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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Acts 27

 

 

Verses 1-12

Paul Sails for Rome - Acts 27:1-12 gives us the account of how Paul and the others embarked on the long voyage for Rome.

Acts 27:2 — "one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica" - Comments- In Paul"s letter to the Colossians , which he would later write from prison, he warmly refers to Aristarchus as "my fellowprisoner" ( Colossians 4:10). This must include a reference to the incredible voyage that they experienced together, as they became life-long friends during this journey.

Colossians 4:10, "Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister"s son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)"

Acts 27:9Comments - Heinrich Meyer says the fast in Acts 27:9 refers to the Day of Atonement when the nation of Israel afflicted their souls by fasting for a day ( Leviticus 16:29-31; Leviticus 23:27). 321] The Day of Atonement took place on the tenth day of the seventh Jewish month called Tisri, which is equivalent to late September or early October on the Roman calendar used today. 322] This time of change in seasons was subject to storm, which made sailing in the Mediterranean dangerous.

321] Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Acts of the Apostles, vol 2, trans. Paton J. Gloag and William P Dickson, in Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Edinburgh, T. & T. Clark, 1877), 291-292.

322] Albert Barnes, Acts , in Barnes" Notes, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), comments on Acts 27:9.

Leviticus 16:29-31, "And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever."

Leviticus 23:27, "Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD."

Acts 27:10Comments- In the midst of life's storms, the Lord will always speak to us if we will listen. In this situation, the Lord spoke His will through Paul the apostle, but the centurion chose to believe circumstances instead of Paul's words and when a soft wind blew ( Acts 27:13), the men in charge of the ship made their decision to sail. So often in life's storms, people tend to make decisions based upon circumstances instead of taking the time to wait upon the Lord and listen to His divine direction. There is always trouble for those who do not find God's direction in the midst of troubled times.

Kenneth Hagin uses this verse as an excellent illustration of someone being led by his inward witness. Paul did not say that an angel appeared to me or that the Lord spoke to him, but he says that he heart perceives a truth about the voyage. 323]

323] Kenneth Hagin, Following God's Plan For Your Life (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c 1993, 1994), 101.


Verses 1-29

The Witness of Paul's Journey to Rome (A.D 60-62) - Acts 27:1 to Acts 28:29 gives us the testimony of Paul's perilous journey to Rome by sea which many scholars estimate took place around A.D 60. This was not Paul's first shipwreck. His second epistle to the Corinthians, written prior to his arrest in Jerusalem, testifies of three shipwrecks that he suffered as well as a night and a day floating in the sea ( 2 Corinthians 11:25). Thus, we can assume that the shipwreck recorded in Acts is Paul's fourth life-threatening experience at sea.

2 Corinthians 11:25, "Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;"

Luke organizes the narrative material of Paul's arrest, trials, and journey to Rome ( Acts 21:1 to Acts 28:31) as testimony of Paul's innocence, perhaps as a legal brief to be presented at Paul's first trial in Rome. Paul has been brought to trial five times leading up to his journey by sea to Rome. Within this context, this narrative account in the book of Acts records at least three events that testify to Paul's innocence. He is visited by an angel in the midst of the storm, he is bitten by a snake and suffers no harm, and he is given liberty in Rome to minister to those who visit him.

Outline- Here is a proposed outline of Acts 27:1 to Acts 28:29

1. Paul Sails for Rome — Acts 27:1-12

2. The Storm at Sea — Acts 27:13-38

3. The Shipwreck — Acts 27:39-44

4. Paul on the Island of Malta — Acts 28:1-10

5. Paul Arrives in Rome — Acts 28:11-16

6. Paul Ministers in Rome — Acts 28:17-29

The Historical Details Provided in the Account of Paul's Voyage to Rome- This story of Paul's voyage and shipwreck at sea provides more detail about ancient navigation than any other work of Latin or Greek literature. It reveals the historical reliability of the book of Acts as well as the support that the author of Acts was an eyewitness of this event. No less than sixteen technical terms are used by Luke to describe the navigation and management of an ancient ship at sea, all of them found to be accurate. Luke is also accurate is his description of the locations of numerous islands and cities that were encountered on this voyage.

The Time of Year When Paul Sailed to Rome- It becomes clear in these final two chapters that Paul embarked on this journey by sea during the late fall or early winter months ( Acts 27:9). Most shipping ceases in the Mediterranean Sea during the winter because of the unpredictable weather conditions.

Acts 27:9, "Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,"


Verses 13-38

The Storm at Sea - Acts 27:13-38 gives us the account of the storm at sea.

Acts 27:13 — "supposing that they had obtained their purpose" - Comments- Hendrich Meyer says this phrase literally means, "to have become masters of their purpose," and within the context of this verse, it means, "to be able safely to accomplish it." 324]

324] Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Acts of the Apostles, vol 2, trans. Paton J. Gloag and William P Dickson, in Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Edinburgh, T. & T. Clark, 1877), 293.

Acts 27:16 — "we had much work to come by the boat" - Comments- They had great difficulty in securing the small boat that was being towed behind.

Acts 27:17Comments - They brought up the small boat into the larger ship in order to secure it, then used what robes or cords available on board to undergird the ship by wrapped them under the keel. Because of the fear of being stuck on sandy shoals, and the ship torn apart in the sea, the sails were hoisted down from the mast so that the waves drove the boat slower.

Acts 27:18Comments - The sailors proceeded to toss overboard the cargo of the ship, anything that was not necessary for survival.

Acts 27:19Comments - On the third day of the storm, everyone joined in to toss overboard additional items, perhaps meaning the ship's equipment for sailing and navigating. We read later about the ship's anchors ( Acts 27:29), the small boat ( Acts 27:30-32), food ( Acts 27:33-36), wheat ( Acts 27:38), and the main sail ( Acts 27:40) being in the ship. Thus, there were a number of items that remained on board until the end.

Acts 27:20Comments- The stars were used for navigation, so when the clouds prevented the moon and stars from appearing, the sailors had no way to identify their location at sea. They because lost at sea with no ability to navigate.

Acts 27:22 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.

Acts 27:23 For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I Amos , and whom I serve,

Acts 27:23Comments- Paul lived in a polytheistic society, where people believed there were many gods. Therefore, he was making a clear distinction between their pagan gods and His one true and living God, who alone was able to save.

Acts 27:24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.

Acts 27:25 Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.

Acts 27:25 — "for I believe God" - Comments- Here was Paul, on an unstable ship, surrounded with people who had no hope, with nothing in the natural showing any signs of stability or hope. This is a clear illustration that, ultimately, the only thing in life that is stable is the Word of God.

Habakkuk 3:17-19, "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds" feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments."

Acts 27:25Comments- In this passage Paul made a clear confession of faith that set his course for divine deliverance. He said that he had heard and that "I believe" and "it shall be." He had heard from God, he believed God's Word and he spoke God's Word. This principle is taught in Robert Tilton's book Decide Decree Declare. 325]

325] Robert Tilton, Decide Decree Declare (Dallas, Texas: Robert Tilton Ministries, c 1989, 1991).

Illustration- Today, as I had just listened to the international news reports of the storm and flooding in Louisiana and Mississippi, I turned to the story of Paul's shipwreck recorded in Acts 27-28. I then understood that Paul was saved and those with him during a similar storm because he heard from God. We, too, are going to have to hear God's voice during these difficult days leading up to the Rapture of the Church and the Great Tribulation Period. Otherwise, many Christians are going to perish are they are now. They will go to heaven, but they did not heed the voice of God about impending danger that lay ahead. (September 1, 2005)

Acts 27:26 Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.

Acts 27:20-26Comments- Paul's Vision - Acts 27:20-26 records a divine vision given to Paul in the mist of this perilous storm at sea. These divine oracles are embedded within the narrative material of Acts 21:1 to Acts 28:31. For example, Paul received divine oracles from the seven daughters of Philip the evangelist and the prophet Agabus ( Acts 21:8); he testifies of his divine vision on the road to Damascus and of the prophecy of Ananias ( Acts 22:6-16); Luke records Paul's angelic visitation while in prison at Caesarea ( Acts 23:11); Paul testifies again of his divine vision on the road to Damascus ( Acts 26:12-19); Luke records Paul's angelic visitation at sea ( Acts 27:20-26).

Acts 27:29Comments- Bob Cornuke has written a book entitled The Lost Shipwreck of Paul in which he describes the discovery of large four ship anchors, which now lie in government storage on the island of Malta. The University of Malta has dated these anchors back to the time of Paul. They are believed to have come from an ancient Alexandrian grain freight ships that sailed the Mediterranean Sea during the first century. Cornuke believes that these four anchors belong to the very ship that Paul sailed upon when it wrecked on the island of Malta, making these four anchors the first biblical artifacts that have been confirmed as genuine. 326]

326] Bob Cornuke, The Lost Shipwreck of Paul (Global Publishing Services, http://www.IndyPublish.com, 2003).

Acts 27:32Comments- The soldiers were beginning to perceive Paul as a man of great wisdom and stature. Earlier in the voyage, Paul"s words were ignored ( Acts 27:11).

Acts 27:11, "Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul."


Verses 39-44

The Shipwreck - Acts 27:39-44 gives us the account of the shipwreck on the island of Malta.

Acts 27:43Comments- God gave Paul favor with man. This is because Paul walked in mercy and truth ( Proverbs 3:3-4).

Proverbs 3:3-4, "Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man."

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Acts 27:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/acts-27.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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