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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Acts 27

 

 


Verses 1-44

Acts 27:2. Adramyttium, a town of Egypt, at the eastern mouth of the Nile; also a town of Mysia of the same name, where the ship touched.

One Aristarchus, a Macedonian, being with us. The numeral adjective injudiciously supplied, degrades him: one Aristarchus. Better as the vulgate, “and persevering with us was Aristarchus:” or as all the versions read, “having, or entering with us.” He was a Greek by name and by birth, had laboured two years with Paul at Ephesus, and had nearly lost his life when Paul, speaking after the manner of men, fought with beasts in that city. He accompanied Paul to Rome, as in Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4. He was also a minister in that city, and sustained imprisonment there for a time. Colossians 4:10. Calmet adds, that he was bishop of Apamea in Syria, and finally suffered martyrdom with Paul at Rome, under Nero.

Acts 27:7. Salmone, a promontory of Crete, according to Tremellius, on the east of the island.

Acts 27:8. The fair havens are a port lying on the north of Crete, and was open to Levanters, or Euroclydion tempests.

Acts 27:9. The fast was now already past. The great day, or anniversary of the atonement, the tenth day of the seventh month. See the calendar in Exodus 12. Leviticus 23:27. Isaiah 58. The jews this day wore white garments, and wept for their sins.

Acts 27:10. Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt, and much damage. It is dangerous to touch the Lord’s anointed, or to treat them with injustice and cruelty. Heaven would chastise the wrongs done to Paul; and the ship was made a total wreck. Satan wished to destroy the three ambassadors of Christ, who would raise the infant church of Rome to glory, but he was disappointed. The centurion honoured Paul as a great and good man, but did not believe in him as a prophet.

Acts 27:14. Euroclydon. St. Luke, according to the Alexandrian copy, is supposed to have written, ευρακυλων, a north-east wind. Jerome reads, qui vocatur euro-aquilo, which is called a burning north wind, a wind of Typhon; a levanter, as described by Dr. Edward Clarke, our accredited traveller, and quoted on Psalms 48:7.

Acts 27:15. When the ship was caught in the tempest, we let her drive, which was the easiest method to weather the gale.

Acts 27:17. Undergirding the ship with ropes to hold her together, that she might make less water, and to prevent the starting of the planks. Add to this, they lightened the vessel by throwing much of the cargo and tackling of the ship into the sea. Sic jubet necessitas, durum telum: so necessity required, a hard weapon.

Acts 27:31. Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. Persons in danger must be calm, have presence of mind, and use all lawful means of safety. He who loses his courage in the time of danger is hardly worth saving. A sailor-boy, during a wreck, once threw himself into the sea, and pleasantly said, “I am cruising about to seek a better berth.”

Acts 27:34. There shall not a hair fall from the head of any of you, the Saviour having especially repeated his promise to Paul. Matthew 10:30. Luke 12:7. Assuredly the angels of God had charge of this ship, to punish the crew, to destroy their goods, and save their lives, solely for the sake of Paul, that they might instruct tyrants on the danger of persecuting the church. But when our Saviour made the above promise, it was understood of a special preservation only till their work should be done, for he told the sons of Zebedee that they should drink of his cup; and Peter, that he should be bound and led to martyrdom. Good men sometimes fall that all may watch.

REFLECTIONS.

How strange is life, how uncertain are its vicissitudes. Here is a most faithful servant of the Lord, excelling the world in worth, hurried away in chains to an unknown land, and before pagan tribunals. All his spiritual children in the east, dear as his own bowels, he must never see again; no, nor water the yet tender plants of grace. But why do I feel emotions? It is thy pleasure, oh Holy One. We too, like him, are all embarked in the voyage of life. Of the places and persons most dear to us we are losing sight, and shall see them no more. Our hopes and our treasures are all in the ship. Henceforth may our expectations and our hearts be in a better country; and let us pray for those we leave behind.

In the voyage of life, we embark with a mixed multitude. Paul was accompanied by Luke, his faithful friend, and by Aristarchus, another minister of Christ, who had not flinched in the time of tumult. The centurion was also a man of probity and honour, and exhibited marks of reverence for God; the rest, two hundred and seventy six in all, were of various nations, and mostly wicked men. So it is now: those who are faithful in temptation’s hour are truly few, and the wicked are a great company.

In the voyage of life we are, like the mariners, exposed to tempests, dangers, and shipwreck. Who can count the natural, the civil, and moral disasters of our passage to another world?

In danger, men must use all lawful means of safety. When the heavens grew black, when the hurricanes blew, when the waves washed the decks, and when the labouring ship admitted the water at every plank, the crew begirt her with ropes, and threw much of the cargo into the sea. Let all men, trembling at first, learn to become great in danger: and even when all hope is apparently gone, let the soul compose itself with the calm dignity of prudence, for providence often sends unexpected aid. But here virtue alone is great, and vice, though bold for awhile, betrays a criminal soul in the issue. Good men only are great in the time of danger, being cheered by the presence of God and his angels, while the wicked are abandoned to gloom and despair. Paul, when his advice was rejected, had confidence that all things would work together for good to him and his cause, and awaited the issue with a patient calm. But the wicked were affrighted with a thousand fears; their crimes came to their remembrance, and their apprehensions were renewed by every incident of encreasing danger. Nor was it a small reproach to have believed the nautical opinion of the captain, in preference to the divine admonition of Paul. So in the day of visitation sinners will be pierced with anguish for the contempt they have evinced to sermons, and all divine admonitions; yea, God himself will upbraid them with rejecting his calls, and refusing his reproofs. Proverbs 1:25.

The devotion of wicked men in a time of danger is of a doubtful nature. It is, in the most candid view, an untried devotion. These seamen, these soldiers, and this mixed multitude, had for fourteen days lived on the brink of a watery grave, and their danger daily encreased. For fourteen days they had fasted and prayed, eating but once in the day. For fourteen days they had been instructed by the greatest apostle of Christ, and by two other most admirable men. And were they not all converted, all sanctified, and become the best of saints? You shall hear. The sailors, knowing nothing but self-love, were about to steal the boat, and leave the poor unskilful passengers to the mercy of the waves. The soldiers, no better, but rather worse, agreed to kill the prisoners, lest they should be punished for letting them escape. Thus when the ship had taken ground in a cove, and when the danger was past, their devotion was no more. And are all thy hopes, oh procrastinating sinner, deferred to a deathbed repentance? Then thou also wilt be a hypocrite on the verge of the grave, and thy repentance will resemble the fastings of these ungodly men.

But the wicked we see are often spared for the sake of the good. Had Paul and his brother ministers not been in this ship, perished they surely had: for God said to Paul, Lo, I have given thee all the souls that sail with thee in the ship. Happy is the man for whom prayer is made; he may yet live, he may yet be saved.

The distressed condition in which this wrecked and weather-beaten crew reached the shore, may remind us that it is with wading through the Jordan, with many throes and conflicts of fainting nature, that saints sometimes reach the celestial shore. No matter, if we may but all escape safe to land. However, it often pleases God that Jordan divides, and we pass over dryshod. Sometimes a saint, like Moses, dies on the mountain top. In reality it is then not dying, but living. We leave the shell below, and spread our wings in the regions of liberty and of life. Or, in a moral view, if we improve this landing of St. Paul, of a deliverance from sickness and danger; let us learn of him to improve our future life to greater holiness and usefulness in the Lord. Let us be instructed that all things waste with time, and that the things of eternity alone are realities, and worthy of our whole heart.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Acts 27:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/acts-27.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 27th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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