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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Acts 27

Verse 1

Sail [αποπλειν] . Lit., sail away.

Band. See on Mark 14:16.

Verse 2

Meaning to sail [μελλοντες πλειν] . This refers the intention to the voyagers; but the best texts read mellonti, agreeing with ploiw, ship; so that the correct rendering is, as Rev., a ship - which was about to sail.

Verse 3

Touched [κατηχθημεν] . From kata, down, and agw, to lead or bring. To bring the ship down from deep water to the land. Opposed to ajnhxqhmen, put to sea (ver. 2); which is to bring the vessel up [ανα] from the land to deep water. See on Luke 8:22. Touched is an inferential rendering. Landed would be quite as good. From Caesarea to Sidon, the distance was about seventy miles.

Courteously [φιλανθρωπως] . Only here in New Testament. Lit., in a man - loving way; humanely; kindly. Rev., kindly, better than courteously. Courteous, from court, expresses rather polish of manners than real kindness.

To refresh himself [επιμελειας τυχειν] . Lit., to receive care or attention.

Verse 4

We sailed under [υπεπλευσαμεν] . Rev., correctly, under the lee of : under the protection of the land.

Verse 6

A ship of Alexandria. Employed in the immense corn trade between Italy and Egypt. See verse 38. The size of the vessel may be inferred from verse 37.

Verse 7

Many [ικαναις] . See on Luke 7:6.

Scarce [μολις] . Incorrect. Render, as Rev., with difficulty. See, also, hardly, in verse 8. The meaning is not that they had scarcely reached Cnidus when the wind became contrary, nor that they had come only as far as Cnidus in many days; but that they were retarded by contrary winds between Myra and Cnidus, a distance of about one hundred and thirty miles, which, with a favorable wind, they might have accomplished in a day. Such a contrary wind would have been the northwesterly, which prevails during the summer months in that part of the Archipelago.

Verse 9

The Fast. The great day of atonement, called "the Fast" by way of eminence. It occurred about the end of September. Navigation was considered unsafe from the beginning of November until the middle of March.

Verse 10

I perceive [θεωρω] . As the result of careful observation. See on Luke 10:18.

Hurt [υβρεως] . The word literally means insolence, injury, and is used here metaphorically : insolence of the winds and waves, "like our 'sport' or 'riot ' of the elements" (Hackett). Some take it literally, with presumption, as indicating the folly of undertaking a voyage at that season; but the use of the word in verse 21 is decisive against this.

Damage [ζημιας] . Better, as Rev., loss. Hurt and damage (A. V.) is tautological. See on the kindred verb, notes on lose, Matthew 16:26, and cast away, Luke 9:25.

Verse 11

Master [κυβερνητη] . Only here and Revelation 13:17. Lit., the steersman.

Verse 12

Not commodious [ανευθετου] . Lit., not well situated.

Lieth toward the southwest and northwest [βλεποντα κατα λιβα και κατα χωρον] . Instead of lieth, Rev., literally and correctly, renders looking. The difference between the Rev. and A. V., as to the points of the compass, turns on the rendering of the preposition kata The words southwest and northwest mean, literally, the southwest and northwest winds. According to the A. V., kata means toward, and has reference to the quarter from which these winds blow. According to the Rev., kata means down : "looking down the southwest and northwest winds," i e., in the direction toward which they blow, viz., northeast and southeast. This latter view assumes that Phenice and Lutro are the same, which is uncertain. For full discussion of the point, see Smith, "Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul;" Hackett, "Commentary on Acts;" Conybeare and Howson, "Life and Epistles of St. Paul."

Verse 13

Loosing thence [αραντες] . Lit., having taken up. It is the nautical phrase for weighing anchor. So Rev.

Verse 14

There arose against it [εβαλε κατ αυτης] . Against what? Some say, the island of Crete; in which case they would have been driven against the island, whereas we are told that they were driven away from it.

Others, the ship. It is objected that the pronoun aujthv, it, is feminine, while the feminine noun for ship [ναυς] is not commonly used by Luke, but rather the neuter, ploion. I do not think this objection entitled to much weight. Luke is the only New Testament writer who uses nauv (see verse 41), though he uses it but once; and, as Hackett remarks, "it would be quite accidental which of the terms would shape the pronoun at this moment, as they were both so familiar." A third explanation refers the pronoun to the island of Crete, and renders, "there beat down from it." This is grammatical, and according to a well - known usage of the preposition. The verb ballw is also used intransitively in the sense of to fall; thus Homer (" Iliad, "11, 722), of a river falling into the sea. Compare Mark 4:37 :" the waves beat [επεβαλλεν] into the ship; "and Luke 14:12 :" the portion of goods that falleth [επιβαλλον] to me. " The rendering of the Rev. is, therefore, well supported, and, on the whole, preferable : there beat down from it. It is also according to the analogy of the expression in Luke 8:23, there came down a storm. See note there, and on Matthew 8:24.

A tempestuous wind [ανεμος τυφωνικος] . Lit., a typhonic wind. The word tufwn means a typhoon, and the adjective formed from it means of the character of a typhoon.

Euroclydon [ευροκλυδων] . The best texts read Eujrakulwn, Euraquilo : i e., between Eurus, "the E. S. E. wind," and Aquilo, "the north - wind, or, strictly, N. 1/3 E." Hence, E. N. E.

Verse 15

Bear up [αντοφθαλμειν] . Only here in New Testament. From ajnti opposite, and ojfqalmov, the eye. Lit, to look the wind : in the eye. The ancient ships often had an eye painted on each side of the bow. To sail "into the eye of the wind" is a modern nautical phrase.

We let her drive [επιδοντες εφερομεθα] . Lit., having given up to it, we were born along.

Verse 16

We had much work to come by the boat [μολις ισχυσαμεν περικρατεις γενεσθαι της σκαφης] . Lit., we were with difficulty able to become masters of the boat : i e., to secure on deck the small boat which, in calm weather, was attached by a rope to the vessel 's stern. Rev., we were able with difficulty to secure the boat. On with difficulty, see note on scarce, ver. 7.

Verse 17

Helps [βοηθειαις] . Any apparatus on hand for the purpose : ropes, chains, etc.

Undergirding [υποζωννυντες] . In modern nautical language, frapping : passing cables or chains round the ship 's hull in order to support her in a storm. Mr. Smith (" Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul ") cites the following from the account of the voyage of Captain George Back from the arctic regions in 1837 : "A length of the stream chain - cable was passed under the bottom of the ship four feet before the mizzen - mast, hove tight by the capstan, and finally immovably fixed to six ringbolts on the quarter - deck. The effect was at once manifest by a great diminution in the working of the parts already mentioned; and, in a less agreeable way, by impeding her rate of sailing."

Quicksands [την συρτιν] . The rendering of the A. V. is too general. The word is a proper name, and has the article. There were two shoals of this name - the "Greater Syrtis" (Syrtis Major), and the "Smaller Syrtis" (Syrtis Minor). It was the former upon which they were in danger of being driven; a shallow on the African coast, between Tripoli and Barca, southwest of the island of Crete.

Strake sail [χαλασαντες το σκευος] . Lit., as Rev., lowered the gear. See on goods, Matthew 12:29. It is uncertain what is referred to here. To strike sail, it is urged, would be a sore way of running upon the Syrtis, which they were trying to avoid. It is probably better to understand it generally of the gear connected with the fair - weather sails. "Every ship situated as this one was, when preparing for a storm, sends down upon deck the 'top - hamper, ' or gear connected with the fair - weather sails, such as the topsails. A modern ship sends down top - gallant masts and yards; a cutter strikes her topmast when preparing for a gale" (Smith, "Voyage," etc.). The stormsails were probably set.

Verse 18

Lightened [εκβολην εποιουντο] . Lit., made a casting out. Rev., began to throw the freight overboard. Note the imperfect, began to throw. The whole cargo was not cast overboard : the wheat was reserved to the last extremity (ver. 38).

Verse 19

Tackling [σκευην] . The word means equipment, furniture. The exact meaning here is uncertain. Some suppose it to refer to the main - yard; an immense spar which would require the united efforts of passengers and crew to throw overboard. It seems improbable, however, that they would have sacrificed so large a spar, which, in case of shipwreck, would support thirty or forty men in the water. The most generally received opinion is that it refers to the furniture of the ship - beds, tables, chests, etc.

Verse 21

Hearkened [πειθαρχησαντας] . See on obey, ch. 5 29.

Loosed [αναγεσθαι] . Rev., set sail. See on Luke 8:22.

Harm [υβριν] . See on ver. 10.

Verse 23

The angel. Rev., correctly, an angel. There is no article.

Of God [του θεου] . Rev., correctly, supplies the article : "the God," added because Paul was addressing heathen, who would have understood by angel a messenger of the gods.

Verse 27

Adria. The Adriatic Sea : embracing all that part of the Mediterranean lying south of Italy, east of Sicily, and west of Greece.

Deemed [υπενοουν] . Better, as Rev., suspected or surmised.

That they drew near to some country. Lit., that some land is drawing near to them.

Verse 30

Under color [προφασει] . Lit., on pretense.

Cast [εκτεινειν] . Lit., to stretch out. The meaning is, to carry out an anchor to a distance from the prow by means of the small boat. Rev., lay out.

Verse 33

While the day was coming on [αχρι δε ου εμελλεν ημερα γινεσθαι] . Lit., until it should become day : in the interval between midnight and morning.

Verse 39

Bay [κολπον] . See on bosom, Luke 6:38.

Shore [αιγιαλον] . See on Matthew 13:2. Better, as Rev., beach.

They were minded [εβουλευσαντο] . Better, as Rev., took counsel. See on Matthew 1:19.

Verse 40

Taken up [περιελοντες] . Wrong. The word means to remove, and refers here to cutting the anchor - cables, or casting off, as Rev.

Committed themselves [ειων] . Wrong. The reference is to the anchors. Rev., correctly, left them in the sea.

Rudder bands [ζευκτηριας των πηδαλιων] . Lit., the bands of the rudders. The larger ships had two rudders, like broad oars or paddles, joined together by a pole, and managed by one steersman. They could be pulled up and fastened with hands to the ship; as was done in this case, probably to avoid fouling the anchors when they were cast out of the stern. The bands were now loosened, in order that the ship might be driven forward.

Mainsail [αρτεμωνα] . Only here in New Testament. Probably the foresail. So Rev.

Made toward [κατειχον] . Lit., held; bore down for.

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The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Acts 27". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/vnt/acts-27.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.