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.
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(1) Paul and certain other prisoners.—The Greek for “other” implies that they were prisoners of a different class. It is probable, however, that they also had appealed to the emperor, as there would otherwise be no object in sending them to Rome.

A centurion of Augustus’ band.—Literally, of the Sebaste. On the band or cohort as a subdivision of the Roman legion, see Note on Acts 10:1. Three different explanations have been given of the term translated “Augustus.” (1) The cohort may have consisted of soldiers levied in Sebaste (= Augusta) or Samaria. Josephus mentions a squadron of Sebastene cavalry (Ant. xx. 6, § 1; xix. 9, § 2), and there may have been a corresponding band of foot-soldiers. (2) Nero about this time had formed a kind of body-guard, consisting of some 3, 000 young men of the equestrian order, who accompanied him to games and spectacles, and whose chief business it was to applaud him in his speeches and recitations. To these he gave the name of Augustani (Tacit. Ann. xiv. 15; Sueton. Nero, c. 25), a term of which Sebastene would be the natural Greek equivalent. (3) A certain Julius Priscus appears in Tacit. Hist. ii. 92 as appointed by Vitellius to be one of the prefects of the Prætorian cohorts, which, as specially under the emperor’s personal command, might naturally be called by his name; and he has been conjecturally identified with the centurion here named. Of these, (2) seems the most probable, but it is not absolutely incompatible with (3). On this assumption, as it is not said that the cohort itself was at Cæsarea, it is possible that he may have accompanied Festus as an escort to his province, and was now returning to Rome.

Acts 27:1-2. When it was determined that we should sail into Italy — The apostle having, by appeal, transferred his cause to the emperor, Festus determined to send him to Italy by sea, as being a shorter and less expensive passage to Rome; and for that purpose delivered him, with certain other persons, who were also to be judged at Rome, to one Julius, a centurion of the Italian legion. All these prisoners, with the soldiers who guarded them, went aboard a ship of Adramyttium, a seaport of Mysia, and sailed from Cesarea in the autumn of A.D. 62. From the history here, it appears that the messengers of the churches, who accompanied Paul into Judea with the collections, (Acts 21:4,) were not intimidated by the evils which the Jewish rage brought upon him in Jerusalem. For, while he continued there, they remained with him; and when he was sent a prisoner to Cesarea, they followed him thither, and in both places, doubtless, ministered to him, and perhaps attended him on his trials. And when it was determined to send him to Italy, two at least of these affectionate friends went in the same ship with him; namely, Luke, the writer of this book, as appears from his style here, and Aristarchus, a Thessalonian.

27:1-11 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.And when it was determined - By Festus Acts 25:12, and when the time was come when it was convenient to send him.

That we should sail - The use of the term "we" here shows that the author of this book, Luke, was with Paul. He had been his traveling companion, and though he had not been accused, yet it was resolved that he should still accompany him. Whether he went at his own expense, or whether he was sent at the expense of the Roman government, does not appear. There is a difference of reading here in the ancient versions. The Syriac reads it, "And thus Festus determined that he (Paul) should be sent to Caesar in Italy," etc. The Latin Vulgate and the Arabic also read "he" instead of "we." But the Greek manuscripts are uniform, and the correct reading is doubtless what is in our version.

Into Italy - The country still bearing the same name, of which Rome was the capital.

And certain other prisoners - Who were probably also sent to Rome for a trial before the emperor. Dr. Lardner has proved that it was common to send prisoners from Judea and other provinces to Rome (Credibility, part i. chapter 10, section 10, pp. 248, 249).

A centurion - A commander of 100 men.

Of Augustus' band - For the meaning of the word "band," see the Matthew 27:27 note; Acts 10:1 note. It was a division in the Roman army consisting of from 400 to 600 men. This was called "Augustus' band" in honor of the Roman emperor Augustus (see the notes on Acts 25:21), and was probably distinguished in some way for the care in enlisting or selecting them. The Augustine cohort or band is mentioned by Suetonius in his Life of Nero, 20.


Ac 27:1-44. The Voyage to Italy—The Shipwreck and Safe Landing at Malta.

1. we should sail, &c.—The "we" here reintroduces the historian as one of the company. Not that he had left the apostle from the time when he last included himself (Ac 21:18), but the apostle was parted from him by his arrest and imprisonment, until now, when they met in the ship.

delivered Paul and certain other prisoners—State prisoners going to be tried at Rome; of which several instances are on record.

Julius—who treats the apostle throughout with such marked courtesy (Ac 27:3, 43; Ac 28:16), that it has been thought [Bengel] he was present when Paul made his defense before Agrippa (see Ac 25:23), and was impressed with his lofty bearing.

a centurion of Augustus' band—the Augustan cohort, an honorary title given to more than one legion of the Roman army, implying, perhaps, that they acted as a bodyguard to the emperor or procurator, as occasion required.Acts 27:1-8 Paul is conducted in a ship toward Rome.

Acts 27:9-11 He foretells the danger of the voyage, but is not credited.

Acts 27:12-20 The ship setting sail against his advice is tossed

with a tempest.

Acts 27:21-44 Paul comforteth his fellow travellers with assurance

of having their lives saved, but foretelleth a

shipwreck; all which is verified by the event.

It was determined; upon the solemn hearing of Paul’s case, it was resolved by Festus and Agrippa, with the rest that were taken by Festus to advise concerning it.

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: see Acts 10:1. This band, or regiment, was called Augustus’s (or the emperor’s) because (as some will) it was part of his guard.

And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy,.... The chief city of which was Rome, the metropolis of the empire, where Caesar had his palace, to whom the apostle had appealed; and his voyage thither was determined by Festus, with the advice of Agrippa and his council, pursuant to the apostle's appeal, and which was founded on the will of God; all which concurred in this affair: it was the decree and will of God that the apostle should go to Rome, which was made known to him; and it was his resolution upon that, to go thither, wherefore he appealed to Caesar; and it was the determination of the Roman governor, not only as to his going there, but as to the time of it, which was now fixed: the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, read "he", instead of "we"; and the Ethiopic version reads expressly "Paul"; but the Greek copies read we: by whom are meant the apostle, and his companions; as Luke the writer of this history, and Aristarchus the Macedonian mentioned in the next verse, and Trophimus the Ephesian, who was afterwards left at Miletus sick, 2 Timothy 4:20 and who else cannot be said; these were to sail with him to Italy, not as prisoners, but as companions: this resolution being taken,

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,

unto one called Julius; in the Alexandrian copy of the third verse, he is called Julianus; he was either one of the Julian family, or rather was one that had been made free by some of that family, and so took the name:

a centurion of Augustus' band; of a Roman band of soldiers, which belonged to that legion which was called "Augusta"; for it seems there was a legion that bore that name, as Lipsius observes, and it may be from Augustus Caesar.

And {1} 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.

(1) Paul, with many other prisoners and through the midst of many deaths, is brought to Rome, but yet by God's own hand as it were, and set forth and commended to the world with many singular testimonies.

Acts 27:1.[166] Τοῦ ἀποπλεῖν ἡμᾶς] contains the aim of the ἐκρίθη. “But when (by Festus) decision was made (to the end) that we should sail away.” The nature of the “becoming resolved” (κρίνεσθαι) implies that the object—the contents of the resolution—may be conceived as embraced under the form of its aim. The modes of expression: ΚΕΛΕΎΕΙΝ ἽΝΑ, ΕἸΠΕῖΝ ἽΝΑ, ΘΈΛΕΙΝ ἽΝΑ, and the like, are similar; comp. Acts 27:42, ΒΟΥΛῊ ἘΓΈΝΕΤΟ, ἽΝΑ. See also Luke 4:10.

ἩΜᾶς] Luke speaks as a fellow-traveller.

ΠΑΡΕΔΊΔΟΥΝ] namely, the persons who were entrusted with the execution of the ἘΚΡΊΘΗ.

is purposely chosen (not ἌΛΛΟΥς), to intimate that they were prisoners of another sort (not also Christians under arrest). Comp. Luke 23:32; Tittmann, Synon. N.T. p. 155 f.; and see on Galatians 1:7. ἕτερος in Acts 15:35, Acts 17:34, also is to be similarly taken in the sense of another of two classes (in opposition to de Wette).

σπείρης Σεβαστ.] cohortis Augustae, perhaps: the illustrious (the imperial) cohort. Σεβαστ. is an adjective. Comp. ΛΙΜῊΝ ΣΕΒΑΣΤ. in Joseph. Antt. xvii. 5. 1 : the imperial harbour (in Caesarea). Probably (for historical demonstration is not possible) it was that one of the five cohorts stationed at Caesarea, which was regarded as body-guard of the emperor, and was accordingly employed, as here, on special services affecting the emperor. We have no right, considering the diversity of the names used by Luke, to hold it as identical with the σπεῖρα Ἰταλική, Acts 10:1 (so Ewald). Wieseler, Chronol. p. 351, and Beitr. z. Würdig. d. Ev. p. 325 (comp. Wetstein), finds here the cohors Augustanorum (imperial body-cohort) at Rome, consisting of Roman equites, of the so-called evocati (Tac. Ann. xiv. 15; Sueton. Nero, 25; Dio, lxi. 20, lxiii. 8), whose captain, Julius, he supposes, had been at this very time on business at Caesarea, and had taken the prisoners with him on his return. In this way the centurion would not have been under the command of Festus at all, and would have only been incidentally called into requisition, which is hardly compatible with the regulated departmental arrangements of Rome in the provinces; nor is there in the text itself, any more than in the σπεῖρα Ἰταλική, Acts 10:1, the least intimation that we are to think of a cohort and a centurion, who did not belong at all to the military force of Caesarea. Schwarz (de cohorte Ital. et Aug., Altorf, 1720), with whom Kuinoel agrees, conceived that it was a cohort consisting of Sebastenes (from Sebaste, the capital of Samaria), as in fact Sebastene soldiers are actually named by Josephus among the Roman military force in Judaea (Antt. xx. 6. 2, Bell. ii. 12. 5). But the calling a cohort by the name of a city (the cohort of Sebaste) is entirely without example; we should necessarily expect Σεβαστηνῶν (Joseph. Bell. ii. 12. 5 : “ἵλην ἱππέων καλουμένην Σεβαστηνῶν”), or an adjective of locality, such as ΣΕΒΑΣΤΗΝΉ, after the analogy of ἸΤΑΛΙΚΉ, Acts 10:1.

Nothing further is known of the centurion Julius. Tacitus (Hist. ii. 92, iv. 11) mentions a Julius Priscus as centurion of the Praetorians; but how extremely common was the name!

[166] Comp. on chap. 27. the excellent treatise of James Smith, The Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul, London 1848, ed. 2, 1856; Vömel, Progr., Frankf. 1850; in respect of the language, Klostermann, Vindiciae Luc. VII.—In Baumgarten there is much allegorizing and play of fancy; he considers the apostle as the true Jonah, and the ship’s crew as a representative of the whole heathen world.—Hackett treats chap. 27. with special care, having made use of many accounts of travels and notes of navigation.

Acts 27:1. Blass at the outset speaks of this and the next chapter as “clarissimam descriptionem” of St. Paul’s voyage, and he adds that this description has been estimated by a man skilled in nautical matters as “monumentum omnium pretiosissimum, quæ rei navalis ex tota antiquitate nobis relicta sint”. He refers to Die Nautik der Alten by Breusing, formerly Director of the School of Navigation in Bremen, 1886; a book which should be read side by side with J. Smith’s well-known Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul, 4th edit., 1880 (cf. also J. Vars, L’Art Nautique, 1887, and see also Introd., p. 8).—ὡς: particula temporalis, often so used by St. Luke in Gospel and Acts, and more frequently than by the other Evangelists; in St. Matthew not at all, in St. Mark once; often in O.T., Apoc., and especially in 1 Macc.—ἐκρίθη τοῦ ἀποπ.: common construction in LXX with kindred words, e.g., βουλεύομαι, but no other instances of the genitive with infinitive after κρίνω (except 1 Corinthians 2:2, T.R.) in N.T., Lumby; see also Burton, p. 159. ἀποπ.: St. Luke stands alone amongst N.T. writers in the number of compounds of πλεῖν which he employs, no less than nine, J. Smith, u.s., p. 28, 61.—ἡμᾶς: “with this section we tread the firm ground of history, for here at Acts 27:1 the personal record of the book again enters, and that in its longest and fullest part” (Weizsäcker): see also on ἡμᾶς, as intimating by its recurrence the narrative of an eyewitness, Hilgenfeld, Zw. Th., iv., p. 549 (1896), Wendt (1899), p. 402, note. The ἡμᾶς included Paul, Luke, Aristarchus; Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 315, maintains that both Luke and Aristarchus must have accompanied Paul as his slaves, and that they would not have been permitted to go as his friends, but see Gilbert, Student’s Life of Paul, p. 201; and Wendt (1899) in reply to Ramsay points out that as the ship was not sailing as a transport vessel with the prisoners direct to Rome, but that a vessel engaged in private enterprise and commerce was employed, it is quite possible that Paul’s friends may have travelled on the same ship with him as independent passengers. But see further Ramsay, p. 323. So far as Luke is concerned, it is possible that he may have travelled in his protessional capacity as a medical man, Lekebusch, Apostelgeschichte, p. 393.—παρεδίδουν: assimilated to form of contracted verbs, so most certainly in Acts, cf. Acts 3:2; Acts 4:33; Acts 4:35, Simcox, Language of the N.T., p. 37. Winer-Schmiedel, p. 121.—δεσμώτας, see below, p. 516.—That Paul commanded respect is implied by the whole narrative: some of the other prisoners may also have been sent to Rome on the ground of an appeal, cf. Josephus, Vita, 3, but others may have been already condemned, Ramsay, p. 314.—ἑτέρους: Meyer and Zöckler take the word to indicate prisoners of a character different from Paul, i.e., heathen, not Christians; but Wendt (so Hackett) points out that Luke in Acts uses ἕτερος in singular and plural as simply = another, or other, additional; Acts 7:18, Acts 8:34, Acts 15:35, Acts 17:34. As against this Zöckler quotes Luke 23:32, Galatians 1:7.—Ἰουλίῳ: name far too common for any identification; Tacitus speaks of a Julius Priscus, Hist., ii. 92, iv. 11, a centurion of the prætorians, but see below on Acts 28:16.—σπείρης Σ.: “of the Augustan band,” R.V. It is suggested that the term is here used is a popular colloquial way by St. Luke, and that it is not a translation of a correct Roman name, but rather “the troops of the emperor,” denoting a body of legionary centurions who were employed by the emperor on confidential business between the provinces and the imperial city, the title Augustan being conferred on them as a mark of favour and distinction. If this is so we gather from this notice in Acts a fact which is quite in accordance with what is known from other sources, although nowhere precisely attested. But can any connection be established between such a body and any branch of the imperial service which is actually known to us? There were certain legionary centurions who went by the name of frumentarii, who were employed not only, as their name implied, on duties connected with the commissariat, but also with the custody of prisoners and for purposes of police. In Acts 28:16, A.V. and R.V. margin, we have the remarkable reading: “and the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the [prætorian] guard” (see on l.c.). But it is urged that we cannot understand by this expression the Prefect of the Prætorian Guard, who would not be concerned with the comparatively humble duty of receiving and guarding prisoners. But in the Old L.V, called Gigas (unfortunately the only representative of the Old Latin for this passage) we have for a translation of the Greek στρατοπεδάρχης, in itself a very rare word, princeps peregrinorum. Now the legionary centurions who formed the frumentarii were regarded in Rome as being on detached duty, and were known as peregrini; on the Cælian Hill they occupied the camp known as the castra peregrinorum, and their commander bore the name of princeps peregrinorum. If therefore we may identify the Stratopedarch in Acts 28:16 with this commanding officer, we may also infer that Julius was one of the Peregrini, and that he hands over his prisoners to his superior officer, Ramsay, St. Paul, pp. 315, 347, Mommsen, Sitzungsberichte d. Berl. Akad., 1895, p. 495 ff., Rendall, Acts, p. 340. But see on the other hand Zahn, Einleitung, i., p. 389 (1897), Knabenbauer, Actus Apostolorum, p. 448, Belser, Beiträge, p. 147 ff., who point out amongst other reasons (1) that there is no clear evidence of the title princeps peregrinorum before the reorganisation of Sept. Severus, (2) that we have evidence that prisoners were sent from the provinces and committed to the care of the præfectus prætorio, cf. Traj., Ad Plin., 57, with reference to one who had appealed: “vinctus mitti ad præfectos prætorii mei debet,” and other instances in Zahn, u. s., and Knabenbauer. See further for the value of the Old Latin reading in Gigas “Julius” (Headlam), Hastings’ B.D., and below on Acts 28:16. But whether we adopt the explanation suggested by Prof. Ramsay or not, it is still open to us to maintain that the title “Augustan” was a title of honour and not a local title; not connected with Sebaste the chief town of Samaria, or with Cæsar ea Sebaste. Schürer in answer to Mr. Headlam’s criticism (“Julius,” Hastings’ B.D.) is still of opinion, Theol. Literaturzeitung, 20, 1899, that reference is here made to one of the five cohorts of Cæsareans and Sebasteni mentioned by Josephus (for references see Jewish People, div. i., vol. ii., p. 53, E.T., and Schmiedel, Encyclop. Biblica, i., 909, 1899), and therefore a σπεῖρα Σεβαστηνῶν; but he maintains that this same cohort was distinguished by the title Augusta from the other four cohorts, and that the writer of Acts is rendering this title in the word Σεβαστή (see also below). It is possible (as Wendt admits, although he prefers Schürer’s view, 1899) that Julius might have belonged to the cohors Augusta, cf. C. I. L., iii., 66, 83, Augustiani, Suet., Nero, 25, Augustani, Tac., Ann., xiv., 15, etc. (Belser, Beiträge, p. 154, Knabenbauer, p. 425), a select number of Roman knights who formed a kind of body-guard for the emperor, instituted about 59 A.D., and that he may have been in Cæsarea on some temporary special duty; but on the other hand see Page’s note, in loco (cf. note on Acts 10:1). Grimm-Thayer, sub v. Σεβαστός (2), describes it as (an adj[407]) a title of honour given to certain legions, or cohorts, or battalions, for “valour”: “Ala Augusta ob virtutem appellata,” C. I. L., vii., 340, 341, 344, but there is no inscriptional proof that this title was given to any Cæsarean cohort; see “Augustan Band” (Barnes), Hastings’ B.D., and Wendt can only refer to the bestowal of the title as “probable”.

[407] adjective.

Acts 27:1-44. Paul’s voyage and shipwreck

1. they delivered Paul] i.e. the soldiers who had the care of him did so, by order of Festus.

a centurion] This was generally the rank of the officers appointed to such a charge. Cp. Acts 21:32, Acts 24:23, &c.

of Augustus’ band] Rev. Ver. “Of the Augustan band.” The word rendered “band” might be translated “cohort” as in the margin of R. V., and it is said that in the time of Octavianus Augustus there were some legions to which the title “Augustan” (Gk. Sebastos) was given, as being specially the Imperial troops, and that perhaps among the soldiers in Cæsarea there was a detachment of these legions. But as Cæsarea was itself called “Sebaste” it seems more likely that the soldiers were Samaritan troop belonging to Cæsarea itself! And Josephus (Wars ii. 12. 5) makes mention of troops which had their name, Sebasteni, from this city Cæsarea Sebaste.

Acts 27:1. Ἐκρίθη, it was decided) The setting out of Paul to Cæsar was already before decreed: now the time was appointed, and their route by sea. As to Paul, it was decided in the strict judicial sense of the word: his friends freely followed Paul, and among them Luke.—τοῦ) ἐκρίθη τὸ κρίμα τοῦ ἀποπλεῖν.—ἑτέρους, other prisoners) Comp. Luke 22:37.—σπείρης Σεβαστῆς) the Augustan band.

Verse 1. - For, for into, A.V.; to a centurion named Julius of the Augustan band for unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus band, A.V. That we should sail. Observe the "we," denoting that Luke was of the party. Connecting it with the "we" of Acts 21:17, the inference is obvious that Luke was with Paul through the whole of these two eventful years, and that it is to this presence that we owe the detailed circumstantial narrative of Acts 21. - 28, as well as, perhaps, the composition of St. Luke's Gospel, for which the two years at Caesarea afforded an admirable opportunity. The Augustan band; or, cohort (σπεῖρα); as Acts 10:1 (where see note). This σπεῖρα Σεβαστή, cohors Augusta, was probably one of the five cohorts stationed at Caesarea, consisting of auxiliary troops (though Alford does not think so). Its name "Augustan" was given, after the analogy of the Augustan legion, just as there was an "Italian band" as well as two or three "Italian legions." It has been conjectured (Kuinoel, in loc.), indeed, that the name may rather be taken flora Sebaste, Samaria, as consisting of Samaritans, seeing that Josephus ('Bell. Jud.,' 2. 12:5) actually mentions a troop of cavalry (καλουμένην Σεβαστηνῶν) called the troop of Sebaste. But the Greek name is Σεβαστηνῶν, not Σεβαστή, which latter designation is not supported by any similar example (Meyer). Acts 27:1Sail (ἀποπλεῖν)

Lit., sail away.


See on Mark 15:16.

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