Acts 27

1 Once it had been decided that we should set sail for Italy, they handed Sha'ul and some other prisoners over to an officer of the Emperor's Regiment named Julius.
2 We embarked in a ship from Adramyttium which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and put out to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica.
3 The next day, we landed at Tzidon; and Julius considerately allowed Sha'ul to go visit his friends and receive what he needed.
4 Putting to sea from there, we sailed close to the sheltered side of Cyprus because the winds were against us,
5 then across the open sea along the coasts of Cilicia and Pamphylia; and so we reached Myra in Lycia.
6 There the Roman officer found an Alexandrian vessel sailing to Italy and put us aboard.
7 For a number of days we made little headway, and we arrived off Cnidus only with difficulty. The wind would not let us continue any farther along the direct route; so we ran down along the sheltered side of Crete from Cape Salmone;
8 and, continuing to struggle on, hugging the coast, we reached a place called Pleasant Harbor, near the town of Lasea.
9 Since much time had been lost, and continuing the voyage was risky, because it was already past Yom-Kippur, Sha'ul advised them,
10 "Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be a catastrophe, not only with huge losses to the cargo and the ship but with loss of our lives as well."
11 However, the officer paid more attention to the pilot and the ship's owner than to what Sha'ul said.
12 Moreover, since the harbor was not well suited to sitting out the winter, the majority reached the decision to sail on from there in the hope of reaching Phoenix, another harbor in Crete, and wintering there, where it is protected from the southwest and northwest winds.
13 When a gentle southerly breeze began to blow, they thought that they had their goal within grasp; so they raised the anchor and started coasting by Crete close to shore.
14 But before long there struck us from land a full gale from the northeast, the kind they call an Evrakilon.
15 The ship was caught up and unable to face the wind, so we gave way to it and were driven along.
16 As we passed into the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with strenuous effort to get control of the lifeboat.
17 They hoisted it aboard, then fastened cables tightly around the ship itself to reinforce it. Fearing they might run aground on the Syrtis sandbars, they lowered the topsails and thus continued drifting.
18 But because we were fighting such heavy weather, the next day they began to jettison nonessentials;
19 and the third day, they threw the ship's sailing equipment overboard with their own hands.
20 For many days neither the sun nor the stars appeared, while the storm continued to rage, until gradually all hope of survival vanished.
21 It was then, when they had gone a long time without eating, that Sha'ul stood up in front of them and said, "You should have listened to me and not set out from Crete; if you had, you would have escaped this disastrous loss.
22 But now, my advice to you is to take heart; because not one of you will lose his life - only the ship will be lost.
23 For this very night, there stood next to me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve.
24 He said, 'Don't be afraid, Sha'ul! you have to stand before the Emperor. Look! God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.'
25 So, men, take heart! For I trust God and believe that what I have been told will come true.
26 Nevertheless, we have to run aground on some island."
27 It was the fourteenth night, and we were still being driven about in the Adriatic Sea, when around midnight the sailors sensed that we were nearing land.
28 So they dropped a plumbline and found the water one hundred and twenty feet deep. A little farther on, they took another sounding and found it ninety feet.
29 Fearing we might run on the rocks, they let out four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight to come.
30 At this point, the crew made an attempt to abandon ship - they lowered the lifeboat into the sea, pretending that they were about to let out some anchors from the bow.
31 Sha'ul said to the officer and the soldiers, "Unless these men remain aboard the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved."
32 Then the soldiers cut the ropes holding the lifeboat and let it go.
33 Just before daybreak, Sha'ul urged them all to eat, saying, "Today is the fourteenth day you have been in suspense, going hungry, eating nothing.
34 Therefore I advise you to take some food; you need it for your own survival. For not one of you will lose so much as a hair from his head."
35 When he had said this, he took bread, said the b'rakhah to God in front of everyone, broke it and began to eat.
36 With courage restored, they all ate some food themselves.
37 Altogether there were 276 of us on board the ship.
38 After they had eaten all they wanted, they lightened the ship by dumping the grain into the sea.
39 When day broke, they didn't recognize the land; but they noticed a bay with a sand beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could.
40 So they cut away the anchors and left them in the sea; at the same time, they loosened the ropes that held the rudders out of the water. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and headed for the beach.
41 But they encountered a place where two currents meet, and ran the vessel aground on the sandbar there. The bow stuck and would not move, while the pounding of the surf began to break up the stern.
42 At this point the soldiers' thought was to kill the prisoners, so that none of them would swim off and escape.
43 But the officer, wanting to save Sha'ul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to throw themselves overboard first and head for shore,
44 and the rest to use planks or whatever they could find from the ship. Thus it was that everyone reached land safely.

Acts 27 Commentary

Chapter 27

Paul's voyage towards Rome. (1-11) Paul and his companions endangered by a tempest. (12-20) He receives a Divine assurance of safety. (21-29) Paul encourages those with him. (30-38) They are shipwrecked. (39-44)

Verses 1-11 It was determined by the counsel of God, before it was determined by the counsel of Festus, that Paul should go to Rome; for God had work for him to do there. The course they steered, and the places they touched at, are here set down. And God here encourages those who suffer for him, to trust in him; for he can put it into the hearts of those to befriend them, from whom they least expect it. Sailors must make the best of the wind: and so must we all in our passage over the ocean of this world. When the winds are contrary, yet we must be getting forward as well as we can. Many who are not driven backward by cross providences, do not get forward by favourable providences. And many real Christians complain as to the concerns of their souls, that they have much ado to keep their ground. Every fair haven is not a safe haven. Many show respect to good ministers, who will not take their advice. But the event will convince sinners of the vanity of their hopes, and the folly of their conduct.

Verses 12-20 Those who launch forth on the ocean of this world, with a fair gale, know not what storms they may meet with; and therefore must not easily take it for granted that they have obtained their purpose. Let us never expect to be quite safe till we enter heaven. They saw neither sun nor stars for many days. Thus melancholy sometimes is the condition of the people of God as to their spiritual matters; they walk in darkness, and have no light. See what the wealth of this world is: though coveted as a blessing, the time may come when it will be a burden; not only too heavy to be carried safely, but heavy enough to sink him that has it. The children of this world can be prodigal of their goods for the saving their lives, yet are sparing of them in works of piety and charity, and in suffering for Christ. Any man will rather make shipwreck of his goods than of his life; but many rather make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience, than of their goods. The means the sailors used did not succeed; but when sinners give up all hope of saving themselves, they are prepared to understand God's word, and to trust in his mercy through Jesus Christ.

Verses 21-29 They did not hearken to the apostle when he warned them of their danger; yet if they acknowledge their folly, and repent of it, he will speak comfort and relief to them when in danger. Most people bring themselves into trouble, because they do not know when they are well off; they come to harm and loss by aiming to mend their condition, often against advice. Observe the solemn profession Paul made of relation to God. No storms or tempests can hinder God's favour to his people, for he is a Help always at hand. It is a comfort to the faithful servants of God when in difficulties, that as long as the Lord has any work for them to do, their lives shall be prolonged. If Paul had thrust himself needlessly into bad company, he might justly have been cast away with them; but God calling him into it, they are preserved with him. They are given thee; there is no greater satisfaction to a good man than to know he is a public blessing. He comforts them with the same comforts wherewith he himself was comforted. God is ever faithful, therefore let all who have an interest in his promises be ever cheerful. As, with God, saying and doing are not two things, believing and enjoying should not be so with us. Hope is an anchor of the soul, sure and stedfast, entering into that within the veil. Let those who are in spiritual darkness hold fast by that, and think not of putting to sea again, but abide by Christ, and wait till the day break, and the shadows flee away.

Verses 30-38 God, who appointed the end, that they should be saved, appointed the means, that they should be saved by the help of these shipmen. Duty is ours, events are God's; we do not trust God, but tempt him, when we say we put ourselves under his protection, if we do not use proper means, such as are within our power, for our safety. But how selfish are men in general, often even ready to seek their own safety by the destruction of others! Happy those who have such a one as Paul in their company, who not only had intercourse with Heaven, but was of an enlivening spirit to those about him. The sorrow of the world works death, while joy in God is life and peace in the greatest distresses and dangers. The comfort of God's promises can only be ours by believing dependence on him, to fulfil his word to us; and the salvation he reveals must be waited for in use of the means he appoints. If God has chosen us to salvation, he has also appointed that we shall obtain it by repentance, faith, prayer, and persevering obedience; it is fatal presumption to expect it in any other way. It is an encouragement to people to commit themselves to Christ as their Saviour, when those who invite them, clearly show that they do so themselves.

Verses 39-44 The ship that had weathered the storm in the open sea, where it had room, is dashed to pieces when it sticks fast. Thus, if the heart fixes in the world in affection, and cleaving to it, it is lost. Satan's temptations beat against it, and it is gone; but as long as it keeps above the world, though tossed with cares and tumults, there is hope for it. They had the shore in view, yet suffered shipwreck in the harbour; thus we are taught never to be secure. Though there is great difficulty in the way of the promised salvation, it shall, without fail, be brought to pass. It will come to pass that whatever the trials and dangers may be, in due time all believers will get safely to heaven. Lord Jesus, thou hast assured us that none of thine shall perish. Thou wilt bring them all safe to the heavenly shore. And what a pleasing landing will that be! Thou wilt present them to thy Father, and give thy Holy Spirit full possession of them for ever.

Acts 27 Commentaries