Acts 27
Vincent's Word Studies
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.
Sail (ἀποπλεῖν)

Lit., sail away.


See on Mark 15:16.

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.
Meaning to sail (μέλλοντες πλεῖν)

This refers the intention to the voyagers; but the best texts read μέλλοντι, agreeing with πλοίῳ, ship; so that the correct rendering is, as Rev., a ship - which was about to sail.

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.
Touched (κατήχθημεν)

From κατά, down, and ἄγω, to lead or bring. To bring the ship down from deep water to the land. Opposed to ἀνήχθημεν, put to sea (Acts 27:2); which is to bring the vessel up (ἀνά) from the land to deep water. See on Luke 8:22. Touched is an inferential rendering. Landed would be quite as good. From Caesarea to Sidon, the distance was about seventy miles.

Courteously (φιλανθρώπως)

Only here in New Testament. Lit., in a man-loving way; humanely; kindly. Rev., kindly, better than courteously. Courteous, from court, expresses rather polish of manners than real kindness.

To refresh himself (ἐπιμελείας τυχεῖν)

Lit., to receive care or attention.

And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary.
We sailed under (ὑπεπλεύσαμεν)

Rev., correctly, under the lee of: under the protection of the land.

And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.
And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein.
A ship of Alexandria

Employed in the immense corn trade between Italy and Egypt. See Acts 27:38. The size of the vessel may be inferred from Acts 27:37.

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;
Many (ἱκαναῖς)

See on Luke 7:6.

Scarce (μόλις)

Incorrect. Render, as Rev., with difficulty. So, also, hardly, in Acts 27:8. The meaning is not that they had scarcely reached Cnidus when the wind became contrary, nor that they had come only as far as Cnidus in many days; but that they were retarded by contrary winds between Myra and Cnidus, a distance of about one hundred and thirty miles, which, with a favorable wind, they might have accomplished in a day. Such a contrary wind would have been the northwesterly, which prevails during the summer months in that part of the Archipelago.

And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.
Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,
The Fast

The great day of atonement, called "the Fast" by way of eminence. It occurred about the end of September. Navigation was considered unsafe from the beginning of November until the middle of March.

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.
I perceive (θεωρῶ)

As the result of careful observation. See on Luke 10:18.

Hurt (ὕβρεως)

The word literally means insolence, injury, and is used here metaphorically: insolence of the winds and waves, "like our 'sport' or 'riot' of the elements" (Hackett). Some take it literally, with presumption, as indicating the folly of undertaking a voyage at that season; but the use of the word in Acts 27:21 is decisive against this.

Damage (ζημίας)

Better, as Rev., loss. Hurt and damage (A. V.) is tautological. See on the kindred verb, notes on lose, Matthew 16:26, and east away, Luke 9:25.

Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.
Master (κυβερνήτῃ)

Only here and Revelation 18:17. Lit., the steersman.

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.
Not commodious (ἀνευθέτου)

Lit., not well situated.

Lieth toward the southwest and northwest (βλέποντα κατὰ Αίβα καὶ κατὰ Χῶρον)

Instead of lieth, Rev., literally and correctly, renders looking. The difference between the Rev. and A. V., as to the points of the compass, turns on the rendering of the preposition κατά. The words southwest and northwest mean, literally, the southwest and northwest winds. According to the A. V., κατά means toward, and has reference to the quarter from which these winds blow. According to the Rev., κατά means down: "looking down the southwest and northwest winds," i.e., in the direction toward which they blow, viz., northeast and southeast. This latter view assumes that Phenice and Lutro are the same, which is uncertain. For full discussion of the point, see Smith, "Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul;" Hackett, "Commentary on Acts ;" Conybeare and Howson, "Life and Epistles of St. Paul."

And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.
Loosing thence (ἄραντες)

Lit., having taken up. It is the nautical phrase for weighing anchor. So Rev.

But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.
There arose against it (ἔβαλε κατ' αὐτῆς)

Against what? Some say, the island of Crete; in which case they would have been driven against the island, whereas we are told that they were driven away from it. Others, the ship. It is objected that the pronoun αὐτῆς it, is feminine, while the feminine noun for ship (ναῦς) is not commonly used by Luke, but rather the neuter, πλοῖον. I do not think this objection entitled to much weight. Luke is the only New Testament writer who uses ναῦς (see Acts 27:41), though he uses it but once; and, as Hackett remarks, "it would be quite accidental which of the terms would shape the pronoun at this moment, as they were both so familiar." A third explanation refers the pronoun to the island of Crete, and renders, "there beat down from it." This is grammatical, and according to a well-known usage of the preposition. The verb βάλλω is also used intransitively in the sense of to fall; thus Homer Iliad," xi., 722), of a river falling into the sea. Compare Mark 4:37 : "the the waves beat (ἐπέβαλλεν) into the ship ;" and Luke 15:12 the portion of goods that falleth (ἐπιβάλλον) to me." The rendering of the Rev. is, therefore, well supported, and, on the whole, preferable' there beat down from it. It is also according to the analogy of the expression in Luke 8:23, there came down a storm. See note there, and see on Matthew 8:24.

A tempestuous wind (ἄνεμος τυφωνικὸς)

Lit., a typhonic wind. The word τυφῶν means a typhoon, and the adjective formed from it means of the character of a typhoon.

Euroclydon (Εὐροκλύδων)

The best texts read Εὐρακύλων, Euraquilo: i.e., between Eurus, "the E. S. E. wind," and Aquilo, "the north-wind, or, strictly, N. 1/3 E." Hence, E. N. E.

And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.
Bear up (ἀντοφθαλμεῖν)

Only here in New Testament. From ἀντί, opposite, and ὀφθαλμός, the eye. Lit., to look the wind in the eye. The ancient ships often had an eye painted on each side of the bow. To sail "into the eye of the wind" is a modern nautical phrase.

We let her drive (ἐπιδόντες ἐφερόμεθα)

Lit., having given up to it, we were borne along.

And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:
We had much work to come by the boat (μόλις ἰσχύσαμεν περικρατεῖς γενέσθαι τῆς σκάφης)

Lit., we were with difficulty able to become masters of the boat: i.e., to secure on deck the small boat which, in calm weather, was attached by a rope to the vessel's stern. Rev., we were able with difficulty to secure the boat. On with difficulty, see note on scarce, Acts 27:7.

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.
Helps (βοηθείαις)

Any apparatus on hand for the purpose: ropes, chains, etc.

Undergirding (ὑποζωννύντες)

In modern nautical language, frapping: passing cables or chains round the ship's hull in order to support her in a storm. Mr. Smith ("Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul") cites the following from the account of the voyage of Captain George Back from the arctic regions in 1837: "A length of the stream chain-cable was passed under the bottom of the ship four feet before the mizzen-mast, hove tight by the capstan, and finally immovably fixed to six ring-bolts on the quarter-deck. The effect was at once manifest by a great diminution in the working of the parts already mentioned; and, in a less agreeable way, by impeding her rate of sailing."

Quicksands (τὴν σύρτιν)

The rendering of the A. V. is too general. The word is a proper name, and has the article. There were two shoals of this name - the "Greater Syrtis" (Syrtis Major), and the "Smaller Syrtis" (Syrtis Minor). It was the former upon which they were in danger of being driven; a shallow on the African coast, between Tripoli and Barca, southwest of the island of Crete.

Strake sail (χαλάσαντες τὸ σκεῦος)

Lit., as Rev., lowered the gear. See on goods, Matthew 12:29. It is uncertain what is referred to here. To strike sail, it is urged, would be a sure way of running upon the Syrtis, which they were trying to avoid. It is probably better to understand it generally of the gear connected with the fair-weather sails. "Every ship situated as this one was, when preparing for a storm, sends down upon deck the 'top-hamper,' or gear connected with the fair-weather sails, such as the topsails. A modern ship sends down top-gallant masts and yards; a cutter strikes her topmast when preparing for a gale" (Smith, "Voyage," etc.). The storm sails were probably set.

And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship;
Lightened (ἐκβολὴν ἐποιοῦντο)

Lit., made a casting out. Rev., began to throw the freight overboard. Note the imperfect, began to throw. The whole cargo was not cast overboard: the wheat was reserved to the last extremity (Acts 27:38).

And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.
Tackling (σκευὴν)

The word means equipment, furniture. The exact meaning here is uncertain. Some suppose it to refer to the main-yard; an immense spar which would require the united efforts of passengers and crew to throw overboard. It seems improbable, however, that they would have sacrificed so large a spar, which, in case of shipwreck, would support thirty or forty men in the water. The most generally received opinion is that it refers to the furniture of the ship - beds, tables, chests, etc.

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.
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.
Hearkened (πειθαρχήσαντας)

See on obey, Acts 5:29.

Loosed (ἀνάγεσθαι)

Rev., set sail. See on Luke 8:22.

Harm (ὕβριν)

See on Acts 27:10.

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,
The angel

Rev., correctly, an angel. There is no article.

Of God (τοῦ Θεοῦ)

Rev., correctly, supplies the article: "the God," added because Paul was addressing heathen, who would have understood by angel a messenger of the gods.

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

The Adriatic Sea: embracing all that part of the Mediterranean lying south of Italy, east of Sicily, and west of Greece.

Deemed (ὑπενόουν)

Better, as Rev., suspected or surmised.

That they drew near to some country

Lit., that some land is drawing near to them.

And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms.
Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.
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,
Under color (προφάσει)

Lit., on pretence.

Cast (ἐκτείνειν)

Lit., to stretch out. The meaning is, to carry out an anchor to a distance from the prow by means of the small boat. Rev., lay out.

Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.
Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.
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.
While the day was coming on (ἄχρι δὲ οὗ ἔμελλεν ἡμέρα γίνεσθαι)

Lit., until it should become day: in the interval between midnight and morning.

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.
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.
Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat.
And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls.
And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.
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.
Bay (κόλπον)

See on bosom, Luke 6:38.

Shore (αἰγιαλὸν)

See on Matthew 13:2. Better, as Rev., beach.

They were minded (ἐβουλεύσαντο)

Better, as Rev., took counsel. See on Matthew 1:19.

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.
Taken up (περιελόντες)

Wrong. The word means to remove, and refers here to cutting the anchor-cables, or casting off, as Rev.

Committed themselves (εἴων)

Wrong. The reference is to the anchors. Rev., correctly, left them in the sea.

Rudder-bands (ζευκτηρίας τῶν πηδαλίων)

Lit., the bands of the rudders. The larger ships had two rudders, like broad oars or paddles, joined together by a pole, and managed by one steersman. They could be pulled up and fastened with bands to the ship; as was done in this ease, probably to avoid fouling the anchors when they were cast out of the stern. The bands were now loosened, in order that the ship might be driven forward.

Mainsail (ἀρτέμωνα)

Only here in New Testament. Probably the foresail. So Rev.

Made toward (κατεῖχον)

Lit., held; bore down for.

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.
And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and 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:
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.
Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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