corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Acts 27

 

 

Verse 1

And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band.

'It may be safely asserted (says Humphry, most truly) that no historical description of a long voyage and shipwreck has come down to us from ancient times so circumstantial, accurate, and natural in its details, as that which is contained in this chapter. The transactions of the narrative require our close attention; and the style is not less deserving of careful notice, inasmuch as it shows a great familiarity not only with the technical terms in use among the Greek sailors, but with the metaphorical and poetical language special to a sea-faring life.' Of all the helps to a right exposition and felicitous illustration of this most difficult chapter, none is equal to 'The Voyage and Shipwreck of Paul (with Dissertations on the Life and Writings of Luke and the Ships and Navigation of the Ancients),' by JAMES SMITH, Esq. of Jordanhill (2nd edit. 1856). The author's early and long familiarity with yachting, the industry and skill with which he applied his classical knowledge to the study of ancient navigation, his leisurely voyaging over the track of Paul, and minute personal inspection of all the places mentioned in this chapter, even his geological attainments-in connection with the elevation or depression of land-in so far as it might affect our inferences from present to past appearances; all these have given this accomplished gentleman qualifications for elucidating this chapter possessed, perhaps, by no other-qualifications which he has employed with the highest success.

Of this work every expositor, since its publication, has largely and properly availed himself. From a careful study of the style of this chapter, Mr. Smith has arrived at the conclusion that, 'though accurate, it is unprofessional. No sailor (says he) would have written in a style so little like a sailor; no man not a sailor would have written a narrative of a sea-voyage so consistent in all its parts, unless from actual observation. This peculiarity of style is to me, in itself, a demonstration that the narrative of the voyage is an account of real events, written by an eyewitness. A similar remark may be made on the geographical details. They must have been taken from actual observation, for the geographic knowledge of the age was not such as to enable a writer to be so minutely accurate in any other way.' Dr. Howson's illustrations of this chapter constitute one of the best portions of his masterly work.

From Caesarea to Myra, in Lycia ()

And when it was determined that we should sail into (or 'for') Italy - that is, that they should go to Rome by sea. The "we" here re-introduces the Historian as one of the company. Not that he had left the apostle from the time when he last included himself ( Acts 21:18), but by his arrest and imprisonment they were parted until now, when they met in the ship.

They delivered Paul and certain other prisoners - state-prisoners going to be tried at Rome; of which several instances are on record:

Unto one named Julius - who treats the apostle throughout with such marked courtesy ( Acts 27:3; Acts 27:43; Acts 28:16 ), that it has been conjectured (by Bengel, for example) that he had been present when Paul made his defense before Agrippa (see Acts 25:23), and was impressed with his lofty bearing.

A centurion of Augustus' band , [speirees ( Greek #4686) Sebastees (Greek #4575)] - 'the Augustan cohort,' an honorary title given to more than one legion of the Roman army, implying, perhaps, that they acted as a body-guard to the emperor or procurator, as occasion required.


Verse 2

And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us.

And entering late (or 'embarking in') a ship of Adramyttium - a seaport of Mysia, which constituted part of the Roman province of Asia. Probably they found no ship at Caesarea bound for Italy, and availed themselves of a small coasting vessel belonging to Adramyttium, on her return voyage, not doubting that somewhere, on their westward course, they would meet with a ship bound for Italy that would take them in. This accordingly they did at Myra.

We launched ('set sail'), meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia - but (according to the true reading) the meaning is, 'And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, going to sail along the coasts of Asia;' that is, to coast along the southern shores of Proconsular Asia [melounti, not mellontes ( G3195 ), is the true reading; agreeing with ploioo ( G4143 )].

[One] Aristarebus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us. It is a pity our translators have inserted such a supplement as 'one' here, as if this Aristarchus had now been introduced to the reader for the first time. For in the uproar at Ephesus the historian had told us that the mob laid hold of "Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia" (Acts 19:29). And he is again named (Acts 20:4) as one of the seven who accompanied Paul, and said to be of Thessalonica, as here. See also Colossians 4:10 and Philem 24, where the apostle styles him his fellow-prisoner. The statement of the historian here is simply this: 'Aristarthus, the Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us.' (The very absence of the article before "Macedonian," in Greek, arises from the fact that he was already familiar to the reader.


Verse 3

), much more readily would it be now, when he had gained the reverence and confidence of all classes with whom he came in contact. At any rate, we cannot wonder that he should be regarded by the Sicilians as the founder of the church of that island.


Verse 4

And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary.

And when we had launched ('set sail') from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. The wind blowing from the westward, probably with a touch of the north, which was adverse, they sailed under the lee of Cyprus, keeping it on their left, and steering between it and the mainland of Phoenicia.


Verse 5

And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.

And when we had sailed over, [diapleusantes (Greek #1277)] - 'sailed through'

The sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia (see the note at Acts 13:13) - coasts with which Paul had been long familiar; the one, perhaps, from boyhood, the other from the time of his first missionary tour, We came to Myra, a city of Lycia - a port a little east of Patara (see the note at Acts 21:1).

Embarking in a merchant ship, bound for Italy, they set sail from Myra, but, in consequence of adverse winds, have great difficulty in reaching Fair Havens in Crete ()


Verse 6

And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein.

And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein. Since Egypt was the granary of Italy, and this vessel was laden with wheat (Acts 27:35 ), we do not need wonder that it was large enough to carry 276 souls, passengers and crew together (Acts 27:37). Besides, the Egyptian merchantmen-among the largest in the Mediterranean-were equal to the largest merchantmen in our day. It may seem strange that, on their passage from Alexandria to Italy, they should be found at a Lycian port. But even still it is not unusual to stand to the north toward Asia Minor, for the sake of the current.


Verse 7

And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone;

And when we had sailed slowly many days - owing to contrary winds, and scarce [molis (Greek #3433 )] - 'with difficulty,'

Were come over against Cnidus - a town on the promontory of the peninsula of that; name, having the island of Cos (see the note at Acts 21:1 ) to the west of it. Had the wind been as favourable as it was adverse, they might have made the distance from Myra to Cnidus-130 miles-in little more than a day. They would naturally have put in at Cnidus, whose large harbour was inviting; but as the strong westerly current prevented them from making it, we sailed under (the lee of) Crete-for a particular account of which island, see Introduction to Epistle to Titus,

Over against (or 'in the direction of') Salmone - the cape at the eastern extremity of the island.


Verse 8

And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.

And, hardly passing it , [ molis ( Greek #3433) paralegomenoi ( Greek #3881) auteen (Greek #846)] - 'with difficulty coasting along it,' owing to the westerly currents and head-winds,

Came unto a place which is called the Fair Havens - or, as being the name of a harbour (and the article not being prefixed}, 'Fair Havens;' an anchorage near the middle of the south coast, and a little east of Cape Matala, which is the southernmost point of the island. A charming account of a visit to this anchorage is given by Mr. Smith in Appendix No. 3:, entitled, 'Extract from the Journal of the Yacht " Ursula," Hugh Tennent, Esq. of Well-park, Glasgow, dated Calolimounias (that is, "Fair Havens"), 16th January, 1856, by George Brown.'

Nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea. No other writer mentions this town; and its ruins have been but recently observed and identified by the gentlemen of the party who visited the coast in the yacht 'Ursula'-Hugh Tennent, Esq., the owner of the yacht, and his near relative, George Brown-in 1856. When at Fair Havens, on asking where 'Lasea' was, the answer of their guide was-Two hours' walk to the eastward, close to Cape Leonda; but it is now a desert place. So, getting under weigh, they ran along the coast five miles to this cape. Here two white pillars having been observed by one of the ladies, standing on an eminence near the shore, the vessel hove to, and two of the gentlemen landed. Presently the remains of a city, with the ruins of two temples, were discovered. On asking the name of the place of some peasants, they at once answered, Lasoea. 'So (says Mr. Brown) there could be no doubts.'

Contrary to the advice of Paul, they again put to sea, hoping to reach Phoenicia, and there to winter-But being caught in a violent storm, they drift far westward, and are ready to give up all for lost ()


Verse 9

Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,

Now when much time was spent - since leaving Caesarea. But for unforeseen delays they might have reached the Italian coast before the stormy season.

And when sailing - that is, the navigation of the open sea, was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past - the fast, that is, of the day of Atonement; answering to the end of September and beginning of October, or the autumnal equinox. About this time writers authority pronounce the navigation of that sea unsafe, and for more than three months thereafter. Since, therefore, all hope of completing the voyage during that season was abandoned, the question next was, whether they should winter at Fair Havens, or move to Port Phoenice, a harbour about forty miles to the westward. On this question our apostle gave his opinion, strongly urging that they should winter where they were.

Paul admonished them Paul admonished them,


Verse 10

And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.

And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, [ hubreoos (Greek #5196 ) ... zeemias ( Greek #), see the note at Acts 27:21 ],

Not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. There is no reason to suppose that this apprehension, and the advice founded on it, were prompted by any divine communication; for when, at a later stage, he did speak from divine authority, he openly says so. Here we have simply the exercise of his own good judgment, aided by some experience. Mr. Smith thought that 'a bay open to nearly one-half of the compass could not have been a good winter harbour.' But, in a note to his second edition he states that, from the observations and survey of George Brown, it appears that Fair Havens is so well protected by islands and reefs, that it must be a very tolerable harbour to winter in; and that considering the suddenness, frequency, and violence with which the gales of northerly winds spring up, and the certainly that if such a gale sprang up in the passage from Fair Havens to Lutro, the ship must be driven off to sea, the prudence of the master and owner was extremely questionable, and that the advice given by Paul may probably be supported even on nautical grounds. The event certainly justified his decision.


Verse 11

Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.

Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. He would naturally think them best able to judge.


Verse 12

And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.

And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence [also]. The "also" here, though a natural supplement, is in the text quite insufficiently attested. [Tischendorf retains it - kakeithen (Greek # ); but Lachmann and Tregelles have ekeithen ( G1564)]. If by any means they might attain to Phenice, [ Foinika (Greek #5405)] rather 'Phoenix,' which Mr. Smith identifies with the modern Lutro; and Mr. Brown is satisfied that he is right, as is Alford also. But Hackett, for reasons presently to be mentioned, opposes this view.

And there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the southwest and northwest , [ bleponta ( Greek #991) kata ( G2596 ) liba ( G3047 ) kai (Greek #2532 ) kata ( G2596) chooron (Greek #)]. Hackett-from the usual sense of this phrase-understands it of the direction in which the two coasts of the haven lay, which of course would mean just the opposite direction to what the expression would denote, if (as Mr. Smith contends) it is designed to express the direction in which the winds were blowing. If Hackett is fight (and Humphry and Lechler take the same view), it is the modern Phineka, a harbour quite near to Lutro, but facing the west, Certainly this allows of the phrase being rendered, as most naturally in our version, "looking toward." But since no anchorage which opened to the west would be good for this vessel, Mr. Smith thinks the meaning must be, that a westerly wind would lead into it, or that, 'it lay in an easterly direction from such a wind;' and the next verse would seem to confirm this.


Verse 13

And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.

And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose - for with such a wind they had every prospect of reaching their destined winter quarters in a few hours,

Loosing thence, they sailed close by (or 'coasted close along') Crete. [The adverb, asson (Greek #788 ), is printed in the Vulgate, and from it in the Received Text, as the name of a Cretan city ( Assos (G789 )); and Erasmus and Luther so take it. But it is plainly the comparative of angchi-`nearer;' meaning that they 'hugged the shore.']


Verse 14

But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.

But not long after there arose against it, [kat' (Greek #) autees ( G846 )] - that is, not over against the ship [ ploiou (Greek #4143)], but 'down from' the island [neesou ( G3520 )]; meaning down from the high ground along the south coast,

A tempestuous wind, [anemos ( Greek #417) tufoonikos ( Greek #5189)] - 'a typhonic wind;' like a typhoon or tornado, causing a whirling of the clouds, owing to the meeting of opposite currents of air.

Called Euroclydon , [Eurokludoon ( Greek #2148)]. This word occurs nowhere else; and there can hardly be a doubt that the much better supported reading-`Euro-Aquilo,' meaning a 'northeast' wind-is the true one. [ Eurakuloon (Greek #2148) is the reading of 'Aleph (') A B*, and of the Vulgate Memphitic, and Thebaic versions. The received reading has only G H, and later manuscripts though supported by the Peshito Syriac. Still Tischendorf retains the received reading, but not Lachmann aud Tregelles.]


Verse 15

And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.

And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, [ antofthalmein ( G503 )] - literally, 'face the wind,'

We let her drive , [ epidontes (Greek #1929 ) eferometha (Greek #5342)] - 'giving in, we let ourselves drive' before the gale.


Verse 16

And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:

And running under (the lee of) a certain island [ neesion (Greek #3519 )] - 'islet,'

Which is called Clauda - lying between 20 and 30 miles southwest of Crete. It is called Gozzo in the charts; but Mr. Brown found that on the spot it still retains its ancient name, Chlauda.

We had much work to come by the boat - `were with difficulty able to secure the boat.' But why so? If the ship was to live out the storm, they would first hoist the boat on board. It had, as usual, been towed behind; but now that the gale had sprung up, and a violent storm was raging, it could hardly fail, after more than twenty miles' dragging after the gale, to be filled with water and so would with difficulty be secured, even though under the lee of this islet the water would be comparatively smooth, and so most favourable for the operation.


Verse 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.

Which when they had taken up, they used helps (or 'stays'), undergirding the ship - that is, passing four or five turns of a cable-laid rope round the hull or frame of the ship, to enable her to resist the violence of the seas, an operation rarely resorted to in modern seamanship.

And, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands. 'The word (as Humphrey says) was sometimes used in that general sense; but with the article [eis (Greek #1519 ) teen ( Greek #) Surtin (Greek #4950 )] it must be restricted (at least here) to the place properly so called-the Syrtis Major-on the coast of Africa, a gulf dangerous from its shoals, lying southwest of Crete.' It should then be, 'fearing lest they should drift on the Syrtis.'

Strake (or, 'struck') sail, [chalasantes ( Greek #5465) to ( Greek #3588) skeuos ( Greek #4632)]. This cannot be the meaning; for 'it would be equivalent (to use the words of Mr. Smith) to saying that, fearing a certain danger, they deprived themselves of the only possible means of avoiding it, and let themselves be driven directly toward the Syrtis.' The sense must be, 'they lowered the gear,' or, 'let down the tackling;' here, perhaps, referring to the heavy mainyard with the sail attached to it, and hoisting a small storm-sail, instead.

And so were driven - or 'borne along,' on the starboard tack (as Mr. Smith says); the only course by which she could avoid falling into the Syrtis. With this notice concludes the first eventful day.


Verse 18

And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship;

And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship, [ ekboleen (G1546 ) epoiounto ( Greek #4160)] - literally, 'made an out throw;' a nautical phrase for throwing the cargo overboard to lighten the ship (compare Jonah 1:5 ).


Verse 19

And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.

And the third day we (passengers and crew together) cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship - whatever they could do without, that carried weight: this further effort to lighten the ship seems to show that it was now in a leaking condition, as will presently appear more evident.


Verse 20

And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.

And when neither sun nor stars in many (or, 'several') days appeared - probably most of the 14 days mentioned ( Acts 27:27). This continued thickness of the atmosphere prevented their making the necessary observations of the heavenly bodies by day or by night; so that they could not tell where they were. And no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. 'Their exertions (says Mr. Smith) to subdue the leak had been unavailing; they could not tell which way to make for the nearest land, in order to run their ship ashore-the only resource for a sinking ship; but unless they did make the land, they must founder at sea. Their apprehensions, therefore, were not so much caused by the fury of the tempest as by the state of the ship.' From the inferiority of ancient to modern naval architecture, leaks were sprung much more easily, and the means of repairing them were fewer than now. Hence, the far greater number of shipwrecks from this cause.

Paul addresses those on board on the misfortune that had overtaken them by going against his advice, but assures them, on the authority of a divine revelation, of eventual deliverance for all of them, at the same time warning them that they must lose the ship and be cast on some island ()


Verse 21

But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.

But after long abstinence. A large ship loaded with wheat could not have been in want of provisions during such a voyage, even for such a number as it had on board. But the impossibility of cooking, and the constant occupation and engrossment of all hands, would put regular meals out of thought. 'The hardships (says Mr. Smith) which the crew endured during a gale of such continuance, and their exhaustion from labouring at the pumps, and hunger, may be imagined, but are not described.'

Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me - not meaning by this to reflect on them for the past, but only to claim their confidence for the future.

And not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss - `and so have been spared this turmoil and damage.' To 'gain a loss' is, in Greek and Latin, to avoid it (as Humphry says). The word "harm" here [hubris (G5196)] seems to refer, not to actual injuries done either to the persons or the ship, but to the tear and wear of mind and body occasioned by the violence of the storm; while "loss" [ zeemia (Greek # )] points to the damage and loss which the ship and its cargo had sustained.


Verse 22

And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship.

And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship , [pleen ( Greek #4133) for alla (Greek #235) as alla (Greek #235) for pleen (Greek #4133) in Mark 9:8, says Humphry; but this is colloquial in almost every language, which interchanges "save" and "but"].


Verse 23

For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,

For there stood by me this night the ('an') angel of God - as Acts 16:9; Acts 23:11;

Whose I am (see the note at Romans 1:1),

And whom I serve , [latreuoo (Greek #3000 )] - in the sense of religious worship (see the note at Acts 13:2 ) and total religious consecration.


Verse 24

Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 25

Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.

Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. While the crew were toiling at the pumps, Paul was wrestling in prayer, not for himself only and the cause in which he was going a prisoner to Rome, but, with true magnanimity of soul, for his shipmates; and God heard him, "giving him" (remarkable expression!) all that sailed with him. On the morning afar receiving this divine communication, gathering all around him, he reports it, adding, with a noble simplicity, "for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me," and encouraging all on board to "be of good cheer" the same confidence. What a contrast to this Humphry well remarks) is the speech of Caesar, in similar circumstances, to his pilot, bidding him (as Plutarch reports) keep up his spirit, because he carried Caesar and Caesar's Fortune. The Roman general knew no better name for the Divine Providence, by which he had been so often preserved, than Caesar's Fortune.


Verse 26

Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.

Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island - `on some island.' From the explicit particulars-that the ship would be lost, but not one that sailed in it, and that they 'must be cast on some island'-one would conclude that he had had a visional representation of a total wreck, of a mass of human beings struggling with the angry elements, and of one and all of those whose figure and countenance had daily met his eye on deck standing on some unknown island- shore. From what follows, it would seem that Paul from this time was regarded with a deference akin to awe.

The wreck and safe landing on Malta ()


Verse 27

But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country;

But when the fourteenth night - that is, from the time when they left Fair Havens,

Was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria - or, 'were drifting about in Adria.' By this term is not meant here the modern Adriatic (which has been one great source of the mistake in regard to the island on which the wrecked party were thrown), but that sea which lies between Greece, Italy, and Africa.

About midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country, [prosagein (G4317) tina (Greek # ) autois ( Greek #846 ) chooran (Greek #5561 )] - 'that some land was nearing them;' no doubt, from the special sound of the breakers, as on a rocky coast. What a graphic character does this nautical language give to the narrative!


Verse 28

And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms.

And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms - implying that they were rapidly drifting onto some shore.


Verse 29

Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day. Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern. 'The ordinary way (says Mr. Smith) was to cast the anchor, as now, from the bow; but ancient ships, built with both ends alike, were fitted with hawseholes in the stern, so that in case of need they could anchor either way. And when the fear was, as here, that they might fall on the rocks to leeward, and the intention was to run the ship ashore as soon as daylight enabled them to fix upon a safe spot-the very best thing they could do was to anchor by the stern. In stormy weather two anchors were used, and we have instances of four being employed, as here.'

And wished ('anxiously,' or 'devoutly wished') for the day - the remark this of one present, and, with all his shipmates, alive to the horrors of their condition. 'The ship (says Mr. Smith) might go down at her anchors, or the coast to leeward might be iron-bound, affording no beach on which they could land with safety. Hence, their anxious longing for day, and the ungenerous but natural attempt-not special to ancient times-of the seamen to save their own lives by taking to the boat.'


Verse 30

And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship,

And as the shipmen ('sailors') were about to flee out of the ship (under cover of night), when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast, [ ekteinein (G1614 )] - rather, 'carried out,' that is, by the boat, anchors out of the foreship (or 'bow,'). 'It is to be observed (says Mr. Smith) that casting anchors out of the foreship could have been of no possible advantage in the circumstances, and that as the pretext could not deceive a seaman, we must infer that the officers of the ship were parties to the unworthy attempt, which was, perhaps, detected by the nautical skill of Luke, and communicated by him to Paul.'


Verse 31

Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.

Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers - the only parties now to be trusted, and whose own safety was now imperilled,

Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. The soldiers and passengers could not be expected to possess the necessary seamanship in so very critical a case; the flight of the crew, therefore, might well be regarded as certain destruction to all who remained. Though fully assured, in virtue of a divine pledge, of ultimate safety to all on beard, Paul speaks and acts throughout this whole scene in the exercise of a sound judgment on the indispensable human conditions of safety; and as there is no trace of any feeling of inconsistency between these two things in his mind, so even the centurion, under whose orders the soldiers acted on Paul's views, seems never to have felt perplexed by the two-fold aspect-divine and human-in which the same thing presented itself to the mind of Paul.


Verse 32

Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.

Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat - it had been already lowered,

And let her fall off - let the boat drift away.


Verse 33

And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing.

And while the day was coming on - that is, in the interval between the cutting off of the boat and the approach of the anxiously wished for daybreak,

Paul - now looked up to by all the passengers as the man to direct them,

Besought them all to take meat - to partake of a meal,

Saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried, [ prosdokoontes (Greek #4328)] - or 'awaited' some breathing time,

Having taken nothing - or, taken no regular meal (see the note at Acts 27:21).


Verse 34

Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.

Wherefore I pray you to take some meat; for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall ('perish' or 'be lost') from the head of any of you - [apoleitai ( Greek #620), not peseitai (Greek #4098) of the Received Text, is the true reading.] Beautiful union this of confidence in the divine pledge, and of care for the whole ship's health and safety!


Verse 35

And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.

And when he had thus spoken, he took bread - `a loaf,' assuming the lead,

And gave thanks to God in presence of [them] all - an impressive act in such circumstances, fitted to plant a testimony for the God he served in the breasts of all,

He began to eat. This would certainly not be regarded by the Christians in the ship in the light either of a celebration of the Lord's Supper or of a love-feast-as some strangely imagine-but purely as a meal to recruit exhausted nature, which Paul shows them, by his own example, how a Christian partakes of.


Verse 36

Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat.

Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat - `took food;' the first full meal since the commencement of the gale. Such courage in desperate circumstances as Paul here showed is wonderfully infectious.


Verse 37

And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 38

And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.

And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea. With fresh strength after the meal, they make a third and last effort to lighten the ship, not only by pumping, as before, but by throwing the whole cargo of wheat into the sea (see the note at Acts 27:6 ).


Verse 39

And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship.

And when it was day, they knew not the land. This has been thought surprising in sailors accustomed to that sea. But the scene of the wreck is remote from the great harbour (as Mr. Smith says), and possesses no marked features by which it could be recognized, even by a native, if he came unexpectedly upon it; not to speak of the rain pouring in torrents ( Acts 28:2 ), which would throw a haze over the coast even after day broke. Immediately on landing they knew where they were (Acts 28:1).

But they discovered a certain creek with a shore - or level beach. Every creek of course must have a shore; but the meaning is, a practicable shore, in a nautical sense - i:e., one with a smooth beach, in contradistinction to a rocky coast (as Acts 27:41 shows).

Into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship. This was their one chance of safety.


Verse 40

And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore.

And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, [tas (Greek #3588 ) angkuras (G45) perielontes ( Greek # ) eioon (Greek #1439) eis (Greek #1519) teen ( G3588 ) thalassan (Greek #2281 )]. The marginal rendering here evidently the right one, 'And having cut the anchors, they left them in the sea.'

And loosed the rudder-bands. Ancient ships (says Mr. Smith) were steered by two large paddles, one on each quarter. When anchored by the stern in a gale, it would be necessary to lift them out of the water, and secure them by lashings or rudder-bands, and to loose these when the ship was again gotten under weigh,

And hoised up the mainsail, [ artemona ( G736)]. The 'artemon' was certainly (says Mr. Smith) the foresail, not the mainsail; and a sailor will at once see that this was the best possible sail that could be set in the circumstances. How necessary must the crew have been to execute all these movements, and how obvious the foresight which made their stay indispensable to the safety of all on board (see the note at Acts 27:31 ).

To the wind, [tee ( Greek #3588) pneousee ( G4154 ), sc. aura], and made toward shore - or 'bore down on the beach.'


Verse 41

And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.

And falling into a place where two seas met , [ topon (Greek #5117) dithalasson (Greek #1337)] - literally, 'a place And falling into a place where two seas met , [ topon (Greek #5117) dithalasson (Greek #1337)] - literally, 'a place of two seas;' a place 'which had sea on both sides.' The word is used both for an isthmus and a strait. Mr. Smith thinks that here it refers to the channel (not more than a hundred yards broad) which separates the small island of Salmone from Malta, forming a communication between the sea inside the bay, and that outside.

They ran the ship aground ('ashore'): and the fore part stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken, [ elueto ( G3089 )] - rather, 'was breaking;' that is, was fast going to pieces,

With the violence of the waves. [Lachmann and Tischendorf leave out toon (G3588) kumatoon ( Greek # ), ending the verse with hupo tees (Greek #3588) bias ( G970). For this there is the authority of 'Aleph (') A B. But all other manuscript and all the versions have the Received Text; and Meyer is probably right in conjecturing that the omission most likely arose from the transcriber's eye having passed from the toon ( G3588 ) before kumatoon ( Greek #2949 ) to the toon (Greek #3588 ) which begins the next verse.] 'The rocks of Malta (says Mr. Smith) disintegrate into extremely minute particles of sand and clay, which, when acted upon by the currents or surface agitation, form a deposit of tenacious clay; but in still waters, where these causes do not act, mud is formed; but it is only in creeks, where there are no currents, and at such a depth as to be undisturbed by the waves, that the mud occurs. A ship, therefore, impelled by the force of a gale into a creek with such a bottom, would strike a bottom of mud graduating into tenacious clay, into which the fore part would fix itself and be held fast, while the stern was exposed to the force of the waves.'


Verse 42

And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.

And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape. Roman cruelty, which made the keepers answerable with their own lives for the safety of their prisoners, is here reflected in this heartless proposal.


Verse 43

But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land:

But the centurion, willing ('wishing') to save Paul, kept them from their purpose. Great must have been the influence of Paul over the centurion's mind to produce such an effect.

And commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land:


Verse 44

And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.

And the rest, some on boards, and some on [broken pieces] of the ship , [epi (Greek #1909) tinoon ( G5100)

toon (Greek #3588 ) apo (Greek #575 ) tou (Greek # ) ploiou ( G4143 )] - 'on some of the things from the ship,' such as planks or articles of furniture flung out for the purpose.

And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land. All followed the swimmers in committing themselves to the deep; and according to the divine pledge, and Paul's confident assurance given them, every soul got safe to land-yet without miracle.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Acts 27:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/acts-27.html. 1871-8.

Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology