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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Acts 27



Verse 1

That we should sail (του αποπλειν ημαςtou apoplein hēmas). This genitive articular infinitive with εκριτηekrithē 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 πλεωpleō 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 (παρεδιδουνparedidoun). Imperfect active ωμεγαōmega form rather than the old μι̇mi form παρεδιδοσανparedidosan as in Acts 4:33, from παραδιδωμιparadidōmi Perhaps the imperfect notes the continuance of the handing over.

Certain other prisoners (τινας ετερους δεσμωταςtinas heterous desmōtas). Bound (δεσμωταςdesmōtas) 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 ετερουςheterous does not have to mean different kind of prisoners from Paul.

Of the Augustan band (σπειρης Σεβαστηςspeirēs Sebastēs). Note Ionic genitive σπειρηςspeirēs not σπειραςspeiras See note on Matthew 27:27 and note on Acts 10:1. Χοορτις ΑυγυσταεCohortis Augustae 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 (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 (πλοιωι αδραμυντηνωιploiōi Hadramuntēnōi). 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 (τοπουςtopous). 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 (ανηχτημενanēchthēmen). First aorist passive of αναγωanagō usual word in Luke.

Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us (οντος συν ημιν Αρισταρχου Μακεδονος Τεσσαλονικεωςontos sun hēmin Aristarchou Makedonos Thessalonikeōs). 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 (τηι ετεραιtēi heterāi). Locative case with ημεραιhēmerāi understood.

We touched (κατηχτημενkatēchthēmen). First aorist passive of καταγωkatagō the usual term for “coming down” from the seas as αναγωanagō above (and 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 (πιλαντρωπως τωι Παυλωι χρησαμενοςphilanthrōpōs tōi Paulōi chrēsamenos). “Using (χρησαμενοςchrēsamenos first aorist middle participle of χραομαιchraomai to use) Paul (instrumental case used with this verb) kindly” (πιλαντρωπωςphilanthrōpōs “philanthropically,” adverb from πιλαντρωποςphil̇anthrōpos love of mankind). He was kindly to Paul throughout the voyage (Acts 27:43; Acts 28:16), taking a personal interest in his welfare.

Refresh himself (επιμελειας τυχεινepimeleias tuchein). Second aorist active infinitive of τυγχανωtugchanō (to obtain) with the genitive επιμελειαςepimeleias old word from επιμεληςepimelēs 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 Κυπρονhupepleusamen tēn Kupron). First aorist active indicative of υποπλεωhupopleō 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 ειναι εναντιουςdia to tous anemous einai enantious). The articular infinitive after διαdia and the accusative of general reference (ανεμουςanemous) with predicate accusative (εναντιουςenantious 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 (διαπλευσαντεςdiapleusantes). First aorist active participle of διαπλεωdiapleō (another compound of πλεωpleō).

The sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia (το πελαγος το κατα την Κιλικιαν και Παμπυλιανto pelagos to kata tēn Kilikian kai Pamphulian). ΠελαγοςPelagos 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 (κατηλταμεν εις Μυρρα της Λυκιαςkatēlthamen eis Murra tēs Lukias). 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 Ιταλιανpleon eis tēn Italian). This was the opportunity for which Lysias had been looking. So he put (ενεβιβασενenebibasen first aorist active of εμβιβαζωembibazō to cause to enter. Cf. επιβαντεςepibantes in Acts 27:2) prisoners and soldiers on board. This was a ship of Alexandria bound for Rome, a grain ship (38) out of its course because of the wind. Such grain ships usually carried passengers.

Verse 7

When we had sailed slowly (βραδυπλοουντεςbraduploountes). Present active participle of βραδυπλοεωbraduploeō (βραδυςbradus slow, πλουςplous 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 ταχυπλοεωtachuploeō to sail swiftly.

Many days (εν ικαναις ημεραιςen hikanais hēmerais). See note on Luke 7:6 for hikanos Literally, “in considerable days.”

With difficulty (ικανοςmolis). Used in old Greek, like μολοςmogis (Luke 9:39) from μολοςmolos toil (See note on Acts 14:18).

Over against Cnidus (κατα την Κνιδονkata tēn Knidon). “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 ανεμουmē proseōntos hēmās tou anemou). Genitive absolute with present active participle of προσεαωproseaō one of the few words still “not found elsewhere” (Thayer). Regular negative μηmē 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 Κρητηνhupepleusamen tēn Krētēn). See note on 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 Σαλμωνηνkata Salmōnēn). Off Cape Salmone, a promontory on the east of the island.

Verse 8

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

Fair Havens (Καλους ΛιμεναςKalous Limenas). 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 Λασεαpolis Lasea). 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 (ικανου χρονου διαγενομενουHikanou chronou diagenomenou). Genitive absolute again with second aorist middle participle of διαγινομαιdiaginomai to come in between (διαdia). “Considerable time intervening,” since they became weatherbound in this harbour, though some take it since they left Caesarea.

And the voyage was now dangerous (και οντος ηδη επισπαλουςkai ontos ēdē episphalous). Genitive absolute, “and the voyage being already (ηδηēdē =Latin jam) dangerous” (old word from επιepi and σπαλλωsphallō to trip, to fall, and so prone to fall, here only in N.T.).

Because the Fast was now already gone by (δια το και την νηστειαν ηδη παρεληλυτεναιdia to kai tēn nēsteian ēdē parelēluthenai). Accusative (after διαdia) of the articular infinitive perfect active of παρερχομαιparerchomai to pass by, with the accusative of general reference (νηστειανnēsteian 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 (Acts 27:7) besides the long delay here in this harbour of Fair Havens.

Paul admonished them (παρηινηι ο Παυλοςparēinēi ho Paulos). Imperfect active of παραινεωparaineō old word to exhort from παραpara and αινεωaineō to praise (Acts 3:8), only here and 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 (τεωρωtheōrō). Old word from τεωροςtheōros a spectator. See note on 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 εσεσταιmellein esesthai). Infinitive in indirect assertion followed by future infinitive after μελλεινmellein in spite of οτιhoti which would naturally call for present indicative μελλειmellei an anacoluthon due to the long sentence (Robertson, Grammar, p. 478).

With injury (μετα υβρεωςmeta hubreōs). An old word from υπερhuper (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 (ζημιανzēmian). Old word, opposite of κερδοςkerdos gain or profit (Philemon 3:7.). Nowhere else in N.T.

Lading (πορτιουphortiou). Diminutive of πορτοςphortos (from περωpherō 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 και των πσυχωνalla kai tōn psuchōn). Common use of πσυχηpsuchē 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 (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 επειτετοmāllon epeitheto). Imperfect middle of πειτωpeithō 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 (τωι κυβερνητηιtōi kubernētēi). Old word from κυβερναωkubernaō 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 (και τωι ναυκληρωιkai tōi nauklērōi). Old word compounded of ναυςnaus and κληροςklēros 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 (ανευτετου του λιμενος υπαρχοντος προς παραχειμασιανaneuthetou tou limenos huparchontos pros paracheimasian). Genitive absolute again present tense of υπαρχωhuparchō “The harbour being unfit (ανευτετουaneuthetou this compound not yet found elsewhere, simplex in Luke 9:62; Luke 14:35; Hebrews 6:7) for wintering” (παραχειμασιαparacheimasia only here in N.T., but in Polybius and Diodorus, in an inscription a.d. 48, from παραχειμαζωparacheimazō).

The more part advised (οι πλειονες ετεντο βουληνhoi pleiones ethento boulēn). Second aorist middle indicative of τιτημιtithēmi ancient idiom with βουληνboulēn 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 (ει πως δυναιντο καταντησαντες εις Ποινικα παραχειμασαιei pōs dunainto katantēsantes eis Phoinika paracheimasai). The optative δυναιντοdunainto (present middle of δυναμαιdunamai) here with ειei 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 παραχειμαζωparacheimazō to winter, is from παραpara and χειμωνcheimōn (see also Acts 28:11). Used in several Koiné{[28928]}š writers.

Looking northeast and southeast (βλεποντα κατα λιβα και κατα χωρονbleponta kata liba kai kata chōron). There are two ways of interpreting this language. ΛιπςLips means the southwest wind and χωροςchōros the northwest wind. But what is the effect of καταkata with these words? Does it mean “facing” the wind? If so, we must read “looking southwest and northwest.” But καταkata 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 νοτουhupopneusantos notou). Genitive absolute with aorist active participle of υποπνεωhupopneō 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 (Acts 27:16). It was only some forty miles to Lutro.

Their purpose (της προτεσεωςtēs protheseōs set before them, from προτιτημιprotithēmi), genitive after κρατεωkrateō (κεκρατηκεναιkekratēkenai perfect active infinitive in indirect discourse).

They weighed anchor (αραντεςārantes). First aorist active participle of αιρωairō old verb used in technical sense with τας αγκυραςtas agkuras (anchors) understood as in Thucydides I. 52; II. 23, “having lifted the anchors.” Page takes it simply as “moving.”

Sailed along Crete (παρελεγοντο την Κρητηνparelegonto tēn Krētēn). Imperfect middle. See Acts 27:8, “were coasting along Crete.”

Close in shore (ασσονāsson). Comparative adverb of αγκιagki near, and so “nearer” to shore. Only here in N.T.

Verse 14

After no long time (μετ ου πολυmet' ou polu). Litotes again.

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

A tempestuous wind which is called Euraquilo (ανεμος τυπωνικος ο καλουμενος Ευρακυλωνanemos tuphōnikos ho kaloumenos Eurakulōn). ΤυπωνΤυπωςTuphōn̂Tuphōs was used for the typhoon, a violent whirlwind (τυρβοturbo) or squall. This word gives the character of the wind. The ΕυρακυλωνEurakulōn (reading of Aleph A B against the Textus Receptus ΕυροκλυδωνEurokludōn) has not been found elsewhere. Blass calls it a hybrid word compounded of the Greek ευροςeuros (east wind) and the Latin αθυιλοaquilo (northeast). It is made like ευρονοτοςeuronotos (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 (συναρπαστεντος του πλοιουsunarpasthentos tou ploiou). Genitive absolute again with first aorist passive of συναρπαζωsunarpazō 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 (αντοπταλμειν τωι ανεμωιantophthalmein tōi anemōi). Dative case with the vivid infinitive of αντοπταλμεωantophthalmeō from αντοπταλμοςantophthalmos looking in the eye, or eye to eye (αντιanti facing and οπταλμοςopthalmos 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. Koiné{[28928]}š 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 (επιδοντεςepidontes). Second aorist active participle of επιδιδωμιepididōmi giving way to the wind.

Were driven (επερομεταepherometha). Imperfect passive of περωpherō “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 (υποδραμοντεςhupodramontes). Second aorist active participle of υποτρεχωhupotrechō Same use of υποhupo as in υπεπλευσαμενhupepleusamen (Acts 27:4, Acts 27:8) for “under the lee”, under the protection of. ΝησιονNēsion is diminutive of νησοςnēsos a small island. The MSS. vary between Cauda (B) and Clauda (Aleph).

To secure the boat (περικρατεις γενεσται της σκαπηςperikrateis genesthai tēs skaphēs). “To become masters (περικρατειςperikrateis from περιperi and κρατοςkratos power over, found in Susannah and ecclesiastical writers, and here only in N.T.) of the boat (“dug out,” like Indian boats, literally, from σκαπτωskaptō to dig, old word, here only in N.T. and 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 αραντεςhēn ārantes). “Which (the little boat) having hoisted up (αραντεςarantes Acts 27:13).” Even so it was “with difficulty” (μολιςmolis). Perhaps the little boat was waterlogged.

Used helps (βοητειαις εχρωντοboētheiais echrōnto). Imperfect middle of χραομαιchraomai with instrumental case. The “helps” were ropes or chains, no doubt.

Under-girding the ship (υποζωννυντες το πλοιονhupozōnnuntes to ploion). Present active participle of υποζωννυμιhupozōnnumi Old verb, here only in N.T. Probably cables (υποζωματαhupozōmata) 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 εκπεσωσινmē eis tēn Surtin ekpesōsin). Final clause after verb of fearing (ποβουμενοιphoboumenoi) with μηmē and the second aorist active subjunctive of εκπιπτωekpiptō old verb to fall out or off, to be cast away. So here and 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 (συρτιςsurtis from συρωsurō). The wind would drive the ship right into this peril if something were not done.

They lowered the gear (χαλασαντες το σκευοςchalasantes to skeuos). First aorist active participle of χαλαωchalaō (cf. Luke 5:4 for lowering the nets). ΣκευοςSkeuos 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 επεροντοhoutōs epheronto). Imperfect passive indicative again as in Acts 27:15 with the addition of ουτωςhoutōs (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 διαπερομενονdiapheromenon in 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 (σποδρως χειμαζομενων ημωνsphodrōs cheimazomenōn hēmōn). Genitive absolute with present passive participle of χειμαζωcheimazō old verb to afflict with a tempest (χειμαcheima stormy weather), to toss upon the waves, here alone in N.T.

They began to throw overboard (εκβαλην εποιουντοekbalēn epoiounto). Literally, “They began to make (inchoative imperfect middle of ποιεωpoieō) a casting out” (εκβοληνekbolēn from εκβαλλωekballō 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 (εριπσανeripsan). Third person plural aorist active of ριπτωriptō not εριπσαμενeripsamen as Textus Receptus.

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

The tackling (tēn skeuēn). 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 επιπαινοντωνmēte hēliou mēte astrōn epiphainontōn). Genitive absolute again.

For many days (επι πλειονας ημεραςepi pleionas hēmeras). For more days than a few.

No small tempest (χειμονος ουκ ολιγουcheimonos ouk oligou). Litotes again.

All hope that we should be saved was now taken away (λοιπον περιηιρειτο ελπις πασα του σωζεσται ημαςloipon periēireito elpis pāsa tou sōzesthai hēmas). “For the rest (or future) there began to be taken from around us (περιηιρειτοperiēireito inchoative imperfect and see use of the verb in 2 Corinthians 3:16 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 υπαρχουσηςpollēs te asitias huparchousēs). Genitive absolute, the old word ασιτιαasitia from ασιτοςasitos (Acts 27:33) αa privative and σιτοςsitos 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 ασιτιαasitia and ασιτοςasitos for want of appetite.

Stood forth (στατειςstatheis). 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 (εδει μεν πειταρχησαντας μοιedei men peitharchēsantas moi). Literally, “It was necessary for you hearkening unto me not to set sail (μη αναγεσταιmē anagesthai).” 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 αναγεσταιanagesthai

And have gotten this injury and loss (κερδησαι τε την υβριν ταυτην και την ζημιανkerdēsai te tēn hubrin tautēn kai tēn zēmian). This Ionic form κερδησαιkerdēsai (from κερδαωkerdaō) rather than κερδηναιkerdēnai or κερδαναιkerdēnai is common in late Greek (Robertson, Grammar, p. 349). The Revised Version thus carries over the negative μηmē to this first aorist active infinitive κερδησαιkerdēsai from κερδαωkerdaō (cf. 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 (και τα νυνkai ta nun). Accusative plural neuter article of general reference in contrast with μενmen in Acts 27:21. Paul shows modesty (Bengel) in the mild contrast.

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

Verse 23

For there stood by me (παρεστη γαρ μοιparestē gar moi). Second aorist active (intransitive) indicative of παριστημιparistēmi 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 μοι παρεστηho de kurios moi parestē) 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 (Καισαρι σε δει παραστηναιKaisari se dei parastēnai). Note the same δειdei (must) as in Acts 23:11 when Jesus appeared to Paul in Jerusalem and the same verb παραστηναιparastēnai (second aorist active infinitive) used in Acts 27:23.

Hath granted thee (κεχαρισται σοιkecharistai soi). Perfect middle indicative of χαριζομαιcharizomai and that from χαριςcharis a gift or grace. The lives of those that sailed with Paul God had spared as a gift (χαριςcharis) to Paul.

Verse 25

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

For I believe God (πιστευω γαρ τωι τεωιpisteuō gar tōi theōi). 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 (δει ημας εκπεσεινdei hēmās ekpesein). It is necessary for us to fall out (εκπεσεινekpesein second aorist active infinitive of εκπιπτωekpiptō). It was not revealed to Paul what island it would be.

Verse 27

As we were driven to and fro (διαπερομενων ημωνdiapheromenōn hēmōn). Genitive absolute with present passive participle of διαπερωdiapherō old verb to bear different ways (διαδυοdiâduo 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 τωι αδριαιen tōi Hadriāi). 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 (υπενοουνhupenooun). Imperfect active indicative of υπονοεωhuponoeō inchoative, began to suspect.

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

Verse 28

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

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

After a little space (βραχυ διαστησαντεςbrachu diastēsantes). Literally, “standing apart a little” (second aorist active participle of διιστημιdiistēmi), 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 εκπεσωμενmē pou kata tracheis topous ekpesōmen). The usual construction after a verb of fearing (μηmē and the aorist subjunctive εκπεσωμενekpesōmen). Literally, “Lest somewhere (πουpou) we should fall out down against (καταkata) rocky places.” The change in the soundings made it a very real fear. ΤραχειςTracheis (rough) is old adjective, but in the N.T. only here and Luke 3:5 (from Isaiah 40:4).

Four anchors (αγκυρας τεσσαραςagkuras tessaras). Old word from αγκηagkē In N.T. only in this chapter, with ριπτωrhiptō here, with εκτεινωekteinō in Acts 27:30, with περιαιρεωperiaireō in Acts 27:40; and Hebrews 6:19 (figuratively of hope).

From the stern (εκ πρυμνηςek prumnēs). Old word, but in N.T. only in Mark 4:38; here and 41 in contrast with πρωιραprōira (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 the morning of the Battle of Copenhagen (April, 1801) where he anchored his ships from the stern.

Wished for the day (ηυχοντοēuchonto). Imperfect middle, kept on praying for “day to come” (ημεραν γενεσταιhēmeran genesthai) 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 ναυτωνtōn nautōn). Old word from ναυςnaus (ship), in N.T. only here, Acts 27:30; Revelation 18:17.

Were seeking (ζητουντωνzētountōn). Genitive absolute again with present active participle of ζητεωzēteō to seek.

Had lowered (χαλασαντωνchalasantōn). Aorist active participle of χαλαζωchalazō

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

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

From the foreship (εκ πρωιρηςek prēirōs). Old word for prow of the ship. In the N.T. only here and Acts 27:41. Note here εκτεινεινekteinein (lay out, stretch out) rather than ριπσαντεςrhipsantes (casting) in 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 ουτοι μεινωσιν εν τωι πλοιωιEan mē houtoi meinōsin en tōi ploiōi). Condition of the third class (undetermined, but with hope, etc.). Paul has no hesitancy in saying this in spite of his strong language in 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 σχοινιαta schoinia). Diminutive of σχοινοςschoinos 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 εκπεσεινeiasan autēn ekpesein) 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 (αχρι ου ημερα ημελλεν γινεσταιachri hou hēmera ēmellen ginesthai). More likely here αχρι ουachri hou (for αχρι τουτου ωιachri toutou hēi) with the imperfect ημελλενēmellen has its usual meaning, “until which time day was about to come on (γινεσταιginesthai present middle infinitive, linear action).” That is Paul kept on exhorting or beseeching (παρεκαλειparekalei imperfect active) them until dawn began to come on (cf. Acts 27:39 when day came). In Hebrews 3:13 αχρι ουachri hou with the present indicative has to mean “so long as” or while, but that is not true here (Robertson, Grammar, p. 975). See note on Acts 2:46 for the same phrase for partaking food (metalambanō trophēs genitive case) as also in Acts 27:34. Paul wanted them to be ready for action when day really came. “Fourteenth day” repeated (Acts 27:27), only here in the accusative of duration of time (hēmeran). It is not clear whether the “waiting” (μεταλαμβανω τροπηςprosdokōntes present active participle predicate nominative complementary participle after ημερανdiateleite 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 (προσδοκωντεςasitos diateleō).

Having taken nothing (διατελειτεmēthen proslabomenoi). Second aorist middle participle of ασιτος διατελεωproslambanō with the accusative μητεν προσλαβομενοιmēthen rather than the more usual προσλαμβανωmēden 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 υπαρχειtouto gar pros tēs humeteras sōtērias huparchei). Note σωτηριαsōtēria in sense of “safety,” literal meaning, not spiritual salvation. This is the only instance in the N.T. of the use of προςpros 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 (απολειταιapoleitai). Future middle (intransitive) of απολλυμι ̔υὠapollumi ‛̇uō' to destroy. So the oldest MSS. rather than πεσειταιpeseitai from πιπτωpiptō 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 τωι τεωιeucharistēsen tōi theōi). First aorist active indicative of ευχαριστεωeucharisteō 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 (ευτυμοι δε γενομενοιeuthumoi de genomenoi). More exactly, “Then all becoming cheerful,” because of Paul‘s words and conduct.

Took food (προσελαβοντο τροπηςproselabonto trophēs). Partitive genitive here (some food), not accusative as Acts 27:33. Paul‘s courage was contagious.

Verse 37

Two hundred three-score and sixteen souls (διακοσιαι εβδομηκοντα εχdiakosiai hebdomēkonta hex). The Vatican Manuscript (B) has ωςhōs in place of διακοσιαιdiakosiai (two hundred) which Westcott and Hort put in the margin. But Alford is probably correct in suggesting that the scribe of B wrote ωςhōs by repeating the omega in πλοιωιploiōi with ςs = 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 (κορεστεντες τροπηςkoresthentes trophēs). First aorist passive of κορεννυμιkorennumi old verb to satisfy, to satiate, with the genitive. Literally, “Having been satisfied with food.” Here only in the N.T.

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

Throwing out the wheat (εκβαλλομενοι τον σιτονekballomenoi ton siton). The cargo of wheat. The second εκβοληekbolē (Acts 27:18) or casting out and overboard which was only partially done at first.

Verse 39

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

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

They took counsel (εβουλευοντοebouleuonto). Imperfect middle showing the process of deliberation and doubt. The bay “having a beach” (εχοντα αιγιαλονechonta aigialon) is a phrase found in Xenophon‘s Anabasis VI. 4, 4.

Whether they could drive (ει δυναιντο εκσωσαιei dunainto eksōsai). This use of the optative with ειei in questions of this sort (implied indirect) is a neat Greek idiom (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1021). B C Bohairic read εκσωσαιeksōsai (first aorist active infinitive of εκσωζωeksōzō), to save out (so Westcott and Hort), instead of εχωσαιexōsai (from εχωτεωexōtheō to push out, as Textus Receptus).

Verse 40

Casting off (περιελοντεςperielontes). Second aorist active of περιαιρεωperiaireō Literally, “Having taken away from around,” that is all four anchors from around the stern. Cf. the other verbs with αγκυραςagkuras in Acts 27:29, Acts 27:30.

They left them in the sea (ειων εις την ταλασσανeiōn eis tēn thalassan). Imperfect active of εαωeaō 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 πηδαλιωνhama anentes tas zeuktērias tōn pēdaliōn). On the use of αμαhama with the participle, old Greek idiom see Robertson, Grammar, p. 1139. The second aorist active participle of ανιημιaniēmi to relax, loosen up. Old verb, in N.T. Acts 16:26; Acts 27:40; Ephesians 6:9; Hebrews 13:5. Thayer notes that ζευκτηριαςzeuktērias (bands) occurs nowhere else, but several papyri use it of yokes and waterwheels (Moulton and Milligan‘s Vocabulary). The word for rudders (πηδαλιονpēdalion) is an old one (from πηδονpēdon 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 τηι πνεουσηιeparantes ton artemōna tēi pneousēi). Supply αυραιaurāi (breeze) after πνεουσηιpneousēi (blowing). It is not clear what “sail” is meant by “αρτεμωναartemōna No other example in Greek is known, though the scholiast to Juvenal XII. 68 explains ςελο προρα συοvelo prora suo by artemone solo. Hence “foresail” is probably correct.

They made for the beach (κατειχον εις τον αιγιαλονkateichon eis ton aigialon). Imperfect active of κατεχωkatechō to hold down, perhaps inchoative. “They began to hold the ship steadily for the beach.”

Verse 41

But lighting upon (περιπεσοντες δεperipesontes de). Second aorist active participle of περιπιπτωperipiptō 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 (διταλασσονdithalasson). Used in Strabo and Dio Chrysostom for divided seas (δισ ταλασσαdisεπεκειλαν την ναυνthalassa).

They ran the vessel aground (επικελλωepekeilan tēn naun). First aorist active indicative of old verb ναυςepikellō to run a ship ashore. Only here in N.T. Here also we have the only N.T. use of ναω νεωnaus for ship (from ερεισασαnaōερειδωneō to swim) so common in ancient Greek. Our word navy is from this word through the Latin.

Struck (ασαλευτοςereisasa). First aorist active participle of αereidō old verb to fix firmly. Only here in N.T.

Unmoveable (σαλευωasaleutos). From ελυετοa privative and λυωsaleuō to shake. Old word. In N.T. only here and Hebrews 12:28.

Began to break up (elueto). Inchoative imperfect passive of the old verb luō 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 ινααποκτεινωσινboulē egeneto hinȧ̇apokteinōsin). The soldiers did not relish the idea of the escape of the prisoners. Hence there came this “counsel” (βουληboulē). Regular Greek idiom for purpose (ιναhina and aorist active subjunctive of αποκτεινωapokteinō to kill). Soldiers were responsible for the lives of prisoners (Acts 12:19).

Swim out (εκκολυμβησαςekkolumbēsas). First aorist active participle of εκκολυμβαωekkolumbaō old verb to swim out and so away.

Escape (διαπυγηιdiaphugēi). Second aorist (effective) active subjunctive of διαπευγωdiapheugō to make a clean (διαdia) escape.

Verse 43

To save Paul (διασωσαι τον Παυλονdiasōsai ton Paulon). Effective first aorist active infinitive of διασωζωdiasōzō And no wonder for the centurion knew now how much they all owed to Paul.

Stayed them from their purpose (εκωλευσεν αυτους του βουληματοςekōleusen autous tou boulēmatos Ablative case of βουλημαboulēma after εκωλευσενekōleusen (from κωλευωkōleuō to hinder, common verb).

And get first to land (πρωτους εις την γην εχιεναιprōtous eis tēn gēn exienai). This classic verb εχειμιexeimi occurs four times in 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 επι σανισινhous men epi sanisin). Common Greek idiom (ους μενους δεhous meṅ̇hous de) for “some--some.” The only N.T. instance of the old Greek word σανιςsanis for board or plank. The breaking of the ship gave scraps of timber which some used.

They all escaped safe (παντας διασωτηναιpantas diasōthēnai). First aorist passive infinitive of διασωζωdiasōzō (the very word used for the desire of the centurion about Paul) with accusative of general reference, the clause being subject of εγενετοegeneto So Luke in this marvellous narrative, worthy of any historian in any age, shows how Paul‘s promise was fulfilled (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)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Acts 27:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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