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Bible Commentaries
Acts 27

Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NTLuscombe's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

1 And when it was decided to sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to one named Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment.

1. Julius is assigned the task, along with his 100 soldiers to take Paul, and some other prisoners to Rome.

2. We do not know much about the Augustan Regiment. The general concencus is that the name is for Augustus Caesar.

Verse 2

2 So, entering a ship of Adramyttium, we put to sea, meaning to sail along the coasts of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, was with us.

1. Notice that these verses are in the "we" voice, indicating that Luke is along on the trip to Rome.

2. Also on this voyage is Aristarchus, from Thessalonica. It is assumed that he is a Christian.

3. You will also notice the number of nautical terms used, showing that Luke is familiar with ships, the terms for various parts and terms.

Verse 3

3 And the next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him liberty to go to his friends and receive care.

1. The ship has traveled north along the coast of Israel to the area of Tyre and Sidon. It is from here that ships usually head out toward Cyprus and beyond.

2. Paul is not shackled. He is free to roam the ship, unlike the other prisoners, that are held in chains below the main deck. Paul is allowed freedom to be with his friends. He has not had this freedom for over two years.

Verse 4

4 When we had put to sea from there, we sailed under the shelter of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary.

1. Under the shelter of Cyprus means that by sailing along the southern side of Cyprus, the island prevented the ship from being hit with the strong winds.

2. Contrary winds - Luke tells us that the winds were contrary. This means that they are a) strong; b) more difficult to head the way they wanted to go because the wind was from the wrong direction.

3. Contrary winds - We, also, have contrary winds in our lives. Things to do not go the way we would like for them to go. We often feel that we are fighting the winds. I know, when living in northern Russia, the winter wind was always contrary. What ever direction you were heading, the wind was in your face. We would go around a corner to get out of the wind, but it was still in our face.

Verse 5

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

1. They have now passed Cyprus and are now in the territory where Paul landed on his first missionary journey. I can imagine his desire to stop and see how these early Christians are doing.

2. Cilicia and Pamphylia are the areas of Paul's first mission work. He also visited here as he began his second missionary journey.

Verse 6

6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing to Italy, and he put us on board.

1. They now change ships. The centurion finds a ship willing to take these soldiers and their prisoners to Rome.

2. Keep in mind, ships were for cargo. These are not cruise ships. They were cargo ships, that would take passengers along. They were not ships of comfort, but just to get from point A to point B.

3. I believe it would have been difficult to find a ship that was: a) heading for Rome; b) willing to take on 100 soldiers plus all the prisoners; and c) and knowing that winter weather was not a good time to travel.

Verse 7

7 When we had sailed slowly many days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone.

1. After several days they finally arrived near Crete. The wind was still contrary. The wind was against them making any progress toward Rome.

2. They are now under the protection of Crete. Like they did with Cyprus, they are sailing on the side of the island to break the wind.

3. Salmone is on the east edge of Crete.

Verse 8

8 Passing it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.

1. Fair Havens, also called Fair Shore, is a small island near Crete and occupied by Cretians.

2. Fair Havens is a harbor, not a city. There is a city close by, Lasea. This city is mentioned to further identify the location.

Verse 9

9 Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was not dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them,

1. They were hoping to be at Rome before the dangerous time for sailors. But, delays put them out on the sea at the most difficult time of year for ship travel.

2. Now, it is late September or early October.

3. The fast is a reference to the Day of Atonement. For Jews, this was on the 10 th day of Tisri (which corresponds to our mid-September to mid-October.

4. The Day of Atonement was a day of fasting, repentance, prayer, sacrifice for their sins. The day is mentioned here because it identifies the time of year.

Verse 10

10 saying, " Men, I perceive that the voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.

1. I do not know if this statement is made because of some revelation from God or just from his knowledge of the seas.

2. Paul predicts - Disaster, Much loss of cargo, and Loss of lives.

Verse 11

11 Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul.

1. The helmsman was the one who not only was steering the ship, but the one who gave orders to others about sails, rudder, and other duties of operating the ship. Today, we would call him the captain of the ship.

2. The one in charge of the ship and the owner of the ship persuade the centurion to keep going. The owner of the ship wants the ship to continue because, a ship in port is not making money. The quicker he gets his ship to Rome, the quicker he can unload his cargo, andload it with cargo for his next trip.

Verse 12

12 And because the harbor was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised to set sail from there also by any means that they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete opening toward the southwest and northwest, and winter there.

1. While Fair Havens was a good port, it was not protected enough to be suitable for waiting out the winter storms.

2. Their next goal was to reach Phoenix (Phenice in the KJV). It would appear that many agreed that it was not safe or even possible to continue to Rome until the winter storms were over.

3. This harbor was curved. It was entered heading southwest, then curved to head northwest. This gave ships more protection from the high waves of the winter storms.

Verse 13

13 When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete.

1. Two things about the wind changed. It was now a more gentle wind. It was now from the south. The strong head-wind was now calmer and in a more favorable direction.

2. They decided to do two things. 1) They would remain close to Crete. 2) They would try to make it to Phoenix.

Verse 14

14 But not long after, a tempestuous wind arose, called Euroclydon.

1. There is some dispute about the meaning of the word "Euroclydon." This word only occurs here in the New Testament.

2. The word means "a wind blowing from many quarters" and was used to describe hurricanes. It describes a swirling wind which causes strong and high waves.

3. The Greek word translated "tempestuous" is the Greek word - typhonicos - from which the word typhoon derives.

Verse 15

15 So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive.

1. With such strong and swirling winds, it was a hazard to the masts and sails to keep them up.

2. The best thing to do is take down all sails and let the wind and current drive the ship.

3. NOTE: In our lives, there are things beyond our control. We can't stop them. All we can do is "let her drive." I recently had a head cold. There is no cure. You just have to let it run its course.

Verse 16

16 And running under the shelter of an island called Claudia, we secured the skiff with difficulty.

1. They now pass by the south side of a small island.

2. The skiff (we would call it a life boat) had to be secured so that it would not be broken and lost. They would need this skiff when they needed to abandon ship.

3. Normally the lifeboat would be hanging on the side of the ship. But the tossing of the ship would cause the boat to be smashed against the side of the ship and be destroyed.

Verse 17

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.

1. First they got the skiff off the side of the ship and brought it on deck.

2. Next, using ropes, chains and cables they wrapped the ship with these strong bands. The KJV says, "Helps," which is a generic term for what ever they could use to gird the ship.

3. The purpose was to take some of the strain off the bolts that held the ship together. These cables would go over one side of the ship, underneath, and up the other side.

4. And they let down the main sail. Without this sail, there was no control of direction.

Verse 18

18 And because we were exceedingly tempest tossed, the next day they lightened the ship.

1. The next day, the storm continued.

2. It was time to take the next step. Lighten the ship. This would allow it to ride higher in the water and not take on as much water or be turned over.

3. We are not told was was thrown out. Most believe it was the cargo on board.

Verse 19

19 On the third day we threw the ship's tackle overboard with our own hands.

1. They are now into the third day of this storm. Things are more serious than ever.

2. They are now ready to throw out even the ropes, chains, and other tackle of the ship. The tackle would include the furniture on board and all other unnecessary equipment.

3. We know that they kept the main sail and anchors because they are mentioned in verses 27 and 40.

Verse 20

20 Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat upon us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.

1. They do not know their location. Sun and stars were the primary guide points for ships at sea. The storm has tossed them in every direction. Many days into the storm they have not seen stars at night nor the sun during the day.

2. Again Luke used the "no small" phrase to let us know this was huge. He tells us how huge this was.

1. No hope. People are now preparing to die. They know that there is no hope. The ship can't take much more. It will break apart and all will die.

2. No rescue. They also knew that there would be no other ships nearby to come to their aid. Even if they jump into the sea, they do not know where they are, and there is no one to save them.

Verse 21

21 But after long abstinence from good, then Paul stood in the mids of them and said, " men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss.

1. About the only thing that was not thrown overboard was some food. But they were not eating. There had been a long period of abstaining from food.

2. It is thought that much of the food was thrown overboard and the small amount that remained needed to be protected and rationed because they don't know how much longer this will last.

3. Paul says, "I told you so." Paul reminds them of his warning and that they should have stayed in Crete.

Verse 22

22 And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.

1. Then Paul turns to the good news. Take heart. Be of good cheer. There is some good news.

2. There will be no loss of life. Everyone will make it.

3. The ship will be lost, but no loss of life.

Verse 23

23 For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve,

1. Paul now reveals his source. An angel of God, came to Paul and revealed this information.

2. For the pagans on board Paul says this is the God in whom he believes, belongs and serves.

Verse 24

24 saying, " Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar, and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you. "

1. This angel tells Paul three important messages.

1. Do not be afraid.

2. Paul will make it to appear before Caesar.

3. God will save the lives of all on board.

Verse 25

25 Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.

1. Paul now seeks to transfer his faith to others.

2. Paul believes God. God will keep his promise.

3. He then urges all on board to have that same faith.

Verse 26

26 However, we must run aground on a certain island. "

1. Now the bad news. We will run aground.

2. But, the good news, it will be at an island.

Verse 27

27 Now when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven up and down in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight, the sailors sensed that they were drawing near some land.

1. They have been in this storm for 2 weeks.

2. They have no idea where they are. They have just be driven up and down the sea by the storm.

3. About midnight some of the sailors sensed they were nearing land.

Verse 28

28 And they took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms; and when they gone a little farther, they took soundings again and found it to be fifteen fathoms.

1. They took soundings - they let down a line with a lead weight on it. They lower it until it hits bottom. They the measure the amount of line.

2. Some suggest that there is a special line with each fathom marked on the line so they know the depth at that point.

3. Plummet - The weight was a piece of steel about 18 pounds. They would often cover this in grease so when it hit bottom, they could tell if it was sand or rock.

4. Fathom - A fathom is the measurement of the span or a man's outstretched arms. This is about 6 feet. So they measured 20 fathoms - about 120 feet deep. Later, they measured again - 15 fathoms - 90 feet. They now know they are approaching land and shallow water.

Verse 29

29 Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come.

1. The grease on the plummet was not covered in sand. So they are concerned about hitting rocks.

2. They drop four anchors to try to stop the ship from going into shallow water. All four anchors are dropped from the back end of the ship, the stern.

3. All they could do is pray and wait for daylight. In the daylight they might be able to see the land that was nearby and know what to do next.

Verse 30

30 And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, when they had let down the skiff into the sea, under pretense of putting out anchors from the prow,

1. Some of the sailors could not seem to wait for daylight. They wanted to get in the lifeboat and abandon ship.

2. They were "pretending" to lower the boat so they could put out anchors from the front end of the ship.

3. They were really just wanting to escape.

Verse 31

31 Paul said to the centurion and soldiers, " Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved. "

1. Paul instructs the centurion that any who leave the ship will die.

2. Paul has no power with the ship owner or helmsman. He does seem to have convinced the centurion to listen to him.

Verse 32

32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let fall off.

1. The soldiers cut away the ropes of the lifeboat. It falls into the sea and is gone.

2. Notice - the soldiers, not the sailors, cut the ropes. This indicates the faith that the centurion has in the words of Paul.

Verses 33-34

33 And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, " Today is the fourteenth day you have waiting and continued with out food, and eaten nothing.

34 Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is your survival, since not a hair will fall from the had of any of you. "

1. It is now close to dawn, still dark, but dawn is coming.

2. All are encouraged to eat food. They have gone without food for several days. It is important that you have some strength to survive.

3. They had gone 14 days without food. They were weak. They were also loosing hope.

4. Today is the day. You will not die. You will not lose a hair on your head. All will survive this ordeal.

5. But, you will need some nourishment to make it.

Verse 35

35 And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it began to eat.

1. Paul set the example. He took bread and gave thanks.

2. Paul knows that this nourishment will keep them alive, give them the strength to make it to swim to shore.

Verse 36

36 Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves.

1. Now, they are believers. They take courage.

2. They all join in this meal together.

Verse 37

37 And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship.

1. We are now given another bit of information. There are 276 people on board.

2. This is not a small ship. There was room for the soldiers and their prisoners, in addition to the sailors.

Verse 38

38 So when they had eaten enough they lightened the ship and thew out the wheat into the sea.

1. When they had eaten they further lightened the ship.

2. This time they throw the wheat (flour for making bread) into the sea.

3. This is a commitment. They are now going to either make it to land or die of starvation.

Verse 39

39 When it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible.

1. Now daylight arrives. There is land. None of the sailors knows the land. They still do not have any idea where they are, but there is land.

2. And there is a bay and a beach. During the night they thought it was all rocks. Now they see sand and a place they can go ashore.

3. Perhaps they can run the ship into this beach area and walk ashore.

Verse 40

40 And they let go of the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudder ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore.

1. They now have a plan. They cut the anchors and drop then into the sea. They release the rudder so they can steer the ship.

2. Now the hoist the main sail and head for the shore of this unknown island.

Verse 41

41 But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken by the violence of the waves.

1. They come to a place where the sea has washed sand from both sides. This creates an area where the water is very shallow. We would call it a sandbar.

2. The front of the ship rammed into this sandbar and was stuck there.

3. The back of the ship was still in the sea and being beaten and broken by the waves.

Verse 42

42 And the soldiers' plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape.

1. Now the soldiers have a plan. The prisoners can't swim with their chains on hands and feet.

2. If the chains are removed, they might escape.

3. The only thing to do is kill the prisoners.

Verse 43

43 But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept then from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land.

1. But the centurion, now on Paul's side, prevented this slaughter.

2. He ordered all who could swim to jump overboard and get themselves to land.

Verse 44

44 and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.

1. Those who can't swim, could grab boards or some part of the ship that would serve as a flotation device.

2. Every life was saved. All 276 on board make it to land.

Bibliographical Information
Luscombe, Manly. "Commentary on Acts 27". Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mlc/acts-27.html. 2021.
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