into the deep. Turning to the NT, it is true that in the Gospels the sea of Tiberias casts a halo of beauty over the Galilean ministry. Yet it was but a lake, and to the apostles was chiefly associated with nights of fruitless toil, with storms and sudden squalls. S. Paul’s experience of the sea was similar: some years before now he could write that he had ‘three times suffered shipwreck and been a night and a day in the deep’ (2 Cor 11:25). In the Revelation one condition of the ideal heaven and earth is that ‘there shall be no more sea.’ (Rev 21:1)

It comes upon us, then, somewhat as a surprise to find in the Acts full and picturesque accounts of two voyages. This is indeed an illustration of the all-embracing sympathies of Christianity, which extend to those also ‘who go down to the sea in ships and occupy themselves in great waters.’ The narratives seem specially written for sea-faring and sea-loving nations like our own (England): it is said that Nelson was reading this 27th chapter on the morning of the battle of Copenhagen. If Luke was a Greek, the fulness of the narrative might be put down to his national instincts: but, as we shall see, such a hypothesis is not needed. In these voyages the chief interest, as is natural, centres on the shipwreck. The story is told with such a wealth of detail that in all classical literature there is no passage which gives us so much information about the working of an ancient ship. Accurate as it is, nautical critics tell us that it is the account not of a sailor, but of a landsman—of a landsman, however, familiar with the sea and with a faculty of careful observation, who must have been himself on board. This being so, the terrible experience he went through must have indelibly impressed the details on his memory. To have been not one day but fourteen days in the deep, driven by a tempest along an unknown course, without light of sun or stars, unable to take food and expecting at any moment to founder—such an experience in itself is sufficient to prompt the pen of a ready writer.

But we shall strangely fail to understand Luke, if we suppose that the vividness of the picture is simply due to the traveller’s impulse to tell his adventures to the public. We cannot but see how the whole narrative, the very desperateness of the situation, throws into the strongest relief the personality of Paul. At the moment of utter despair, he rises up in the midst and is found to be a rock on which all can trust, the inspirer of hope and the master-mind which is able to direct and command as the crisis requires—in a word their saviour. Nowhere in the Acts is there a finer display of sympathy and strength. Thus the very passages which glorify the apostle—and are for that reason suspected by some critics—are those which contain Luke’s motive for relating the history of the voyage, and the multitude of details supply the necessary background. Paul is the main subject throughout. The narrative begins with his own physical weakness. Then he appears as a counselor and a prophet, with his warnings and foresight of danger. In the crisis, like the rest he too falls into the deep of despair (though for others rather than himself), but as an intercessor he has recourse to prayer. Strengthened by a heavenly vision, he rises up to inspire his companions with courage. In the hour of danger he commands like a captain, like a priest he offers thanks to God, and like a deliverer brings them into a haven of safety. The Maltese, in the words which conclude the history, unconsciously express its true lesson—they said that he was a god.

Besides the personal element, there is the inner spiritual meaning. There is one scene in the OT of which this is the most obvious counterpart—the shipwreck of Jonah. If Paul in some respects resembled Jeremiah, the parallel between the NT prophet and Jonah is still more striking,—all the more so because of the equally obvious contrast in character. Jonah is the prophet in the OT who more than any other might, like Paul, be called ‘the prophet of the Gentiles.’ Jonah indeed received his mission in a very different way: he fled from the presence of the Lord and took ship for Tarshish. But in their voyages the experience of the prophets coincided. Both suffered shipwreck; and although Jonah, unlike Paul, brought the storm upon his vessel, yet in each case the prophet won the salvation of his company,—Jonah by the sacrifice of himself. Finally both alike experienced deliverance, Jonah from the deep, Paul from the peril of death; and after this they fulfil their respective missions to the great cities of Nineveh and Rome.

Jonah, however, was above all the sign of one greater than either, viz. of the Lord, who afforded the supreme example of the law that suffering goes before victory, going down to the deep before deliverance or resurrection. This experience had been realized by Peter in chapter 12. Now in Paul we have here another and a conspicuous instance. For if in the scheme of the Acts the last chapters correspond to the last chapters of the Gospel, this chapter forms the parallel (as is fairly evident) to the crucifixion or Lk 22–23. Of this a hint is given by one of the incidents of the shipwreck, viz. the breaking of bread on the last morning of the wreck before they committed themselves to the sea. No doubt Luke’s medical experience made him appreciate Paul’s sagacity in insisting on the partaking of food. But the very words with which he describes the apostle’s action recall at once the picture of the Lord breaking bread before his apostles on his last evening (Lk 22:19). It is difficult to believe that this meal was what we should call a celebration of the Holy Eucharist; yet we cannot but feel that Luke wishes to remind his readers of the Last Supper. Without, however, insisting upon this or noticing many resemblances which might be pointed out in details, we can draw attention to the parallelism in the general scheme. The storm and darkness correspond to the spiritual storm and darkness on Calvary, as the actual wreck and plunging into the deep to the death upon the cross (Lk 23:26–49, Acts 27:14–44). The rest and peace of the three winter months at Malta, when the apostle was entirely cut off from the outside world and his old life, is like the rest of the three days in the grave (Lk 23:50–6, Acts 28:1–10). The voyage to Rome in the spring, which was to the apostle the entrance into a new life, will correspond to the joyful period after the resurrection (Lk 24:1–49, Acts 28:11–28); and lastly the picture of quiet and expectant work at Rome is like that of the praying and waiting church at Jerusalem (Lk 24:52–3, Acts 28:30–1).

But the application of this law is universal and not confined to Paul. The keynote to the interpretation is given in verse 34 in the word salvation. This and cognate words occur altogether 7 times: hope to be saved, ye cannot be saved, to be completely-saved (RV escape). While the contrary fate is no less richly depicted—injury, loss, throwing away (Acts 22), perish, kill, and to be cast away. The history, then, is a parable of the great salvation, by which man is brought through death to life. It is the companion to the picture in Acts 3–4; and in Acts 4:12 S. Peter has already given the means by which the salvation is won.

Of all the narratives in the Acts this chapter bears the most indisputable marks of authenticity. In one passage (Acts 27:9–12) there is some obscurity due to editing or revision, but the attempt of some critics to remove as interpolations those passages which bring out the spiritual power of Paul (e.g. Acts 27:21–26, 31, 2, Acts 27:31–36) is as impossible as it is to eliminate the miraculous element from the Gospels; for, as we have seen, it was Paul’s action which inspired the writer to pen the narrative. Historical research and inscriptions have confirmed Luke’s facts, while the accuracy of his nautical observations is shown by the great help he has given to our understanding of ancient seamanship. None have impugned the correctness of his phrases; on the contrary, from his description contained in a few sentences, the scene of the wreck has been identified. Its traditional identification with St Paul’s Bay has been tested and, we may say, satisfactorily proved by Mr James Smith, of Jordanhill, who also thoroughly examined the whole narrative from the seaman’s point of view. Into such nautical investigations we need not enter, but it is quite easy for an ordinary landsman to follow the general course of the voyage, which we will proceed to do. (Acts 27 Commentary)

Acts 27:2  And embarking in an Adramyttian ship, which was about to sail to the regions along the coast of Asia, we put out to sea accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica.

  • we: Ac 21:1 Lu 8:22 
  • about to sail: Ac 20:15,16 21:1-3 
  • Aristarchus: Ac 19:19 20:4 Col 4:10 Phm 1:24 
  • with us: Ac 16:10-13,17 20:5 21:5 28:2,10,12,16 

And embarking (epibaino) in an Adramyttian ship, which was about to sail to the regions along the coast of Asia -  Asia refers to the Roman Province of Asia. The ship would sail north for 70 miles to the coastal city of Sidon and then on the Asia. The home port of the ship was Adramyttium (see below) on the northeast coast of the Aegean Sea. In Acts 27:5 we see the prisoner party did not go all the way to Adramyttium but disembarked at Myra and began to sail south on a grain ship bound for Rome (Acts 27:6).  The ship traveled along the coast to avoid the more unpredictable, dangerous open sea. If the departure date was indeed about October, 59, that would have been too late in the season to travel on the open seas. 

NET Note Doubtless the centurion expected to find another ship, bound for Italy, at some of the ports of Asia Minor, without having to go with this ship all the way to Adramyttium; and in this he was not disappointed. (Ac 27:6).

Sail (4126)(pleo; Latin = pluo, fluo - float, flow, etc) to sail, describing movement of a boat through water whether blown by wind or powered by rowing. Travel by sea or by ship. To navigate.  There are only 2 uses in the Septuagint - Isa 42:10, Jonah 1:3. Used metaphorically once in a secular setting = "while we keep [the ship of] our country right" 

Pleo -passenger*(1), sail(1), sailing(4).  Lk. 8:23; Acts 21:3; Acts 27:2; Acts 27:6; Acts 27:24; Rev. 18:17

Adramyttium-Click to Enlarge

Adramyttium - (See also Wikipedia article) An ancient city of Mysia in the Roman Province of Asia. The only reference in the New Testament to it is in Acts 27:2 which says that Paul, while being taken a prisoner from Caesarea to Rome, embarked upon a ship belonging to Adramyttium. The city, with a good harbor, stood at the head of the Gulf of Adramyttium facing the island of Lesbos, and at the base of Mt. Ida. Its early history is obscure. While some authors fancy that it was the Pedasus of Homer, others suppose that it was founded by Adramys, the brother of the wealthy Croesus; probably a small Athenian colony existed there long before the time of Adramys. When Pergamus became the capital of Asia, Adramyttium grew to be a city of considerable importance, and the metropolis of the Northwest part of the province. There the assizes were held. The coins which the peasants pick up in the surrounding fields, and which are frequently aids in determining the location and history of the cities of Asia Minor, were struck at Adramyttium as late as the 3rd century A.D., and sometimes in connection with Ephesus. Upon them the effigies of Castor and Pollux appear, showing that Adramyttium was the seat of worship of these deities. The ancient city with its harbor has entirely disappeared, but on a hill, somewhat farther inland, is a village of about one thousand houses bearing the name Edremid, a corruption of the ancient name Adramys. The miserable wooden huts occupied by Greek fishermen and by Turks are surrounded by vineyards and olive trees, hence the chief trade is in olive oil, raisins and timber. In ancient times Adramyttium was noted for a special ointment which was prepared there (Pliny, NH, xiii0.2.5).

We put out to sea accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica We identifies Luke as one of the companions. While Paul was clearly a man of unique talent and resolve, even this great apostle benefited from Christian fellowship. Paul Tournier, M.D. wrote that "There are two things we cannot do alone; one is to be married. The other is to be a Christian." Notice that the epistle to the Colossians was written during Paul's first Roman imprisonment and in that epistle Paul writes describes Aristarchus as "my fellow prisoner." 

Aristarchus was a Jewish believer (Col 4:11), though like many Jews of the Diaspora, he had a Greek name. He was a native of Thessalonica (Acts 20:4+; Acts 27:2). Aristarchus first appeared during Paul’s three year ministry at Ephesus. He was seized by the rioting mob, who recognized him as one of Paul’s companions (Acts 19:29+). He accompanied Paul on his return trip to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4+), and on his voyage to Rome (Acts 27:4). It is possible he stayed with Paul throughout his imprisonment in Palestine as well. As Paul writes Colossians, Aristarchus is still beside the apostle. This is an amazing testimony to this man Aristarchus! Would I have been willing to stay with Paul in prison? 

Jack Arnold has an interesting comment which may be true but I cannot find other support for his statement - Aristarchus was a young man whom Paul had met in Thessalonica on his second missionary journey.  The only way the Romans would allow Aristarchus to travel with Paul was if he was Paul's slave (ED: THIS ASSUMPTION IS PROBABLY BASED ON THE WRITINGS OF RAMSAY WHO MAKES THAT ASSUMPTION IN HIS FAMOUS WORK "ST PAUL THE TRAVELLER"-SEE PAGE 165 OR IN PDF ACTUALLY 170).  So great was Aristarchus' love for Paul and so strong were his desires to minister to his need that he volunteered to be Paul's slave.  That is true Christian love."

Aristarchus obviously was not ashamed to be identified with Paul and thus with Christ. His lot (prison with Paul) reminds me of Paul's exhortation to young Timothy

"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power (dunamis) and love and discipline. Therefore (BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE SUPERNATURAL POWER - SEE SECOND USE OF POWER AT END OF THIS VERSE) do not be ashamed (epaischunomai) of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering (aorist imperative = command - the only way for one to keep a command like this is to be filled with/controlled by the Holy Spirit - see more discussion of this topic) for the Gospel according to the power (dunamis) of God."  (2 Ti 1:7-8+)

Aristarchus - mentioned 5x in the NT

Acts 19:29+ The city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia.

Acts 20:4+ (See context Acts 20:1,2,3) And he was accompanied by Sopater of Berea, the son of Pyrrhus, and by Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia.

Acts 27:2 And embarking in an Adramyttian ship, which was about to sail to the regions along the coast of Asia, we put out to sea accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica.

Colossians 4:10+  Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas’s cousin Mark (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him);

Philemon 1:24  as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers. 

Put out to sea (321)(anago from ana = up + ago = bring, lead) literally speaks of movement from a lower to a higher point and in this nautical context was a technical term meaning to lead out to the high sea, to put (out) to sea, to take to sea or set sail. Anago is the opposite of katago (put in) in the following verse. 

Anago in Acts

Acts 7:41; Acts 9:39; Acts 12:4; Acts 13:13; Acts 16:11; Acts 16:34; Acts 18:21; Acts 20:3; Acts 20:13; Acts 21:1; Acts 21:2; Acts 27:2; Acts 27:4; Acts 27:12; Acts 27:21; Acts 28:10; Acts 28:11;

Dennis Gaertner - This ship was most likely a coasting vessel, one of the smaller ships which customarily sailed along the coast, stopping at major ports along the way. Such vessels were used for commercial purposes all over the Roman world. The Romans were quite content to transport their prisoners in a commercial vessel because it was as quick and inexpensive as any other procedure. This ship had probably traveled down the coast and, after completing its business, was now headed back to the home port, Adramyttium. (The College Press NIV Commentary – Acts)

Bruce Barton - A BUILT-IN NEED

Paul constantly received assistance from others as he traveled to Rome and during his imprisonment there. He had help from his colleagues Luke and Aristarchus (Acts 27:1-2). The centurion Julius took care of Paul, as did the Sidonian Christians (Acts 27:3). Following his shipwreck, the Maltese people demonstrated unusual kindness (Acts 28:2), and later they showered Paul and his friends with gifts, supplies, and articles of appreciation (Acts 28:10). Publius, the chief official of the island, gave Paul (and his entourage) a warm welcome and three days of hospitality (Acts 28:7). Then, upon arriving in Italy, Paul was met by two delegations of Roman Christians. This encouraged Paul and prompted him to thank God (Acts 28:15). The point is this: Everyone, even the great apostle Paul, needs others. Do you have people you can rely on for encouragement? for insight? for advice? Get involved with a fellowship of believers where you can both receive help and offer assistance. (Life Application Bible Commentary – Acts)

Acts 27:3  The next day we put in at Sidon; and Julius treated Paul with consideration and allowed him to go to his friends and receive care.

  • Sidon: Ac 12:20 Ge 10:15 49:13 Isa 23:2-4,12 Zec 9:2 
  • Julius: Ac 24:23 27:1,3 28:16 

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The next day we put in at Sidon - So they traveled about 70 in a day indicating a fair wind. At Sidon they presumably took on supplies because the next leg of their journey was about 500 miles to Myra at Lycia. 

Put in (2609)(katago from kata = down + ago = bring) means literally to lead or bring down (Acts 9:30; 22:30; 23:15, 20, 28) but in the present context is a navigation term, which means to cause a boat to put in at a shore or to land (cf Lk 5:11) or be brought to shore (cf Acts 21:3; Acts 28:12). The idea is to bring the ship down from deep water to the land. In the preceding passage the opposite sense is seen in anago which means to bring the ship up (ana) from the land to deep water.

Katago in Acts - Acts 9:30; Acts 22:30; Acts 23:15; Acts 23:20; Acts 23:28; Acts 27:3; Acts 28:12

And Julius treated Paul with consideration and allowed him to go to his friends and receive care - This is stated so simply it would easy to miss the import of Luke's statement. Clearly the centurion Julius allowed Paul to disembark, even though he was prisoner of Rome and the death penalty was usually administered to Roman guards who allowed their prisoners to escape. Either during this 70 mile trip from Caesarea or during Paul's trials, Julius had developed a sincere trust in Paul. Otherwise he would never have allowed him to leave the ship! 

Robertson This is Paul's first visit to Sidon, but Christians were already in Phoenicia (Acts 11:19) and so Paul had "friends" here.

Treated (5530)(chraomai from chrao = to lend) means to use, make use of, make the most of. In the present context the meaning is "to conduct oneself in a particular manner with regard to some person - 'to treat, to behave toward" (Louw-Nida)

Friberg - 1) with the dative of the thing = use, make use of, employ (L-N = "to engage in the activity of making use of something") (Acts 27.17, 1 Cor 9:12, 1 Ti 5:23); (2) with an adverb = act toward, deal with in a certain way (2Co 13.10, 1 Cor 7:31); (3) with the dative of person treat, behave toward someone in a certain way (Acts 27.3)

Gilbrant Chraomai occurs most commonly with the dative but occasionally with the accusative; in either case it means “to use” or “to employ.” With the dative of characteristic or with an adverb, chraomai also means “to act” or “to proceed.” With the dative of person it means “to treat” someone in a certain way. In classical Greek the verb chraomai occurs from Homer (Eighth Century B.C.) on in the sense of “use, employ.” It also appears in the fifth-century B.C. writings of Herodotus where it means “act, proceed.” The use of chraomai meaning “to treat” is not attested until the early Hellenistic period (Third Century B.C.). The word chraomai is rather rare in the Septuagint, but it appears with its full scope of meanings. Thus, “instruction is to them that use it a gracious reward” (Proverbs 17:8 [Septuagint only]). Isaiah 28:21 says the Lord’s wrath “shall act strangely” (author’s translation); according to Esther 2:9 King Xerxes “treated her (Esther) well” (author’s translation; cf. also Genesis 12:16). In the New Testament - In all four instances in 1 Corinthians the verb has the primary meaning “to use.” As an eschatological people, the married who “use” the things of the world must not misuse them (1 Cor 7:31). For the sake of the gospel Paul did not “make use of” the rights pertaining to his ministry (1 Cor 9:12,15). In 1 Corinthians 7:21 the phrase mallon chrēsai (literally, “to make the most of”) lacks an explicit object; in the context, however, Paul likely had a slave’s freedom in mind, as reflected in most translations. In 2 Corinthians 1:17 Paul asked, “Did I use lightness?” in reference to the clarity of his purpose for coming. And in Acts 27:3 Luke mentioned how the centurion Julius “entreated” Paul and gave him certain liberties even though he was a prisoner. (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Chraomai - do(1), treated(1), use(5), used(2), uses(1), vacillating*(1).

Acts 27:3; Acts 27:17; 1 Co. 7:21; 1 Co. 7:31; 1 Co. 9:12; 1 Co. 9:15; 2 Co. 1:17; 2 Co. 3:12; 2 Co. 13:10; 1 Tim. 1:8; 1 Tim. 5:23

Chraomai in the Septuagint

Ge 12:16 = "he treated Abram well for her sake"; Ge 16:6; Gen. 19:8; Gen. 26:29; Gen. 34:31; Exod. 11:3; Exod. 12:36; 1 Sam. 2:20; 2 Ki. 6:5; Est. 1:19; Est. 2:9; Est. 3:11; Est. 8:11; Est. 8:12; Est. 9:12; Est. 9:13; Est. 9:27; Job 10:17; Job 13:20; Job 16:9; Job 18:4; Job 19:11; Job 23:6; Job 30:14; Job 34:20; Prov. 5:5; Prov. 10:4; Prov. 10:26; Prov. 17:8; Prov. 24:29; Prov. 25:13; Isa. 28:21; Jer. 13:7; Jer. 13:10; Dan. 1:13; Dan. 1:14; Dan. 7:7;

Consideration (5364)(philanthropos from phileo = to love + anthropos = man; Eng "philanthropy") depicts acts which are taken in a human loving manner and so conveys the sense of humanely, benevolently, philanthropically, with mercy, with friendly concern and kindness toward Paul. The related noun philanthropia is used by Luke to describe the natives showing Paul and his traveling companions "extraordinary kindness." (Acts 28:2) which in fact is used to describe God's kindness toward us in Titus 3:4 "when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared" He saved us! Now that's extraordinary kindness! In any event it seems that Julius and the natives are so predisposed to show "godly" kindness even though they are presumably pagans. One has to believe this is the hand of God showing favor to Paul. 

Receive (5177)(tugchano/tynchano) literally means to hit (as a target with an arrow) means to experience some happening. In the present context Friberg says is "as a litotes, what one doesn't experience or meet up with every day...of hospitality" of a type that was unusual or unexpected. Luke uses the very same verb in a similar context in Acts 28:2 writing that "The natives showed us extraordinary (tugchano) kindness."

Care (1958)(epimeleia from epimeleomai = to attend to, take care of) means "to care for with diligent concern" (LN). BDAG = "careful attention displayed in discharge of obligation or responsibility, care, attention, of care received." In this context the word likely means they gave him food and other provisions for the journey. This is the only NT use but there are 5 uses in the Septuagint - Est. 2:3; Prov. 3:8 ("refreshment to your bones"); Prov. 3:22; Prov. 13:4; Prov. 28:25

James Smith on Acts 27:3 - On the day after they left Cæsarea they touched at Sidon. From the distance accomplished, sixty-seven geographical miles, we must infer that they had a fair, or at least a leading wind, probably westerly, which is the wind which prevails in this part of the Mediterranean (NOTE: ‘The wind continues to the westward. I am sorry to find it almost as prevailing as the trade winds.’ (4th July 1798, near Alexandria.—Life of Lord de Saumarez, i. 210.) ‘We have just gained sight of Cyprus, nearly the track we followed six weeks ago, so invariably do the westerly winds prevail at this season.’ (19th. Aug. 1798.—Ib. i. 243.) A westerly wind would be fair between Cæsarea and Sidon, as the bearing of the coast line between the two places is about N.N.E. See Sailing Directions for the Coast of Syria, by Capt. E. Smith, R.N.). We are not informed of the cause of their stopping at Sidon; probably, however, it was for the purposes of trade. (NOTE: According to Strabo, Sidon was situated on the finest harbour of the Continent, and contested with Tyre the supremacy of the Phœnician cities (lib. xvi. c. 2). Achilles Tatius calls it the metropolis of the Phœnicians, μήτηρ Φοινίκων ἡ πόλις; he describes it as having two harbours, one of which is large with a narrow entrance, where merchant ships can winter in safely (lib. i.). To judge from its present state, the shelter was afforded by a ridge of rocks, parallel to the coast, forming a natural breakwater. The harbour was filled up during the wars of the Middle Ages. For an account of its present state, see Robinson’s Biblical Researches, and Wilson’s Lands of the Bible. The latter author gives a plan of the harbour. See a view of it in Carne’s Syria and the Holy Land Illustrated, vol. iii. p. 6) Whatever was the cause of the delay, it afforded the centurion an opportunity of showing kindness to St. Paul, for we are told in the narrative that he ‘gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself’ [or rather ‘to receive their attention;’ i.e., perhaps, ‘to obtain from them that outfit for the voyage which, on account of the official precision of his custody at Cæsarea, he could not there be provided with.’—ALFORD.] (The Voyage and Shipwreck of St Paul - 284 page book - A T Robertson says this book is a classic on this subject)

NOTE: James Smith, the Scottish yachtsman and classical scholar from the last century, spent years in the study of Acts 27-28, including personal experience at the sites mentioned in the text. His conclusion was that this report was written by someone who had actually observed the techniques used in a voyage on a Roman vessel during a real journey on the Mediterranean Sea.

Acts 27:4  From there we put out to sea and sailed under the shelter of Cyprus because the winds were contrary.

  • Cyprus: Ac 4:36 11:19,20 13:4 15:39 21:3,16 
  • the winds: Mt 14:24 Mk 6:48

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From there - From Sidon (Acts 27:3+) see the red line in the map above) to Myra

We put out to sea and sailed under the shelter of Cyprus -  "The lee of Cyprus." The verb sailed under the shelter is explained in more detail below where the same verb is used (Acts 27:7) Jamieson adds that from Sidon "they sailed under the lee of Cyprus (which was on the ship's left side)." As shown on the map above, the eastern side of Cyprus protected the ship from the prevalent westerly winds during part of the journey from Sidon. As they turned the northeast corner (see map above) of Cyprus, they would have then begun sailing in a westerly direction and this they did by staying close to the southern coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia (Acts 27:5) which would have provided some "buffering" of the northwesterly winds. 

Robertson -  "Cyprus was thus on the left between the ship (SEE MAP ABOVE) and the wind from the northwest, under the protection of Cyprus.The Etesian winds were blowing from the northwest (SEE DEPICTION OF THE ETESIAN WINDS) so that they could not cut straight across from Sidon to Patara with Cyprus on the right. They must run behind Cyprus and hug the shore of Cilicia and Pamphylia." 

CYPRUS-click to enlarge

Cyprus - all uses in Acts - Acts 11:19; Acts 13:4; Acts 15:39; Acts 21:3; Acts 27:4

Because - Term of explanation, explaining why they had to sail under the shelter of Cyprus. 

The winds were contrary - The verb were (eimi) is in the present tense indicating that the winds were continually "facing them, in their very teeth if they went that way." (enantios) (ATR) These northwesterly winds prevented them from sailing straight toward Italy. 

Contrary (1727)(enantios from enanti = over against in turn from en = in + antíos = set against) is used primarily of place and means over against which pertains to being opposite (as in face to face or fronting someone). In his verse it is used metaphorically to describe the winds as set against them or opposite them. In other words if their went that direction they would be going face to face (so to speak) with the winds. 

Dennis Gaertner adds that "Although the wind across the Mediterranean was generally from the west, ships could make progress along the coast (especially at night) due to the land breezes blowing out to sea from the mountains. The difference in temperature between the mountains and the sea produced these breezes, and coupled with the strong westward current (of perhaps two miles per hour) close to the coast, they could tack along the coastline whenever necessary." (and many Roman vessels were outfitted for tacking maneuvers in which a sail cold be rotated to catch the wind from a variety of directions.) (The College Press NIV Commentary – Acts)

Acts 27:5  When we had sailed through the sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia.

  • Cilicia: Ac 6:9 Acts 15:23,41 Acts 21:39 Acts 22:3 Ga 1:21 
  • Pamphylia: Ac 2:10 Acts 13:13 Acts 15:38 

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When we had sailed through the sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia - Cilicia and Pamphylia are seen on the southern coast of modern day Turkey in the map above. 

Cilicia - (see map) all 8 NT uses in Acts - Acts 6:9; Acts 15:23; Acts 15:41; Acts 21:39; Acts 22:3; Acts 23:34; Acts 27:5; Gal. 1:21. As the ship sailed through these waters, the coastline may have stirred recollections in Paul's mind - Cilicia being his place of birth (Tarsus in Cilicia - Acts 21:39 Acts 22:3 Acts 23:34) and Pamphylia the site of beginning of his first missionary journey into the interior Roman provinces (Acts 13:13). On Paul's second missionary journey he came to Pamphylia from the interior and departed by sea from there back to his sending church in Antioch (Acts 14:24). 

Pamphylia - - All 5 NT uses in Acts - Acts 2:10; Acts 13:13; Acts 14:24; Acts 15:38; Acts 27:5. Paul would have had one bad memory from his first missionary journey to Pamphylia

We landed at Myra in Lycia - This would have taken about 2 weeks. At Myra there was a port,a little east of Patara (Acts 21:1+). "The port Andriace which had a fine harbour and did a large grain business. No disciples are mentioned here nor at Lasea, Melita, Syracuse, Rhegium." (Robertson) This destination was by design as in this significant seaport they would be more likely to find a larger ship bound for Rome, which in fact they did find. 

Landed  (2718)(katerchomai) is literally to come down, the idea being that of coming from the high sea down to land.

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Myra - A city of the ancient country of Lycia (map) about 2.5 miles from the coast. Here, according to Acts 27:6, Paul found a grain ship from Alexandria (Egypt). The city stood upon a hill formed by the openings of two valleys. At an early period Myra was of less importance than was the neighboring city Patara, yet later it became a prominent port for ships from Egypt and Cyprus, and Theodosius II made it the capital of the province. It was also famed as the seat of worship of an Asiatic deity whose name is no longer known (see theater at Myra). Nicholas, a bishop and the patron saint of sailors, is said to have been buried in a church on the road between Myra and Andraki, the port. Here an Arab fleet was destroyed in 807. In 808 Haroun al-Rashid, the renowned kalif of Bagdad, took the city, and here Saewulf landed on his return from Jerusalem. Dembre is the modern name of the ruins of Myra, which are among the most imposing in that part of Asia Minor. The elaborate details of the decoration of theater are unusually well preserved, and the rock-hewn tombs (see picture) about the city bear many bas-reliefs (picture, another picture) and inscriptions of interest. On the road to Andraki the monastery of Nicholas may still be seen.

James Smith - In pursuing this route they acted precisely as the most accomplished seaman in the present day would have done under similar circumstances; by standing to the north till they reached the coast of Cilicia, they might expect when they did so to be favoured by the land wind, which prevails there during the summer months, as well as by the current, which constantly runs to the westward, along the south coast of Asia Minor. M. de Pagès, a French navigator, who made a voyage from Syria to Marseilles, took this course, and has given the reasons why he did so. He informs us, that after making Cyprus, "The winds from the west, and consequently contrary, which prevail in these places during the summer, forced us to run to the north. We made for the coast of Caramania (Cilicia) in order to meet the northerly winds, which we found accordingly."...Favoured, as they probably were, by the land wind and currents, they arrive without any recorded incident at Myra of Lycia, then a flourishing seaport, now a desolate waste. The stupendous magnitude of its theatre attests the extent of its former population; the splendour of its tombs, its wealth. But it is not my intention to describe the ancient or modern state of the places visited, farther than as they illustrate the events of the voyage. (The Voyage and Shipwreck of St Paul )

Acts 27:6  There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy, and he put us aboard it.

  • the centurion: Ac 27:1 
  • Alexandrian ship:  Ac 6:9 18:24 28:11 


There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing (pleo) for Italy - An Alexandrian ship was one from Egypt that was going toward Rome, for Egypt was the granary of Italy. This is undoubtedly what Julius had hoped he would find as he sailed along the coastal areas. Robertson thinks this grain ship from Egypt was "out of its (normal) course because of the wind," adding that "such grain ships usually carried passengers." In this case Julius commandeered the ship for his use. 

And he put us aboard it - The verb embibazo is used only here and means to put in someone into something, to cause someone to go into, in this case a boat and so to cause to go aboard, to cause to embark, or cause to put aboard ship.

NET Note on Alexandrian ship - Alexandria (modern Alexandria) was a great city of northern Egypt which was a center for grain trade to Rome. Therefore this type of travel connection was common at the time. For a winter journey (considered hazardous) there were special bonuses and insurance provided (Suetonius, Life of Claudius 18.1-2). 

Gaertner adds that "This vessel, known as the “merchantman,” had become one of the most convenient means of travel in the Roman world, used frequently even by imperial officials. (The College Press NIV Commentary – Acts)

Nicolle E. Hirschfeld says "The dimensions of the Alexandrian grain ships were comparable to those of the USS Constitution (picture - 200' x 43') and Nelson's Victory." (Ship of St Paul: Historical Background) (See description of the "Isis" a first century ship). 

The very fact that this ship presumably had wheat bound for Rome as well as room for 276 souls indicates that the preceding dimensions would be quite reasonable. This was no little dingy! 

Kent Hughes describes the Alexandrian ship noting that in "Asia Minor, the centurion transferred Paul and the other prisoners onto a large Egyptian grain ship. The typical grain freighter was 140 feet long and thirty-six feet wide and bore a thirty-three-foot draught. It was a sturdy ship, but in high seas it had definite disadvantages. It had no rudder like a modern ship but was steered by two great paddles extending from the stern. It had only one mast on which was a great square sail. Chief among its drawbacks was that it could not sail into the wind. (Preaching the Word – Acts: The Church Afire)

Marshall There was an important trade route from Egypt to Italy bringing corn for the vast population of Rome. Since ancient ships were not well designed for sailing against the wind, it would be natural for ships from Alexandria to sail more or less due north to Myra and then take advantage of the coast of Asia Minor for the next stage of the journey. The corn trade was in the hands of private owners who received special consideration from the Roman government in view of the importance of this lifeline for Rome. The centurion in charge of Paul had no doubt intended all along to make use of such a ship for the journey to Rome. (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries – Acts)

James Smith - The voyage has hitherto been prosperous, and the object which the party had in view in proceeding to ‘the places in Asia’ is attained. At the first of them which lay in their way, the centurion found a ship of Alexandria, loaded, as we afterwards learn, with wheat, bound for Italy, in which he embarked his charge. Egypt was at this time one of the granaries of Rome, and the corn which was sent from thence to Italy was conveyed in ships of very great size. From the dimensions given of one of them by Lucian,2 they appear to have been quite as large as the largest class of merchant ships of modern times. We need not be surprised, therefore, at the number of souls which we afterwards find were embarked in this one, or that another ship of the same class could after the shipwreck convey them to Italy, in addition to her own crew.

Some commentators have supposed that Myra lay so much out of the track from Alexandria to Italy that the term Alexandrian must mean the particular ‘build’ of the ship, just as we say Liburnian galleys, and not as marking the port to which she belonged. Now it is quite true that Myra is out of the direct course from Alexandria to Italy, which is by the south of Crete. But with the westerly winds which prevail in those seas, ships, particularly those of the ancients, unprovided with a compass and ill calculated to work to windward, would naturally stand to the north till they made the land of Asia Minor, which is peculiarly favourable for navigation by such vessels, because the coast is bold and safe, and the elevation of the mountains makes it visible at a great distance; it abounds in harbours, and the sinuosities of its shores and the westerly current would enable them, if the wind was at all off the land, to work to windward, at least as far as Cnidus, where these advantages ceased. Myra lies due north from Alexandria,1 and its bay is well calculated to shelter a windbound ship. The Alexandrian ship was not, therefore, out of her course at Myra, even if she had no call to touch there for the purposes of commerce. (The Voyage and Shipwreck of St Paul )

Acts 27:7  When we had sailed slowly for a good many days, and with difficulty had arrived off Cnidus, since the wind did not permit us to go farther, we sailed under the shelter of Crete, off Salmone;

  • we sailed: Ac 27:12,13,21 2:11 Titus 1:5,12 
  • under: Ac 27:4 

click to enlarge


When we had sailed slowly for a good many days - Sailed slowly (braduploeo - only here in NT) is in the present tense indicating they were continually sailing slowly which in turn indicates they were facing a persistent wind, the prevailing winds being from the west and northwest.

And with difficulty had arrived off Cnidus, since the wind did not permit us to go farther - They could not continue westward but headed southwesterly from here. Apparently they did not even put in at the harbor at Cnidus. Notice from the map above that from Cnidus to Crete the ship was more directly exposed to the prevailing westerly winds which made travel difficult.

Click small map below for Cnidus

Cnidus - A city of Caria in the Roman province of Asia, past which, according to Acts 27:7, Paul sailed. At the Southwest corner of Asia Minor there projects for 90 miles into the sea a long, narrow peninsula, practically dividing the Aegean from the Mediterranean. It now bears the name of Cape Crio. Ships sailing along the southern coast of Asia Minor here turn northward as they round the point. Upon the very end of the peninsula, and also upon a small island off its point was the city of Cnidus. The island which in ancient times was connected with the mainland by a causeway is now joined to it by a sandy bar. Thus were formed two harbors, one of which could be closed by a chain. Though Cnidus was in Caria, it held the rank of a free city. There were Jews here as early as the 2nd century B.C. The ruins of Cnidus are the only objects of interest on the long peninsula, and as they may be reached by land only with great difficulty, few travelers have visited them; they may, however, be reached more easily by boat. The nearest modern village is Yazi Keui, 6 miles away. The ruins of Cnidus are unusually interesting, for the entire plan of the city may easily be traced. The sea-walls and piers remain. The acropolis was upon the hill in the western portion of the town; upon the terraces below stood the public buildings, among which were two theaters and the odeum still well preserved. The city was especially noted for its shrine of Venus and for the statue of that goddess by Praxiteles. Here in 1875-78 Sir C. Newton discovered the statue of Demeter, now in the British Museum. See also the Aphrodite of Cnidus in the South Kensington Museum, one of the loveliest statues in the world. From here also came the huge Cnidian lion. The vast necropolis West of the ruins contains tombs of every size and shape, and from various ages.

Red Mark
Click to enlarge

We sailed under the shelter of Crete, off Salmone - Salmone was a promontory (and a cape) of Crete on the northeast tip of the island. With Crete on the right side of ship, they got some protection from the northwesterly winds. 

Shelter (5284)(hupopleo from hupo = under + pleo = sail) means to sail under the "lee" (see Wikipedia note below) of an island. To sail under the shelter of (for protection from the wind). Hupopleo describes the "effort to protect a ship from stormy winds (by sailing) under the lee or sheltered side of an island, usually the southern side in the Mediterranean Sea (because adverse wind was usually from the north)." (Friberg) BDAG is similar - "sail under the lee of an island, i.e. in such a way that the island protects the ship from the wind." 

Wikipedia (see diagram) - Windward is the direction upwind from the point of reference, alternatively the direction from which the wind is coming. Leeward (is the direction downwind (or downward) from the point of reference. The leeward region of mountains generally remains dry as compared to the windward. The side of a ship that is towards the leeward is its lee side. If the vessel is heeling under the pressure of the wind, this will be the "lower side". 

James Smith - IN this ship of Alexandria, in which the centurion and his party embarked, they proceeded on their voyage. Their progress after leaving Myra was extremely slow; for we are told that it was ‘many’ days before they were ‘come over against Cnidus,’ that is before they reached the entrance of the Ægean Sea. As the distance between the two places is not more than 130 geographical miles, which they could easily have accomplished with a fair wind in one day, they must either have met with calms or contrary winds. I infer that the delay was caused by contrary winds, from the expression μόλις, which is translated in our authorised version ‘scarce,’ producing the impression that the ship had scarcely reached Cnidus when the winds became contrary; but which ought to be rendered ‘with difficulty,’ expressing the difficulty which ships experience in contending with adverse winds. The same word occurs in the following verse, where it is translated ‘hardly,’ where there can be no doubt as to its meaning, for the general trending of the south coast of Crete, which they were navigating (παραλεγόμενοι, v. 8), was the same as that of Asia, east and west; and we are now told that the winds were contrary (v. 7). Cicero, in one of his epistles, uses very similar terms to express the effects of contrary winds:—

‘Quum sane adversis ventis usi essemus, tardeque et incommode navigâssemus.’
‘Having met with contrary winds, and sailed slowly and with difficulty.’ 

The wind therefore would in common language have been termed north-west. Now, this is precisely the wind which might have been expected in those seas towards the end of summer.  We learn from the sailing directions for the Mediterranean, that ‘Throughout the whole of the Mediterranean, but mostly in the eastern half, including the Adriatic and Archipelago, the north-west winds prevail in the summer months;’ which agrees with Aristotle’s account of these winds. According to Pliny, they begin in August, and blow for forty days. With north-west winds the ship could work up from Myra to Cnidus; because until she reached that point she had the advantage of a weather shore, under the lee of which she would have smooth water, and as formerly mentioned, a westerly current; but it would be ‘slowly and with difficulty.’ At Cnidus these advantages ceased; and unless she had put into that harbour, and waited for a fair wind, her only course was to run under the lee of Crete, in the direction of Salmone (κατὰ Σαλμώνην), which is the eastern extremity of that island. After passing this point, the difficulty they experienced in navigating to the westward along the coasts of Asia would recur; but as the south side of Crete is also a weather shore, with north-west winds, they would be able to work up as far as Cape Matala. Here the land trends suddenly to the north, and the advantages of a weather shore cease, and their only recourse was to make for a harbour. Now Fair Havens is the last harbour before arriving at Cape Matala, the farthest point to which an ancient ship could have attained with north-westerly winds.
The delays experienced by navigators proceeding westward in this part of the Mediterranean during the summer months, are of such constant occurrence that I have scarcely found an instance in which they have not been encountered.(The Voyage and Shipwreck of St Paul )

Acts 27:8  and with difficulty sailing past it we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea

Click to enlarge


And with difficulty sailing past it - "We struggled along the coast with great difficulty." They were "coasting along" (ESV) the "Cape of Salome" on the northeast side of Crete but even once past Salome it was not easy navigation (presumably the difficulty was due to the effect of northwesterly winds). 

Sailing past (3881)(paralegomai from para = near + lego = meaning to lie, choose, pick out) literally means to lie near (or with someone). It was a technical nautical term that described laying one's course near, sailing nearby or sailing along a coastline. It does not appear in the Septuagint. The only other use is Acts 27:13. Robertson adds that "Diodorus Siculus uses paralegomai in precisely this sense of coasting along." 

Difficulty (3433)(molis from molos = toil, labor pains, drudgery, hardship) means scarcely (barely able), hardly (pertains to being hard to accomplish). Molis means barely able to be done and pictures a struggle to attain something worthwhile only after great effort. Luke uses this adverb three times in this portion of the voyage to describe their difficult circumstances (Acts 27:7, 8, 16). The adverb molis is descriptive of the “toil” (so to speak) of the sailing vessel laboring against the winds.  

Gaertner notes that "The best calculations indicate that the year in which this journey occurred was A.D. 59. In this year the Day of Atonement fell on October 5." (Ibid)

We came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea - Click the smaller map below to see the city of Lasea just to the east of Fair Havens. While Robertson says that Fair Havens and Lasea are not mentioned by ancient writers but James Smith writes "the ruins of this city have been discovered by my friend and relative the Rev. George Brown. (Appendix - with map) It lies just east of Fair Havens, and still retains its name."

Fair Havens -  a harbor on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean, is still identified by that name in the modern Greek language.  A roadstead on the South coast of Crete, about 5 miles East of Cape Matala, the most southerly point of the island. The harbor is formed by a bay, open to the East, and sheltered on the Southwest by two small islands. Here Paul waited for a considerable time (Acts 27:9); but while it afforded good anchorage and a shelter from North and Northwest winds, "the haven was not commodious to winter in" (Acts 27:8, 12). Fair Havens is an open bay, a poor harbor in bad weather. Robertson adds "This harbour is named Kalus Limeonas, a small bay two miles east of Cape Matala. It opens to the East and Southeast, but is not fit to winter in. This harbour would protect them for a time from the winds."

James Smith - After working up along the southern coast of Crete, they reached Fair Havens, which we have seen is the farthest point which an ancient ship, navigating under the lee of Crete, could reach with north-west winds.  (The Voyage and Shipwreck of St Paul )

Acts 27:9  When considerable time had passed and the voyage was now dangerous, since even the fast was already over, Paul began to admonish them,

  • the fast:  Lev 16:29 23:27-29 Nu 29:7 


The great annual public fast of the great Day of Atonement which occurred in the month Tishri, corresponding to the new moon of October served to indicate the season of the year after which the navigation of the Mediterranean became dangerous and navigators would be well advised to Hold Fast

When considerable (hikanos) time had passed - The NLT has "We had lost a lot of time." 

And the voyage was now dangerous, since even the Fast was already over - The Greek sentence has the definite article (ten) before "Fast" - the point is that this was not a reference to just any fast or to fasting in general but a reference to a very specific Fast. Thus the Fast refers to the great Fast on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) which in 59 AD would have been on October 5. Why does Luke give us this detail? The answer is that it was well known among ship captains that sailing was relatively safe up to September 14, but from September 15 to November 11 sailing was dangerous. After November 12 and through the winter months sailing was virtually impossible. Most writers deduce from these facts that the time of this voyage was most likely in mid-October when sailing was more dangerous.

Had passed (1230)(diaginomai from dia = through + ginomai = to become, be) is used of time and means literally to be through (i.e., past). In classic Greek diaginomai mean “to go through,” “to pass,” “to go through life,” and “to continue through.” 

The Greek word for dangerous (episphalous) is used only here and literally means near to falling, ready to fall, prone to fall and describes that which is unsafe, insecure, hazardous, unstable, precarious. 

Fast (3521)(nesteria from verb nesteuo = to fast) describes fasting, fast, abstinence from eating, generally for want of food. The Pharisees practiced private fastings of the Jews (Mt 17:21;Luke 2:37) which they felt earned great merit with God, in striking contrast to the fasting of Anna which was an act of worship of her great God. (cf. Luke 18:12; Isa 58:3ff.; Da. 9:3).

Robertson comments that "We do not know precisely when the party left Caesarea (possibly in August), but in ample time to arrive in Rome before October if conditions had been more favourable. But the contrary winds had made the voyage very slow and difficult all the way (Acts 27:7) besides the long delay here in this harbour of Fair Havens."

Paul began to admonish them - Admonish is in the imperfect tense indicating Paul advised them again and again with strong emotion. This was more than mere advice, but an earnest desire to persuade the men in charge to heed the truthfulness of his observations. Beloved, here is Paul, a prisoner, boldly offering advice to his superiors and not only offering advice but doing so over and over! Paul is a man led by the Spirit (Gal 5:18). And Robertson adds "Paul had clearly won the respect of the centurion and officers and also felt it to be his duty to give this unasked for warning.

Admonish (3867)(paraineo from para = to the point of + aineo = to praise) means to advise strongly, "indicate strongly to someone what he or she should plan to do." (L-N). The idea is to give urgent advice. Only here and Acts 27:22. 

Gilbrant This verb can be found in classical Greek from the Fifth Century B.C. and means “exhort, recommend,” or “advise” (Liddell-Scott). It can be found only in the apocryphal books of the Septuagint, without a Hebrew equivalent. In 2 Maccabees 7:25,26 it is used of someone who “exhorts . . . with many words,” in the sense of advising. In 3 Maccabees 5:17 it is used with the sense of “strongly suggesting.” (Ibid)

James Smith -  (The Voyage and Shipwreck of St Paul )

Acts 27:10 and said to them, "Men, I perceive that the voyage will certainly be with damage and great loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives."

  • Men, I perceive: Ac 27:21-26,31,34 Ge 41:16-25,38,39 2Ki 6:9,10 Ps 25:14 Da 2:30 Am 3:7 
  • that the voyage will certainly be with damage and great loss, Ac 27:20,41-44 1Pe 4:18 


And said to them, "Men, I perceive that the voyage will certainly be with damage and great loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives - Paul's warning was sensible and wise. Paul was not ignorant of the sea for in 2 Cor 11:25 he records "three times I was shipwrecked (NOTE THESE HAVE OCCURRED IN THE PAST AND ACTS 27 WOULD BE THE FOURTH!), a night and a day I have spent in the deep (i.e., he was stranded in the sea that long!)." So Paul realized this would potentially be a very dangerous voyage. He is not necessarily speaking a prophecy but is giving this warning based on his considerable experience with sea travel. Also notice that he says that there would be loss "of our lives," which is somewhat surprising as he knows that Jesus has promised him he would eventually come to Rome. From Acts 27:21+ it appears that Paul addressed these comments to everyone on board. 

Perceive (2334)(theoreo) is a verb of seeing but figuratively in this passage means to come to an understanding and thus speaks of mental perception, a perception Paul is basing on his previous experience. 

Jamieson explains Paul's perception was "not by any divine communication, but simply in the exercise of a good judgment aided by some experience. The event justified his decision."

Damage (5196)(hubris) can refer to insult (2 Cor 12:10+), but clearly in this context hubris refers to injury, harm or damage to a person and/or property arising from the "violence" (force) of the sea. is used again in Acts 27:21. 

Loss (2209)(zemia) describes the state of coming into a worsened situation from previous advantage. Thus zemia is translated as damage, disadvantage, loss, forfeit. In ancient Greek manuscripts zemia referred to commercial or business losses and that is clearly Paul's meaning in his warning. Zemia is used again in Acts 27:21. 

Lives (5590)(psuche or psyche from psucho = to breathe, blow, English = psychology, "study of the soul") is the breath, then that which breathes, the individual, animated creature. Note that psuche is a many-sided word with the meaning derived from the context. In this case clearly Paul is emphasizing loss of physical lives (used with this meaning in Acts 20:10+). 

All uses of psuche in Acts -

Acts 2:27; Acts 2:41; Acts 3:23; Acts 4:32; Acts 7:14; Acts 14:2; Acts 14:22; Acts 15:24; Acts 15:26; Acts 20:10; Acts 20:24; Acts 27:10; Acts 27:22; Acts 27:37

Craig KeenerPagans undertaking sea voyages always sacrificed to the gods and sought their protection. Bad omens, astrological interpretations or dreams sometimes prevented a ship from sailing if they were taken seriously. Before going to war Romans would check the entrails of animals (ED: HARUSPEX = READING ENTRAILS - diagram of sheep's liver), the flight of birds (ED ORNITHOMANCY) and other forms of divination; religious advice was always important to those contemplating a potentially risky venture. Paul would sound to them like the kind of seer who could predict the future without divination. Unlike Greeks, Romans respected divination more than this kind of prophecy (ED: NOT EVERYONE AGREES PAUL'S PRONOUNCEMENT WAS ACTUALLY PROPHETIC!). (The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament)

Larkin Vegetius described the dangers of "winter sailing" as scant daylight, long nights, dense cloud cover, poor visibility and the double raging of winds, showers and snows (Military Institutions of the Romans 4.39)....Paul's cautionary word is the first of a number of initiatives in which the apostle demonstrates that he is indeed his "brother's keeper." (Acts 27:1-26 Caesarea to Crete; the Storm)

Acts 27:11  But the centurion was more persuaded by the pilot and the captain of the ship than by what was being said by Paul.

  • the centurion was more persuaded by the pilot and the captain: Ac 27:21 Ex 9:20,21 2Ki 6:10 Pr 27:12 Eze 3:17,18 33:4 Heb 11:7 


But - Term of contrast - In this case it was the contrast between opinions of Paul and the ship's captain and pilot, the latter winning out. 

The centurion was more persuaded (peitho) by the pilot and the captain of the ship than by what was being said by Paul - They surely reasoned with Julius that Fair Havens was not optimal for wintering and this was a valid statement. The centurion and crew were quick learners for the next time Paul gave advice, they listened! (see Acts 27:31-32+)

Craig Keener Being a practical Roman, the centurion respects the nautical knowledge of the captain more than a Jewish prisoner’s religious insights. Yet such a decision was often made more on economic than nautical grounds. Grain ships sometimes traveled together; this one is making the voyage alone and is probably one of the latest vessels of the shipping season. But the captain at best hopes to make it to a better harbor before the seas close down for the winter; he cannot hope to reach Italy this late in the year (Acts 27:9). The captain is probably also the ship owner here, but because his vessel is part of the imperial grain fleet, the centurion functions as a Roman official with greater authority than the ship owner, just as he would on land in Egypt. (IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament)

Pilot (2942)(kubernetes from kubernao = to govern) is the governor of a ship, the helmsman, the shipmaster who guides the path of the ship and responsible for managing and directing the ship. It was common in the papyri. The only other use is Rev 18:17. BDAG says a figurative extension is "one who directs the destiny of humans." There are no NT uses with this figurative meaning, but there are some early Christian writings which use kubernetes with this sense when referring to Christ. 

Captain (owner - only here in NT)(3490)(naukleros from naus = ship + kleros = lot) refers either to an owner of a ship or one who took passengers and freight for hire. BDAG says naukleros "can also mean captain, since the sailing-master of a ship engaged in state service (esp. for shipment of grain IG 14, 918) was called a naukleros."   

Gilbrant on naukleros In nonbiblical Greek a nauklēros usually describes the owner of a ship (naus [3354]) who leased his vessel out to transport passengers or cargo. Sometimes, though, it refers to the captain who commanded the vessel.

John Phillips comments on the centurion's ignoring of Paul's wise warning - And that is the way it so often is. The scales come down on the side of the expert, on the side of science and scholarship, on the side of the man whose opinion is weighted by his position, by his learning in his particular field. The voice of the humble believer in touch with God is ignored. Darwin is given precedence over Moses; the scientist is preferred before the saint; and all are losers. The final decision seems to have been left to the centurion. He looked at Paul and he saw a prisoner, a missionary, and he underestimated him. He looked at the ship's captain and he saw a successful businessman, owner of a large ship, a seasoned sailor, and he overestimated him. Having given Paul due allowance for his learning (in other fields) and his experience at sea (as a passenger), the centurion decided that the professional should know whether or not it was safe to proceed. And in any case, Phenice was not far—just thirty or forty miles westward along the southern coast of Crete. (Exploring Acts: An Expository Commentary)

Acts 27:12 Because the harbor was not suitable for wintering, the majority reached a decision to put out to sea from there, if somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there.

  • Because the harbor was not suitable for wintering: Ac 27:8 Ps 107:30 
  • Phoenix, a harbor of Crete: Ac 27:7 

Click to Enlarge


Because the harbor was not suitable for wintering - Human reasoning was in play, for this was a reasonable assertion based on their sailing knowledge. Fair Havens was not well placed and thus was unfit and unfavorably situated as a port in which they could spend the winter. This fact led them to disregard Paul's advice. 

Not suitable (only use in NT)(428)(aneuthetos from a = alpha privative [negates] + thetos = placed or euthetos = fit, opportune) means literally "not well placed." Unfit, inappropriate. It describes something which should not or cannot be used. This is the first word in the sentence for emphasis. 

The majority reached a decision - NLT = "most of the crew wanted to go on to Phoenix." Hughes explains why this may have been the majority decision writing that "Fair Havens was a rather boring port and the harbor was not ideal for wintering and an enticing south wind began to blow, the captain decided to take a chance and set sail for the much nicer port of Phoenix, about forty miles away." (Ibid)

Decision (plan) (1012)(boule) when used of man expresses a decision, a purpose or a plan which is the result of inner deliberation. Boule is that which has been purposed and planned. Boule has in it the ideas of intelligence and deliberation.

Robertson notes that the verb tithemi (to place, put) with boule is an ancient idiom meaning to take counsel or give council. 

Page paraphrases it ""We vote for going on the chance that we may be able" 

To put out to sea from there, if somehow they could reach Phoenix (picture) - This harbor was about 40 miles away or what would usually be a day's journey, but such was not to be the case. 

Put out to sea (321) see note above on anago

A harbor of Crete, facing (blepo - looking) southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there - Notice the detail about the harbor which indicates the direction in which the harbor was oriented, there would be protection from the northwesterly winds. 

John PhillipsPaul, having been overruled by the experts, no doubt retired to his cabin to pray earnestly that all would be well. For himself he had no doubts at all. He knew that whatever happened, he would end up in Rome (Acts 23:11+); but what about his beloved Luke and Aristarchus? And what about his friend the centurion? And what about the captain and crew and the prisoners and the passengers—all those unsaved men now exposed to the possibility of storm and shipwreck? We can well believe that Paul prayed earnestly once the fateful decision was made. What a good thing, too, for that particular ship that they had a Paul on board, not a Jonah! (Ibid)

Acts 27:13 When a moderate south wind came up, supposing that they had attained their purpose, they weighed anchor and began sailing along Crete, close inshore.

  • moderate south wind came up: Job 37:17 Ps 78:26 Song 4:16 Lu 12:55 
  • they weighed anchor: Ac 27:21 


A deceptive calm seemingly favored their unwise decision. It is always unwise to avoid godly counsel from a man of God, especially is his name is the apostle Paul!

THOUGHT - Beloved, do you find it difficult to receive (accept) godly counsel (that might counter the course you otherwise favor) of a godly man or woman? If so, beware!  

When a moderate south wind came up, supposing that they had attained their purpose - The gentle south wind seemed to confirm their decision. Pagans were superstitious and may have seen the gentle south wind as a good "omen." It is interesting that God is in control of gentle south winds! God knew that gentle winds would soon be storm winds. Had God sent stormy winds they may have decided to stay. But God wanted them to experience a storm but even so He would still cause all things to work together for good for Jesus had made a promise to Paul (cf Acts 23:11+, Ro 8:28+)!

THOUGHT - Do you (or have you) based important decision relying primarily on what you interpreted to be a favorable set of circumstances even though either godly counsel or even the Word of God supported that this decision would not be the best? Perhaps like this party, you experienced a season of "stormy weather" (even "shipwreck") so to speak. LESSON -  Natural human wisdom and "serendipitous" circumstances are not necessarily the optimal way to determine the will of God! See more detailed discussion on discerning the Will of God.

John Phillips calls this the "seducing wind" adding that "The south wind blew softly." It so often does!" "Supposing that they had obtained their purpose." We so often do! Beware when the south wind blows softly, especially when it blows in the teeth of advice given by Paul. Too many have been lured away by the soft south wind. It is all too easy to take seemingly favorable circumstances as the deciding factor in the matter of guidance and ignore the sterner counsel of the Word of God. For the believer there are three factors that, generally speaking, should come into line before deciding on an important change of course in life and in determining God's will. There is the inner voice of conviction, the normal reasoning process, and the general inner feeling and heart inclination....The voice of circumstance can be an important factor, for God can open and close doors. The difficulty in that, of course, lies in the fact that so can Satan. Just because a particular offer looks like a golden opportunity to achieve a desired goal does not mean it is a door opened by God....The deciding factor is the Word of God. We must beware, however, of the foolish practice of flipping through the Bible in the hope of spotting a verse that will give us some startling, spectacular, and suitable word from God. We must not use the Bible the way we would flip a coin. That is not to say that God cannot give us spectacular endorsement of His will from His Word. That is exactly what He wants to do. Normally He does do it, over a period of time as we wait on Him in prayer day by day, as we systematically, meditatively, and slowly read His Word page by page, chapter by chapter, in a conscientious and consecutive way. There are many decisions we have to make to which God has already spoken clearly and plainly in some command or principle in His Word. Any move that runs contrary to such a principle (e.g., not to lie, steal, commit adultery, be unequally yoked with an unbeliever, neglect the fellowship of believers) cannot be God's will. We need no further guidance on those things. God has spoken already. The quiet perusal of God's Word will in the end either confirm or contradict the other two voices, conviction and circumstance. When all three come into line, we can be sure we are on the right track—so long as we sincerely want to know and do God's will....Never ignore Paul. Never allow other considerations to outweigh God's Word. Never make a key decision without finding God's mind on the matter. Make your quiet time with God the most important factor in your life. (Ibid)

Robertson on south wind came upto blow under, then to blow gently. "A south wind having blown gently," in marked contrast to the violent northwest wind that they had faced so long. They were so sure of the wisdom of their decision that they did not even draw up the small boat attached by a rope to the vessel's stern (Acts 27:16)." (ED: One might say as we do today they  "threw caution to the wind" so to speak!)

Moderate...came (only NT use)(5285) (hupopneo from hupo = under + pneo = blow, make a breeze) means to blow gently, like the air was just slightly moving. 

Gilbrant - A unique term of rare use, hupopneō appears to be a compound form of hupo (in this case does not take one of its many prepositional forms; rather, it has a generally diminutive application), and pneō, “to breathe,” and the resulting compound means “to breathe softly.” Applying the term to the wind the verb means to “blow gently, blow softly.” Its single appearance in classical Greek is in Aristotle’s Problemata at 8.6 where it is translated “blow underneath.” New Testament translators differ little in their renderings of its only appearance; in Acts 27:13 it refers to a light wind. The KJV states: “And when the south wind blew softly . . . they sailed close by Crete.” RSV simply changes it to “when the wind blew gently.” (Ibid)

Had attained (2902)(krateo) in this context means "to be able to complete or finish, presumably despite difficulties - 'to accomplish, to do successfully, to carry out" (L-N). So they assumed they had confirmation that they had accomplished their purpose. The perfect tense speaks of the permanence of this attainment (or so they thought!)

They weighed anchor (142)(airo) means they lifted up, took up, raised as with stones (Jn 8:58), one's hand (Rev 10:5) and in this context an anchor. 

And began sailing along Crete, close inshore - The sailed very close to the southern coast to protect from the northerly winds. 

Began sailing (3881) see above for note on paralegomai

Gaertner writes that "Progressing perhaps a little more than half of the distance, the ship rounded a cape known as Cape Matala. (see map below for location of this cape which is the promontory just south of he Messara Valley). When it did so, the ship was more open to prevailing winds. But what happened caught everyone by surprise."

ILLUSTRATION When people reject the wisdom gained from observing God's natural order, foolish decisions are likely to follow. As one mountaineer said as he turned back from the challenge of climbing an Alaskan peak because his equipment was inadequate for the icy conditions, "There are old mountaineers, bold mountaineers, but no old, bold mountaineers" (Robinson 1993). (Larkin)

Acts 27:14  But before very long there rushed down from the land a violent wind, called Euraquilo;

  • But before very long there rushed down: Ex 14:21-27 Jon 1:3-5 
  • a violent wind, called Euraquilo: Ps 107:25-27 Eze 27:26 Mt 8:24 Mk 4:37 


But before very long there rushed down from the land a violent wind, called Euraquilo - As the ship rounded Cape Matala to enter the Gulf of Messara, the southerly breeze changed abruptly to a northerly "hurricane." Luke describes the sudden burst of wind of hurricane force sweeping down the island (presumably from the 7000 foot peaks on Crete) as depicted on the map above. The Euraquilo was well known to ancient sailors. This was not a typhoon per se for a typhoon lets up but this wind did not let dissipate. 

Phillips comments that "There must have been a sinking feeling in the heart of the centurion, who now doubtless wished he had paid more attention to Paul. Many a person, acting without God and suddenly caught by circumstance in which his own folly has placed him, has wished the same thing." (Ibid)

Larkin has an interesting note - It is probably as they round the cape that they meet a wind of hurricane force, called the "Northeaster," blowing down from 8,056-foot Mount Ida. The strong cold wind that blows across the Mediterranean in the winter from a general northeasterly direction is caused by a depression ("low") over Libya which induces a strong flow of air from Greece. (IVP New Testament Commentary Series – Acts)

Violent (only NT use)(5189)(tuphonikos from tuphon/typhon - stormy wind, whirlwind) describes a stormy, impetuous wind and would be termed a typhoon, hurricane, or monsoon, depending upon the region in which such a violent, protracted storm occurred. "Typhon" was the legendary mythological "father of winds," but is a word not found in the NT. This gives us our English word typhoon.

Euraquilo (2146)(Eurakulon) Others have the similar word eurakludon (2148) from euros = the southeast wind + kludon = a wave and thus a southeast wind raising mighty waves. Zodhiates says "It blows from all points and its danger results from the violence and uncertainty of its course." 

Gilbrant has a different derivation - It appears to be a compound of the Greek word euros, “east wind” (later, “southeast wind”), with the Latin aquilo, “north wind.” Thus its apparent meaning is “northeast wind.”

A T Robertson has a note that comments on the combination of words - Tuphōn = Tuphōs was used for the typhoon, a violent whirlwind (turbo) or squall. This word gives the character of the wind. The Eurakulōn (reading of Aleph A B against the Textus Receptus Eurokludōn) has not been found elsewhere. Blass calls it a hybrid word compounded of the Greek euros (east wind) and the Latin aquilo (northeast). It is made like euronotos (southeast). The Vulgate has euroaquilo. It is thus the east north east wind. Page considers Euroclydon to be a corruption of Euraquilo. Here the name gives the direction of the wind.

Acts 27:15  and when the ship was caught in it and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and let ourselves be driven along.

  • we gave way to it : Ac 27:27 Jas 3:4 



And when the ship was caught in it and could not face the wind, - The strong wind immediately blew the ship off course. Ancient vessels were incapable of heading into such strong winds as occurred with Euraquilo. The bow of the ship could not continue heading straight against the force of waves and winds.  The upshot is that the sailors quickly realized that attempting to sail to Phoenix was a lost cause. 

Caught (4884)(sunarpazo from sun = with ~ intensifies meaning + harpazo = to seize, rapture) means to seize (suddenly and violently), to grasp with great violence. Stronger than harpazo by itself! Of a mob seizing Stephen to drag him away (Acts 6.12+, Gaius and Aristarchus dragged in Acts 19:29+); of demon activity seize (Lk 8.29+). In the present passage in the passive voice describes the being "seized" by the storm and forced off course. 

Keener With a favorable wind in their mainsail, these ships could cover about fifty nautical miles in daylight, or ninety miles in twenty-four hours; but they had little resistance to a powerful wind going in a direction they wished to avoid. (Ibid)

Face (503)(antophthalmeo from anti = against + ophthalmos = eye) means to look directly at, to direct the eye against another who is looking and thus to look the person in the face. To face straight ahead. In this solitary NT use it describes the ship "looking" the storm in the face so to speak. Zodhiates explains "On the prow of the ancient ships was placed a round piece of wood, sometimes called ophthalmós, the eye of the ship, because it was fixed in its foredeck." (Ibid) BDAB gives a secular example of "look the truth in the face honestly or defiantly." 

Robertson notes that face the wind is a very descriptive phrase meaning literally "looking in the eye, or eye to eye (anti, facing and opthalmos, eye). Eyes were painted on the prows of vessels. The ship could not face the wind enough to get to Phoenix. Modern sailors talk of sailing into the eye of the wind. We were not able to look the wind in the eye."

We gave way to it and let ourselves be driven along - Most writers interpret the phrase gave way as the sailors shortening the sail (or bringing down the topsail and its rigging to make the ship more stable) because they were now at the mercy of the wind and the waves. Ultimately of course they were at the mercy of God Who controls the winds and the waves. 

THOUGHT - When we are in the storms of life (which like the Euraquilo are often sudden and able to throw us "off course") and everything seems to be out of control, we need to remember that our Omnipotent God is still in complete control. See The Providence of God and GOD IS IN CONTROL. Play Twila Paris' great song God is in Control (because He is!)

We gave way (were "handed over")(1929)(epididomi from epi = upon + didomi = to give) means to give forth as from oneself upon or to another, to transfer, to hand over, to deliver over as to put into another's hands, in this context, into the "hands" of the storm so to speak! 

Driven along is in the imperfect tense picturing the waves and wind pounding and pushing the vessel again and again. A vivid scene! 

As Furneaux comments "The suddenness of the hurricane gave no time to furl the great mainsail." So the only choice was to be borne along by the gale! There is a modern idiom "go with the flow" which is literally true in this context! 

James Smith -  The ship was ‘caught’ in a typhoon, which blew with such violence that they could not face it, but were forced, in the first instance, to scud before it, for such is the evident meaning of the expression—ἐπιδόντες ἐφερόμεθα—‘yielding to it we were borne along by it.’...The sudden change from a south wind to a violent northerly wind is a common occurrence in these seas. The term ‘typhonic,’ by which it is described, indicates that it was accompanied by some of the phenomena which might be expected in such a case, namely the agitation and whirling motion of the clouds caused by the meeting of the opposite currents of air when the change took place, and probably also of the sea, raising it in columns of spray. Pliny, in describing the effects of sudden blasts, says that they cause a vortex, which is called ‘typhoon;’ and Gellius, in his account of a storm at sea, notices ‘frequent whirlwinds,’ ‘.… and the dreadful appearances in the clouds which they call typhoons.’...Pliny calls the typhoon—‘The chief pest of seamen, destructive not only to the spars but to the hull itself.’...The fact, that the ships of the ancients were provided with hypozomata, or cables ready fitted for undergirding, as a necessary part of their stores, proves how liable they were to such casualties; and I may add as another proof the frequent notice of lightening ships we meet with in ancient authors. In the present narrative they occur not less than three times....It is easy to account for the comparative immunity of modern ships from such casualties. The most obvious cause is the improvement in naval architecture; but another, and I suspect a more efficient one, is the manner in which they were rigged. In modern times the strain is spread over three masts, with small sails which can be quickly taken in; but the ancient ships had to sustain the leverage of a single mast, with a ponderous yard at the upper end. We can scarcely suppose that St. Paul’s ship escaped uninjured. The circumstances mentioned, of her being undergirded, lightened, and finally run ashore, afford conclusive evidence that she did not....At the time the ship was caught in the gale, she must have been near a small group of islands, called the Paximades, in the Gulf of Messara. The island of Clauda lay about twenty-three miles to leeward, and thither they were driven, as the expression ἐπιδόντες ἐφερόμεθα (ver. 15) implies, before the gale. Upon reaching it they availed themselves of the smooth water under its lee, to prepare the ship to resist the fury of the storm. Their first care was to secure the boat, by hoisting it on board. This had not been done at first, because the weather was moderate, and the distance they had to go short. Under such circumstances it is not usual to hoist the boats on board, but it had now become necessary. (The Voyage and Shipwreck of St Paul ) (ED: Scud - Move fast in a straight line because or as if driven by the wind. E.g., ‘three small ships were scudding before a brisk breeze’)

Steven ColeWe aren’t necessarily out of God’s will when we get caught in a storm. Sometimes when we find ourselves in the midst of a sudden storm in life, we wonder if we’re out of God’s will. We may be, especially if we got into the storm because of sin in our lives. But we may be exactly where God wants us to be. The Lord had told Paul that he would testify for Him in Rome (Ac 23:11), but He had not bothered to mention the little detail of this storm and shipwreck! Mt 14:22 reports that immediately after feeding the 5,000, Jesus “made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away.” The word “made,” which means “to compel by force or persuasion,” shows that the disciples didn’t have much to say about what they were doing. The following verses show that Jesus was deliberately sending them into a storm at sea! He knew that that storm was coming, but He wanted to teach them His power over storms by walking to them on the water. So even though they were in a fierce storm, they were precisely in the will of God for them at that moment.

Jon Courson adds this note on God's will - 

At first the wind blew softly, and in a favorable direction. That's always the way it is. When you don't listen to the Word of the Lord, when you go your own way, when you do your own thing, at first you're just blown along softly. But when the fierce winds come—which they always do—you're blown away totally.

Please note four reasons that make this a perfect example of how not to know God's will as you sail through life and journey towards heaven:

The sailors were impatient. Although it was not the season for sailing, these guys wanted to get on with their journey. The Word says, "He that believeth in the Lord must not make haste" (see Isaiah 28:16). Are you impatient? Slow down. When you don't know what to do—don't do anything. When you're not sure which way to go, stay where you are. Wait on the Lord. It's so hard to do, but so important.

The sailors took a vote. The centurion said, "Okay Paul, I hear what you're saying, but I also hear the owner, the captain, and the crew," and Paul was outvoted. God is not an American, folks, and if we make decisions relating to the kingdom on a democratic basis, we're in a heap of trouble. Ask Moses. If the Israelites had voted during their journey through the wilderness, he would have been ousted the first week. We need to know what the heart of God is—not what the majority says.

The sailors tested the winds. "The answer is blowing in the wind," may be true for Bob Dylan, but it's not true for you and me as believers. We're not to say, "The way the wind is blowing and circumstances are pointing will determine my course." No, there needs to be a solid inner conviction, a Holy Spirit direction.

The sailors sought ease. They wanted to get to Phoenix. Why? Phoenix was where all of the sailors wintered. There were lots of restaurants, movie theatres, golf courses. No doubt these guys thought, Why should we stay here? We're only sixty-eight miles from Phoenix. That's the place to be—we can even pick up a Suns game. Sometimes we, like these sailors, ask, "Where is it most comfortable? Where is it easiest?" instead of "What does the Lord know will be best for me?" (Jon Courson's Application Commentary New Testament)

Acts 27:16  Running under the shelter of a small island called Clauda (Cauda), we were scarcely able to get the ship's boat under control.

  • Cauda:  Ac 27:16 

Under Shelter of Cauda
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Running under the shelter of a small island called Clauda (Cauda) - For a short distance their ship was on the protected side of the island of Cauda. .

We were scarcely able to get the ship's boat under control - One reason they would have difficulty is that the boat had been towed for 20-30 miles in stormy seas and undoubtedly had taken on much water making hoisting it aboard more difficult. The protection provided by the island allowed them to secure the "lifeboat" and in Acts 27:17 they "hoisted it up." "The “boat” or “lifeboat” (NIV) was used for landings, to maneuver the ship for tacking and so forth. Sometimes these boats were kept on deck; at other times, as here, they were towed behind. Here, filled with water or in danger of breaking loose from the ship, it has to be brought on deck to be rescued." (Keener)

NET Note on ship's boat - The ship's boat was a small rowboat, normally towed behind a ship in good weather rather than stowed on board. It was used for landings, to maneuver the ship for tacking, and to lay anchors (not a lifeboat in the modern sense, although it could have served as a means of escape for some of the sailors; see Acts 27:30+).

Acts 27:17  After they had hoisted it up, they used supporting cables in undergirding the ship; and fearing that they might run aground on the shallows of Syrtis, they let down the sea anchor and in this way let themselves be driven along.

NET  Acts 27:17 After the crew had hoisted it aboard, they used supports to undergird the ship. Fearing they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor, thus letting themselves be driven along.

GNT  Acts 27:17 ἣν ἄραντες βοηθείαις ἐχρῶντο ὑποζωννύντες τὸ πλοῖον, φοβούμενοί τε μὴ εἰς τὴν Σύρτιν ἐκπέσωσιν, χαλάσαντες τὸ σκεῦος, οὕτως ἐφέροντο.

NLT  Acts 27:17 Then the sailors bound ropes around the hull of the ship to strengthen it. They were afraid of being driven across to the sandbars of Syrtis off the African coast, so they lowered the sea anchor to slow the ship and were driven before the wind.

KJV  Acts 27:17 Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.

ESV  Acts 27:17 After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along.

CSB  Acts 27:17 After hoisting it up, they used ropes and tackle and girded the ship. Then, fearing they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the drift-anchor, and in this way they were driven along.

NIV  Acts 27:17 When the men had hoisted it aboard, they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Fearing that they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along.

NKJ  Acts 27:17 When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands, they struck sail and so were driven.

NRS  Acts 27:17 After hoisting it up they took measures to undergird the ship; then, fearing that they would run on the Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and so were driven.

YLT  Acts 27:17 which having taken up, they were using helps, undergirding the ship, and fearing lest they may fall on the quicksand, having let down the mast -- so were borne on.

NAB  Acts 27:17 They hoisted it aboard, then used cables to undergird the ship. Because of their fear that they would run aground on the shoal of Syrtis, they lowered the drift anchor and were carried along in this way.

NJB  Acts 27:17 Having hauled it up they used it to undergird the ship; then, afraid of running aground on the Syrtis banks, they floated out the sea-anchor and so let themselves drift.

  • fearing that they might run aground: Ac 27:29,41 

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Frapping describes the practice of making a ship's hull secure by lashing it with cables. Fearing being run aground on the shoals and sandbars of Syrtis (NIV, NLT) prompted them to let down their anchor. 

After they had hoisted it up - Because they had some protection from the island of Cauda, they were able to rescue the dinghy which was normally towed astern and usually hauled on board at the first sign of bad weather. The storm had come on them so suddenly that they did not have time to carry out this usual procedure.

THOUGHT - Isn't that what "storms" in our life do? We don't have time or energy to carry out some plan that we normally would have carried out if the "storm" had not come on us so suddenly. As my wife and I were setting out on a 200 mile trip recently, at the outset of the trip we experienced 2 successive blowouts of our left front tire within less than a mile (and had never experienced a blow out in my life at age 73!). The second one was very dangerous as my wife and I were suddenly trapped on a causeway leaving Galveston, Texas with cars whizzing past us at high speeds and literally shaking our car. Needless to say, these two sudden physical storms caused a major change in our plans and we were just grateful to God for getting us back to safety. As we later pondered why God would have allowed 2 successive blowouts, we both became convinced that the blowouts were providential as they prevented us from driving the 200 miles in the extremely heavy fourth of July traffic. We believe that God protected us from something that would have been far worse than the blowouts! We may learn more about this is Heaven. "Storms" aren't always bad given the fact that God is the God of Romans 8:28! 

They used supporting cables in undergirding the ship - These cables were to help protect the hull from damage in fierce storms.

Phillips explains that "A necessary part of ancient ships were cables, already fitted in place, to facilitate the undergirding of the vessel when under severe strain. The process of passing lengths of large cable around the hull or frame of a ship to support her in a storm is called frapping. The practice is not wholly unknown even in more modern times." (Ibid)

Supporting cables (996)(boetheia from boetheo = to help from boé = a cry + théō = to run) gives us a literal picture of one who upon hearing a cry for help, runs to give aid to assist or to succorBoetheia describes the assistance offered to meet a need. In secular Greek, this word was used to describe a medical aid or a cure. As used by Luke in the plural boetheia was a nautical technical term for safety devices for a ship such as ropes. The only other NT use of boetheia is in the exhortation in Hebrews 4:16+

Therefore (because of Hebrews 4:14-15) let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help (boetheia) in time of need ("in the nick of time").

THOUGHT - Is your "life boat" (or your marriage, family, et al) being buffeted and pounded by waves of adversity, affliction, etc and in danger of falling apart? Then you need to do spiritually what these sailors did physically and "undergird" yourself with the mercy and grace of God. How? The answer is in the derivation of the word boetheia which describes one who runs to render aid upon hearing the cry for help! The picture is clear -- when we feel like the storms of life are about to "sink" us, we need to cry out to God, Who will run to our aid with His amazing grace, just in the nick of time! (See also notes on Heb 2:18 "For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able [has the power] to come to the aid [this phrase is one Greek word - boetheo - source of boetheia] of those who are [present tense, passive voice = continually being] tempted.)

And fearing that they might run aground on the shallows of Syrtis they let down the sea anchor and in this way let themselves be driven along - They were worried about the sandbars at Syrtis. From the map above they were a considerably north of Syrtis but realized the tempestuous winds could well drive them into this area which was notorious among sailors. 

MacArthur points out that the translation let down the sea anchor may not be accurate - Alternatively, the phrase translated let down the sea anchor may be translated "lowered the gear." In that case, the reference would be to lowering the mainsail, which otherwise would be torn to shreds by the violent wind. However the phrase is translated, the sailors obviously did both—it would have been self-defeating to put out an anchor with the mainsail still rigged. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Acts)

Larkin on the sandbars of Syrtis One hundred miles off the Libyan coast and three hundred miles in circumference, this area has deep waters with shallows; "the result is, at the ebb and the flow of the tides, that sailors sometimes fall into the shallows and stick there, and that the safe escape of a boat is rare" (Strabo Geography 17.3.20). So ancient sailors sailing along the North African coast kept a safe distance and took precautions not to be "driven by winds into these gulfs" (Strabo Geography 17.3.20).
The IVP New Testament Commentary Series - The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – Acts.

Shallows of Syrtis - Syrtis is the modern Gulf of Sidra (pix). There are actually two gulfs on the North African coast known as Syrtis Major and Syrtis Minor. It was well know that "The navigation of them was very dangerous because of their shallow and sunken rocks." (from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography - 1854). 

Wikipedia on Syrtis - In ancient literature, the Syrtes (the Greater, or maiores, in the eastern and the Lesser, or minores, in the western part of the Gulf) were notorious sandbanks, which sailors always took pains to avoid. The local climate features frequent calms and a relatively powerful north wind. The shoreline between Cyrene in the east and Carthage in the west featured few ports. Ancient writers frequently mention the sandbanks and their vicinity as dangerous for shipping. 

NIV Study Bible says that Syrtis was "A long stretch of desolate banks of quicksand along northern Africa off the coast of Tunis and Tripoli—still far away, but in such a storm the ship could be driven a great distance."

James Smith - The mode in which ships are undergirded is thus described by Falconer, in his ‘Marine Dictionary:’—‘To frap a ship (ceintrer un vaisseau) is to pass four or five turns of a large cable-laid rope round the hull or frame of a ship, to support her in a great storm, or otherwise, when it is apprehended that she is not strong enough to resist the violent efforts of the sea; this expedient, however, is rarely put in practice.’ ..Captain (now Sir George) Back, on his perilous return from his Arctic voyage, in 1837, was forced, in consequence of the shattered and leaky condition of his ship, to undergird her. It was thus done:—‘A length of the stream chain cable was passed under the bottom of the ship four feet before the mizen mast, hove tight by the capstan, and finally immovably fixed to six ringbolts on the quarter-deck. The effect was at once manifested by a great diminution in the working of the parts already mentioned; and in a less agreeable way, by impeding her rate of sailing; a trifling consideration, however when compared with the benefit received.’....I have already shown that the same wind which drove them, ‘when yielding to it’ (ἐπιδόντες), to Clauda, would, if they had continued to scud, have driven them directly towards the Syrtis. Under the circumstances in which they were now placed, they had but one course to pursue in order to avoid the apprehended danger, which was to turn the ship’s head off shore, and to set such sail as the violence of the gale would permit them to carry. As they did avoid the danger, we may be certain, notwithstanding the silence of the historian, that this was the course which was adopted....when we are told that ‘they were thus borne along,’that it was not only with the ship undergirded and made snug, but that she had storm sails set, and was on the starboard tack, which was the only course by which she could avoid falling into the Syrtis.(The Voyage and Shipwreck of St Paul )

Acts 27:18  The next day as we were being violently storm-tossed, they began to jettison the cargo;

  • being: Ps 107:27 
  • the next: Ac 27:19,38 Jon 1:5 Mt 16:26 Lu 16:8 Php 3:7,8 Heb 12:1 


The storm continued to rage into the next day forcing additional measures to prevent the ship from foundering, which describes a ship sinking beneath the surface because she is taking on water! 

The next day as we were being violently storm-tossed, they began to jettison the cargo - The verb "began" (poieo) is in the imperfect tense indicating that they were tossing cargo overboard again and again (over and over the side). One can picture this frantic scene that speaks of their fear and state of desperation.

Violently (sphodros) is used only here in the NT and pertains to being excessive and thus means exceedingly, very much, greatly, violently. Louw-Nida says that sprodros refers to "a very high point on a scale of extent and in many contexts implying vehemence or violence.'" In classic Greek it was used by Plato to refer to men as violent or impetuous. There are 2 uses in the Septuagint - Ge 7:19, Josh 3:16. 

Storm-tossed (cheimazo from cheima = winter weather) is used only here in the NT and means “to struggle with the elements” such as a storm or fierce gale (Liddell-Scott). Abbott-Smith says it means to expose to winter cold, go into winter quarters or to drive with storm; passive, to be driven with storm, tempest-tossed. Cheimazo implies exposure to bad weather or severe cold such as is common in winter. To experience a tempest. Of a storm that impedes navigation, tossing the ship. In secular use it referred to that which caused physical or psychological stress as the distress of pregnancy. The verb is in the present tense indicating the ship was being continually storm tossed. And all this with no Dramamine! Liddell-Scott adds the verb was used in secular writings meaning to agitate or distress like a storm. 

Jettison the cargo (Only NT use. See English definition)(1546)(ekbole from ek = out + ballo = throw) literally means to throw out or cast out, in this context so as to lighten the ship's load. This same noun is used in Jonah 1:5 where the sailors became afraid of the storm and "threw the cargo" into the sea. Robertson adds "This to lighten the ship by throwing overboard the cargo. The grain in the ship would shift and make it list and so added to the danger."

Acts 27:19  and on the third day they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands.

  • they: Job 2:4 Jon 1:5 Mk 8:35-37 Lu 9:24,25 


And on the third day they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands - "Vivid and graphic touch by Luke who, of course, watched every movement day by day." (Robertson) So clearly the violent storm had not abated nor dissipated. 

NET Note on ship's tackle - Or "rigging," "tackle"; Grk "the ship's things." Here the more abstract "gear" is preferred to "rigging" or "tackle" as a translation for skeue (related to skeuos) because in Acts 27:40 the sailors are still able to raise the (fore)sail, which they could not have done if the ship's rigging or tackle had been jettisoned here. The desperation of the sailors in throwing the cargo overboard is reminiscent of Jonah 1:5. At this point they were only concerned with saving themselves. 

Robertson on tackle The furniture of the ship that could be spared. It was becoming desperate.

Acts 27:20  Since neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small storm was assailing us, from then on all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned.

  • neither: Ex 10:21-23 Ps 105:28 Mt 24:29 
  • and no: Ps 107:25-27 Jon 1:4,11-14 Mt 8:24,25 2Co 11:25 
  • all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned: Isa 57:10 Jer 2:25 Eze 37:11 Eph 2:12 1Th 4:13 


Since neither sun nor stars appeared for many days 

And no small storm was assailing us 

From then on all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned 

THOUGHT - In a similar way, often when people go through severe storms of life, they are tempted to jettison all hope. Are you going through a storm? Don't lose hope. Fix your eyes on Jesus, Who shines forth as the Bright Morning Star (Rev 22:16)   even in the dark night of the soul! 

Ironside - Here we find people who have come to the very end of their own ability. There they are in their ship, the cargo having been tossed overboard, the tackling gone, feeling absolutely hopeless of either the salvation of the ship or of their own lives. But it has been well said, “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity,” and so here God intervenes. (ED: Of course given that God is omnipotent ANYTIME can be God's TIME to intervene!)

ILLUSTRATION A passenger on an ocean liner was enduring a rough Atlantic crossing. As he leaned over the rail, his face a shade of green, a steward came along and tried to encourage him: “Don’t be discouraged, sir! No one’s ever died of seasickness yet!” The nauseous passenger looked up at the steward with horror and said, “Don’t say that! It’s only the hope of dying that’s kept me alive this long!”

Acts 27:21  When they had gone a long time without food, then Paul stood up in their midst and said, "Men, you ought to have followed my advice and not to have set sail from Crete and incurred this damage and loss.

  • When they had gone: Ac 27:33-35 Ps 107:5,6 
  • Men, you ought to have followed my advice: Ac 27:9,10 Ge 42:22 
  • not to have set sail from Crete: Ac 27:13 

Ironside comments that Acts 27:21-29 "bring before us in a very striking way the divine sovereignty of God." (Ibid)

When they had gone a long time without food - We do not know how long without food but possibly going on at least 7-10 days. They were starving! 

Then - Paul's timing is notable, for the men were becoming discouraged. A good word from the Lord is always a good antidote for discouragement, even for those who do not know Him. 

Paul stood up in their midst and said - Paul was a Spirit filled man and such a man is ready and willing to speak boldly. One is reminded of Peter just after he had been filled with the Spirit, Luke says "Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them (the multitude present at Pentecost)." (Acts 2:14+)

Men, you ought to have followed my advice and not to have set sail from Crete and incurred this damage and loss - Recall Paul's advice had been "that the voyage will certainly be with damage and great loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” (Acts 27:10) Part of this had already come to pass with loss of cargo. Note that Paul does not berate them and say "I told you so!" He is reminding them of his earlier warning to establish his credibility for what he was now going to say. One would think that they would all be very attentive now!

Damage (5196)see note above on hubris

Loss (2209)see note above on zemia

H A Ironside comments on Paul's boldness to remind them of his admonishment - Think of that! Here is a prisoner talking to both the centurion and his guard, as well as the master of the ship and his sailors, saying, “You should have listened to me and let me run this ship. If you had listened to me, everything would have been all right.” He had warned them that they ought not to leave a certain harbor, but they did not believe him. People do not believe God’s messengers; yet some day they are going to find out that as the servants of God tell of a fearful storm coming upon this poor world, they are speaking according to the Word of God. (Ibid)

Acts 27:22  "Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.

  • Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage: Ac 27:25,36 23:11 1Sa 30:6 Ezr 10:2 Job 22:29,30 Ps 112:7 Isa 43:1,2 2Co 1:4-6 4:8,9 
  • for there will be no loss of life: Ac 27:31,34,44 Job 2:4 


Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship

Live (5590) see note above on psuche 

Ironside comments "Following his rebuke, Paul said: “And now I exhort you to be of good cheer.” I like that. He did not turn to them and exclaim, “Well, it serves you right. You are getting what is coming to you.” He said, “I have been praying and, when I prayed, God answered, and now I have something to tell you that will encourage you. You are going to lose the ship, but you are not going to lose your lives. I can promise you beforehand that every one of you is going to be saved.” (Ibid)

Steven ColeSomeone has said, “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Those who do not know Christ need encouragement. Paul describes them as having no hope and without God in the world (Eph 2:12). They need the hope that only Christ can give. The Lord’s people need encouragement. Discouragement is one of Satan’s greatest tools, causing many in Christian service to give up and drop out of the ministry. Our families need encouragement. As husbands and fathers, we need to set an atmosphere of encouragement in our homes. The apostle Paul’s experience here shows us first, how to receive encouragement from the Lord in the storms of life; and, then, how to pass God’s encouragement on to others who desperately need it. Those who have received God’s encouragement in life’s storms should encourage others to look to God. If Paul had not been discouraged and afraid, he would not have needed this encouraging word. But once he experienced God’s encouragement, he then passed it on to others. Before we can pass God’s encouragement along to others, we must personally experience it ourselves.We all need personally to experience God’s encouragement in the storms of life. Howard Hendricks often says, “You cannot impart what you do not possess.” (Pastor Cole than goes on to give seven way in which believers can receive God's encouragement - see the full sermon on Acts 27:2-3,21-26,33-36 Encouragement in Life’s Storms)

Acts 27:23  "For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me,

  • Angel...stood before me: Ac 5:19 12:8-11,23 23:11 Da 6:22 Heb 1:14 Rev 22:16 
  • God to Whom I belong: Ex 19:5 De 32:9 Ps 135:4 Song 2:16 6:3 Isa 44:5 Jer 31:33 32:38 Eze 36:38 Zec 13:9 Mal 3:17 Joh 17:9,10 1Co 6:20 Tit 2:14 1Pe 2:9,10 
  • and Whom I serve: Ac 16:17 Ps 116:16 143:12 Isa 44:21 Da 3:17,26,28 6:16,20 Joh 12:26 Ro 1:1,9 6:22 2Ti 1:3 2:24 Tit 1:1 

For this very night an angel of the God - Not "the" Angel of the LORD which is a description used in the OT appearances to describe what most conservative commentators interpret to be OT pre-incarnate appearances of Christ. This is "an angel," a supernatural being who functioned as a messenger sent from God to His servant Paul. 

To Whom I belong - Paul acknowledged to all these sailors, most of whom were probably pagan, that he was not his own, but belonged to God, even as he wrote to the saints at Corinth "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." (1 Co 6:19-20). Paul understood that he and all believers have been bought with a price (agorazo), the price of the blood of Christ and thus belong to Jesus, Who is our Master and our Lord. He made a similar declaration in Titus 2:14 that believers are "His own possession, zealous for good deeds." Notice deeds (cf whom I serve) are the supernatural response of understanding we are His possession. Similarly, Peter said we are "God's own possession." (1 Peter 2:9). 

Whom I serve stood before me - Note that Paul emphasizes "being" before "doing." In other words Paul's first priority was his relationship to God and his service flowed forth from that relationship. To often in Christianity we put the cart before the horse (so to speak) and seek to serve Jesus (like Martha) without taking time to sit at His feet in worship (like Mary). 

Serve (3000)(latreuo from latris = one hired or latron = reward, wages) means to work for reward, for hire or for pay, to be in servitude, render cultic service. Latreuo was used literally for bodily service (e.g., workers on the land, or slaves), and figuratively for “to cherish.” In the NT the idea is to render service to God, to worship, to perform sacred services or to minister to God in a spirit of worship. Here are the NT uses of latreuo -Matt. 4:10; Lk. 1:74; Lk. 2:37; Lk. 4:8; Acts 7:7; Acts 7:42; Acts 24:14; Acts 26:7; Acts 27:23; Ro 1:9; Ro 1:25; Phil. 3:3; 2 Ti 1:3; Heb. 8:5; Heb. 9:9; Heb. 9:14; Heb. 10:2; Heb. 12:28; Heb. 13:10; Rev. 7:15; Rev. 22:3. As described in Heb 13:10+, latreuo was used of the OT priests who offered their service to God, which depicts a life "set apart" and to be lived with a God-ward focus. The related noun  latreia is used in Romans 12:1+ in which Paul calls for us to over our entire self, our entire life to God as our spiritual service (latreia) of worship." 

THOUGHT - In light of the secular meaning "to work for reward" certainly that is not a disciple's main motive (we serve Him because we love Him and are empowered to serve Him by His indwelling Spirit), but it is a gift of His amazing grace that not only has He saved us, but that one day He will reward us! This is what I would call grace (saved us) upon grace (rewards us)! Amazing indeed!

Cole Every Christian, not just those in so-called “full-time Christian service,” should view himself or herself as the Lord’s servant, always on duty. Every contact is an opportunity to represent our Lord Jesus Christ. Throughout the day we should, “Through Him … continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Heb 13:15-16). If we see ourselves that way, as the Lord’s servants, we can be encouraged in the storms of life, because the Lord looks out for His servants. We’re doing His business, and just as a company looks out for its workers, even more so the Lord looks out for His workers. He has the best employee benefit package of all!

I Serve = present tense emphasizing the habit of Paul was that of ministering and serving God in a spirit of worship. In short, Paul's day to day life was one dominated and directed by an attitude of worship. When daily life is lived as an act of worship to the Most High God, otherwise "mundane" chores take on an entirely different significance. Oh, to live such a God focused, God glorifying life! Amen

Steven Cole applies Paul's bold testimony before the pagans writing that "If we want to stand out in a time of trial from those who do not know the Lord, we’ve got to have a daily walk of seeking God before the trial hits. In Pr 1:24-29, wisdom personified warns us that if we refuse to seek her during normal times, she will laugh at us when our dread comes like a storm and when distress and anguish come upon us. But if we daily seek God and His wisdom during normal times, when a storm hits, we will be different than those in the world, because we know and trust our God." (Ibid)

Acts 27:24  saying, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.'

  • Do not be afraid: Ac 18:9,10 Ge 15:1 46:3 1Ki 17:13 2Ki 6:16 Isa 41:10-14 43:1-5 Mt 10:28 Rev 1:17 
  • you must stand before Caesar;: Ac 9:15 19:21 23:11 25:11 Mt 10:18 Joh 11:9 2Ti 4:16,17 Rev 11:5-7 
  • Behold: Ac 27:37 Ge 12:2 18:23-32 19:21,22,29 30:27 39:5,23 Isa 58:11,12 Mic 5:7 Jas 5:16 


Saying, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar - That Paul had to be encouraged (commanded) this way indicates he was fearful, which shows that Paul was human. It would be natural for anyone to have some element of fear in such circumstances. Notice that the angel echoes the promise of Jesus in Acts 23:11 that Paul "must witness at Rome." 

Do not be afraid is present imperative with a negative which can mean either stop an action in progress or don't let it begin. In this context the sense is most likely the former. 

Must (1163) (dei from deo = to bind or tie objects together, put in prison and also root of doulos, bond-servant) refers to what is not optional but binding out of intrinsic necessity and inevitability. This is the same verb used in Acts 23:11 and is used 3 times in this chapter (Acts 27:21, 24, 26). Beloved, when the All Powerful God says something is a "must" it is a divine necessity and you can be sure it WILL happen because God is ALWAYS faithful to His promises! 

Behold (2400)(idou) is the second person singular aorist middle imperative of eidon which means to see, perceive, look at. In the NT idou is used as a demonstrative particle that draws attention to what follows. Idou in the middle voice means "you yourself look, see, perceive!" The aorist imperative is a command emphasizing "Do it now! Don't delay!"

Spurgeon reminds us that "Behold is a word of wonder; it is intended to excite admiration. Wherever you see it hung out in Scripture, it is like an ancient sign-board, signifying that there are rich wares within, or like the hands which solid readers have observed in the margin of the older Puritanic books, drawing attention to something particularly worthy of observation." I would add, behold is like a "divine highlighter," or a "divine underlining" of an especially striking or important text. It says in effect "Listen up, all ye who would be wise in the ways of Jehovah!"

God has granted you all those who are sailing with you - Do you see the implication of this statement? This phraseology of God granted is often used in the context of prayer, specifically answer to one's prayer. In this context, the implication is that Paul had prayed for each of these 246 souls, because initially he had made the statement that there would not only be loss of cargo but of life! (Acts 27:10) It would not be hard to imagine Paul beginning to intercede for the lives of all on board when he realized they would choose not to heed his wise advice. 

Steven Cole adds that "God could have saved Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus, but let the others perish. But instead, He graciously granted to Paul the lives of all on board. The world never knows the protection that it receives because of the presence and prayers of God’s people! Scripture doesn’t tell us how many of those on board eventually came to saving faith in Christ, but I think that many did. Whenever you are going through a storm, not only pray that God will deliver you, but also that He will grant you the souls of others with whom you have contact during the storm. He may be taking you through the storm for the very reason that He wants to use you to bring the gospel to others “on board” with you. The fact that He graciously answers prayer for the salvation of others should encourage us in the storm." (Sermon)

Cole encourages us to pray like Paul - After Paul’s advice not to continue the voyage had been rejected, he easily could have got his feelings hurt and said, “If that’s how they want to be, they deserve to perish!” But he put his feelings aside and prayed that all would be delivered. No doubt these sailors were not nice men with high moral standards. They probably swore a lot, as sailors are notorious for doing. The soldiers guarding Paul and the other prisoners showed their true colors by wanting to kill all the prisoners just prior to the shipwreck. But Paul knew that they all needed the Lord, and so he prayed for them. Even so, we should pray for people in the world who do not deserve God’s grace. None of us do! As we learned in the “Praying for You” seminar several years ago, most unbelievers will respond favorably if you ask, “May I pray for you?” Everyone has needs, and even the most hardened unbelievers will often say, “Well, it can’t hurt!” Your kindness may open a door for the gospel. And with fellow believers who are going through the storm, it will encourage them to know that you are praying for them. (Acts 27:2-3,21-26,33-36 Encouragement in Life’s Storms)

H A Ironside - "How did Paul know that? Because God had told him so. He said, “For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve” (23). Oh, the dignity of that! Paul could look at these representatives of the Roman Empire who had put him in bonds, and say, “I am the servant of the most high God. I belong to Him, and I serve Him; I am in His service even now. He sent His angel to me. You couldn’t see him. You had eyes only for the storm, the creaking timbers, and the treacherous rocks ahead, but I have seen the angel of the Lord.” The man of God can see things that the man of the world can never see. Here is a striking instance of the sovereignty of God. God spoke through His angel and declared His purpose. He said in effect, “I have settled it that all these men are going to be saved.” Of course. He was speaking of their temporal salvation, their physical salvation, but it is God speaking, you might say, arbitrarily. He speaks in His sovereignty, just as He has chosen in Christ certain ones who are going to be saved for all eternity. Who are they? All who trust in the Lord Jesus. This is not hyper-Calvinistic fatalism. It is divine, elective love." (H A Ironside)

Cole points out that remembering God's presence with us should always serve to bolster our "encouragement quotient" - Paul had experienced it when he was afraid in Corinth. The Lord appeared to him and promised, “for I am with you” (Ac 18:9-10, cf His promise to all of His disciples in Mt 28:20). Paul had also experienced it when he was in custody in Jerusalem, and the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage,” and promised that he would bear witness at Rome” (Ac 23:11). He would later experience it at his final imprisonment, just before his execution. He told Timothy that no one supported him, but all deserted him. Then he added, “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me” (2Ti 4:17). Each of these experiences of the Lord’s presence came at times of crisis in Paul’s life. (Acts 27:2-3,21-26,33-36 Encouragement in Life’s Storms)

ILLUSTRATION Late in his life, the great pioneer missionary to Africa, David Livingstone, received an honorary doctorate from Glasgow University. As he rose to speak, he was gaunt and haggard as a result of the hardships he had gone through in tropical Africa. He left arm, crushed by a lion, hung helplessly at his side as he announced his resolve to return to Africa without misgiving and with great gladness. He added, “Would you like me to tell you what supported me through all the years of exile among a people whose language I could not understand, and whose attitude toward me was often uncertain and often hostile? It was this: ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.’ On these words I staked everything, and they never failed!” (“Our Daily Bread,” Fall, 1984.)

ILLUSTRATION OF GOD'S FAITHFULNESS TO KEEP HIS PROMISESDuring Donald Grey Barnhouse’s student days in France, he led a girl to Christ who later married a French pastor. She often came to the Barnhouse home and saw them taking verses from a promise box—a small box that held about 200 promises from the Bible printed on heavy paper curled into cylinders. They would take one out and read it when they needed a word of special comfort. So this French woman made her own promise box, writing these same verses in French.Years later, during the war, this French family had no food except for the potato peelings from a nearby restaurant. The children were hungry and were almost in rags, and their shoes were worn through. In one of her lowest moments, this woman turned in desperation to the promise box. She prayed, “O Lord, I have such great need. Is there a promise here that is really for me? Show me, O Lord, what promise I can have in this time of famine, nakedness, peril, and sword.”Her tears blinded her, and in reaching for the box, she knocked it over. The promises showered down around her, on her lap and on the floor. Not one was left in the box. At that moment, the Holy Spirit flooded her with divine light and joy as she realized that all of the promises were indeed for her in that hour of her greatest need (Barnhouse, Let Me Illustrate [Revell], pp. 253-254).

Cole adds "And so it can be for you in whatever storm you are going through. As the Lord promises (Is 43:1-3), "But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!  “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.  “For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place. " (ED: Of course this promise applies literally to Israel but is applicable to all believers in Jesus.)

Acts 27:25  "Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told.

  • I believe: Ac 27:11,21 Nu 23:19 2Ch 20:20 Lu 1:45 Ro 4:20,21 2Ti 1:12 


Hope as used most often in Scripture speaks of the absolute assurance of future good, the firm confidence that God will do good to us in the future. Paul expressed this hope to the men on the ship. 

Therefore, keep up your courage, men - Paul commands them to cheer up, literally to be cheerful. The present imperative calls for this to be their continual internal attitude despite the external circumstances. Take heart in spite of ostensibly disheartening circumstances. Note that Paul was in the storm like everyone else and yet he did not do the natural thing (look out for self), but the supernatural thing in pointing them to the faithful promise of God. Think about this for a moment -- it did turn out exactly as Paul had been promised by God. What might this truth about God convey to these pagans as they heard (as I am certain they did) about God's promise of a greater rescue by grabbing hold by faith of the hand of our Rescuing Redeemer? I am convinced we will see a number of these 246 (we know 3 for sure) in Heaven! And won't they have an amazing testimony of how God led them step by step to faith in Christ! We need to tell others about the power of God help not only in temporal storms but tell of His power to save them from their sins through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

What is even more intriguing is that a number of commentaries feel that some of the men on board may have been condemned prisoners headed for a deadly date with a lion as gladiators in the arena. Their need was even more desperate. Paul's testimony also will minimize the chance that some of the pagans would begin to give thanks to their dead, dumb idols for seeing them through the storm. Paul's declaration in this verse is the the Living God is the (only) One Who would bring them safely through this temporal storm which is a pale foretaste of the eternal storm for all not safe in the Ark of Jesus. Take a moment and listen to Rich Mullins' great song My Deliverer

Keep up your courage (2114)(euthumeo from eu = good, well + thumos = temperament, mindset) means cheer up, be of good cheer, be encouraged, keep up one's courage. Only 3x in the NT - Acts 27:22; Acts 27:25; Jas. 5:13 "Is anyone cheerful?"

For - Term of explanation - Explaining why Paul can confidently exhort them to take heart even though they are all in dire straits. 

I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told - This Pauline declaration of faith should be tattooed on the heart and mind of every follower of Christ, so that we might hold fast to the promises of the One Who holds us. Notice the last phrase as I have been told. What does that imply? Paul had heard the Word from God. How do we hear from Him today? In His Word and through His Spirit's illumination of the Word. Here's the practical point -- it is difficult to make this Pauline declaration if we don't know His precious and magnificent promises! We need to be in the Word daily, so that the Word gets into us, saturates our heart and mind providing a "divine reservoir" we can tap into when we are experiencing manifold or variegated trials and tribulations ("storms")! Of course, one of the most efficient ways to do this is by "eating" the Word, i.e., by regularly and intentionally memorizing it. If you don't know where to begin, see Memory Verses by Topic

I believe (4100)(pisteuo) in this context speaks of Paul's faith, trust and confidence that he can rely on His faithful God for help in the time of need.

I love Laura Daigle's song "You Say" which repeats Paul's powerful words "I believe." O, that every person reading this right now might believe the precious promises of God with such a firm Spirit driven, Word centered, God glorifying assurance for Jesus' sake. Amen

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I'm not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low
Remind me once again just who I am because I need to know
Ooh oh


You say I am loved when I can't feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
And you say I am held when I am falling short
And when I don't belong, oh You say I am Yours
And I believe (I)
Oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
I believe

The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity
Ooh oh


Taking all I have and now I'm laying it at Your feet
You have every failure, God, You have every victory
Ooh oh


Oh, I believe (I)
Yes I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
I believe

H A Ironside - Here we get one side of this great truth of the divine sovereignty. God declared these men who sailed with Paul were all going to be saved. That part was settled. But next we notice the source of Paul’s confidence: “Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me, Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.” Can you say, “I believe God”? It is a great thing when God speaks, and you can just put your foot down and say, “God says it, and I believe it.” When studying the Chinese language many years ago, I was struck by the symbol for faith (ED: SEE THIS WORD DEPICTED ABOVE). It is partly made up of the character for word: the lower part of that character stands for a mouth, and above it are several lines indicating something coming out of the mouth. After all, that is what a word is! Then to one side there is a character of a man. And is not that what faith is-a man standing by the Word? I wonder where the ancient Chinese got that. They composed that symbol for faith thousands of years ago-long before the dawn of our civilization.

Sometimes a poor soul comes to me in distress and says, “I have been praying and praying for months for salvation, but I don’t seem to get it and I am miserable.” I ask, “Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?” “Oh I do,” is the response. “Do you believe He died for you?” “Yes.” “Do you believe He bore your sins in His own body on the tree?” “Yes I do.” “Have you come to Him and told Him you are a sinner and are ready to trust Him?” “Yes, but He doesn’t seem to accept me; I am not saved.” “Where are you looking for assurance?” “Well, I expect to feel different when I am saved.” I answer: “You might feel very happy and not be saved at all. You might be trusting in the wrong thing or the wrong person. The Lord Jesus Himself said, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” Notice, carefully what is said here. ‘He that heareth my word.’ Have you heard God’s Word? ‘And believeth on him that sent me.’ Do you believe that God sent Jesus to be your Savior, to die for you?” “Yes, I believe that,” “All right; now look at the next phrase: ‘Hath everlasting life.’ Have you everlasting life?” “Well, I hope so,” was her response. “But it does not say that maybe he will have everlasting life. Can’t you take your stand on the Word of God?” That poor woman’s face brightened and she said, “Oh, I see it. I must just take Him at His Word. That is sufficient.”

Why, I know people who say, “I know everything is all right. I have been baptized.” But they were just deluded by the devil, for baptism itself saves nobody. Jesus alone saves and He does it for all who believe in Him. I remember speaking to a woman who had just joined a certain church that teaches salvation by sacraments and legal obedience. She said, “Before I joined this church I never was at peace, but now I just trust my salvation to those in authority.” That is false peace; a peace built on error. Paul said to his frightened traveling companions, “God has spoken and I believe God.” Christian, what about you? Do you believe God? Why do you then go about with your head hanging down like a bulrush, as much as to say, “Oh, if you only knew my circumstances; my health is poor, and I am afraid I shall lose my job; I don’t know what I shall do when I get old”? Do you trust the One who has said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee”? Do you know that it is written: “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus”? Do you know the Holy Spirit has declared, “All things work together for good to them that love God”? Well then, why not brighten up and say, “I believe God; the devil is not going to get me down because circumstances seem to be against me? I believe there is a God who is above all circumstances.” (Commentary)

Acts 27:26  "But we must run aground on a certain island."

  • a certain: Ac 28:1 

But we must run aground on a certain island

Acts 27:27  But when the fourteenth night came, as we were being driven about in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors began to surmise that they were approaching some land.

  • the fourteenth: Ac 27:18-20 
  • the shipmen: Ac 27:30 1Ki 9:27 Jon 1:6 Rev 18:17 

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But when the fourteenth night came, as we were being driven about in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors began to surmise that they were approaching some land.

H A Ironside on the fourteenth night - Think of it! Fourteen awful days and nights in a dreadful storm, and all they had to rest on was the word of God that they would get safely to shore! 

Steven Cole comments on God's sovereignty in what looked like dire straits - God was in control! He always is! This storm did not take Him by surprise. He was not in heaven in a panic, summoning His angels to come up with a rescue plan for Paul. God caused the boat to drift 476 miles from the small island of Clauda to Malta, another speck in that vast sea. Although the sailors were not in control, God was! In the 19th century, an experienced Scottish yachtsman, James Smith, made a careful on-site study of this narrative. He asked experienced Mediterranean navigators what the mean drift of a ship of this kind would be in such a gale. He learned that it would drift about 36 miles in 24 hours. Even today, the soundings mentioned in verse Acts 27:28 indicate that the ship was passing Koura, a point on the east coast of Malta, on her way into St. Paul’s Bay. Smith calculated that a ship leaving late in the evening from Clauda would, by midnight of the 14th day, be less than three miles from the entrance to St Paul's Bay. He also reported that no ship can enter St. Paul’s Bay without passing within a quarter of a mile from the point of Koura, where the sailors would have heard the breakers, thus surmising that they were nearing land, as Luke reports in verse Ac 27:27 (cited by F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts [Eerdmans], pp. 514-515). This shows the perfect accuracy of Luke’s narrative and that we can trust in God’s Word. When things in our lives are out of our control, they are never out of God’s control. Trust in the promises of His Word of truth! (Acts 27:1-44 Weathering Life’s Storms)

Acts 27:28  They took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms; and a little farther on they took another sounding and found it to be fifteen fathoms.


They took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms; and a little farther on they took another sounding and found it to be fifteen fathoms

Acts 27:29  Fearing that we might run aground somewhere on the rocks, they cast four anchors from the stern and wished for daybreak.

  • fallen: Ac 27:17,41 
  • anchors: Ac 27:30,40 Heb 6:19 
  • and wished: De 28:67 Ps 130:6 

Fearing that we might run aground somewhere on the rocks, they cast four anchors from the stern and wished for daybreak

H A Ironside - What a graphic picture of that little ship driven before the tempest all those days and nights! And now in the deep darkness they can’t see what is ahead of them, but they can hear the water dashing against the rocks, so they cast four anchors out of the stern and wish for the day. How we Christians are like that sometimes. Things all seem to be going wrong, and it looks as if we are going to crush against the rocks, but faith’s anchor holds because the Word of God can never fail.

Acts 27:30  But as the sailors were trying to escape from the ship and had let down the ship's boat into the sea, on the pretense of intending to lay out anchors from the bow,

  • the boat: Ac 27:16,32 
  • foreship: Ac 27:41 


But as the sailors were trying to escape from the ship and had let down the ship's boat into the sea, on the pretense of intending to lay out anchors from the bow

Acts 27:31  Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, "Unless these men remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved."

  •  Paul said to the centurion: Ac 27:11,21,42,43 
  • Unless these men remain in the ship: Ac 27:22-24 Ps 91:11,12 Jer 29:11-13 Ezek 36:36,37 Lu 1:34,35 4:9-12 John 6:37 2Th 2:13,14 

Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, "Unless these men remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved

H A Ironside comments on unless these men remain in the ship - The next verses suggest another side of the truth of faith and salvation. The sailors have had the word from God that they are all going to be saved, but it looks as if they are going to be dashed on the rocks. And so these miserable rascals say, “We will save our own lives and let the ship go to pieces.” Under cover of the darkness and pretending to cast out the anchors, they seek to let down the lifeboat, planning to row away and find some cove of safety. But Paul is on the alert. He sees what they are up to, and to the centurion he says, “Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.” Then see what happens. “The soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.” The captain might have said, “What difference does it make? You told us we are all to be saved anyway. It doesn’t make any difference what anybody does; if God has foreordained it, that is what will happen.” Then Paul might have replied: “Yes, it makes a great deal of difference.” You see, human responsibility is one spoke in the great wheel of God’s purpose, and divine foreordination is another, And so, though God foreordained the whole thing, He showed Paul that these men were responsible to abide in the ship. This was how He was to accomplish His purpose. In a similar way, man might say, “If God is going to save me, He will save me; and it doesn’t make any difference what I do.” It makes a great deal of difference! If you do not respond, you will be lost, but if you turn to God and confess your sin and put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, then-thank God-you will be saved. And when you are saved, you will be able to look up in gratitude to the God of all grace and say, “Lord, I thank Thee that Thou hast chosen me in Christ before the foundation of the world.” You see, there are two sides: Man’s responsibility and God’s sovereignty.

Acts 27:32  Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship's boat and let it fall away.

  • Lu 16:8 Php 3:7-9 

Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship's boat and let it fall away

Acts 27:33  Until the day was about to dawn, Paul was encouraging them all to take some food, saying, "Today is the fourteenth day that you have been constantly watching and going without eating, having taken nothing.

  • while: Ac 27:29 
  • This: Ac 27:27 

Until the day was about to dawn, Paul was encouraging them all to take some food, saying, "Today is the fourteenth day that you have been constantly watching and going without eating, having taken nothing


Acts 27:34  "Therefore I encourage you to take some food, for this is for your preservation, for not a hair from the head of any of you will perish."

  • for this: Mt 15:32 Mk 8:2,3 Php 2:5 1Ti 5:23 
  • for there: 1Ki 1:52 Mt 10:30 Lu 12:7 21:18 

Therefore I encourage you to take some food, for this is for your preservation, for not a hair from the head of any of you will perish."

Acts 27:35  Having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of all, and he broke it and began to eat.

  • and gave: Ac 2:46,47 1Sa 9:13 Mt 15:36 Mk 8:6 Lu 24:30 Joh 6:11,23 Ro 14:6 1Co 10:30,31 1Ti 4:3,4 
  • in: Ps 119:46 Ro 1:16 2Ti 1:8,12 1Pe 4:16 


Steven Cole rightly concludes that "One man who trusts God in a storm of life can have a major impact on others who see the reality of God in his life."

Having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of all, and he broke it and began to eat.

H A Ironside - Notice how he again took charge of the situation. He appointed himself chief steward, and said, “Come now, you are going to be saved, but you need some food. It has been fourteen days since you have had anything to eat. Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health. There shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.” What confidence possessed the soul of this man because he had a word from God that he dared to believe! In gratefulness he looked up to God and thanked Him for preserving their lives and providing them food to eat.

Steven Cole applies Paul's offering of thanks to God before these pagans - When God encouraged Paul through the angel’s promise, Paul didn’t keep it to himself. Neither did he make everyone think that he was just a positive person, and that they all should keep a positive outlook as well. He used the situation to tell them about God, about his trust in God, and to promise that God would spare all of their lives through this ordeal. When he encouraged them all to eat some bread, Paul could have thought, “These are pagan men. Why ask God’s blessing on the food in front of such rough men?” But rather, he openly gave thanks to God in the presence of all (Ac 27:35). In times of trial, people are especially open to spiritual things. When life is out of control, and nothing seems to be working, people are open to hear about a God who is in control. We should not hesitate to be bold to tell them about the true and living God and the eternal life that He offers them through His Son, Jesus Christ. (Ibid)

ILLUSTRATION In late 1735, a ship made it’s way to the New World from England. On board was a young Anglican minister, John Wesley, who had been invited to serve as a pastor to British colonists in Savannah, Georgia. A storm hit and the ship found itself in serious trouble. Wesley, who was chaplain of the vessel, feared for his life. But he noticed that the group of German Moravians, who were on their way to preach to American Indians, were not afraid at all. In fact, throughout the storm, they sang calmly. When the trip ended, he asked the Moravian leader about his serenity, and the Moravian responded with a question: Did he, Wesley, have faith in Christ? Wesley said he did, but later reflected, “I fear they were vain words.” Wesley’s experience in Georgia was a failure, both personally and ministry-wise. A bitter Wesley returned to England. After speaking with another Moravian, Peter Boehler, Wesley concluded that he lacked saving faith. On May 24, 1738, he had an experience that changed everything. He described the event in his journal:

In the evening, I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death. (Read Wesley's full journal entry related to this incredible God event!)

God used those Moravians’ trusting Him during that storm at sea to bring about the conversion of the great evangelist, John Wesley. If you’re going through a storm, He wants you to trust Him. He is sovereign over your storm. If you trust Him openly, He will use you to bear witness to many who need to know the Savior, who alone can deliver us from the storm of God’s wrath that is sure to come on the whole earth.

Acts 27:36  All of them were encouraged and they themselves also took food.

  • they all: Ps 27:14 2Co 1:4-6 

All of them were encouraged and they themselves also took food.

Acts 27:37  All of us in the ship were two hundred and seventy-six persons.

  • two hundred and seventy-six: Ac 27:24 
  • persons (literally souls): Ac 2:41 Acts 7:14 Ro 13:1 1Pe 3:20 

All of us in the ship were two hundred and seventy-six persons

H A Ironside - Think of it! God had promised to deliver safely all 276 travelers! But notice how they were delivered. They were saved with difficulty, through great trials; but they were saved. God fulfilled His word.

Acts 27:38  When they had eaten enough, they began to lighten the ship by throwing out the wheat into the sea.

  • they lightened: Ac 27:18,19 Job 2:4 Jon 1:5 Mt 6:25 16:26 Heb 12:1 

When they had eaten enough, they began to lighten the ship by throwing out the wheat into the sea

Acts 27:39 When day came, they could not recognize the land; but they did observe a bay with a beach, and they resolved to drive the ship onto it if they could.

When day came, they could not recognize the land; but they did observe a bay with a beach, and they resolved to drive the ship onto it if they could

Acts 27:40  And casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea while at the same time they were loosening the ropes of the rudders; and hoisting the foresail to the wind, they were heading for the beach.

  • taken up: etc. or, cut the anchors, they left them in the sea, etc. Ac 27:29,30 
  • the rudder bands: . Isa 33:23 

And casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea while at the same time they were loosening the ropes of the rudders; and hoisting the foresail to the wind, they were heading for the beach

Acts 27:41  But striking a reef where two seas met, they ran the vessel aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern began to be broken up by the force of the waves.

  • they ran: Ac 27:17,26-29 2Co 11:25 
  • broken: 1Ki 22:48 2Ch 20:37 Eze 27:26,34 2Co 11:25,26 

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But striking a reef where two seas met, they ran the vessel aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern began to be broken up by the force of the waves

Acts 27:42  The soldiers' plan was to kill the prisoners, so that none of them would swim away and escape;

  • Ps 74:20 Pr 12:10 Ec 9:3 Mk 15:15-20 Lu 23:40,41 

The soldiers' plan was to kill the prisoners, so that none of them would swim away and escape

Acts 27:43  but the centurion, wanting to bring Paul safely through, kept them from their intention, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land,

  • willing: Ac 27:3,11,31 23:10,24 Pr 16:7 2Co 11:25 

but the centurion, wanting to bring Paul safely through, kept them from their intention, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land

H A Ironside notes how "the enemy comes in. Satan would make the plight of the seamen an excuse to destroy Paul. “And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.” (Acts 27:42) It was the voice of the devil, though he spoke through the soldiers’ lips. But the centurion again intervened and God’s word was fulfilled. All were saved, but they had to meet their own responsibility in the matter. There is surely a lesson here for every one of us. No word of God shall be void of power, but we are responsible to obey His Word and manifest our faith by our works.

Acts 27:44  and the rest should follow, some on planks, and others on various things from the ship. And so it happened that they all were brought safely to land.

  • that they all were brought safely to land: Ac 27:22,24 Ps 107:28-30 Am 9:9 Joh 6:39,40 2Co 1:8-10 1Pe 4:18 

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And the rest should follow, some on planks, and others on various things from the ship.

And so it happened that they all were brought safely to land

Just a Paul had predicted...

Acts 27:22 “Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.

Acts 27:24 saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.’