Acts 27:20

20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.

Acts 27:20 in Other Translations

KJV
20 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.
ESV
20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.
NLT
20 The terrible storm raged for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone.
MSG
20 It had been many days since we had seen either sun or stars. Wind and waves were battering us unmercifully, and we lost all hope of rescue.
CSB
20 For many days neither sun nor stars appeared, and the severe storm kept raging; finally all hope that we would be saved was disappearing.

Acts 27:20 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 27:20

And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared
The Syriac version adds, "nor moon"; which is an usual description of dark, cloudy, and tempestuous seasons; and which was not only uncomfortable to them, because they could not see these luminaries, and enjoy their beneficial light and influence; but because they had them not to guide and direct them; for the sun, moon, and stars, are useful to sailors, to steer their course by; especially they were to the ancients, before the invention and use of the loadstone; besides, by these they conjectured what weather it would be, as mariners still do; they observed the rising and setting of the sun, whether it shone with equal rays or not, and whether it was red and fiery, or pale; and the like observations they made upon the moon, both as to its colour and size; and especially the constellations and stars were of singular use unto them; and above all, the two Bears, the greater and the lesser; the Greeks observed the former, and the Phoenicians the latter; and who are said by Pliny to have first found out the use of the constellations in navigation; particularly this is ascribed to the famous philosopher Thales, who is said to be a Phoenician; and from other constellations, as Arcturus, Orion, Hyades they foresaw rains, storms, and tempests: and now what made the case of the apostle and the ship's company the more distressing was, that it was not only dark and cloudy, but very tempestuous, as follows;

and no small tempest lay on us;
and all this continued many days: so Virgil F6 represents Aeneas and his company in a like condition at sea, as not able by the heavens to distinguish day from night, nor to direct their course, neither sun nor stars appearing, and so wandered about in the sea three days without the sun, and as many nights without a star; and Homer F7 describes Ulysses in a violent storm at sea, and for the space of nine days tossed about, when on the tenth day he got to land; and Sosia, in Terence F8, is brought in saying, that he had been thirty days in a ship, expecting death every moment, so boisterous was the storm he was in; and so it was in this case, the winds blew hard upon them, and the rains fell with great violence, and everything was discouraging and distressing; insomuch that

all hope that we should be saved was then taken away;
neither the master and owner of the ship, nor the mariners, nor the soldiers, nor prisoners, nor the apostle's companions, had any hope of being saved, but all expected to be lost. The apostle himself knew indeed, that though the ship would be lost, every man's life would be saved; and yet he could have no hope of this, as to the outward appearance of things, but on account of the revelation which the Lord had made to him, and he believed; otherwise, as to all human helps and means, there was no probability of an escape.


FOOTNOTES:

F6 Aeneid. l. 3.
F7 Odyss. 9.
F8 Hecyra, Act. 3. Scen. 4.

Acts 27:20 In-Context

18 We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard.
19 On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands.
20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.
21 After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss.
22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.