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The Book of ACTS
THEME: Paul goes to Rome through storm and shipwreck
This sea voyage could be called Paul's fourth missionary journey. He was just as actively alert and he witnessed just as faithfully as he had on his land journeys. Those restricting chains did not hinder him one little bit, even though he made that entire journey in chains. He theory was; "Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evildoer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound" (2Tim. 2:9). He wrote to the Philippians that the things which happened to him worked out to further the Gospel (Phil 1:12).
God is with Paul. The trip this time will be a little different from the others, for it is to be made at the expense of the Roman government because he is Rome's prisoner. Paul's prayer that he might come to Rome is happening.
When Paul appealed his case to Caesar, he was out of the jurisdiction of Festus, the governor and King Agrippa. As King Agrippa had said after hearing his case, "This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar" (Acts 26:32).
They must send Paul to Rome.
Chapter 27 of Acts we records Paul's voyage to Rome. This has been considered a great description of a sea voyage in the ancient world that is on record today. Sir William Ramsay made a study of Luke's writing, and he considers this a masterpiece and the most accurate that has ever been written. This is a great chapter in the Bible.
Paul's Prosperous Journey To Rome (Acts 27:1-13)
Acts 27:1 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. (KJV)
It was determined . . . upon the hearing of Paul's case, it was resolved by Festus and Agrippa.
Julius. . . thought to have been a freed-man of the family of Julius, who thence took his name. A centurion of Augustus' band . . . as Cornelius was a centurion of the Italian band (Acts 10:1); this band, or regiment, was called Augustus's (or the emperor's) because it was part of his guard.
They delivered Paul and certain other prisoners; . . . who very likely had also appealed to Caesar, or at least the governor thought fit to send them to Rome, to have their cases heard and determined there; and these by the order of Festus were delivered by the centurions, or jailers, in whose custody they had been,
Acts 27:2 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. (KJV)
Adramyttium . . . a city in Mysia, a province in the Lesser Asia. Meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia . . . the ship did belong to Adramyttium, and designed a trading voyage along the coasts of Asia.
We launched . . . in a ship from Caesarea. Meaning to sail by the coast of Asia, along by Ephesus and Miletus.
Aristarchus . . . this Aristarthus seems to have been a man of some note, who accompanied Paul (together with Luke, the holy author of this book). This Aristarchus was one of them that was laid hold on in the uproar at Ephesus (Acts 19:29); and having partook of Paul's afflictions in all his travels, was now his fellow prisoner at Rome (Col. 4:10).
Acts 27:3 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. (KJV)
Sidon . . . was a famous city in Phoenicia, on the northern border of Israel; it was noted for trade and navigation.
Julius courteously entreated Paul . . . as Felix had commanded that centurion to whom he committed him (Acts 24:23).
And gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself . . . although Paul went with a soldier to guard him, as their manner was, yet it was a great favor that he might talk with his friends, and receive from them such refreshments towards his journey. Paul did indeed experience the wonderful Truth of God's Word (Acts 18:10), that He was with him. As we consider the Presence of God with Paul, let us remember the Promise that He makes to us! Heb. 13:5-6 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. (KJV)
Acts 27:4 And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. (KJV)
And when we had launched . . . from Sidon. We sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary . . . they sailed below the island of Cyprus (Acts 4:36; 13:4). If the wind had been right for them, they would have sailed above the island; leaving it on the right hand, in a straight course to Myra; but now they were obliged to go below it, leaving it on the left hand, going through the seas of Cilicia and Pamphylia to Lycia.
Acts 27:5 And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. (KJV)
And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia . . . that part of the Mediterranean that borders on those provinces. Cilicia (Acts 6:9; 15:23, 41). Pamphylia (Acts 2:10; 13:13). Lycia . . . another province in the lesser Asia, bordering Pamphylia.
Acts 27:6 And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein. (KJV)
Alexandria . . . a famous port town in Egypt, formerly called No, of which we read in Jer.46:25. It was this to place the ship belonged, which was now in the haven of Myra, bound for Italy, carrying corn, and Persian and Indian commodities from there.
And he put us therein . . . the centurion took Paul and his companions, and the rest of the prisoners, with the soldiers in his care, out of the ship of Adramyttium, into the ship of Alexandria.
Acts 27:7 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; (KJV)
And when we had sailed slowly many days . . . because of contrary winds, as in vs 4, or possibly for want of wind, as some think; it sailed slowly, for the ship was loaded heavily with goods.
Cnidus . . . a city over against Crete, a known island in the Mediterranean. Salmone . . . a sea town in the cape at the eastern side of the island.
Acts 27:8 And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea. (KJV)
And hardly passing it . . . meaning Salmone, with great difficulty, because of the winds.
The fair havens . . . the good shore, being accounted the safest for ships to ride in or enter into.
Lasea . . . called Lasos, more inland; a city on the shore of the island of Crete.
Acts 27:9 Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, (KJV)
Now when much time was spent . . . they stayed many days.
And when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past . . . the day of atonement, which was the grand fast of the Jews, on which day they afflicted their souls, (Lev.23:27). Done in memory of the worshipping of the golden calf; on that day they neither eat nor drink, nor do any work, neither do they wash, nor are they anointed, nor do they bind on their shoes, or make use of the marriage bed; nor do they read anything but sorrowful things, as the Lamentations of Jeremiah, until the setting of the sun, and the rising of the stars; and hence this day is called by them.
Paul admonished them . . . or gave them some advice to continue where they were.
Acts 27:10 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. (KJV)
Paul did not say this so much by reason of the time of the year, and the storms which usually accompany it, as by a prophetical spirit. God intended to provide for Paul in this tedious and difficult journey, and equips him with the gift of prophecy; which, especially when they saw it happen, could not but have a great respect for him, and was probably a means of salvation to many that were with him.
It seems that God had given the lives of all in the ship to Paul, and saved them for his sake (Acts 27:24).
Acts 27:11 Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. (KJV)
The centurion did not believe Paul, he believed those whom he thought were best skilled in those things.
More than those things which were spoken by Paul . . . by a spirit of prophecy, which he had no idea of. For although he treated Paul civilly as a man, he had no regard to him as a Christian, or as one endued with the Spirit of God, which he knew nothing of.
Acts 27:12 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. (KJV)
Phenice was a port town in Crete, not the country in Syria. It was on the south part of that island, having a bay or road, like unto a half-moon or crescent, one horn or part of it (admitting entrance into it) toward the south-west, and the other toward the north-west.
Acts 27:13 And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete. (KJV)
And when the south wind blew softly . . . or moderately, which was a good wind for them. Supposing that they, had obtained their purpose . . . that things would go according to their wish, and favor their plan. Loosing thence . . . they left the Fair Havens. They came near, or they sailed close by Crete . . . along the shore, the wind favoring them; they thought they were in no danger, for it was a soft gentle wind.
The Storm (Acts 27:14-44)
Acts 27:14 But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. (KJV)
But not long after . . . they had not been long at sea.
There arose against it . . . the ship, or the island of Crete, or both. A tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon . . . this word occurs nowhere else in the Bible. It most likely means a wind not blowing steadily from any direction, but a hurricane, or wind veering about to different quarters. Such hurricanes are known to happen in the Mediterranean. It is a wind rapidly changing its points of compass. (Ps.107:25).
Acts 27:15 And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive. (KJV)
And when the ship was caught . . . by the wind, snatched up by it, and forcibly carried away. And could not bear up into the wind . . .the wind was so high and the sea so strong. We let her drive . . . she could not bear up into the wind; the ship could not keep her course, they had to let her go where the wind took her.
Acts 27:16 And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat: (KJV)
And running under. . . near to the island of Clauda, southwest of Crete. Stayed close to it because of the violence of the wind.
We had much work . . . much difficulty hoisting the ship's lifeboat aboard.
Acts 27:17 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. (KJV)
Which when they had taken up . . . when they got the boat into the ship. They used helps . . . the mariners made use of other persons, called in the assistance of the soldiers, and passengers, and prisoners; and/or for the help of the ship, they made use of cords, chains, etc. Undergirding the ship . . . with chains and ropes, which they drew under the keel of the ship, and so bound both sides of the ship, that it might not split and fall to pieces; which may be what is now called "frapping", and is done by putting large ropes under the keel, and over the gunwale; and is used when a ship by laboring hard in the sea, this keeps her from splitting.
And fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands . . . which were on the African coast, from the combination of sand and slime, which made it very dangerous, being covered with water, could not be seen and guarded against, and especially in a storm. When a vessel was drawn into them, it was sucked in, and swallowed up.
They strake sail . . . let down their sails. And so were driven . . . about in the sea, where ever the winds and waves carried them. The ship was completely under the control of the wind.
Acts 27:18 And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; (KJV)
And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest . . . sometimes being lifted up as it were to the heavens, and then presently sinking down, as if they were going into the bottom of the sea; such a condition at sea is described to the life by the Psalmist (Ps.107:25-27).
The next day they lightened the ship . . . of the goods and merchandise that were in it; such as the mariners did in the ship in which Jonah was (Jon.1:5). They literally cast all the goods on the ship into the sea.
Acts 27:19 And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship. (KJV)
And the third day . . . 3 days from the time this storm began, this vicious storm held fast.
We cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship . . . seems to mean their naval stores and instruments, as sails, ropes, cables, etc. It cannot mean the ship's provisions, at least not all was cast away, for afterwards it is said of casting out the wheat into the sea (verse 38). It could also mean the armament of the ship, the soldiers' arms, and others which belonged to the ship, which were brought with them to defend themselves against an enemy.
Acts 27:20 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. (KJV)
And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared . . . this describes the dark, cloudy unceasing storm. No sun, stars or moon in many days. This would just increase their misery. For the sun does cheer! This is one reason why our Saviour is called the Sun of righteousness (Mal. 4:2).
And no small tempest lay on us . . . and all this continued many days. All hope that they would be saved was gone. There seemed to be no hope in all this. 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. All expected to be lost. Only the apostle Paul alone, knew for certain, that although the ship would be lost, every man's life would be saved. He had no hope of the outward appearance of things, but because of the revelation which the Lord had made to him. He believed God and trusted Him to keep His Word! As for us, considering eternity, as to all human helps and means, there is NO probability of an escape. We too must believe and trust God, or we are doomed! (1 John 5:11-13).
Acts 27:21 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. (KJV)
But after long abstinence . . . from food, not for want of it, as appears from what follows (Acts 27:36-38). There probably was a great loss of appetite, much nausea and wanting NO part of food, through all the tossing of the ship.
Paul stood forth in the midst of them . . . so that they all might hear him.
And said, sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me . . . it would have been better for them to have taken his advice, and stayed at the Fair Havens.
And not have loosed from Crete . . . sailed from there.
And to have gained this harm and loss . . . they could have avoided the injuries of the weather, the horrible storm which they had endured and fear of their minds. They could have prevented the loss of the goods and merchandise of the ship, and its tackling, utensils, instruments, and arms.
The apostle speaks to them in a very courteous language, does not insult them, only reminds them of the advice he had given, which had it been taken, would have been to their advantage. He mentions this, because since what he had foretold was in part already come to pass, they might give the more heed to what he was about to say to them.
Acts 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. (KJV)
No loss of life IF they would do as Paul told them (also in Acts 27:31). In God's Promises there is an implied condition, which from the nature of the thing is to be understood; such as in that which was made to Eli, mentioned in 1Sam. 2:30. Paul foretold this, ever so carefully, that when it came to pass, he might gain more reputation to the Truth of the Gospel which he preached, and more glory to the God whom he worshipped.
For there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship . . . the ship will be lost, but not one loss of life to any person in it.
Acts 27:23 For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, (KJV)
Paul uses a good introduction to recommend the TRUE God, and the Gospel of His Son. Paul knew the certainty of what he had predicted, and he states that he is in the service of God, so that unto God, may be given any and all glory. The angel who came to Paul, like Paul, was/is just a servant of Almighty God.
The natural man (unsaved sinner) has no desire, but a hatred to the service of God. Only a converted person (saved sinner) is willing to serve God, and is absolutely delighted to do so. We do so in the best way that we can, in righteousness, in an acceptable manner, with reverence and godly fear, from the heart, ever so willingly.
Acts 27:24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. (KJV)
The message that God's angels bring from God unto His people is: "Fear not." Thus it was unto Daniel (Dan. 10:12, 19); and unto the women that came to our Lord's sepulchre (Mat.28:5). All God's good angels are ministering spirits for the heirs of salvation (Heb.1:14).
Thou must be brought before Caesar . . . as had been declared (Acts 23:11), so therefore Paul cannot be lost in this storm. It is the will and decree of God, which cannot be frustrated, it must be, it shall be!
There is a big difference between Paul and Jonah in their particular storms. Jonah 1:9 And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. (KJV) . . . Although Jonah professes as Paul does in the preceding verse; it was VERY little more than a profession with Jonah, while Paul was actually in the fear and service of God. There had to be a big difference in their hearts during the storms. True fear and service of God brings with it great peace and inward satisfaction, but there is no peace unto the wicked (Isa.48:22).
And lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee . . . God had determined to save everyone on the ship for Paul's sake, and in answer to his prayers. The Lord had heard Paul, and granted his request, and would save them all on his account. Sometimes God saves a nation, a city, a body of men, even ungodly men, for the sake of a few that fear His Holy Name, who are among them. Here, 276 souls (Acts 27:37) were saved for the sake of one man! This was a strong proof of God's approval of Paul; and must have at least shown to Julius the centurion that his prisoner was an innocent man.
Acts 27:25 Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. (KJV)
Paul had the experience of the power and faithfulness of God. He knew His Name! He trusted God completely! Paul now recommends God as a reality to them, as worthy to be relied upon. There is SO much good that just one of God's servants can do in a place where God sends them.
Paul repeats with more fervency and earnestness to not be afraid. True faith grabs hold of and settles upon the Word and Promises of God. True believers know God's love, power and faithfulness and know there shall come to be, what is said by Him. Whatever God has told His people of, or has promised unto them, He shall perform . . . be they things temporal, that they shall not want any good thing (Ps.34:10); that all their afflictions shall be for their good (Rom.8:28); that they shall be aware of His Presence in times of need (Heb.13:5), and that His grace is always sufficient (2 Cor.12:9-10). Our God will guide and counsel us in this present life, and afterward receive us into glory (Ps.73:24). What more could we possibly ask?
Acts 27:26 Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island. (KJV)
This yet to come circumstance is foretold by Paul, so that when the whole thing does come to pass, it would be very clear that it was not just a casual thing, or a chance event, but was predetermined by God, made known to the apostle, and predicted by him. This island was Melita; and the fulfillment of this part of the prediction is related in (Acts 28:1).
Acts 27:27 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; (KJV)
But when the fourteenth night was come . . . It is now 14 days since they set out from the Fair Havens in Crete, or from the beginning of the storm.
As they were driven up and down in Adria . . . In Adria; not in the Adriatic Bay, or Gulf of Venice, which divides Italy and Dalmatia, though that be also so called.This name is sometimes extended to those parts of the Mediterranean Sea which border on Sicily and Ionia in Greece, and must be passed over by such as go from Crete, or Candia, to Melita, or Malta.
When about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country . . . about the middle of the night the mariners thought, by some observations they made, that they were near land.
Acts 27:28 And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms. (KJV)
And sounded . . . or let down their plummet, or sounding line; which was a line with a piece of lead at the end of it, which they let down into the water, and by that means found what depth it was, by which they could judge whether they were near land or not.
Found it twenty fathoms . . . about 120 feet. A fathom is the distance between the end of the middle finger on the one hand, from the end of the middle finger on the other hand, when the arms are stretched out; which is ordinarily accounted about six feet in measure.
Found it fifteen fathoms . . . about 90 feet, coming into more shallow places they might reasonably conclude that they were near unto the land.
According to modern accounts, there are two kinds of lines, occasionally used in sounding the sea, the sounding line, and the deep sea line: the sounding line is the thickest and shortest, as not exceeding 20 fathoms in length, and is marked at two, three, and four fathoms with a piece of black leather between the strands, and at five with a piece of white leather: the sounding line may be used when the ship is under sail, which the deep sea line cannot. The plummet is usually in form of a nine pin, and weighs 18 pounds; the end is frequently greased, to try whether the ground be sandy or rocky. The deep sea line is used in deep water, and both lead and line are larger than the other; at the end of it is a piece of lead, called deep sea lead, has a hole at the bottom, in which is put a piece of "tallow", to bring up the color of the sand at the bottom, to learn the differences of the ground, and know what coasts they are on.
Acts 27:29 Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day. (KJV)
Fallen upon rocks . . . of which there are many in these seas, especially close to the islands.
Cast four anchors . . . this shows just how great the storm was, that they needed so many anchors. There are three kinds of anchors commonly used, the kedger, the grapnel, and the stream anchor. t seems the grapnel is chiefly for the long boat: here were four anchors, but most likely all one kind. These were cast out to stop the ship, and keep it steady, and that it might not proceed any further, till they could learn where they were.
Wished for the day . . .that by the light of day they might see whether they were near land, or in danger of rocks and shelves, as they imagined. It was still dark. They did not know exactly where they were. They wanted to slow down or stop the ship’s approach to land until they could see where the ship was heading.
Acts 27:30 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, (KJV)
They were going to let down the life boat; that they might get themselves into it. They had taken up the boat to try to save it (Acts 27:17). These sailors were not men of faith. They would do whatever they could to save themselves.
As though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship . . . this could have been of no advantage in the circumstances, and it seems that the officers of the ship were parties to the unworthy escape attempt, which was perhaps detected by the nautical skill of Luke, and told by him to Paul. The only reason of their going into the boat was to escape.
The crew was trying to abandon the ship. They acted as if they were dropping anchor, but they actually were going overboard. They were leaving a sinking ship, just as rats leave it.
Acts 27:31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. (KJV)
Paul said to the centurion, and to the soldiers . . . Paul did not direct his speech to the governor and owner of the ship, who very likely, were in the scheme with the mariners, and leading them; but to Julius the centurion, and the soldiers under him, who having no knowledge of maritime affairs, were not aware of the danger, nor aware of the plan of the shipmen.
Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved . . . pointing to the mariners who were about to let down the boat, so they could make their escape. Paul had before declared, that there should be no loss of any man's life, and yet now affirms, that unless the mariners stay in the ship, the rest of the company could not be saved. This does not show that the decree concerning the salvation of them was a conditional one, but that the mariners should stay in the ship because they had skill to guide and direct it.
Acts 27:32 Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off. (KJV)
Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the life boat with which it had been fastened to the side of the ship. It dropped into the sea. The centurion and soldiers, agreed to what Paul had said, did this to take away all thoughts of escaping from the mariners, trusting all upon what Paul had promised to them in the Name of his God.
Acts 27:33 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. (KJV)
That night after the mariners were disappointed in their plan to escape, Paul urged them all to eat, but it was difficult to quench their fear of being destroyed. Only the worry of present death, and judgment which follows it, was on their minds.
The fourteenth day . . . not as if they had eaten nothing all that while, but it had ben 14 days since they had sat to a meal. What they had eaten was very little, without any desire or taste; so great was their anguish of that treacherous storm.
Acts 27:34 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. (KJV)
Paul urged them to eat for their health's sake; that they might gain strength to endure that pain and perform that labor which would be necessary for their escape. "For your health" (Mat.15:32).
Not an hair fall from the head . . . This is a proverbial expression, meaning that they would be preserved safe; that none of them would die, and that they would experience little hurt (1 Sam.14:45; 2 Sam.14:11; 1 Kings 1:52; Mat.10:30, Luke 12:7; 21:18).
Acts 27:35 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. (KJV)
And when he had thus spoken he took bread, and gave thanks . . . what a lesson to today's "hogs at the slop trough"! Yes! I know! This is rough speech! It is meant to be. I make NO apology whatsoever! How many people today thank God for the food which they are about to eat? You check this out and you will quickly see it is a meager "FEW"! (Mat.7:13-14). It takes only a minute to bow your head in prayer to thank God! No matter where you are! Please do not be ashamed to do this!
Some think that this meant that Paul celebrated the Lord's Supper here (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor.11:25). I cannot agree with this, because in other places the food Paul urged them to take was called "meat" (Acts 27:33-34, 36). Paul simply thanked God for the food (probably both bread and meat) which they were about to eat.
Paul giving thanks was NOT unusual. I am sure that he did this before every meal, just as his Lord did! (Mat.14:19; 15:36).
Acts 27:36 Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat. (KJV)
Personally, I think the people on board finally were encouraged by Paul's words and example, and perhaps lost some of their fear. They did as he told them to do, eat something!
Acts 27:37 And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls. (KJV)
We were . . . 276 souls. It can be seen from this fact that merchant vessels of that time period were large. This was the total consisting of the master and owner of the ship, and the centurion and the soldiers, and the apostle and his company, with whatsoever passengers there might be. Luke, who was one of them, had an exact knowledge of all in the ship; and recorded this before the shipwreck, may serve to make the truth that none of them perished, since their number was so precisely known. And makes it all the more marvelous, that such a number of men should be saved, in a shipwreck; shows that God indeed did step in with His divine power to bring them all safe to land.
Acts 27:38 And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea. (KJV)
And when they had eaten enough . . . were satisfied, having eaten a full meal.
They lightened the ship . . .
after they all had eaten, they cast overboard all of its cargo, that the ship might more easily carry them to the shore.
And cast out the wheat into the sea . . . the wheat seems to have been a big part of the ship's load; which they brought from Egypt, and were carrying to Italy. They had cast out some of the goods of the ship before, and also the tackling of the ship (Acts 27:18-19), but now, last of all, the wheat. For what was eatable they reserved until last, not knowing just how bad things would get.
Acts 27:39 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. (KJV)
And when it was day they knew not the land . . . they really did not know what place it was, or the name of it. It had been a long and violent storm, they thought at any moment to be swallowed up, they really did not know where they were.
But they discovered a certain creek with a shore . . . saw a certain creek; a bay, or body of the sea, a gulf or bay, with a shore near it; having land on each side, where they judged it most likely for them to get on shore; considering everything for their safety. This was actually an arm of the sea, where was a port, where they thought they could secure get ashore.
Even though they had been assured by Paul, that no one would be lost, they made use of all proper means for their safety and security.
Acts 27:40 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. (KJV)
And when they had taken up the anchors . . . the four anchors they had cast out of the stern (Acts 27:29), or when they had cut the cables to which the anchors were fastened.
They committed themselves unto the sea . . . or left the anchors in the sea.
And loosed the rudder bands . . . they were loosed, so that now they might use the rudder to direct the ship to the best advantage in making the shore. They had tied the bands while they were adrift, or at anchor.
Hoised up the mainsail . . . which they had let down, or struck (Acts 27:17), and now, that they might make some use of the winds, to get closer to the shore, they hoisted up again. As God doth instruct the ploughman (Isa. 28:26), so He teacheth the mariner, and every one in their calling.
And made toward the shore . . . which was in the creek, or to the haven in it.
Acts 27:41 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. (KJV)
And falling into a place where two seas met . . . an "isthmus" (shoal, sand, neck of land, cape), on each side of which the sea ran. The meeting of these two seas might cause a great rippling in the sea. They were now in the greatest danger; and God allows it to happen before He gives them deliverance, that He might have the more glory by it.
They ran the ship aground . . . for this place where the two seas met, could not be the shore itself; for otherwise, to what purpose would they have cast themselves into the sea, as they afterwards did, if the head of the ship struck upon the shore, and stuck fast there? It must rather mean a shelf of sand, opposite, or near the entrance into the bay, and where the shipwreck was.
And the fore part stuck fast, and remained unmovable . . . got stuck deep into the sands; perhaps the shore here was very steep, so that the stem of the vessel might be immersed in the quicksands, which could possibly close round it.
But the hinder part was broken by the violence of the waves . . . the stern had boards and broken pieces for the people to get ashore upon.
Acts 27:42 And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape. (KJV)
And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners . . . what ingratitude, that they would consider taking Paul's life, who had saved theirs. Christ Jesus' disciples and ministers must not look for their reward in this life. Though men cannot or do not reward them, they shall be rewarded at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:14).
Lest any of them should swim out and escape . . . and the soldiers be accountable for them.
This was probably because the Roman military discipline was very strict, and if they escaped, it would probably be charged on them that it had been done by the negligence and unfaithfulness of the soldiers. They therefore proposed, in a most cruel and bloodthirsty manner, to kill them, though contrary to all humanity, justice, and laws; presuming probably that it would be supposed that they had perished in the wreck. This is remarkable proof that men can be cruel even when experiencing the tender mercy of God! The most affecting scenes of Divine goodness will not lessen man's natural fierce rage and cruelty of those who seem to delight in blood.
Acts 27:43 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: (KJV)
But the centurion, willing to save Paul . . . not only because Paul was a Roman citizen, but because it was obvious that Paul was an extraordinary person. The centurion was moved there by a superior influence (God), that Satan might not have his end; and that the will of God might be fulfilled, that Paul should go to Rome, and there bear a testimony of Christ.
Kept them from their purpose . . . the centurion would not allow them to kill the prisoners, restrained them from it, and commanded them not to kill anyone. Thus, for the sake of this one righteous man, the lives of all the prisoners were spared. This shows that the centurion had been disposed to treat Paul with kindness (Acts 27:3). Paul's conduct on the ship; the wisdom of his advice (Acts 27:10); the good sense in the turmoil and danger of the storm; and quite possibly his belief that Paul was under the Divine protection and blessing, was why he spared his life. Paul saved (2 Cor.11:25).
And commanded that they which could swim, should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land . . . They were most likely released from their chains. How could they swim with chains on them?
Acts 27:44 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. (KJV)
And the rest, some on boards . . . doors, tables, planks, etc.
And some on broken pieces of the ship . . . or what came from it, as masts, beams. Possibly there were many who could not swim.
And so it came to pass that they escaped all safe to land . . . not one was lost, they ALL escaped, just as Paul had foretold.
And so it will be with TRUE saints after their troubles in this life. Those who are safe, by being in Christ (Rom.8:1-2; 16:7; 1 Cor.1:2; 1:22; 2 Cor.5:17; 12:2 Gal.6:15; Eph.2:10,13; 1 Pet.5:14), and abide in Him (1 Jn.2:27-28), even though many difficulties (may or will) pop up in the way, through the corruptions of their own hearts, the temptations of Satan, the seemingly hidings of God's Face, multiple afflictions, and often violent persecutions, although they may be scarcely saved (1 Pet.4:18), yet at last they ARE saved! So it shall be that they get safely on the shores of eternal bliss and happiness in Heaven.
A TRUE child of God is in the care of Christ, and because they believe that through the purchase of His precious Blood (1 Pet.1:18-19); and are partakers of the blessings of grace (Eph.2:8-9), and have the Spirit, as an earnest of the heavenly inheritance (2 Cor.1:22; 5:5; Eph.1:14); and when landed they are safe; sin will be no more (Phil.3:21; Rev.21:8; 22:14-15), bodies like Christ's Body will not sin! I am a firm believer in OSAS! Once Saved, Always Saved! See our article: www.hisservants.org/OSAS_once_saved_alwasy_saved_h_s.htm
The number of the children of God, in any period of time, is very small in comparison of the rest of the world (Mat.7:13-14; Luke 18:8). The apostle Paul and his companions had very unconcerned and uncaring company, for the other prisoners, the soldiers and the sailors were not Godly people. Christians, then and now, are as a lily in a field bull-nettle. The wicked are annoyed with the lifestyle of TRUE Christians.
The life of the wicked may very rightly be compared to the sea, for the waves are as the restless and uneasy spirits of men, and the saints' passage through this world always is dangerous, especially today in these last and perilous days (2 Tim.3:1; 1 Tim.4:1; 2 Pet.3:3; Jude 1:18-19); partly because of the abundant immorality on the one hand, and partly because of the spread of error and heresy spread by the devil and his many helpers (2 Cor.11:13-15).
Their landing could be considered miraculous. God certainly fulfilled His Promise that Paul and all the 276 people on the ship would get to land safely.
Book of Acts
Ch.1 . . Ch.2 . . Ch.3 . . Ch.4 . . Ch.5 . . Ch.6 . . Ch.7 . . Ch.8 . . Ch.9 . . Ch.10 . . Ch.11 . . Ch.12 . . Ch.13 . . Ch.14 . . Ch.15 . . Ch.16 . . Ch.17 . . Ch.18 . . Ch.19 . . Ch.20 . . Ch.21 . . Ch.22 . . Ch.23 . . Ch.24 . . Ch.25 . . Ch.26 . . Ch.27 . . Ch.28