corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.12.12
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
Acts 27

 

 

Verse 1

1.] τοῦ (see reff.) contains the purpose of ἐκρίθη. The matter of the decision implied in ἐκρίθη is expressed in this form as if governed by the substantive κρίσις, as in ch. Acts 20:3, ἐγένετο γνώμης τοῦ ὑποστρέφειν. Meyer remarks that the expressions κελεύειν ἵνα, εἰπεῖν ἵνα, θέλειν ἵνα, &c. are analogous.

ἡμᾶς] Here we have again the first person, the narrator having, in all probability, remained in Palestine, and in the neighbourhood of Paul, during the interval since ch. Acts 21:18.

παρεδίδουν] Who? perhaps the assessors with whom Festus took counsel on the appeal, ch. Acts 25:12; but more likely the plural is used indefinitely, the subject being ‘they,’ = ‘on’ (Fr.), or ‘man’ (Germ.).

ἑτέρους δ.] This expression, says Meyer, is purposely chosen, to intimate, that they were prisoners of another sort (not also Christians under arrest). But De W. shews this to be a mistake, by ἕτεραι πολλαί, Luke 8:3, = ἄλλαι πολλαί, Mark 15:41, in both places meaning ‘many others of the same sort.’ Here also they are of the same class, as far as δεσμῶται is concerned: further, nothing is implied in the narrative, one way or the other.

σπείρης σεβαστῆς] There is some difficulty in determining what this cohort was. We must not fall into the mistake of several of the Commentators, that of confounding this σπ. σεβασ τή with an ἵλη ἱππέων καλουμένη σεβαστ ηνῶν, mentioned by Josephus, B. J. ii. 12. 5, and Antt. xx. 6. 1, this latter implying ‘natives of Samaria’ ( σεβαστή),—whereas our word is the same adjective as that name itself, and cannot by any analogy have reference to it. More than one of the legions at different times bore the honorary title ‘Augusta.’ Wetst. quotes from Claudian de Bell. Gild(155) ‘Dictaque ab Augusto legio:’ from inscriptions in Mauritania, Legio III. Aug., II. Aug., VIII. Aug.: from Ptolemy, ii. 3, λεγεὼν δευτέρα σεβαστή (in Britain); iv. 3, λεγεὼν γ. σεβαστή; but of a ‘cohors Augusta,’ or ‘Augustana,’ we never hear. De Wette and Meyer suggest (but we have no historical proof of the supposition) that it was one among the five cohorts stationed at Cæsarea (see note, ch. Acts 25:23) thus distinguished as the body-guard of the emperor (?), and therefore chosen for any services immediately concerning him, as in this case. Meyer thinks it may be the same (but then would the appellations be different?) with the σπεῖρα ἰταλική of ch. Acts 10:1. It is remarkable that almost all the Commentators have assumed, without any reason, that this σπ. σεβαστή must have been stationed at Cæsarea, whereas it may well have been a cohort, or body of men so called, at Rome. Wieseler is the only one that I have seen who has not fallen into this error. He controverts the other interpretations (Chron. d. Apost.-g. note, p. 391), and infers that Julius belonged to the Augustani, mentioned Tacitus xiv. 15, and Suet. Nero, 20 and 25 (see also Dio Cass. lxi. 20: ἦν μὲν γάρ τι καὶ ἴδιον αὐτῷ σύστημα ἐς πεντακισχιλίους στρατιώτας παρεσκευασμένον· αὐγούστειοί τε ὠνομάζοντο· καὶ ἐξῆρχον τῶν ἐπαίνων, and lxiii. 8), who appear to have been identical with the evocati (veterans specially summoned to service by the emperors), and to have formed Nero’s body-guard on his journey to Greece. The first levying of this band by Augustus, Dio relates, xlv. 12. To this Julius seems to have belonged,—to have been sent on some service into Asia, and now to have been returning to Rome.

We read of a Julius Priscus, Prefect of the Prætorian guards under Vitellius, who killed himself ‘pudore magis quam necessitate,’ after the military murder by Mucianus of Calpurnius Galerianus. This was ten years after the date of our narrative; but the identity of the two must be only conjectural.


Verses 1-31

Acts 27:1 to Acts 28:31.] PAUL’S VOYAGE TO ROME AND SOJOURN THERE. I cannot but express the benefit I have derived in my commentary on this section, from Mr. Smith’s now well-known treatise on the voyage and shipwreck of St. Paul: as also from various letters which he has from time to time put into my hands, tending further to elucidate the subject. The substance of these will be found embodied in an excursus following the chronological table in the prolegomena.


Verse 2

2. ἀδραμυττηνῷ] Adramyttium ( ἀδραμύττιον, - ειον, or ἀτραμύττιον, and in Plin. Acts 27:32, Adramytteos) was a seaport with a harbour in Mysia, an Athenian colony. It is now a village called Eudramit. Grotius, Drusius, and others erroneously suppose Adrumetum to be meant, on the north coast of Africa (Winer, Realw.).

πλεῖν [ εἰς] τοὺς.…] The bracketed εἰς is in all probability an insertion to help off the harshness of the construction. But the accusative is indicative of the direction. We have ἦλθε πολυνείκης χθόνα, Eur. Phœniss. 110. See Winer, edn. 6, § 32. 1, on the accus. after neuter verbs, and Bernhardy, Syntax, pp. 114 ff., and other instances in Wetstein.

ἀριστάρχ.] See ch. Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4; Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:24. In Colossians 4:10, Paul calls him his συναιχμάλωτος, but perhaps only figuratively: the same term is applied to Epaphras, Philemon 1:23, where follows ἀρίσταρχος, δημᾶς, λουκᾶς, οἱ σύνεργοί μου.


Verse 3

3. σιδῶνα] This celebrated city is generally joined in the N. T. with Tyre, from which it was distant 200 stadia (Strabo, xvi. 756 ff.), and of which it was probably the mother city. It was within the lot of the tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:28), but never conquered by the Israelites (Judges 1:31; Judges 3:3). From the earliest times the Sidonians were renowned for their manufactures of glass (‘Sidon artifex vitri,’ Plin. Acts 27:19), linen ( πέπλοι παμποίκιλοι ἔργα γυναικῶν σιδονίων, Il. ζ. 290), silversmith’s work (Il. ψ. 743, and Od. ο. 115, &c.), and for the hewing of timber (1 Kings 5:6; Ezra 3:7). In ancient times, Sidon seems to have been under Tyre, and to have furnished her with mariners (see Ezekiel 27:8). It went over to Shalmaneser, king of Assyria (Jos. Antt. ix. 14. 2); but seems under him, and afterwards under the Chaldæans and Persians, to have had tributary kings of its own (Jeremiah 25:22; Jeremiah 27:3; Herod. viii. 67). The Sidonians furnished the best ships in Xerxes’ navy, Herod. vii. 96, 99. Under Artaxerxes Oehus Sidon freed itself, but was by him, after a severe siege, taken and destroyed (Diod. Sic. xvi. 43 ff.). It was rebuilt, and soon after went over to Alexander, keeping its own vassal kings. After his death it was alternately under Syrian and Egyptian rule, till it fell under the Romans. The present Saida is west of ancient Sidon, and is a port of some commerce, but insecure, from the sanding up of the harbour (Winer, Realw. See also Robinson, vol. iii. pp. 415 ff., who gives an account of the history of Sidon during the middle ages).

πορευθέντι] This dat. looks very like a grammatical correction: the πορευθέντα of the rec. would be an instance of an acc. with inf. after a dat. preceding, as ch. Acts 26:20; Acts 22:17. The φίλοι here mentioned were probably Christian brethren (see ch. Acts 11:19, where the Gospel is said to have been preached in Phœnicia; and ch. Acts 21:3, where we find brethren at Tyre); but it is usual in that case for ἀδελφοί or μαθηταί to be specified: cf. ch. Acts 21:4; Acts 21:7. The ἐπιμελείας τυχεῖν was perhaps to obtain from them that outfit for the voyage which, on account of the official precision of his custody at Cæsarea, he could not there be provided with.


Verse 4

4. ὑπεπλεύσαμεν] sailed under, i.e. ‘in the lee of,’ Cyprus. “Ubi navis vento contrario cogitur a recto cursu decedere, ita ut tunc insula sit interposita inter ventum et navem, dicitur ferri infra insulam.” Wetst., who also says, “Si ventus favisset, alto se commisissent, et Cyprum ad dexteram partem reliquissent, ut Acts 21:3, nunc autem coguntur legere littus Ciliciæ, inter Cyprum et Asiam.” With this explanation Mr. Smith agrees; and there can hardly be a doubt that it is the right one. The κατὰ τὴν ἀσίαν τόποι of Acts 27:2 being to the west of Pamphylia (which was not in Asia, ch. Acts 2:10), the direct course thither would have been S. of Cyprus; but having the wind contrary, i.e. from the W. or N.W. (“the very wind which might have been expected in this part of the Mediterranean at this season (summer). Admiral de Saumarez writes, Aug. 19, 1798, ‘We have just gained sight of Cyprus, so invariably do the westerly winds prevail at this season.’ ” Smith, p. 27), they kept under shelter of Cyprus, i.e. between Cyprus and Cilicia; and so διαπλεύσαντες, having sailed the whole length of the sea off Cilicia and Pamphylia, they came to Myra. See the account of the reverse voyage, ch. Acts 21:3, where, the wind being nearly in the same quarter (see Acts 27:1, εὐθυδρομήσαντες εἰς τ. κῶ), the direct course was taken, and they left Cyprus at a distance (for so ἀναφ. seems to imply) on their left, in going to Tyre. On the διαπλεύσαντες, &c., it may be well to quote (from Smith) the testimony of M. de Pagés, a French navigator, who, on his voyage from Syria to Marseilles, informs us that after making Cyprus, “the winds from the west, and consequently contrary, which prevail in these places during the summer, forced us to run to the north. We made for the coast of Caramania (Cilicia), in order to meet the northerly winds, which we found accordingly.”


Verse 5

5. ΄ύῤῥα] εἶτα ΄ύρα ἐν εἴκοσι σταδίοις ὑπὲρ τῆς θαλάττης ἐπὶ μετεώρου λόφου, Strabo xiv. 3,— λέντλος ἐπιπεμφθεὶς ἀνδριάκῃ ΄υρέων ἐπινείῳ, τήν τε ἅλυσιν ἔῤῥηξε τοῦ λιμένος, καὶ εἰς ΄ύρα ἀνῄει. The neighbourhood is full of magnificent ruins; see Sir C. Fellows’s Lycia, ch. 9. The name still remains. The various readings merely shew that the copyists were unacquainted with the place.


Verse 6

6.] The Alexandrian ship may have been laden with corn for Rome; but this cannot be inferred from Acts 27:38, for the ship had been lightened before, Acts 27:18.

On her size, see below, Acts 27:37.

Most probably this ship had been prevented taking the direct course to Italy, which was by the south of Crete, by the prevailing westerly winds. Under such circumstances, says Mr. Smith (p. 32), “ships, particularly those of the ancients, unprovided with a compass, and ill calculated to work to windward, would naturally stand to the N. till they made the land of Asia Minor, which is peculiarly favourable for such a mode of navigation, because the coast is bold and safe, and the elevation of the mountains makes it visible at a great distance; it abounds in harbours, while the sinuosities of its shores and the westerly current would enable them, if the wind was at all off the land, to work to windward, at least as far as Cnidus, where these advantages ceased. Myra lies due N. from Alexandria, and its bay is well calculated to shelter a wind-bound ship. The Alexandrian ship was not, therefore, out of her course at Myra, even if she had no call to touch there for the purposes of commerce.”

πλέον, the present, should be rendered on her voyage.


Verse 7

7. βραδυπλ.] It is evident that the ship was encountering an adverse wind. The distance from Myra to Cnidus is only 130 geogr. miles, which, with a fair wind, would not take more than one day. Mr. Smith shews that the wind was N.W., or within a few points of it. “We learn from the sailing directions for the Mediterranean, that, throughout the whole of that sea, but mostly in the eastern half, including the Adriatic and Archipelago, N.W. winds prevail in the summer months; … the summer Etesiæ come from the N.W. (p. 197); which agrees with Aristotle’s account of these winds,— οἱ ἐτησίαι λεγόμενοι μέξιν ἔχοντες τῶν τε ἀπὸ τῆς ἄρκτου φερομένων κ. ζεφύρου, de Mundo, ch. 4. According to Pliny (ii. 47), they begin in August, and blow for forty days.”

μόλις] with difficulty: not as E. V., ‘scarce,’ which being also an adv. of time, gives the erroneous idea to the English reader that the ship had scarcely reached Cnidus when the wind became unfavourable.

γεν. κατά] having come over against, as E. V.

κνίδον] Cnidus is a peninsula at the entrance of the Ægean Sea, between the islands of Cos and Rhodes, having a lofty promontory and two harbours, Strabo, xiv. 2. “With N.W. winds the ship could work up from Myra to Cnidus; because, until she reached that point, she had the advantage of a weather shore, under the lee of which she would have smooth water, and, as formerly mentioned, a westerly current; but it would be slowly and with difficulty. At Cnidus that advantage ceased.” Smith, p. 37.

γὴ προσεῶντ.] The common idea has been that the prep. in composition implies that the wind would not suffer them to put in at Cnidus. But this would hardly be reconcileable with the fact; for when off Cnidus they would be in shelter under the high land, and there would be no difficulty in putting in. I should be rather inclined to regard this clause as explaining the μόλις above, and the πρός in composition as implying contribution, or direction: ‘with difficulty, the wind not permitting us by favouring our course.’

ὑπεπλ. [see above on Acts 27:4] τ. κρ. κ. σαλμώνην] “Unless she had put into that harbour (Cnidus), and waited for a fair wind, her only course was to run under the lee of Crete, in the direction of Salmone, which is the eastern extremity of that island.”

Salmone (Capo Salomon) is described by Strabo (x. 4) as ὀξὺ ἀκρωτήριον τὸ σαμώνιον, ἐπὶ τὴν αἴγυπτον νεῦον, καὶ τὰς ῥοδίων νήσους. Pliny (iv. 12) calls it Sammonium.


Verse 8

8. μόλις παρ.] “After passing this point (Salmone), the difficulty they experienced in navigating to the westward along the coasts of Asia, would recur; but as the south side of Crete is also a weather shore with N.W. winds, they would be able to work up as far as Cape Matala. Here the land trends suddenly to the N., and the advantages of a weather shore cease, and their only resource was to make for a harbour. Now Fair Havens is the harbour nearest to Cape Matala, the farthest point to which an ancient ship could have attained with N.W.-ly winds”. Smith, ib.

παραλεγ. does not, as Servius on Æn. iii. 127 supposes, imply that the ship was towed (“funem legendo, i.e. colligendo, aspera loca prætereunt”), but, as Meyer explains it, that, the places on the coast being touched (or perhaps, rather, appearing) one after another, are, as it were, gathered up by the navigators.

Mr. Smith (p. 42) exposes the mistake of Eustathius (adopted by Valpy, from Dr. Falconer), by which the ship taking the S. coast of Crete is attempted to be explained: viz. δυσλίμενος ἡ κρήτη πρὸς τὴν βόῤῥαν: whereas there are, in fact, excellent harbours on the N. side of Crete,—Souda and Spina Longa.

καλοὺς λιμένας] The situation of this anchorage was ascertained by Pococke, from the fact of the name still remaining. “In searching after Lebena farther to the west, I found out a place which I thought to be of greater consequence, because mentioned in Holy Scripture, and also honoured by the presence of St. Paul, that is, ‘the Fair Havens, near unto the city of Lasea;’ for there is another small bay about two leagues to the E. of Matala, which is now called by the Greeks good or fair havens ( λιμέονες καλούς):” (Calolimounias of Mr. Brown’s letter: see excursus as above.) Travels in the East, ii. p. 250: cited by Mr. Smith, who adds: “The most conclusive evidence that this is the Fair Havens of Scripture, is, that its position is precisely that where a ship circumstanced as St. Paul’s was, must have put in. I have already shewn that the wind must have been about N.W.;—but with such a wind she could not pass Cape Matala: we must therefore look near, but to the E. of this promontory, for an anchorage well calculated to shelter a vessel in N.W. winds, but not from all winds, otherwise it would not have been, in the opinion of seamen (Acts 27:12), an unsafe winter harbour. Now here we have a harbour which not only fulfils every one of the conditions, but still retains the name given to it by St. Luke.” Smith, p. 45. He also gives an engraving of the place from a sketch by Signr. Schranz, the artist who accompanied Mr. Pashley in his travels.

There is no ground for identifying this anchorage with καλὴ ἀκτή mentioned as a city in Crete by Steph. Byzant. For this is clearly not the name of a city, by the subjoined notice, ᾧ ἐγγὺς ἦν πόλις λασέα.

Nor is there any reason to suppose, with Meyer, that the name καλοὶ λιμ. was euphemistically given,—because the harbour was not one to winter in: this (see above) it may not have been, and yet may have been an excellent refuge at particular times, as now, from prevailing westerly winds.

λασέα] This place was, until recently, altogether unknown; and from the variety of readings, the very name was uncertain. Pliny (iv. 12) mentions Lasos among the cities of Crete, but does not indicate its situation. It is singular, and tends to support the identity of Lasos with our Lasea, that as here Alassa, so there Alos, is a various reading. The reading Thalassa appears to have been an error of a transcriber from - αλασσα forming so considerable a part of a word of such common occurrence.

There is a Lisia named in Crete in the Peutinger Table, which may be the same. On the very interesting discovery of Lasea by the Rev. G. Brown in the beginning of the year 1856, see the excursus at the end of Prolegg. to Acts. The ruins are on the beach, about two hours eastward of Fair Havens.


Verse 9

9. ἱκανοῦ χρ.] Not ‘since the beginning of our voyage,’ as Meyer:—the time was spent at the anchorage.

τοῦ πλοός] Not ‘sailing,’ but the voyage, viz. to Rome,—which henceforth was given up as hopeless for this autumn and winter. That this is the meaning of ὁ πλοῦς, see ch. Acts 21:7. And by observing this, we avoid a difficulty which has been supposed to attend the words. Sailing was not unsafe so early as this (see below); but to undertake so long a voyage, was.

τὴν νηστείαν] The fast, κατʼ ἐξοχήν, is the solemn fast of the day of expiation, the 10th of Tisri, the seventh month of the Jewish ecclesiastical year, and the first of the civil year. See Leviticus 16:29 ff; Leviticus 23:26 ff. This would be about the time of the autumnal equinox. The sailing season did not close so early: ‘Ex die igitur tertio iduum Novembris, usque in diem sextum iduum Martiarum, maria clauduntur.’ Vegetius (Smith, p. 45, note) de Re Milit. iv. 39.


Verse 10

10.] From the use of θεωρῶ here, and from the saying itself, it seems clear to me that Paul was not uttering at present any prophetic intimation, but simply his own sound judgment on the difficult question at issue. It is otherwise at Acts 27:22-24. As Smith remarks, “The event justified St. Paul’s advice. At the same time it may be observed, that a bay, open to nearly one half the compass, could not have been a good winter harbour.” (p. 47.)

μετὰ ὕβρεως is interpreted by Meyer as subjective—‘accompanied with presumption on our part:’ but not to mention that this would be a very unusual sense, Acts 27:21, κερδῆσαι τὴν ὕβριν ταύτ. κ. τ. ζημίαν, is decisive (De W.) against it.

ὅτι μέλλειν] A mixing of two constructions, see Winer, edn. 6, § 44. 8, remark 2. This is most flagrant in later writers, as Pausanias and Arrian,—see Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 369; but is also found earlier, e.g. Plato, Charm., p. 165: οὐκ ἂν αἰσχυνθείην ὅτι μὴ οὐχὶ ὀρθῶς φάναι εἰρηκέναι. Isæus, περὶ τοῦ φιλοκτ. κληρ. p. 57: ἐπειδὴ δὲ προσδιαμεμαρτύρηκεν ὡς υἱὸν εἶναι γνήσιον εὐκτήμονος τοῦτον … See other references in Winer, 1. c.


Verse 11

11. τ. ναυκλήρῳ] the owner of the ship. Wetst. cites from Plutarch, ναύτας μὲν ἐκλέγεται κυβερνήτης, καὶ κυβερνήτην ναύκληρος. So Hesych(156): ναύκληρος, ὁ δεσπότης τ. πλοίου,—and Xen. Œcon. viii. 12: φορτίων, ὅσα ναυκλήροις κέρδους ἕνεκα ἄγεται. (Kuin.)


Verse 12

12.] See above on Acts 27:8. The anchorage was sheltered from the N. W., but not from nearly half the compass. Grotius and Heinsius’s rendering of πρὸς παραχειμ., ‘ad vitandam tempestatem,’ is contrary to usage, besides being singularly inconsistent with the fact in more ways than one. For this purpose the anchorage was εὔθετος, and in it they had (see next verse) actually ridden out the storm, before they left it.

ἐκεῖθεν] The κἀκεῖθεν of the rec. would be thence also, as from their former stopping-places.

φοίνικα] Ptolemy (iii. 17) calls the haven φοινικοῦς, and the city (lying some way inland) φοῖνιξ. Strabo (x. 4) says, τὸ δὲ ἔνθεν ἰσθμός ἐστιν ὡς ἑκατὸν σταδίων, ἔχων κατοικίαν πρὸς μὲν τῇ βορείῳ θαλάττῃ ἀμφιμάλλαν, πρὸς δὲ τῇ νοτίῳ φοινικὴ τῶν λαμπέων. This description, and the other data belonging to Phœnice, Smith (p. 48) has shewn to fit the modern Lutro, which, though not known now as an anchorage, probably from the silting up of the harbour, is so marked in the French admiralty chart of 1738, and “if then able to shelter the smallest craft, must have been capable of receiving the largest ships seventeen centuries before.”

See an inscription making it highly probable that Alexandrian ships did winter at Lutro, in the excursus at the end of Prolegg. to Acts.

βλέποντα κατὰ λίβα κ. κατὰ χῶρον] looking (literally) down the S.W. and N.W. winds; i.e. in the direction of these winds, viz. N.E. and S.E. For λίψ and χῶρος are not quarters of the compass, but winds; and κατά, used with a wind, denotes the direction of its blowing,—down the wind. This interpretation, which I was long ago persuaded was the right one, I find now confirmed by the opinion of Mr. Smith, who cites Herod, iv. 110, ἐφέροντο κατὰ κῦμα καὶ ἄνεμον, and Arrian, Periplus Euxini, p. 3, ἄφνω νεφελὴ ἐπαναστᾶσα ἐξεῤῥάγη κατʼ εὖρον. So also κατὰ ῥόον, Herod, ii. 96. And in Jos. Antt. xv. 9. 6, the coasts near Cæsarea are said to be δύσορμα διὰ τὰς κατὰ λίβα προσβολάς. See also Thucyd. vi. 104. In the reff., the substantive is not one of motion like λίψ, χῶρος, or ῥόος, but of fixed location, as μεσημβρία, σκόπος. The direction then is towards the spot indicated, just as in the present case it is in that of the motion indicated. The harbour of Lutro satisfies these conditions; and is even more decisively pointed out as being the spot by a notice in the Synecdemus of Hierocles, φοινίκη ἤτοι ἀράδενα· νῆσος κλαῦδος. Now Mr. Pashley found a village called Aradhena a short distance above Lutro, and another close by called Anopolis, of which Steph. Byz. says, ἀράδην πόλις κρήτηι· ἡ δὲ ἀνωπόλις λέγεται, διὰ τὸ εἶναι ἄνω. From these data it is almost demonstrated that the port of Phœnice is the present port of Lutro. Ptolemy’s longitude for port Phœnice also agrees. See Smith, pp. 51 ff. Mr. Smith has kindly sent me the following extract from a letter containing additional confirmation of the view: ‘Loutro is an excellent harbour; you open it unexpectedly, the rocks stand apart and the town appears within. During the Greek war, when cruising with Lord Cochrane, … chased a pirate schooner, as they thought, right upon the rocks; suddenly he disappeared, and when rounding in after him,—like a change of scenery, the little basin, its shipping, and the town of Loutro, revealed themselves.’ See Prof. Hackett’s note, impugning the above view and interpretation; which however does not alter my opinion. Dean Howson gives his solution thus: “The difficulty is to be explained simply by remembering that sailors speak of every thing from their own point of view, and that the harbour (see chart in C. and H. ii. 397) does look—from the water towards the land which encloses it—in the direction of S.W. and N.W.” But I cannot believe, till experience can be shewn to confirm the idea, that even sailors could speak of a harbour as ‘looking’ in the direction in which they would look when entering it.


Verse 13

13. ὑποπνεύσαντος] as E. V., softly blowing, compare ὑπομειδιάω. The S. wind was favourable for them in sailing from Fair Havens to Phœnice.

δόξ. τ. προθ. κεκρατ.] imagining that they had (as good as) accomplished their purpose; i.e. that it would now be a very easy matter to reach Phœnice.

ἄραντες “may be translated either ‘weighed,’ or ‘set sail;’ for ancient authors supply sometimes τὰς ἀγκύρας, and sometimes τὰ ἱστία.… Julius Pollux, however, like St. Luke, supplies neither, which is certainly the most nautical way of expressing it: he says, αἴροντες ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς, lib. i. 103.” Smith, p. 55.

ἆσσον παρ.] They crept close along the land till they passed Cape Matala. “A ship which could not lie nearer to the wind than seven points, would just weather that point which bears W. by S. from the entrance of Fair Havens. We see therefore the propriety of the expression ἆσσον παρ., ‘they sailed close by Crete,’ which the author uses to describe the first part of their passage.” Smith, p. 56.

The Vulg. has: ‘quum sustulissent de Asson,’ connecting ἄραντες with ἄσσον, and understanding the latter as the name of a Cretan town. There is an Asus mentioned by Pliny (iv. 12), but it is ‘in Mediterraneo,’ not on the coast,—and the construction would be inadmissible. Erasmus, Luther, &c., have taken ἄσσον as the accusative of direction, ‘when they had weighed for Assus.’ But besides the local objection, this construction also would be most harsh, as ἄραντες does not indicate the progress of their voyage, but only the setting out. Heinsius took ἄραντες = ἀναφανέντες, ch. Acts 21:3,—‘postquam Asos attollere se visa est’ (Meyer). But there can be little doubt that all of these are mistakes, and that ἆσσον is the adverb.


Verse 14

14. ἔβαλεν κατʼ αὐτῆς] These difficult words have been taken in three ways: (1) (The common interpretation) referring αὐτῆς to τὴν κρήτην just mentioned. Thus they might mean, ( α) ‘drove (us) against Crete,’ or ( β) ‘struck (blew) against Crete,’ i.e. in the direction of Crete. Now of these, ( α) is contrary to the expressed fact:—they were not driven against Crete. And ( β) is as inconsistent with the implied fact. Had the wind blown in the direction of Crete at all, they, who gave themselves up to it, and were driven before it ( ἐπιδόντες ἐφερόμεθα, Acts 27:15), must have been stranded on the Cretan coast, which they were not. (2) referring αὐτῆς to the ship, understood. This is adopted by Dr. Bloomfield and Mr. Smith. (The latter, I find by a letter received since this note was written, now understands it as I have explained it below.) But not to mention the harshness occasioned by having to supply a subject for αὐτῆς which has never yet been mentioned,—a decisive objection against this rendering is, that the ship throughout the narrative is τὸ πλοῖον, not ἡ ναῦς, in every place except Acts 27:41,—and τὸ πλ. occurs in the very next clause, which, had this been meant of the ship, would certainly have been expressed συναρπασθείσης δέ, or συναρπασθείσης δὲ αὐτῆς. (3) referring αὐτῆς to προθέσεως. In that case ἔβαλεν κατʼ αὐτῆς must either ( α) = κατέβαλεν ἡμᾶς ἀπʼ αὐτῆς, as Plato, Euthyph. 15 E, ἀπʼ ἐλπίδος με καταβαλὼν μεγάλης ἀπέρχει, which is harsh, and hardly allowable; or ( β) be understood, taking the neuter sense of βάλλω ( ποταμὸς εἰς ἅλα βάλλων, Il. λ. 722), as meaning ‘blew against it,’so as to thwart their design. And so Luther: ‘erhob sich wider ihr Bornehmen.’ But this mixture of literal and figurative is also harsh, and hardly allowable. (4) A method has occurred to me of rendering the words, which seems to remove all harshness, whether of reference in αὐτῆς, or of construction. There can be no question that the obvious reference of αὐτῆς is to Crete. What then is ἔβαλεν κατʼ αὐτῆς? ἔβαλεν applied to wind may be understood as above, neuter, or reflective, ‘blew,’ ‘rushed.’ Assuming this, and that there is no object to be supplied between ἔβαλεν and the preposition, κατʼ αὐτῆς may surely be rendered, as in βῆ δὲ κατʼ οὐλύμποιο καρήνων,— κατʼ ἰδαίων ὀρέων,— κατὰ πέτρης, &c., viz. down (from) Crete, ‘down the high lands forming the coast.’ It is a common expression in lake and coasting navigation, that ‘a gust came down the valleys.’ And this would be exactly the direction of the wind in question. When they had doubled, or perhaps were now doubling, Cape Matala, the wind suddenly changed, and the typhoon came down upon them from the high lands;—at first, as long as they were sheltered, only by fits down the gullies, but as soon as they were in the open bay past the cape, with its full violence. This, the hurricane rushing down the high lands when first observed, and afterwards συναρπάζων τὸ πλοῖον, seems to me exactly to describe their changed circumstances in passing the cape. A confirmation of this interpretation may be found by Luke himself using κατέβη to express the descending of a squall from the hills on the lake of Gennesareth, Luke 8:23, where Matt. and Mark have only ἐγένετο and γίνεται. Mr. Smith also suggests κατὰ τοῦ κρημνοῦ, Luke 8:33, as confirmatory. The above is also Dean Howson’s view. See, in the excursus appended to the Prolegg. to Acts, the confirmation of this view in what actually happened to the Rev. G. Brown’s party.

τυφωνικός] “The sudden change from a south wind to a violent northerly wind, is a common occurrence in these seas. (Captain J. Stewart, R.N., in his remarks on the Archipelago, observes, “It is always safe to anchor under the lee of an island with a northerly wind, as it dies gradually away; but it would be extremely dangerous with southerly winds, as they almost invariably shift to a violent northerly wind.”) The term ‘typhonic’ indicates that it was accompanied by some of the phænomena which might be expected in such a case, viz. the agitation and whirling motion of the clouds caused by the meeting of the opposite currents of air when the change took place, and probably also of the sea, raising it in columns of spray. Pliny (ii. 48), speaking of ‘repentini flatus,’ says, ‘vorticem faciunt qui Typhon vocatur:’ Aul. Gell. xix. 1, ‘Turbines etiam crebriores … et figuræ quædam nubium tremendæ quas τυφῶνας vocabant.’ ” Smith, p. 60.

εὐρακύλων] I have adopted the reading of (157) (158) (159), according to my principle of going, in all cases where there is no overpowering objection, by our most ancient MSS. It may be that εὐρακύλων had become in common parlance corrupted into εὐροκλύδων, an anomalous word, having no assignable derivation, but perhaps arising from the Greek sailors having changed the Latin termination into one having significance for themselves. Mr. Smith, in his appendix, ‘On the Wind Euroclydon,’ has satisfactorily answered the objections of Bryant to the compound εὐρακύλων,—by shewing that εὖρος properly, was not the S.E., but the E. wind; and that compounds of Greek and Latin in the names of winds are not unknown, e.g. Euro-Auster.

The direction of the wind is established by Mr. S., from what follows, to have been about half a point N. of E.N.E.; and the subsequent narrative shews that the wind continued to blow from this point till they reached Malta.


Verse 15

15. συναρπ.] being hurried away, ‘borne along,’ by it: see reff.

ἀντοφθαλμεῖν] It is hardly likely that this term, which is used so naturally and constantly of men facing an enemy (Polyb. i. 17. 3, and eight times more), and also metaphorically of resisting temptation ( μὴ δύνασθαι τοῖς χρήμασιν ἀντοφθαλμεῖν, Polyb. xxviii. 17. 18), should have been originally a naval term, derived from the practice of painting eyes on either side of the beaks of ships. More probably the expression was transferred to a ship from its usage in common life.

ἐπιδόντες] So Plutarch de Fortun. Rom. cited in note on Acts 27:26. Either ‘the ship,’ or ‘ourselves,’ may be supplied: or better perhaps, neither, but the word taken generally—giving up.

ἐφερόμεθα] passive: we were driven along.


Verse 16

16. ὑποδραμόντες] running under the lee of.

“St. Luke exhibits here as on every other occasion, the most perfect command of nautical terms, and gives the utmost precision to his language by selecting the most appropriate: they ran before the wind to leeward of Clauda, hence it is ὑπο δραμόντες: they sailed with a side wind to leeward of Cyprus and Crete: hence it is ὑπ επλεύσαμεν” (Smith, p. 61, note).

κλαῦδα] Here again, there can be little doubt that the name of the island was καῦδα, or γαῦδα, as we have in some MSS., or, as in Pliny and Mela, Gaudos: but Ptol. (iii. 7) has κλαῦδος, and the corruption was very obvious. The island is the modern Gozzo.

ἰσχύσαμ. μόλ. κ. τ. λ.] “Upon reaching Clauda, they availed themselves of the smooth water under its lee, to prepare the ship to resist the fury of the storm. Their first care was to secure the boat by hoisting it on board. This had not been done at first, because the weather was moderate, and the distance they had to go, short. Under such circumstances, it is not usual to hoist boats on board, but it had now become necessary. In running down upon Clauda, it could not be done, on account of the ship’s way through the water. To enable them to do it, the ship must have been rounded to, with her head to the wind, and her sails, if she had any set at the time, trimmed, so that she had no head-way, or progressive movement. In this position she would drift, broadside to leeward. I conclude they passed round the east end of the island: not only because it was nearest, but because ‘an extensive reef with numerous rocks extends from Gozzo to the N. W., which renders the passage between the two isles very dangerous’ (Sailing Directions, p. 207). In this case the ship would be brought to on the starboard tack, i.e. with the right side to windward.” … “St. Luke tells us they had much difficulty in securing the boat. He does not say why: but independently of the gale which was raging at the time, the boat had been towed between twenty and thirty miles after the gale had sprung up, and could scarcely fail to be filled with water.” Smith, pp. 64, 65.


Verse 17

17.] ἄραντες, having taken on board.

βοηθείαις] measures to strengthen the ship, strained and weakened by labouring in the gale. Pliny (ii. 48) calls the typhoon ‘præcipua navigantium pestis, non antennas modo, verum ipsa navigia contorta frangens.’ Grot., Heinsius, &c., are clearly wrong in interpreting βοηθεί., ‘the help of the passengers.’

ὑποζωννύντες τ. πλ.] undergirding, or frapping the ship. “To frap a ship (ceintrer un vaisseau) is to pass four or five turns of a large cable-laid rope round the hull or frame of a ship, to support her in a great storm, or otherwise, when it is apprehended that she is not strong enough to resist the violent efforts of the sea: this expedient, however, is rarely put in practice.” Falconer’s Marine Dict.:—Smith, p. 60, who brings several instances of the practice, in our own times. See additional ones in C. and H. ii. 404, f. Horace seems to allude to it, Od. i. 14. 3, ‘ac sine funibus Vix durare carinæ Possint imperiosius Æquor.’ See reff.

τὴν σύρτιν] The Syrtis, on the African coast; there were two, the greater and the lesser ( αἱ φοβεραὶ καὶ τοῖς ἀκούουσι σύρτεις, Jos. B. J. ii. 16. 4), of which the former was the nearer to them.

ἐκπέσωσιν] See reff. and add φερόμενοι τῷ πνεύματιἐξέπιπτον πρὸς τὰς πέτρας, Herodot. viii. 13.

χαλ. τ. σκεῦος] “It is not easy to imagine a more erroneous translation than that of our authorized version: ‘Fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, they strake sail, and so were driven.’ It is in fact equivalent to saying that, fearing a certain danger, they deprived themselves of the only possible means of avoiding it.” Smith, p. 67. He goes on to explain, that if they had struck sail, they must have been driven directly towards the Syrtis. They therefore set what sail the violence of the gale would permit them to carry, turning the ship’s head off shore, she having already been brought to on the starboard tack (right side to the wind). The adoption of this course would enable them to run before the gale, and yet keep wide of the African coast, which we know they did. But what is χαλ. τὸ σκεῦος? It is interpreted by Meyer, De W., and most Commentators, of striking sail (as E.V.): but this (see above) could not be: “In a storm with a contrary wind or on a lee-shore, a ship is obliged to lie-to under a very low sail: some sail is absolutely necessary to keep the ship steady, otherwise she would pitch about like a cork, and roll so deep as to strain and work herself to pieces.” Encycl. Brit. art. ‘Seamanship:’ Smith, p. 72, who interprets the words, lowering the gear, i.e. sending down upon deck the gear connected with the fair-weather sails, such as the suppara, or top-sails. A modern ship sends down top-gallant masts and yards, a cutter strikes her topmast, when preparing for a gale. In this case it was perhaps the heavy yard which the ancient ships carried, with the sail attached to it, and the heavy ropes, which would by their top-weight produce uneasiness of motion as well as resistance to the wind. See a letter addressed to Mr. Smith by Capt. Spratt, R.N., quoted in C. and H. ii. p. 405, note 5.

οὕτως] i.e. “not only with the ship undergirded, and made snug, but with storm-sails set, and on the starboard tack, which was the only course by which she could avoid falling into the Syrtis.” Smith, ib.


Verse 18

18. ἐκβολ. ἐποι.] “The technical terms for taking cargo out of a ship, given by Julius Pollux, are ἐκθέσθαι, ἀποφορτίσασθαι, κουφίσαι τὴν ναῦν, ἐπελάφρυναι, ἐκβολὴν ποιήσασθαι τῶν φορτίων. So that both here, and afterwards in Acts 27:38 ( ἐκούφιζον τ. πλοῖον), St. Luke uses appropriate technical phrases.” Smith, ib.

Of what the freight consisted, we have no intimation. Perhaps not of wheat, on account of the separate statement of Acts 27:38. See ref.


Verse 19

19. τ. σκευὴν τ. πλ. ἔῤῥ.] ἡ σκευή is the furniture of the ship—beds, moveables of all kinds, cooking utensils, and the spare rigging.

αὐτόχειρες is used with ἔῤῥιψαν as shewing the urgency of the danger—when the seamen would with their own hands, cast away what otherwise was needful to the ship and themselves. This not being seen, αὐτόχ. has been supposed to imply the first person, and ἐῤῥίψαμεν. has crept in: see var. readd.


Verse 20

20.] The sun and stars were the only guides of the ancients when out of sight of land. The expression, all hope was taken away, seems, as Mr. Smith has noticed, to betoken that a greater evil than the mere force of the storm (which perhaps had some little abated:— χ. οὐκ ὀλίγου seems to imply that it still indeed raged, but not as before) was afflicting them, viz., the leaky state of the ship, which increased upon them, as is shewn by their successive lightenings of her.


Verse 21

21. ἀσιτίας] “What caused the abstinence? A ship with nearly 300 people on board, on a voyage of some length, must have had more than a fortnight’s provisions (and see Acts 27:38): and it is not enough to say with Kuinoel, ‘Continui labores et metus a periculis effecerant ut de cibo capiendo non cogitarent.’ ‘Much abstinence’ is one of the most frequent concomitants of heavy gales. The impossibility of cooking, or the destruction of provisions from leakage, are the principal causes which produce it.” Smith, p. 75: who quotes instances. But doubtless anxiety and mental distress had a considerable share in it.

τότε brings vividly before us the consequence of the ἀσιτία—when they were in that condition, languid and exhausted with fasting and fears.

κερδῆσαι] ‘lucrifecisse,’ to have gained, not = to have incurred,—but to have turned to your own account, i.e. ‘to have spared or avoided.’ So Jos. in ref. Aristotle, Magn. Mor. ii. 8, ᾧ κατὰ λόγον ζημίαν ἦν λαβεῖν, τὸν τοιοῦτον κερδάναντα εὐτυχῆ φάμεν (‘if he escape it’). Plin. vii. 40, ‘quam quidem injuriam lucrifecit ille.’ Cicero, Verr. Acts 1:12, ‘lucretur indicia veteris infamiæ’ (‘may have them wiped out,’ and so make gain of them by getting rid of them).

ὕβριν] See on Acts 27:10. “The ὕβριν was to their persons, the ζημίαν to their property.” C. and H. ii. 410, note 4.


Verse 22

22.] The neglect of precision in ἀποβολὴ ψυχῆς οὐδεμίαπλὴν τοῦ πλοίου is common enough. So Revelation 21:27, οὐ μὴ εἰσέλθῃπᾶν κοινὸν κ. ποιῶν βδέλυγμαεἰ μὴ οἱ γεγραμμένοι ἐν τῷ β. τ. ζωῆς. See Winer, edn. 6, § 67. 1. e.


Verse 23

23.] Paul characterizes himself as dedicated to and the servant of God, to give solemnity to and bespeak credit for his announcement. At such a time, the servants of God are highly esteemed.


Verse 24

24. κεχάρισται] “Etiam centurio, subserviens providentiæ divinæ, Paulo condonavit captivos, Acts 27:43 … Non erat tam periculoso alioqui tempore periculum, ne videretur Paulus, quæ necessario dicebat, gloriose dicere.” Bengel.

μετὰ σοῦ] “Paulus, in conspectu Dei, princeps navis, et consiliis gubernator.” Ib.


Verse 26

26. δεῖ] Spoken prophetically, as also Acts 27:31; not perhaps from actual revelation imparted in the vision, but by a power imparted to Paul himself of penetrating the future at this crisis, and announcing the Divine counsel.

Mr. Humphry compares and contrasts the speech of Cæsar to the pilot under similar circumstances: τόλμα κ. δέδιθι μηθέν, ἀλλὰ ἐπιδίδου τῇ τύχῃ τὰ ἱστία καὶ δέχου τὸ πνεῦμα, τῷ πνέοντι πιστεύων, ὅτι καίσαρα φέρεις καὶ τὴν καίσαρος τύχην, Plut. de Fortun. Rom. p. 518.


Verse 27

27. διαφερ.] driven about, or up and down, as E. V., not ‘drifting through,’ as Dr. Bloomf., though this may have been the fact; see examples below. Plutarch speaking of the tumult during which Galba was murdered, τοῦ φορείου καθάπερ ἐν κλύδωνι δεῦρο κἀκεῖ διαφερομένου (probably from Tacitus, ‘Agebatur huc illuc Galba, vario turbœ fluctuantis impulsu,’ Hist. i. 40); Philo, de Migr. Abr. p. 464, ἐπαμφοτερισταὶ πρὸς ἐκάτερον τοῖχον, ὥσπερ σκάφος ὑπʼ ἐναντίων πνευμάτων διαφερόμενου, ἀποκλίνοντες. The reckoning of days counts from their leaving Fair Havens: see Acts 27:18-19.

ἐν τῷ ἀδρίᾳ] Adria, in the wider sense, embraces net only the Venetian Gulf, but the sea to the south of Greece:—so Ptolemy (iii. 16), ἡ δὲ πελοπόννησος ὁρίζεταιἀπὸ δυσμῶν καὶ μεσημβρίας τῷ ἀδριατικῷ πελάγει. So also (iii. 4) ἡ δὲ σικελία ὁρίζεταιἀπὸ δὲ ἀνατολῶν ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀδρίου πελάγους. In fact, he bounds Italy on the S., Sicily on the E., Greece on the S. and W., and Crete on the W. by this sea, which notices sufficiently indicate its dimensions. So also Pausanias (Acts 27:25), speaking of the straits of Messina, says that the sea there is θαλἀσσης χειμεριωτάτη πάσης. οἵ τε γὰρ ἄνεμοι ταράσσουσιν αὐτὴν ἀμφοτέρωθεν τὸ κῦμα ἐπάγοντες, ἐκ τοῦ ἀδρίου, καὶ ἐξ ἑτέρου πελάγους ὃ καλεῖται τυρσηνόν.

ὑπενόουν] What gave rise to this suspicion? Probably the sound (or even the apparent sight) of breakers. “If we assume that St. Paul’s Bay, in Malta, is the actual scene of the shipwreck, we can have no difficulty in explaining what these indications must have been. No ship can enter it from the east without passing within a quarter of a mile of the point of Koura: but before reaching it, the land is too low and too far from the track of a ship driven from the eastward, to be seen in a dark night. When she does come within this distance, it is impossible to avoid observing the breakers: for with north-easterly gales, the sea breaks upon it with such violence, that Capt. Smyth, in his view of the headland, has made the breakers its distinctive character.” Smith, p. 79.

I recommend the reader to study the reasonings and calculations by which Mr. Smith (pp. 79–86) has established, I think satisfactorily, that this χώραν could be no other than the point of Koura, east of St. Paul’s Bay, in Malta.

προσάγειν] was approaching them. The opposite is ἀναχωρεῖν, ‘recedere.’ ‘Lucas optice loquitur, nautarum more.’ Kuin.


Verse 28

28. βολίσαντες] βολίζειν, ἤγουν βάθος θαλάσσης μετρεῖν μολυβδίνῃ καθέτῳ, ἢ τοιούτῳ τινί. Eustath(160) on Il. ε. p. 427 (Wetst.).

ὀργυιάς] ὀργυιὰ σημαίνει τὴν ἔκτασιν τῶν χειρῶν σὺν τῷ πλάτει τοῦ στήθους (Etymol. Magn.) = therefore very nearly one fathom. Every particular here corresponds with the actual state of things. At twenty-five fathoms depth (as given in evidence at the court-martial on the officers of the Lively, wrecked on this point in 1810), the curl of the sea was seen on the rocks in the night, but no land. The twenty fathoms would occur somewhat past this: the fifteen fathoms, in a direction W. by N. from the former, after a time sufficient to prepare for the unusual measure of anchoring by the stern. And just so are the soundings (see Capt. Smyth’s chart, Smith, p. 88), and the shore is here full of τραχεῖς τόποι, mural precipices, upon which the sea must have been breaking with great violence.


Verse 29

29. ἐκ πρύμνης] The usual way of anchoring in ancient, as well as in modern navigation, was by the bow: ‘anchora de prora jacitur.’ But under certain circumstances, they anchored by the stern; and Mr. Smith has shewn from the figure of a ship which he has copied from the “Antichità de Ercolano,” that their ships had hawse-holes aft, to fit them for anchoring by the stern. “That a vessel can anchor by the stern is sufficiently proved (if proof were needed) by the history of some of our own naval engagements. So it was at the battle of the Nile. And when ships are about to attack batteries, it is customary for them to go into action prepared to anchor in this way. This was the case at Algiers. There is still greater interest in quoting the instance of the battle of Copenhagen, not only from the accounts we have of the precision with which each ship let go her anchors astern as she arrived nearly opposite her appointed station, but because it is said that Nelson stated after the battle that he had that morning been reading Acts 27.” C. and H. ii. p. 414. The passage from Cæsar, Bell. Civ. i. 25, ‘has quaternis ancoris ex quatuor angulis distinebat, ne fluctibus moverentur,’ is not to the purpose, for it was in that case a platform composed of two vessels, and anchored by the four corners. “The anchorage in St. Paul’s Bay is thus described in the Sailing Directions: ‘The harbour of St. Paul is open to E. and N.E. winds. It is, notwithstanding, safe for small ships; the ground, generally, being very good: and while the cables hold, there is no danger, as the anchors will never start.’ ” Smith, p. 92.

εὔχοντο] Uncertain, whether their ship might not go down at her anchors: and, even supposing her to ride out the night safely, uncertain whether the coast to leeward might not be iron-bound, affording no beach where they might land in safety. Hence also the ungenerous but natural attempt of the seamen to save their lives by taking to the boat. See Smith, p. 97.


Verse 30

30.] “We hear of anchors being laid out from both ends of a ship ( ἑκατέρωθεν), Appian, Bell. Civ. p. 723.” ib.

ἐκτείνειν] because in this case they would carry out the anchors to the extent of the cable which was loosened.


Verse 31

31. ἐὰν μὴ κ. τ. λ.] “Mirum est quod reliquos vectores salvos posse fieri negat, nisi retentis nautis: quasi vero Dei promissionem exinanire penes ipsos fuerit. Respondeo, Paulum hic de potentia Dei præcise non disputare, ut eam a voluntate et mediis sejungat: et certe non ideo fidelibus virtutem suam Deus commendat, ut contemptis mediis torpori et socordiæ indulgeant, vel temere se projiciant, ubi certa est cavendi ratio.… Neque tamen propterea sequitur, mediis vel adminiculis alligatam esse Dei manum, sed quum Deus hunc vel ilium agendi modum ordinat, hominum sensus continet, ne præscriptas sibi metas transiliant.” Calvin.


Verse 33

33.] This precaution on the part of Paul was another means taken of providing for their safety. All would, on the approaching day, have their strength fully taxed: which therefore needed recruiting by food.

ἄχρι οὗ … until it began to be day: i.e. in the interval between the last-mentioned occurrence and daybreak, Paul employed the time, &c.

προσδοκῶντες] waiting the cessation of the storm. The following expressions, ἄσιτ. διατ., μηθ. προσλ., are spoken hyperbolically, and cannot mean literally that they had abstained entirely from food during the whole fortnight.

πρός with a gen. (‘e salute vestra’) is only found here in N. T.: compare ref., and ἐλπίσας πρὸς ἑωυτοῦ τὸν χρησμὸν εἶναι, Herodot. i. 75.


Verse 35

35.] “Paul neither celebrates an ἀγάπη (Olsh.), nor acts as the father of a family (Meyer), but simply as a pious Jew, who asks a blessing before he eats.” De Wette.


Verse 36

36.] When we reflect who were included in these πάντες,—the soldiers and their centurion, the sailors, and passengers of various nations and dispositions, it shews remarkably the influence acquired by Paul over all who sailed with him.


Verse 37

37.] Explanatory of πάντες: q. d., ‘and this was no small number; for we were,’ &c.


Verse 38

38. ἐκούφ. τ. πλοῖον] See above on Acts 27:18.

This wheat was either the remainder of the cargo, part of which had been disposed of in Acts 27:18—or was the store for their sustenance, the cargo having consisted of some other merchandise. And this latter is much the more likely, for two reasons: (1) that σῖτος is mentioned here and not in Acts 27:18, which it would have been in all probability, had the material cast out there been the same as here; and (2) that the fact is related immediately after we are assured that they were satisfied with food: from whence we may infer almost with certainty that ὁ σῖτος is the ship’s provision, of part of which they had been partaking. It is a sufficient answer to Mr. Smith’s objection to this (“to suppose that they had remaining such a quantity as would lighten the ship is quite inconsistent with the previous abstinence,” p. 99), that the ship was provisioned for the voyage to Italy for 276 persons, and that for the last fourteen days hardly any food had been touched. This would leave surely enough to be of consequence in a ship ready to sink from hour to hour.


Verse 39

39.] It may be and has been suggested, that some of the Alexandrian seamen must have known Malta;—but we may answer with Mr. Smith that “St. Paul’s Bay is remote from the great harbour, and possesses no marked features by which it might be recognized.” p. 100.

κόλπον ἔχοντ. αἰγιαλόν] a creek having a sandy beach. Some Commentators suppose that it should be αἰγιαλὸν ἔχοντα κόλπον, since every creek must have a beach: but what is meant is, a creek with a smooth, sandy beach, as distinguished from a rocky inlet.

ἐξῶσαι] Not, ‘to thrust in,’ as E. V., but to strand, ‘to run a-ground:’ so Thucyd., ref., and more in Wetst.


Verse 40

40.] (1) They cut away all four anchors (the περι may allude to the cutting round each cable in order to sever it, or to the going round and cutting all four), and left them in the sea ( εἰς τ. θάλ. ‘in the sea, into which they had been cast’). This they did to save time, and not to encumber the waterlogged ship with their additional weight. (2) They let loose the ropes which tied up the rudders. “Ancient ships were steered by two large paddles, one on each quarter. When anchored by the stern in a gale, it would be necessary to lift them out of the water, and secure them by lashings or rudder bands, and to loose these bands when the ship was again got under way.” Smith, p. 101. (3) They raised ( ἐπαίρειν, ‘to raise up,’ contrary to κατέχειν, ‘to haul down,’ a sail) their ἀρτέμων to the wind. It would be impossible in the limits of a note to give any abstract of the long and careful reasoning by which Mr. Smith has made it appear that the ‘artemon’ was the foresail of the ancient ships. I will only notice from him, that the rendering ‘mainsail’ in our E. V. was probably a mistaken translation from Bayfius or De Baif, the earliest of the modern writers ‘de re navali,’ and perhaps the only one extant when the translation was made: he says, “est autem artemon velum majus navis, ut in Actis Apost. xxvii … etenim etiam nunc nomen Veneti vulgo retinent et artemon vocant.” These words, ‘velum majus,’ they rendered by mainsail; whereas the largest sail of the Venetian ships at the time was the foresail. The French ‘artimon,’ even now in use, means the sail at the stern (mizen). But this is no clue to the ancient meaning, any more than is our word mizen to the meaning of the French misaine, which is the foresail.

The usual technical name of the foresail was δόλων, that of the mizen, ἐπίδρομος. See on the whole question, Smith’s Dissertation on the Ships of the Ancients, appended to his Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul. Mr. Pusey informs me that Syr. translates ἀρτέμωνα by ‘armnon parvum’ (armnon being its word for σκεῦος, Acts 27:17), and syr. in a note says that ἀρτέμων is “a small armnon at the ship’s head.”

τῇ πνεούσῃ] scil. αὔρᾳ. Dat. commodi;—for the wind (to fill);—or (according to Meyer and De Wette) of direction,—to the wind, (4) They made for the beach. The expression, κατέχειν ( ναῦν or νηῒ) εἰς … for “to steer to land,” is not uncommon in the classics: cf. examples in Wetst. It seems to get this meaning by a pregnant construction, “to keep the ship (or, to keep one’s course in the ship) in hand (and direct it) towards.…”


Verse 41

41. τόπον διθάλασσον] At the west end of St. Paul’s Bay is an island, Selmoon or Salmonetta, which they could not have known to be such from their place of an chorage. This island is separated from the mainland by a channel of about 100 yards wide, communicating with the outer sea. Just within this island, in all probability, was the place where the ship struck, in a place where two seas met.

ἐπέκειλαν] ἐπικέλλειν is used by Homer (ref.) in the sense of ‘adpellere navem.’ Its commoner use is intransitive: see Hom. ib. v. 138, and Apollon. Rhod. ii. 352, 382; iii. 575. In Od. ε. 114, it is said of the ship itself, ἠπείρῳ ἐπέκελσε. The ἐποκέλλειν of the rec. is used several times by Thucydides, and has the same twofold usage: cf. Thucyd. iii. 12; iv. 28; viii. 102: they ran the ship a-ground.

“The circumstance which follows, would, but for the peculiar nature of the bottom of St. Paul’s Bay, be difficult to account for. The rocks of Malta disintegrate into very minute particles of sand and clay, which when acted on by the currents, or by surface agitation, form a deposit of tenacious clay: but in still water, where these causes do not act, mud is found; but it is only in the creeks where there are no currents, and at such a depth as to be undisturbed by the waves, that mud occurs.… A ship therefore, impelled by the force of the gale into a creek with a bottom such as that laid down in the chart, would strike a bottom of mud, graduating into tenacious clay, into which the fore part would fix itself and be held fast, while the stern was exposed to the force of the waves.” Smith, p. 103.


Verse 42

42.] ἵνα gives not only the purpose, but the substance of the βουλή. Their counsel was,—to kill, &c.: this it was, and to this it tended.

διαφύγοι has probably been a correction to suit ἐγένετο. But the subjunctive after the past is merely a mixture of construction of the historic past with the historic present, and is used where the scene is intended to be vividly set before the reader.


Verse 43

43.] ἀποῤῥίψαντας is reflective, sc. ἑαυτούς.


Verse 44

44. τοὺς λοιπούς] scil. ἐπὶ τῆν γῆν ἐξιέναι.

τινων τῶν ἀπὸ τ. π.] probably, as E. V., broken pieces of the ship:—some of the parts of the ship: the σανίδες being whole planks, perhaps of the decks.

διασωθ. ἐπί] may be = διας. κ. ἀφικέσθαι ἐπί,—a constructio prægnans, but this need not be, as διασωθῆναι is to get safe through, and ἐπί is simply the direction in which the act is carried out.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Acts 27:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/acts-27.html. 1863-1878.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 12th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology