Acts 27

Sailing for Rome

1 When it was decided that we were to sail to Italy, they handed over Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion named Julius, of the Imperial Regiment.
2 So when we had boarded a ship of Adramyttium, we put to sea, intending to sail to ports along the coast of the province of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, was with us.
3 The next day we put in at Sidon, and Julius treated Paul kindly and allowed him to go to his friends to receive their care.
4 When we had put out to sea from there, we sailed along the northern coast[a] of Cyprus because the winds were against us.
5 After sailing through the open sea off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we reached Myra in Lycia.
6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy and put us on board.
7 Sailing slowly for many days, we came with difficulty as far as Cnidus. But since the wind did not allow us to approach it, we sailed along the south side[b] of Crete off Salmone.
8 With yet more difficulty we sailed along the coast, and came to a place called Fair Havens near the city of Lasea.

Paul's Advice Ignored

9 By now much time had passed, and the voyage was already dangerous. Since the Fast[c] was already over, Paul gave his advice
10 and told them, "Men, I can see that this voyage is headed toward damage and heavy loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives."
11 But the centurion paid attention to the captain and the owner of the ship rather than to what Paul said.
12 Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided to set sail from there, hoping somehow to reach Phoenix, a harbor on Crete open to the southwest and northwest, and to winter there.

Storm-Tossed Vessel

13 When a gentle south wind sprang up, they thought they had achieved their purpose; they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete.
14 But not long afterwards, a fierce wind called the "northeaster"[d] rushed down from the island.[e]
15 Since the ship was caught and was unable to head into the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along.
16 After running under the shelter of a little island called Cauda,[f] we were barely able to get control of the skiff.
17 After hoisting it up, they used ropes and tackle and girded the ship. Then, fearing they would run aground on the Syrtis,[g] they lowered the drift-anchor, and in this way they were driven along.
18 Because we were being severely battered by the storm, they began to jettison the cargo the next day.
19 On the third day, they threw the ship's gear overboard with their own hands.
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.
21 Since many were going without food, Paul stood up among them and said, "You men should have followed my advice not to sail from Crete and sustain this damage and loss.
22 Now I urge you to take courage, because there will be no loss of any of your lives, but only of the ship.
23 For this night an angel of the God I belong to and serve stood by me,
24 saying, 'Don't be afraid, Paul. You must stand before Caesar. And, look! God has graciously given you all those who are sailing with you.'
25 Therefore, take courage, men, because I believe God that it will be just the way it was told to me.
26 However, we must run aground on a certain island."
27 When the fourteenth night came, we were drifting in the Adriatic Sea,[h] and in the middle of the night the sailors thought they were approaching land.[i]
28 They took a sounding and found it to be 120 feet[j] deep; when they had sailed a little farther and sounded again, they found it to be 90 feet[k] deep.
29 Then, fearing we might run aground in some rocky place, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight to come.
30 Some sailors tried to escape from the ship; they had let down the skiff into the sea, pretending that they were going to put out anchors from the bow.
31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, "Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved."
32 Then the soldiers cut the ropes holding the skiff and let it drop away.
33 When it was just about daylight, Paul urged them all to take food, saying, "Today is the fourteenth day that you have been waiting and going without food, having eaten nothing.
34 Therefore I urge you to take some food. For this has to do with your survival, since not a hair will be lost from the head of any of you."
35 After he said these things and had taken some bread, he gave thanks to God in the presence of them all, and when he had broken it, he began to eat.
36 They all became encouraged and took food themselves.
37 In all there were 276 of us on the ship.
38 And having eaten enough food, they began to lighten the ship by throwing the grain overboard into the sea.

Shipwreck

39 When daylight came, they did not recognize the land, but sighted a bay with a beach. They planned to run the ship ashore if they could.
40 After casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and headed for the beach.
41 But they struck a sandbar and ran the ship aground. The bow jammed fast and remained immovable, but the stern began to break up with the pounding of the waves.
42 The soldiers' plan was to kill the prisoners so that no one could swim off and escape.
43 But the centurion kept them from carrying out their plan because he wanted to save Paul, so he ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land.
44 The rest were to follow, some on planks and some on debris from the ship. In this way, all got safely to land.

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.

Footnotes 11

  • [a]. Lit sailed under the lee
  • [b]. Lit sailed under the lee
  • [c]. The Day of Atonement
  • [d]. Lit Euraquilo, a violent northeast wind
  • [e]. Lit from her
  • [f]. Or Clauda
  • [g]. Syrtis sand banks or bars near North Africa
  • [h]. Part of the northern Mediterranean Sea; not the modern Adriatic Sea east of Italy
  • [i]. Lit thought there was land approaching them
  • [j]. Lit 20 fathoms
  • [k]. Lit 15 fathoms

Acts 27 Commentaries