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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Acts 27

 

 

Verses 1-26

Acts 27:1-3. And, when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band. And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us. And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.

Even a Roman centurion could see that Paul was no ordinary prisoner, and that it was quite safe to allow him privileges which others might have abused.

Acts 27:4-12. And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein. 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, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called the fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea. Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, 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. Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more that those things which were spoken by Paul. 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.

It was quite natural that the centurion should think that the master and the owner of the ship knew more about seafaring matters than Paul did, but the sequel proved that the apostle knew more than they did, for he had access to information that was hidden from them.

Acts 27:13. And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.

That was not the only voyage that commenced favourably and ended disastrously.

Acts 27:14-15. But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.

Apparently, that was the only thing they could do; and, at times, we may find that it will be well to follow their example. When we have done our best, and can make no headway, we had better commit our vessel to the care of God, and “let her drive” wherever he wills.

Acts 27:16-19. And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat: which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest the should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven. And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; and the third day we cast out with our own hands the tacking of the ship.

They used all the means in their power, and evidently Paul and his companions took their full share of the work that had to be done: “we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.”

Acts 27:20-22. 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. 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. 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.

Paul might well remind the officers of the wise advice he gave them in Crete, but he did not rest content with that, but went on to cheer them as far as he dared, though he again warned them that they would lose their ship. To prove that he was not speaking without due authority, he added: —

Acts 27:23-26. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. 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.

The next chapter tells us that the “certain island” was Melita, or Malta as it is now called. In that respect, as in all others, Paul’s prophecy was literally fulfilled, for the ship was lost, but all on board were saved.

This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 90.; and Acts 27:1-26.


Verses 11-44

Paul had advised the captain not to set sail for a while, —

Acts 27:11-13. Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things, which were spoken by Paul. 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 when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.

He is very unwise who trusts the winds, and equally so is he who sets his confidence upon any earthly thing, for fickle as the wind that blows are all things beneath the moon,

Acts 27:14-15. But not long after there arose against a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.

You may have a calm at one moment, and a storm at the next, and unless your protection it from above, and your confidence in something more stable than can be found in this world, woe betide you. Sometime, it is well to yield to the stress of circumstances. If you have struggled hard, and can do no more, it is well to leave the result with God.

Acts 27:16-21. And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat: which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and fearing lest they should fall into the quicksand, strake sail, and so were driven. And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; and the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship; 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. But after long abstinence —

They had not the time or the heart to eat, and perhaps scarcely thought of doing so while they were in such imminent peril of their lives.

Acts 27:21. Paul stood forth in the midst of them,

A prisoner, but the freest man there; despised, and yet the most honoured among them; the bravest heart of all that company of soldiers and sailors.

Acts 27:21-24. And said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. 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. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.

Oh, what a privilege it would be if God would say the same to us! If, in the night of trouble, when you are tossed to and fro, mother, father, the Lord should say to you, “Fear not, I have given you your whole family they shall all be saved,” you would not mind how fiercely the storm might rage if you could be sure of that. And how happy would my heart be if all that sail in this big vessel were given to me! I should not be satisfied even then; I should want a great many more than that; but, still, what a blessed thing it would be to have every soul that sails with us saved!

Acts 27:25-27. 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. 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;

They could hear the roar of the breakers.

Acts 27:28. And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms.

They found that the water was shallowing very quickly, so they knew that they were getting near the shore.

Acts 27:29. Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.

Then they “wished for the day, “and how often the Christian throws his great anchor out, and wishes for the day, — waiting “till the day break”, and the shadows flee away.” Well, it will not be long. If night lasts through the whole of this life, the morning cometh, — the everlasting morning.

Acts 27:30. 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 the foreship —

These cowardly sailors meant to get away, and leave the prisoners and passengers and soldiers to perish.

Acts 27:31. Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.

Yet God had said that they should be, so that it is quite consistent to believe in divine predestination and yet to see the utility, nay, the necessity, of the use of means: “Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.”

Acts 27:32. Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.

So that the sailors could not get away.

Acts 27:33-34. 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. 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.

What a grand speech this is! It is the utterance of faith. Talk of eloquence! This is real eloquence, — for Paul to be addressing the people in a storm-tossed ship as calmly as if he were safely on shore.

Acts 27:35. And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.

He would not eat without giving thanks to God. There are some who do, even as the swine do; but the Christian finds it good at all times, before he eats, to bless the God that gave the food to him. It is a Christian habit which should not be given up. Paul gave thanks when it was most inconvenient to do so, — when a great storm was raging, and when there were only two or three on board who sympathized with him.

Acts 27:36. Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat.

Courage is contagious, as well as timidity. The holy bravery of one good man may make many others brave.

Acts 27:37-39. And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls. And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea. 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.

They wanted to let it go ashore, and break up, and so save their lives.

Acts 27:40-42. And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoisted up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore. 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 the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.

The soldiers were responsible for them. It would be required at their hands if a prisoner escaped; so, with that cruelty, and yet that obedience to law which was characteristic of the Roman legions, “the soldiers counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.”

Acts 27:43-44. 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: 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.

So God had said, “and so it came to pass.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Acts 27:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/acts-27.html. 2011.

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