Acts 27
People's New Testament
And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band.
27:1 The Sea Voyage to Rome


The Centurion in Charge of Paul Embarks with Him for Rome. At Myra Take an Alexandrian Corn Ship. The Weather Tempestuous. Paul Advises the Centurion to Go into Harbor for the Winter. Caught by the Euroclydon and Driven. After Fourteen Days of Drifting, Paul Assures Them That All Will. Escape. The Ship Runs Ashore on the Island of Malta and Is Destroyed. The Men All Saved.

When it was determined. When all was settled that Paul should go to Italy, and the time appointed had come.

Delivered Paul and certain other prisoners. No information is given concerning these companions in bonds.

Julius, a centurion. All we learn of this Roman officer is favorable. It is remarkable how uniformly Paul commanded the respect of the Roman officials with whom he came in contact. Sergius Paulus (Ac 13:7-12), Gallio (Ac 18:12-17), Felix (Ac 24:22,23), Festus (Ac 25:12-14), and Julius are examples of this.

Of Augustus' band. Rather, cohort. Josephus says that this period one of the cohorts stationed at Caesarea took the name of Augustus ( Wars, 2:12,7 and 2:12,5).

And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us.
27:2 A ship of Adramyttium. This city was on the Asiatic coast of the Aegean Sea. In those days there were no regular lines of passenger ships, and in making a voyage from Judea to Rome several ships might be necessary to complete the voyage. Paul took three before he reached Rome.

Aristarchus, a Macedonian. He is named in Ac 19:29 20:04 Luke and Aristarchus are the only fellow-Christians who attended Paul on the journey, as far as we know. In Col 4:10, written while a prisoner at Rome, Paul calls Aristarchus his fellow prisoner, and in Phm 1:24, his fellow worker.

And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.
27:3 The next day. The next after sailing.

We touched at Sidon. Sidon was about sixty-seven miles north of Caesarea. Here the centurion suffered Paul to go ashore to see

his friends, the disciples in Sidon.

And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary.
27:4 Sailed under Cyprus. Near the eastern coast, where, by keeping near the shore, the contrary winds would be less felt, being broken by the highlands of the great island. The wind must have been from the northwest. The geographical details of this voyage are so accurate that they must have been written by an eye-witness.
And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.
27:5 Myra, a city of Lycia. Reached by sailing over the seas of Cilicia and Pamphylia. Myra was a well-known port of that period.
And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein.
27:6 Found a ship of Alexandria. The object was to meet a vessel on a voyage to Italy. Here was found such a ship, one of the great grain ships that sailed from Egypt. These were often large, of from 500 to 1,000 tons burden.
And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone;
27:7 Sailed slowly. On account of contrary winds. From Myra to Cnidus was only 137 miles, yet it required

many days. The language seems to imply that the ship was not able to come into the port of Cnidus, a good harbor, fit for wintering, on the Carian coast.

We sailed under Crete. From Cnidus, they ought to have sailed west, but the headwinds compelled them to direct their course to the south, where they took shelter under the lee of Crete. The winds were still evidently from the northwest.

And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.
27:8 Came unto a place. With difficulty they reached a placed called

The fair havens. On the south coast of Crete. It retains the same name to this day. It is a roadstead, near

the city of Lasea. It was supposed that all trace of this city was lost until recently, but it is now known that the natives apply this name to the ruins of an ancient town about five miles from Fair Havens.

Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,
27:9 When much time was spent. How long a time had passed since the embarkation cannot be told, but so long that

sailing was now dangerous. On account of the season of year. In the winter, not only the storms, but the clouds and darkness, interfered with navigation. Mariners, in the absence of the compass, needed the sun and stars to direct their course.

Because the fast was... past. That of the Atonement, which came in October.

And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.
27:10 Sirs, I perceive. Paul's experience taught him the danger of proceeding. It was the stormy and tempestuous season. He therefore volunteered his advice.
Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.
27:11 The centurion believed, etc. The master, or captain, and the owner, were both aboard, and it was but natural that their wishes would prevail with the centurion. The chief argument for proceeding was that Fair Havens was not a good harbor, and they hoped to reach a better one.
And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.
27:12 Phenice. This place, Phoenix in the Revised Version, was never reached, but would have been a good place for wintering for the excellent harbor there remains to this day. See Ac 11:19 15:3.
And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.
27:13 When the south wind blew. When this wind arose, they supposed they could attain their purpose, and sailed along the southern shore of Crete to reach, if possible, Phoenix.
But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.
27:14 A tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. Euraquilo in the Revised Version; a terrible northeast gale. The word and the description imply a hurricane.
And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.
27:15 When the ship was caught. Seized by the wind and hurled out of her course. All that could be done was to drift before it. The ship was powerless.
And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:
27:16 Running under a certain island. Getting in the shelter of it. Here they tried to put the ship in better shape for the storm.

Called Clauda. Now named Gozo. It lies a little south of Crete.

Come by the boat. Drew it up on deck. It had been in tow when they set out with the gentle wind.

Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.
27:17 Used helps, undergirding the ship. The hull showed signs of giving way and was undergirded by ropes or chains, that were dropped so as to pass under the hull, and then were tightened with levers. The process is still common in wooden vessels in times of great peril. The British call it frapping.

Should fall into the quicksands. The Syrtis, or quicksands, on the African coast to the southwest of Crete, were greatly feared by ancient sailors. The facts that they expected to be driven there shows that the storm, at first, came from the northeast.

Strake sail. Nautical men say that this language implies that most of their sails were furled, only a small sail remaining set. The ship was laid to, endeavoring to ride out the storm.

So were driven. A ship laid to will drift. Laid to, she would not drift directly before the wind, but if the wind was from the northeast, and her bow laid to the north, she would drift to the west. Their aim was to keep from being driven into the quicksands (the Great Syrtis).

And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship;
27:18 The next day they lightened the ship. Cast heavy things overboard, in order that it might ride the waves better.
And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.
27:19 The third day we cast out... the tackling. On this, the third day of the storm, the Christians aided to cast off the tackling, the spars, etc. It is evident that the situation was dangerous.
And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.
27:20 Neither sun nor stars in many days appeared. Hence they could neither tell where they were nor direct their course. No such thing as the compass was then known.

All hope... was then taken away. All hope of saving the ship or cargo was gone, and the mariners despaired of their own safety.

But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.
27:21 After long abstinence. Anxiety and necessity would enforce abstinence. The fires were all put out, the provisions watersoaked, the men constantly employed, their fear too great to prepare regular meals. If there was eating at all, it would be by snatches.

Paul stood forth. He chose some place on deck where all could hear him.

Ye should have hearkened. He reminds them of his advice, not to taunt, but to secure confidence for what he shall now say. The vessel and cargo shall be lost, but no man's life (Ac 27:22).

And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship.
For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,
27:23 The angel of God. He gives the grounds of his hope. An angel of God, the God he served, Jehovah, stood by him and declared it.

Whose I am, and whom I serve. This short sentence is a sermon. It is the key-note of all Paul's ministry.

Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.
27:24 Fear not, Paul. They were in the midst of terrible peril, in a ruined ship, on an unknown sea, tossed by the storm, surrounded by angry waves beneath, and angry heavens above. But God had not forgotten his servant.

God hath given thee all, etc. Paul had then prayed for his fellow voyagers.

Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.
Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.
27:26 Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain isle. Their safety and wreck on a certain island were assured; the details were not yet revealed.
But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country;
27:27 Driven up and down in Adria. The central basin of the Mediterranean, between Sicily on the west and Greece on the east, was called by the old geographers Adria, or the Adriatic Sea. The name is now confined to the Gulf of Venice.

The shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country. They probably heard the awful roar of the breakers.

And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms.
27:28 Sounded, and found it twenty fathoms. One hundred and twenty feet. The shallowness showed that they approached a coast, especially as it grew shallower every time the lead was cast.
Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.
27:29 Fearing lest we should fall upon rocks. It was night, and they could hear the sound of the breakers. By day they might avoid the rocks. Hence they cast anchor, and wished for day.

Cast four anchors. Because so many were needed to hold the ship.

And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship,
27:30-32 As the shipmen were about to flee. The sailors were about to take the boat, under false pretense, and abandon the ship. For the safety of all it was needful that they remain, in order to manage the ship when it was run ashore. Hence the centurion, at Paul's request (Ac 27:31), cut off the boat and let it drift away (Ac 27:32).
Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.
27:30-32 As the shipmen were about to flee. The sailors were about to take the boat, under false pretense, and abandon the ship. For the safety of all it was needful that they remain, in order to manage the ship when it was run ashore. Hence the centurion, at Paul's request (Ac 27:31), cut off the boat and let it drift away (Ac 27:32).
Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.
27:30-32 As the shipmen were about to flee. The sailors were about to take the boat, under false pretense, and abandon the ship. For the safety of all it was needful that they remain, in order to manage the ship when it was run ashore. Hence the centurion, at Paul's request (Ac 27:31), cut off the boat and let it drift away (Ac 27:32).
And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing.
27:33 Paul besought them all to take meat. At dawn of day. He seems to have really had charge in this hour of peril. They needed the strength of the food for the work before them.

Having taken nothing. The thought is, that for fourteen days they had had no regular meals.

Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.
27:34 This is for your health. Essential to your welfare and safety.

There shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you. A promise of absolute safety.

And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.
27:35,36 He took bread, and gave thanks. As Paul was wont to do before eating; as Christ himself did (Mt 14:19 Joh 6:11).

Began to eat. To encourage them by his example. It had its effect, for they were all of good cheer, and they also took meat (Ac 27:36).

Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat.
27:35,36 He took bread, and gave thanks. As Paul was wont to do before eating; as Christ himself did (Mt 14:19 Joh 6:11).

Began to eat. To encourage them by his example. It had its effect, for they were all of good cheer, and they also took meat (Ac 27:36).

And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls.
27:37 We were... two hundred threescore and sixteen souls. It can be seen from this fact that merchant vessels of that period were of large size.
And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.
27:38 They lightened the ship. It was needful to beach it in just as shallow water as possible.

And cast out the wheat into the sea. Hence the cargo was thrown overboard. As might be expected in an Alexandrian ship, the cargo was wheat. Egypt was then the granary of Rome.

And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship.
27:39 A certain creek with a shore. Rather, A certain bay with a beach, as in the Revised Version; a sloping beach.

Into which they were minded... to thrust the ship. Into this they determined to try to thrust the ship, because here the force of the waves would be broken, the water shallow, and the beach favorable for the men's lives.

And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore.
27:40 Taken up the anchors See Ac 27:29. The Revised Version says, Cast of their anchors. Cut the ropes and let them go.

Loosed the rudder bands. When anchored by the stern, the rudder was lifted up out of the water by rudder bands to keep it out of the way of the anchor cables. Now it was let down again in order to steer the vessel.

And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.
27:41 A place where two seas met. Where two bodies of water joined. This was due to a small island on the coast of the larger, Salmonetta on the coast of Malta. When they moved into the bay, they did not see the inlet coming in on the other side of Salmonetta, but when they saw it, they saw that two seas met.

Ran the ship aground. This was what they purposed, but the violence of the waves was such as to break the stern in pieces.

And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.
27:42 The soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners. We have here an illustration of the extreme brutality of the rank and file of the Roman army. They would rather kill the prisoners than to run the risk of their escape.
But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land:
27:43 The centurion. The interference of the centurion was in harmony with all we have stated of him (see note Ac 27:1 ).

Commanded that they which could swim. The centurion took command. Those that could swim, cast themselves into the sea.

And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.
27:44 And the rest. Others floated on any buoyant object that could be secured, and thus

they escaped all safe to land. All came to shore. This was not Paul's first shipwreck. Compare 2Co 11:25, which was written at an earlier period of his life. Luke's description of the management of the ship in the storm and shipwreck is pronounced by scholars the best description of ancient nautical methods extant.

The People's New Testament by B.W. Johnson [1891]

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