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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Acts 27

Verse 1

That we should sail (του αποπλειν ημας). This genitive articular infinitive with εκριθη like the LXX construction translating the Hebrew infinitive construct is awkward in Greek. Several similar examples in Luke 17:1; Acts 10:25; Acts 20:3 (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1068). Luke alone uses this old verb in N.T. He uses nine compounds of πλεω, to sail. Note the reappearance of "we" in the narrative. It is possible, of course, that Luke was not with Paul during the series of trials at Caesarea, or at least, not all the time. But it is natural for Luke to use "we" again because he and Aristarchus are travelling with Paul. In Caesarea Paul was the centre of the action all the time whether Luke was present or not. The great detail and minute accuracy of Luke's account of this voyage and shipwreck throw more light upon ancient seafaring than everything else put together. Smith's Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul is still a classic on the subject. Though so accurate in his use of sea terms, yet Luke writes like a landsman, not like a sailor. Besides, the character of Paul is here revealed in a remarkable fashion.

They delivered (παρεδιδουν). Imperfect active ωμεγα form rather than the old form παρεδιδοσαν as in Acts 4:33, from παραδιδωμ. Perhaps the imperfect notes the continuance of the handing over.

Certain other prisoners (τινας ετερους δεσμωτας). Bound (δεσμωτας) 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 ετερους does not have to mean different kind of prisoners from Paul.

Of the Augustan band (σπειρης Σεβαστης). Note Ionic genitive σπειρης, not σπειρας. See on Matthew 27:1; Acts 10:1. Χοορτις Αυγυσταε. We do not really know why this cohort is called "Augustan." It may be that it is part of the imperial commissariat (frumentarii) since Julius assumes chief authority in the grain ship (verse Acts 27:11). These legionary centurions when in Rome were called peregrini (foreigners) because their work was chiefly in the provinces. This man Julius may have been one of them.

Verse 2

In a ship of Adramyttium (πλοιω Hαδραμυντηνω). A boat belonging to Adramyttium, a city in Mysia in the province of Asia. Probably a small coasting vessel on its way home for the winter stopping at various places (τοπους). Julius would take his chances to catch another ship for Rome. The usual way to go to Rome was to go to Alexandria and so to Rome, but no large ship for Alexandria was at hand.

We put to sea (ανηχθημεν). First aorist passive of αναγω, usual word in Luke.

Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us (οντος συν ημιν Αρισταρχου Μακεδονος Θεσσαλονικεως). Genitive absolute. Ramsay suggests that Luke and Aristarchus accompanied Paul as his slaves since they would not be allowed to go as his friends. But Luke was Paul's physician and may have gained permission on that score.

Verse 3

The next day (τη ετερα). Locative case with ημερα understood.

We touched (κατηχθημεν). First aorist passive of καταγω, the usual term for "coming down" from the seas as αναγω above (and verse Acts 27:4) is for "going up" to sea. So it looks to sailors. Sidon was 67 miles from Caesarea, the rival of Tyre, with a splendid harbour. The ship stopped here for trade.

Treated Paul kindly (φιλανθρωπως τω Παυλω χρησαμενος). "Using (χρησαμενος, first aorist middle participle of χραομα, to use) Paul (instrumental case used with this verb) kindly" (φιλανθρωπως, "philanthropically," adverb from φιλ ανθρωπος, love of mankind). He was kindly to Paul throughout the voyage (verse Acts 27:43; Acts 28:16), taking a personal interest in his welfare.

Refresh himself (επιμελειας τυχειν). Second aorist active infinitive of τυγχανω (to obtain) with the genitive επιμελειας, old word from επιμελης, careful, only here in the N.T. Whether it was mere hospitality we do not know. It may have been medical attention required because of Paul's long confinement. This is Paul's first visit to Sidon, but Christians were already in Phoenicia (Acts 11:19) and so Paul had "friends" here.

Verse 4

We sailed under the lee of Cyprus (υπεπλευσαμεν την Κυπρον). First aorist active indicative of υποπλεω, to sail under. Cyprus was thus on the left between the ship and the wind from the northwest, under the protection of Cyprus.

Because the winds were contrary (δια το τους ανεμους εινα εναντιους). The articular infinitive after δια and the accusative of general reference (ανεμους) with predicate accusative (εναντιους, facing them, in their very teeth if they went that way). The Etesian winds were blowing from the northwest 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.

Verse 5

When we had sailed across (διαπλευσαντες). First aorist active participle of διαπλεω (another compound of πλεω).

The sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia (το πελαγος το κατα την Κιλικιαν κα Παμφυλιαν). Πελαγος is properly the high sea as here. In Matthew 18:6 (which see) Jesus uses it of "the depth of the sea." Only these examples in the N.T. The current runs westward along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia and the land would protect from the wind.

We came to Myra of Lycia (κατηλθαμεν εις Μυρρα της Λυκιας). Literally, "We came down." This town was two and a half miles from the coast of Lycia. The port Andriace had a fine harbour and did a large grain business. No disciples are mentioned here nor at Lasea, Melita, Syracuse, Rhegium.

Verse 6

Sailing for Italy (πλεον εις την Ιταλιαν). This was the opportunity for which Lysias had been looking. So he put (ενεβιβασεν, first aorist active of εμβιβαζω, to cause to enter. Cf. επιβαντες in verse Acts 27:2) prisoners and soldiers on board. This was a ship of Alexandria bound for Rome, a grain ship (Acts 27:38) out of its course because of the wind. Such grain ships usually carried passengers.

Verse 7

When we had sailed slowly (βραδυπλοουντες). Present active participle of βραδυπλοεω (βραδυς, slow, πλους, voyage). Literally, "sailing slowly," not "having or had sailed slowly." Only here and in Artemidorus (sec. cent. A.D.). It may mean "tacking" before the wind. Polybius uses ταχυπλοεω, to sail swiftly.

Many days (εν ικαναις ημεραις). See on Luke 7:6 for ικανος. Literally, "in considerable days."

With difficulty (μολις). Used in old Greek, like μογις (Luke 9:39) from μολος, toil (see Acts 14:18).

Over against Cnidus (κατα την Κνιδον). "Down along Cnidus." A hundred and thirty miles from Myra, the southwest point of Asia Minor and the western coast. Here the protection of the land from the northwest wind ceased.

The wind not further suffering us (μη προσεωντος ημας του ανεμου). Genitive absolute with present active participle of προσεαω, one of the few words still "not found elsewhere" (Thayer). Regular negative μη with participles. They could not go on west as they had been doing since leaving Myra.

We sailed under the lee of Crete (υπεπλευσαμεν την Κρητην). See under verse Acts 27:4. Instead of going to the right of Crete as the straight course would have been they sailed southwest with Crete to their right and got some protection against the wind there.

Over against Salmone (κατα Σαλμωνην). Off Cape Salmone, a promontory on the east of the island.

Verse 8

Coasting along (παραλεγομενο). Present middle participle of παραλεγω, to lay beside, not from λεγω, to collect or λεγω, to say. Diodorus Siculus uses παραλεγομα in precisely this sense of coasting along, like Latin legere oram. In N.T. only here and verse Acts 27:13.

Fair Havens (Καλους Λιμενας). 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.

The city of Lasea (πολις Λασεα). Neither Lasea nor Fair Havens is mentioned by any ancient writer, two of the hundred cities of Crete.

Verse 9

Where much time was spent (Hικανου χρονου διαγενομενου). Genitive absolute again with second aorist middle participle of διαγινομα, to come in between (δια). "Considerable time intervening," since they became weatherbound in this harbour, though some take it since they left Caesarea.

And the voyage was now dangerous (κα οντος ηδη επισφαλους). Genitive absolute, "and the voyage being already (ηδη=Latin jam) dangerous" (old word from επ and σφαλλω, to trip, to fall, and so prone to fall, here only in N.T.).

Because the Fast was now already gone by (δια το κα την νηστειαν ηδη παρεληλυθενα). Accusative (after δια) of the articular infinitive perfect active of παρερχομα, to pass by, with the accusative of general reference (νηστειαν, the great day of atonement of the Jews, Leviticus 16:29) occurring about the end of September. The ancients considered navigation on the Mediterranean unsafe from early October till the middle of March. In A.D. 59 the Fast occurred on Oct. 5. There is nothing strange in Luke using this Jewish note of time as in Acts 20:6 though a Gentile Christian. Paul did it also (1 Corinthians 16:8). It is no proof that Luke was a Jewish proselyte. 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 (verse Acts 27:7) besides the long delay here in this harbour of Fair Havens.

Paul admonished them (παρηινη ο Παυλος). Imperfect active of παραινεω, old word to exhort from παρα and αινεω, to praise (Acts 3:8), only here and verse Acts 27:22 in N.T. It is remarkable that a prisoner like Paul should venture to give advice at all and to keep on doing it (imperfect tense inchoative, began to admonish and kept on at it). 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.

I perceive (θεωρω). Old word from θεωρος, a spectator. See Luke 10:18. Paul does not here claim prophecy, but he had plenty of experience with three shipwrecks already (2 Corinthians 11:25) to justify his apprehension.

Will be (μελλειν εσεσθα). Infinitive in indirect assertion followed by future infinitive after μελλειν in spite of οτ which would naturally call for present indicative μελλε, an anacoluthon due to the long sentence (Robertson, Grammar, p. 478).

With injury (μετα υβρεως). An old word from υπερ (above, upper, like our "uppishness") and so pride, insult, personal injury, the legal word for personal assault (Page). Josephus (Ant. III. 6, 4) uses it of the injury of the elements.

Loss (ζημιαν). Old word, opposite of κερδος, gain or profit (Philippians 3:7). Nowhere else in N.T.

Lading (φορτιου). Diminutive of φορτος (from φερω, to bear) only in form. Common word, but in N.T. only here in literal sense, as metaphor in Matthew 11:30; Matthew 23:4; Luke 11:46; Galatians 6:5.

But also of our lives (αλλα κα των ψυχων). Common use of ψυχη for life, originally "breath of life" (Acts 20:10), and also "soul" (Acts 14:2). Fortunately no lives were lost, though all else was. But this outcome was due to the special mercy of God for the sake of Paul (verse Acts 27:24), not to the wisdom of the officers in rejecting Paul's advice. Paul begins now to occupy the leading role in this marvellous voyage.

Verse 11

Gave more heed (μαλλον επειθετο). Imperfect middle of πειθω, to yield to (with the dative case). The "Frumentarian" centurion ranked above the captain and owner. As a military officer the centurion was responsible for the soldiers, the prisoners, and the cargo of wheat. It was a government ship. Though the season was not advanced, the centurion probably feared to risk criticism in Rome for timidity when the wheat was so much needed in Rome (Knowling).

To the master (τω κυβερνητη). Old word from κυβερναω, to steer, and so steersman, pilot, sailing-master. Common in this sense in the papyri. In N.T. only here and Revelation 18:17.

And to the owner of the ship (κα τω ναυκληρω). Old word compounded of ναυς and κληρος and used for owner of the ship who acted as his own skipper or captain. The papyri examples (Moulton and Milligan's Vocabulary) all have the meaning "captain" rather than "owner."

Verse 12

Because the haven was not commodious to winter in (ανευθετου του λιμενος υπαρχοντος προς παραχειμασιαν). Genitive absolute again present tense of υπαρχω: "The harbour being unfit (ανευθετου, this compound not yet found elsewhere, simplex in Luke 9:62; Luke 14:35; Hebrews 6:7) for wintering" (παραχειμασια, only here in N.T., but in Polybius and Diodorus, in an inscription A.D. 48, from παραχειμαζω).

The more part advised (ο πλειονες εθεντο βουλην). Second aorist middle indicative of τιθημ, ancient idiom with βουλην, to take counsel, give counsel. Lysias held a council of the officers of the ship on the issue raised by Paul.

If by any means they could reach Phoenix and winter there (ε πως δυναιντο καταντησαντες εις Φοινικα παραχειμασα). The optative δυναιντο (present middle of δυναμα) here with ε is a condition of the fourth class with the notion of purpose implied and indirect discourse (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1021). "We vote for going on the chance that we may be able" (Page). Phoenix is the town of palms (John 12:13), the modern Lutro, the only town in Crete on the southern coast with a harbour fit for wintering, though Wordsworth and Page argue for Phineka which suits Luke's description better. The verb παραχειμαζω, to winter, is from παρα and χειμων (see also Acts 28:11). Used in several Koine writers.

Looking northeast and southeast (βλεποντα κατα λιβα κα κατα χωρον). There are two ways of interpreting this language. Λιπς means the southwest wind and χωρος the northwest wind. But what is the effect of κατα with these words? Does it mean "facing" the wind? If so, we must read "looking southwest and northwest." But κατα can mean down the line of the wind (the way the wind is blowing). If so, then it is proper to translate "looking northeast and southeast." This translation suits Lutro, the other suits Phoenike. Ramsay takes it to be Lutro, and suggests that sailors describe the harbour by the way it looks as they go into it (the subjectivity of the sailors) and that Luke so speaks and means Lutro which faces northeast and southeast. On the whole Lutro has the best of the argument.

Verse 13

When the south wind blew softly (υποπνευσαντος νοτου). Genitive absolute with aorist active participle of υποπνεω, old verb to blow under, then to blow gently, here only in N.T. "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 (verse Acts 27:16). It was only some forty miles to Lutro.

Their purpose (της προθεσεως, set before them, from προτιθημ), genitive after κρατεω (κεκρατηκενα, perfect active infinitive in indirect discourse).

They weighed anchor (αραντες). First aorist active participle of αιρω, old verb used in technical sense with τας αγκυρας (anchors) understood as in Thucydides I. 52; II. 23, "having lifted the anchors." Page takes it simply as "moving."

Sailed along Crete (παρελεγοντο την Κρητην). Imperfect middle. See verse Acts 27:8, "were coasting along Crete."

Close in shore (ασσον). Comparative adverb of αγκ, near, and so "nearer" to shore. Only here in N.T.

Verse 14

After no long time (μετ' ου πολυ). Litotes again.

Beat down from it (εβαλεν κατ' αυτης). Second aorist active indicative of βαλλω, to throw. Here "dashed" (intransitive). Αυτης is in the ablative, not genitive case, beat "down from it" (Crete), not "against it or on it." (Robertson, Grammar, p. 606). Αυτης cannot refer to πλοιον (boat) which is neuter. So the ablative case with κατα as in Mark 5:13, Homer also. The Cretan mountains are over 7,000 feet high.

A tempestuous wind which is called Euraquilo (ανεμος τυφωνικος ο καλουμενος Ευρακυλων). Τυφων Τυφως was used for the typhoon, a violent whirlwind (τυρβο) or squall. This word gives the character of the wind. The Ευρακυλων (reading of Aleph A B against the Textus Receptus Ευροκλυδων) has not been found elsewhere. Blass calls it a hybrid word compounded of the Greek ευρος (east wind) and the Latin αθυιλο (northeast). It is made like ευρονοτος (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.

Verse 15

When the ship was caught (συναρπασθεντος του πλοιου). Genitive absolute again with first aorist passive of συναρπαζω, old word, in N.T. only Luke 8:29; Acts 6:12; Acts 19:29, and here. Graphic picture as if the ship was seized by a great monster.

Face the wind (αντοφθαλμειν τω ανεμω). Dative case with the vivid infinitive of αντοφθαλμεω from αντοφθαλμος, looking in the eye, or eye to eye (αντ, facing and οπθαλμος, 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. Koine verb used by Polybius. Some MSS. have it in Acts 6:11, but only here in N.T. In Wisdom of Sol. 12:14 it is used of a prince who cannot look God in the face. Clement of Rome 34 uses it of an idle workman not able to look his employer in the face (Milligan and Moulton's Vocabulary).

We gave way (επιδοντες). Second aorist active participle of επιδιδωμ, giving way to the wind.

Were driven (εφερομεθα). Imperfect passive of φερω, "we were being borne along." We "scudded before the gale" (Page). "The suddenness of the hurricane gave no time to furl the great mainsail" (Furneaux).

Verse 16

Running under the lee of (υποδραμοντες). Second aorist active participle of υποτρεχω. Same use of υπο as in υπεπλευσαμεν (verses Acts 27:4; Acts 27:8) for "under the lee", under the protection of. Νησιον is diminutive of νησος, a small island. The MSS. vary between Cauda (B) and Clauda (Aleph).

To secure the boat (περικρατεις γενεσθα της σκαφης). "To become masters (περικρατεις from περ and κρατος, power over, found in Susannah and ecclesiastical writers, and here only in N.T.) of the boat ("dug out," like Indian boats, literally, from σκαπτω, to dig, old word, here only in N.T. and verses Acts 27:30; Acts 27:32). The smooth water behind the little island enabled them to do this.

When they had hoisted it up (ην αραντες). "Which (the little boat) having hoisted up (αραντες, verse Acts 27:13)." Even so it was "with difficulty" (μολις). Perhaps the little boat was waterlogged.

Used helps (βοηθειαις εχρωντο). Imperfect middle of χραομα with instrumental case. The "helps" were ropes or chains, no doubt.

Under-girding the ship (υποζωννυντες το πλοιον). Present active participle of υποζωννυμ. Old verb, here only in N.T. Probably cables (υποζωματα) or ropes were used under the hull of the ship laterally or even longitudinally, tightly secured on deck. This "frapping" was more necessary for ancient vessels because of the heavy mast. The little island made it possible to do this also.

Lest we be cast upon the Syrtis (μη εις την Συρτιν εκπεσωσιν). Final clause after verb of fearing (φοβουμενο) with μη and the second aorist active subjunctive of εκπιπτω, old verb to fall out or off, to be cast away. So here and verses Acts 27:26; Acts 27:29, a classical use of the verb for a ship driven out of its course on to shoals or rocks (Page who cites Xenophon, Anab. VII. 5, 12). The Syrtis was the name for two quicksands between Carthage and Cyrenaica, this clearly being the Syrtis Major most dangerous because of the sandbanks (συρτις, from συρω). The wind would drive the ship right into this peril if something were not done.

They lowered the gear (χαλασαντες το σκευος). First aorist active participle of χαλαω (cf. Luke 5:4 for lowering the nets). Σκευος means vessel or gear. They slackened or reduced sail, especially the mainsail, but leaving enough to keep the ship's head as close to the wind as was practicable.

So were driven (ουτως εφεροντο). Imperfect passive indicative again as in verse Acts 27:15 with the addition of ουτως (thus). The ship was now fixed as near to the wind (E N E) as possible (seven points). That would enable the ship to go actually W by N and so avoid the quicksands. J. Smith has shown that, a day being lost around Cauda, the ship going 36 miles in 24 hours in 13 days would make 468 miles. The Island of Malta (Melita) is precisely in that direction (W by N) from Cauda and is 480 miles. Page sees a difficulty about this explanation of the steady drift of the ship in the word διαφερομενον in verse Acts 27:27, but that was at the end of the drifting and the varied winds could have come then and not before. The whole narrative as explained carefully in Smith's Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul is a masterpiece of precise and accurate scholarship. A resume of his results appears in my Luke the Historian in the Light of Research.

Verse 18

As we laboured exceedingly with the storm (σφοδρως χειμαζομενων ημων). Genitive absolute with present passive participle of χειμαζω, old verb to afflict with a tempest (χειμα, stormy weather), to toss upon the waves, here alone in N.T.

They began to throw overboard (εκβαλην εποιουντο). Literally, "They began to make (inchoative imperfect middle of ποιεω) a casting out" (εκβολην from εκβαλλω, to cast out, old word, only here in N.T.). Cf. Latin jacturam facere. 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.

They cast out (εριψαν). Third person plural aorist active of ριπτω, not εριψαμεν as Textus Receptus.

With their own hands (αυτοχειρες). Old word (αυτοσ, χειρ) but here alone in N.T. Vivid and graphic touch by Luke who, of course, watched every movement day by day.

The tackling (την σκευην). The furniture of the ship that could be spared. It was becoming desperate.

Verse 20

When neither sun nor stars shone upon us (μητε ηλιου μητε αστρων επιφαινοντων). Genitive absolute again.

For many days (επ πλειονας ημερας). For more days than a few.

No small tempest (χειμονος ουκ ολιγου). Litotes again.

All hope that we should be saved was now taken away (λοιπον περιηιρειτο ελπις πασα του σωζεσθα ημας). "For the rest (or future) there began to be taken from around us (περιηιρειτο inchoative imperfect and see use of the verb in 2 Corinthians 13:16 of the veil) all hope of the being saved so far as we were concerned." Despair was beginning to settle like a fog on all their hopes. Had Paul lost hope?

Verse 21

When they had been long without food (πολλης τε ασιτιας υπαρχουσης). Genitive absolute, the old word ασιτια from ασιτος (verse Acts 27:33) α privative and σιτος, food, here alone in N.T. Literally, "There being much abstinence from food." They had plenty of grain on board, but no appetite to eat (sea-sickness) and no fires to cook it (Page). "Little heart being left for food" (Randall). Galen and other medical writers use ασιτια and ασιτος for want of appetite.

Stood forth (σταθεις). As in Acts 1:15; Acts 2:14; Acts 17:22. Pictorial word (Page) that sets forth the vividness and solemnity of the scene (Knowling).

Ye should have hearkened unto me (εδε μεν πειθαρχησαντας μο). Literally, "It was necessary for you hearkening unto me not to set sail (μη αναγεσθα)." It was not the "I told you so" of a small nature, "but a reference to the wisdom of his former counsel in order to induce acceptance of his present advice" (Furneaux). The first aorist active participle is in the accusative of general reference with the present infinitive αναγεσθα.

And have gotten this injury and loss (κερδησα τε την υβριν ταυτην κα την ζημιαν). This Ionic form κερδησα (from κερδαω) rather than κερδηνα or κερδανα is common in late Greek (Robertson, Grammar, p. 349). The Revised Version thus carries over the negative μη to this first aorist active infinitive κερδησα from κερδαω (cf. on Matthew 16:26). But Page follows Thayer in urging that this is not exact, that Paul means that by taking his advice they ought to have escaped this injury and loss. "A person is said in Greek 'to gain a loss' when, being in danger of incurring it, he by his conduct saves himself from doing so." This is probably Paul's idea here.

Verse 22

And now (κα τα νυν). Accusative plural neuter article of general reference in contrast with μεν in verse Acts 27:21. Paul shows modesty (Bengel) in the mild contrast.

No loss of life (αποβολη ψυχης ουδεμια). Old word from αποβαλλω, to throw away, only twice in N.T. Romans 11:15 (rejection) and here. He had foretold such loss of life as likely (verse Acts 27:10), but he now gives his reason for his changed view.

Verse 23

For there stood by me (παρεστη γαρ μο). Second aorist active (intransitive) indicative of παριστημ with the locative case (beside me). The very form used by Paul of his trial (2 Timothy 4:17) when "the Lord stood by me" (ο δε κυριος μο παρεστη) when others deserted him. This angel of the God whom Paul serves (in distinction from the heathen gods) is the reason for Paul's present confidence.

Verse 24

Thou must stand before Caesar (Καισαρ σε δε παραστηνα). Note the same δε (must) as in Acts 23:11 when Jesus appeared to Paul in Jerusalem and the same verb παραστηνα (second aorist active infinitive) used in verse Acts 27:23.

Hath granted thee (κεχαριστα σο). Perfect middle indicative of χαριζομα and that from χαρις, a gift or grace. The lives of those that sailed with Paul God had spared as a gift (χαρις) to Paul.

Verse 25

Wherefore be of good cheer (διο ευθυμειτε). God had spoken. That was enough. This old verb from ευθυμος in the N.T. only here, verse Acts 27:25; James 5:13. See the adjective Acts 27:36.

For I believe God (πιστευω γαρ τω θεω). This is Paul's reason for his own good cheer and for his exhortation to confidence in spite of circumstances so untoward. Paul had doubtless prayed for his own life and for the lives of all. He was sure that he was to bear his witness in Rome.

Verse 26

We must be cast (δε ημας εκπεσειν). It is necessary for us to fall out (εκπεσειν, second aorist active infinitive of εκπιπτω). It was not revealed to Paul what island it would be.

Verse 27

As we were driven to and fro (διαφερομενων ημων). Genitive absolute with present passive participle of διαφερω, old verb to bear different ways (δια δυο, two), this way and that. Continued to be tossed to and fro in the rough seas. It would seem so to those on board. It does not necessarily mean that the wind had changed. The fourteenth night is reckoned from the time they left Fair Havens.

In the sea of Adria (εν τω Hαδρια). Not the Adriatic Sea as we now call the sea between Italy and the mainland of Illyricum, but all the lower Mediterranean between Italy and Greece. Luke's usage is like that of Strabo.

Surmised (υπενοουν). Imperfect active indicative of υπονοεω, inchoative, began to suspect.

That they were drawing near to some country (προσαγειν τινα αυτοις χωραν). Infinitive with accusative of general reference in indirect assertion. Προσαγω is here used intransitively and Luke writes from the sailor's standpoint that a certain land was drawing near to them (αυτοις, dative). The sailors heard the sound of breakers and grew uneasy.

Verse 28

They sounded (βολισαντες). First aorist active participle of βολιζω rare verb only here and in Eustathius who says it was familiar in ancient Greek. Apparently from βολις, a missile or dart, and so to throw down the lead into the sea, to heave the lead, to take soundings. The inscriptions give βολιμος for "leaden."

Twenty fathoms (οργυιας εικοσ). This old word, from ορεγω, to stretch, means the distance from one outstretched middle finger tip to the other likewise out-stretched.

After a little space (βραχυ διαστησαντες). Literally, "standing apart a little" (second aorist active participle of διιστημ), that is, the ship going a short distance further on. A ship today approaching St. Paul's Bay by the rocky point of Koura would pass first twenty, then fifteen fathoms (Furneaux).

Verse 29

Lest haply we should be cast ashore on rocky ground (μη που κατα τραχεις τοπους εκπεσωμεν). The usual construction after a verb of fearing (μη and the aorist subjunctive εκπεσωμεν). Literally, "Lest somewhere (που) we should fall out down against (κατα) rocky places." The change in the soundings made it a very real fear. Τραχεις (rough) is old adjective, but in the N.T. only here and Luke 3:5 (from Isaiah 40:4).

Four anchors (αγκυρας τεσσαρας). Old word from αγκη. In N.T. only in this chapter, with ριπτω here, with εκτεινω in verse Acts 27:30, with περιαιρεω in verse Acts 27:40; and Hebrews 6:19 (figuratively of hope).

From the stern (εκ πρυμνης). Old word, but in N.T. only in Mark 4:38; here and Acts 27:41 in contrast with πρωιρα (prow). The usual practice was and is to anchor by the bows. "With a view to running the ship ashore anchoring from the stern would, it is said, be best" (Page). Nelson is quoted as saying that he had been reading Acts 27:27 the morning of the Battle of Copenhagen (April, 1801) where he anchored his ships from the stern.

Wished for the day (ηυχοντο). Imperfect middle, kept on praying for "day to come" (ημεραν γενεσθα) before the anchors broke under the strain of the storm or began to drag. If the ship had been anchored from the prow, it would have swung round and snapped the anchors or the stern would have faced the beach.

Verse 30

The sailors (των ναυτων). Old word from ναυς (ship), in N.T. only here, verse Acts 27:30; Revelation 18:17.

Were seeking (ζητουντων). Genitive absolute again with present active participle of ζητεω to seek.

Had lowered (χαλασαντων). Aorist active participle of χαλαζω.

Under colour (προφασε). Possibly the same word as "prophecy" (from προ φημ, to speak forth), but here pretence, pretext, although it may come from προφαινω, to show forth. The use here is an old one and appears also in Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47; 1 Thessalonians 2:5; Philippians 1:18.

As though (ως). The alleged reason, a common Greek idiom with ως and the participle (Robertson, Grammar, p. 966). Here with μελλοντων.

From the foreship (εκ πρωιρης). Old word for prow of the ship. In the N.T. only here and verse Acts 27:41. Note here εκτεινειν (lay out, stretch out) rather than ριψαντες (casting) in verse Acts 27:29, for they pretended to need the small boat to stretch out or lay out the anchors in front.

Verse 31

Except these abide in the ship (Εαν μη ουτο μεινωσιν εν τω πλοιω). Condition of the third class (undetermined, but with hope, etc.). Paul has no hesitancy in saying this in spite of his strong language in verse Acts 27:24 about God's promise. He has no notion of lying supinely down and leaving God to do it all. Without the sailors the ship could not be properly beached.

Verse 32

The ropes (τα σχοινια). Diminutive of σχοινος, old word, but in N.T. only here and John 2:15. Paul is now saviour of the ship and the soldiers quickly cut loose the skiff and "let her fall off" (ειασαν αυτην εκπεσειν) rather than be the means of the escape of the sailors who were needed. This dastardly scheme of the sailors would have brought frightful loss of life.

Verse 33

While the day was coming on (αχρ ου ημερα ημελλεν γινεσθα). More likely here αχρ ου (for αχρ τουτου ω) with the imperfect ημελλεν, has its usual meaning, "until which time day was about to come on (γινεσθα, present middle infinitive, linear action)." That is Paul kept on exhorting or beseeching (παρεκαλε, imperfect active) them until dawn began to come on (cf. verse Acts 27:39 when day came). In Hebrews 3:13 αχρ ου with the present indicative has to mean "so long as" or while, but that is not true here (Robertson, Grammar, p. 975). See on Acts 2:46 for the same phrase for partaking food (μεταλαμβανω τροφης, genitive case) as also in Acts 27:34. Paul wanted them to be ready for action when day really came. "Fourteenth day" repeated (verse Acts 27:27), only here in the accusative of duration of time (ημεραν). It is not clear whether the "waiting" (προσδοκωντες, present active participle predicate nominative complementary participle after διατελειτε, Robertson, Grammar, p. 1121) means fourteen days of continuous fasting or only fourteen successive nights of eager watching without food. Galen and Dionysius of Halicarnassus employ the very idiom used here by Luke (ασιτος διατελεω).

Having taken nothing (μηθεν προσλαβομενο). Second aorist middle participle of προσλαμβανω with the accusative μηθεν rather than the more usual μηδεν. Probably Paul means that they had taken no regular meals, only bits of food now and then.

Verse 34

For this is for your safety (τουτο γαρ προς της υμετερας σωτηριας υπαρχε). Note σωτηρια in sense of "safety," literal meaning, not spiritual salvation. This is the only instance in the N.T. of the use of προς with the ablative meaning "from the side of" your safety, though a classic idiom (Robertson, Grammar, p. 623), an example of Luke's literary style.

Perish (απολειτα). Future middle (intransitive) of απολλυμ (-υω), to destroy. So the oldest MSS. rather than πεσειτα from πιπτω, to fall. This proverbial expression occurs also in Luke 21:18 which see and in 1 Samuel 14:45; 2 Samuel 14:11; 1 Kings 1:52.

Verse 35

Gave thanks to God (ευχαριστησεν τω θεω). First aorist active indicative of ευχαριστεω from which our word "Eucharist" comes. It was saying grace like the head of a Hebrew family and the example of Paul would encourage the others to eat. Probably Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus had memories of the Lord's supper (Acts 2:42) while to others it was only an ordinary meal (Luke 24:30).

Verse 36

Then were they all of good cheer (ευθυμο δε γενομενο). More exactly, "Then all becoming cheerful," because of Paul's words and conduct.

Took food (προσελαβοντο τροφης). Partitive genitive here (some food), not accusative as verse Acts 27:33. Paul's courage was contagious.

Verse 37

Two hundred three-score and sixteen souls (διακοσια εβδομηκοντα εξ). The Vatican Manuscript (B) has ως in place of διακοσια (two hundred) which Westcott and Hort put in the margin. But Alford is probably correct in suggesting that the scribe of B wrote ως by repeating the omega in πλοιω with ς = 200 (Greek numeral). If the number 276 seems large, it is to be remembered that we do not know the size of the ship. Josephus (Life, 3) says that there were 600 on the ship that took him to Italy. The grain ships were of considerable size. The number included sailors, soldiers, and prisoners. A muster or roll call may have been made.

Verse 38

When they had eaten enough (κορεσθεντες τροφης). First aorist passive of κορεννυμ, old verb to satisfy, to satiate, with the genitive. Literally, "Having been satisfied with food." Here only in the N.T.

They lightened (εκουφιζον). Inchoative imperfect active, began to lighten. Old verb from κουφος and originally to be light, but transitive to lighten, as here, from Hippocrates on.

Throwing out the wheat (εκβαλλομενο τον σιτον). The cargo of wheat. The second εκβολη (verse Acts 27:18) or casting out and overboard which was only partially done at first.

Verse 39

They knew not (ουκ επεγινωσκον). Imperfect active of επιγινωσκω, to recognize. Probably conative, tried to recognize and could not (Conybeare and Howson). The island was well-known (Acts 28:1, επεγνωμεν), but St. Paul's Bay where the wreck took place was some distance from the main harbour (Valetta) of Melita (Malta).

They perceived (κατενοουν). Imperfect active of κατανοεω, gradually perceived after some effort as in Acts 11:16. This beach seemed their only hope.

They took counsel (εβουλευοντο). Imperfect middle showing the process of deliberation and doubt. The bay "having a beach" (εχοντα αιγιαλον) is a phrase found in Xenophon's Anabasis VI. 4, 4.

Whether they could drive (ε δυναιντο εκσωσα). This use of the optative with ε in questions of this sort (implied indirect) is a neat Greek idiom (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1021). B C Bohairic read εκσωσα (first aorist active infinitive of εκσωζω), to save out (so Westcott and Hort), instead of εξωσα (from εξωθεω, to push out, as Textus Receptus).

Verse 40

Casting off (περιελοντες). Second aorist active of περιαιρεω. Literally, "Having taken away from around," that is all four anchors from around the stern. Cf. the other verbs with αγκυρας in verse Acts 27:29; Acts 27:30.

They left them in the sea (ειων εις την θαλασσαν). Imperfect active of εαω, either descriptive or inchoative. They let the anchors go and the ropes fell down into the sea.

At the same time loosing the bands of the rudders (αμα ανεντες τας ζευκτηριας των πηδαλιων). On the use of αμα with the participle, old Greek idiom see Robertson, Grammar, p. 1139. The second aorist active participle of ανιημ, to relax, loosen up. Old verb, in N.T. Acts 16:26; Acts 27:40; Ephesians 6:9; Hebrews 13:5. Thayer notes that ζευκτηριας (bands) occurs nowhere else, but several papyri use it of yokes and waterwheels (Moulton and Milligan's Vocabulary). The word for rudders (πηδαλιον) is an old one (from πηδον, the blade of an oar), but in the N.T. only here and James 3:4. Page notes that the ancient ships had a pair of paddle rudders like those of the early northmen, one on each quarter. The paddle rudders had been fastened while the ship was anchored.

Hoisting up the foresail to the wind (επαραντες τον αρτεμωνα τη πνεουση). Supply αυρα (breeze) after πνεουση (blowing). It is not clear what "sail" is meant by "αρτεμωνα." No other example in Greek is known, though the scholiast to Juvenal XII. 68 explains ςελο προρα συο by artemone solo. Hence "foresail" is probably correct.

They made for the beach (κατειχον εις τον αιγιαλον). Imperfect active of κατεχω, to hold down, perhaps inchoative. "They began to hold the ship steadily for the beach."

Verse 41

But lighting upon (περιπεσοντες δε). Second aorist active participle of περιπιπτω, old verb to fall into and so be encompassed by as in Luke 10:30; James 1:2. There is a current on one side of St. Paul's Bay between a little island (Salmonetta) and Malta which makes a sand bank between the two currents. Unexpectedly the ship stuck in this sandbar.

Where two seas met (διθαλασσον). Used in Strabo and Dio Chrysostom for divided seas (δισ, θαλασσα).

They ran the vessel aground (επεκειλαν την ναυν). First aorist active indicative of old verb επικελλω, to run a ship ashore. Only here in N.T. Here also we have the only N.T. use of ναυς for ship (from ναω, νεω, to swim) so common in ancient Greek. Our word navy is from this word through the Latin.

Struck (ερεισασα). First aorist active participle of ερειδω, old verb to fix firmly. Only here in N.T.

Unmoveable (ασαλευτος). From α privative and σαλευω to shake. Old word. In N.T. only here and Hebrews 12:28.

Began to break up (ελυετο). Inchoative imperfect passive of the old verb λυω, to loosen. The prow was stuck in the sand-bar, and the stern was breaking to pieces by the opposing waves lashing on both sides. It was a critical moment.

Verse 42

Counsel was to kill (βουλη εγενετο ινα--αποκτεινωσιν). The soldiers did not relish the idea of the escape of the prisoners. Hence there came this "counsel" (βουλη). Regular Greek idiom for purpose (ινα and aorist active subjunctive of αποκτεινω, to kill). Soldiers were responsible for the lives of prisoners (Acts 12:19).

Swim out (εκκολυμβησας). First aorist active participle of εκκολυμβαω, old verb to swim out and so away.

Escape (διαφυγη). Second aorist (effective) active subjunctive of διαφευγω, to make a clean (δια) escape.

Verse 43

To save Paul (διασωσα τον Παυλον). Effective first aorist active infinitive of διασωζω. And no wonder for the centurion knew now how much they all owed to Paul.

Stayed them from their purpose (εκωλευσεν αυτους του βουληματος.) Ablative case of βουλημα after εκωλευσεν (from κωλευω, to hinder, common verb).

And get first to land (πρωτους εις την γην εξιενα). This classic verb εξειμ occurs four times in Acts (Acts 13:42; Acts 17:15; Acts 20:7; Acts 27:32) and nowhere else in the N.T. It was a wise command.

Verse 44

Some on planks (ους μεν επ σανισιν). Common Greek idiom (ους μεν--ους δε) for "some--some." The only N.T. instance of the old Greek word σανις for board or plank. The breaking of the ship gave scraps of timber which some used.

They all escaped safe (παντας διασωθηνα). First aorist passive infinitive of διασωζω (the very word used for the desire of the centurion about Paul) with accusative of general reference, the clause being subject of εγενετο. So Luke in this marvellous narrative, worthy of any historian in any age, shows how Paul's promise was fulfilled (verse Acts 27:24). Paul the prisoner is the hero of the voyage and shipwreck, a wonderful example of God's providential care.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Acts 27". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/acts-27.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.