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:
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(43) But the centurion, willing to save Paul.—Better, wishing, as expressing a stronger desire than the sense of mere acquiescence which has come to be attached to “willing.” The Apostle had, we have seen, from the outset gained the respect of the centurion Julius (Acts 27:1). The courage and thoughtfulness of the night that had just passed was likely to have turned that respect into something like admiration.

Commanded that they which could swim . . .—The order which was observed shows that the centurion kept his head clear, and had the power to enforce discipline. It was not the rush of a sauve qui peut. The swimmers were to plunge in first so as to get to the beach and be in readiness to help their comrades. St. Paul, who had thrice been shipwrecked, and had once passed a night and day in the open sea (2Corinthians 11:25), was probably among the former group, and the order itself may well have been suggested by him.

27:39-44 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.But the centurion, willing to save Paul - He had at first been disposed to treat Paul with kindness, Acts 27:3. And his conduct on board the ship; the wisdom of his advice Acts 27:10; the prudence of his conduct in the agitation and danger of the tempest; and not improbably the belief that he was under the divine protection and blessing, disposed him to spare his life.

Kept them from their purpose - Thus, for the sake of this one righteous man, the lives of all were spared. The instance here shows:

(1) That it is possible for a pious man, like Paul, so to conduct in the various trying scenes of life - the agitations, difficulties, and temptations of this world - as to conciliate the favor of the people of this world; and.(2) That important benefits often result to sinners from the righteous. Paul's being on board was the means of saving the lives of many prisoners; and God often confers important blessings on the wicked for the sake of the pious relatives, friends, and neighbors with whom they are connected. Ten righteous men would have saved Sodom Genesis 18:32; and Christians are in more ways than one the salt of the earth, and the light of the world, Matthew 5:13-14. It is a privilege to be related to the friends of God - to be the children of pious parents, or to be connected with pious partners in life. It is a privilege to be connected with the friends of God in business; or to dwell near them; or to be associated with them in the various walks and dangers of life. The streams of blessings which flow to fertilize their lands, flow also to bless others; the dews of heaven which descend on their habitations, descend on all around; and the God which crowns them with loving-kindness, often fills the abodes of their neighbors and friends with the blessings of peace and salvation.

And commanded - Probably they were released from their chains.

43. the centurion, &c.—Great must have been the influence of Paul over the centurion's mind to produce such an effect. All followed the swimmers in committing themselves to the deep, and according to the divine pledge and Paul's confident assurance given them, every soul got safe to land—yet without miracle. (While the graphic minuteness of this narrative of the shipwreck puts it beyond doubt that the narrator was himself on board, the great number of nautical phrases, which all critics have noted, along with the unprofessional air which the whole narrative wears, agrees singularly with all we know and have reason to believe of "the beloved physician"; see on [2136]Ac 16:40). The centurion, willing to save Paul; because Paul was a Roman citizen, whose death he durst not be accessory unto. It may be also, that this centurion, (if there were no more), as the Samaritan that was cleansed, did this in thankfulness unto Paul.

Should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land; that they might be helpful to others in getting on shore. But the centurion, willing to save Paul,.... Not only because he was a Roman citizen, but because he perceived he was some extraordinary person; and chiefly because he was moved there unto by a superior influence, that Satan might not have his end; and that the will of God might be fulfilled, that he should go to Rome, and there bear a testimony of Christ.

Kept them from their purpose; would not suffer them to execute their design, restrained them from it, and laid his commands upon them to the contrary.

And commanded that they which could swim, should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land; which some restrain to the Roman soldiers, as if the centurion's speech was only directed to them; though it seems rather to have respect to the whole company, the mariners, who generally can swim, and the soldiers, as many of them as could, and the rest of the prisoners or passengers; though it may be, he might chiefly regard the soldiers, who were usually learned to swim, that they might the more readily pass rivers, in their marches, where they could find no bridges, that so he might be the sooner rid of them, and break their purpose.

{13} 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:

(13) God finds even amongst his enemies those whose help he uses to preserve his own.

Acts 27:43. βουλόμενος: “desiring,” R.V.; the centurion had from the first, Acts 27:3, treated Paul with respect, and the respect had no doubt been deepened by the prisoner’s bearing in the hour of danger, and he would naturally wish to save the man to whom he owed his own safety, and that of the whole crew. διασῶσαι, even if he cared little for the rest he was determined “to save Paul to the end,” literally, so C. and H. There is no reason whatever to regard the words βουλ.… τὸν Π. as an interpolation.—ἐκώλυσεν αὐτοὺς τοῦ β.: only here with this construction, accusative of person and genitive of thing, but similar usage in Xenophon, Polybius. For the resultative aorist, i.e., the aorist of a verb whose present implies effort or intention, commonly denoting the success of the effort, cf. also Matthew 27:20, Acts 7:36, Burton, p. 21.—τοὺς δυν. κολυμβᾷν: probably Paul was amongst the number; he had thrice been shipwrecked, and had passed a day and a night in the open sea, 2 Corinthians 11:25 (Felten, Plumptre).—ἐξιέναι: four times in Acts, nowhere else in N.T., Acts 13:42, Acts 17:15, Acts 20:7.—ἀποῤῥίψαντας: “should cast themselves overboard and get first to the land,” R.V., where they could help the others to safety, so Breusing, Goerne, Renan; A.V. not so expressive, ἀποῤῥίπτειν: here used reflexively, see instance in Wetstein.43. But the centurion, willing to save] The Gk. word indicates an active desire, and not a mere willingness. Read (with R. V.) “desiring to save.” The centurion could not fail to feel that it was to the Apostle that the safety of the whole party was due, and he could hardly help feeling admiration for the prisoner, after all he had seen of him. From the first (see Acts 27:3) he had been well disposed toward Paul, and the after events would not have lessened his regard. So to save him, he stops the design of his men, and saves the whole number of the prisoners.

kept them] Better, “hindered them” or (with R. V.) “stayed them.” The verb is a forcible word, and shews that the centurion was in full command of his men, and had not in the confusion lost his thoughtfulness and presence of mind.

they which could swim] This was the wisest course to adopt. Thus there would be a body ready on the shore to help those who only could float thither by the aid of something to which they were clinging. As St Paul had already been thrice shipwrecked and had been in the deep a night and a day (2 Corinthians 11:25) we may be sure that he was among those who were told off to swim ashore.

should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land] [R. V. “should east themselves overboard and get first to the land”] What is represented in the A.V., by “into the sea” is merely the preposition compounded with the verb “to cast.” This the R. V. represents by “overboard,” and so brings the word “first” into its proper and emphatic position. The swimmers were to get into safety first of all, that then they might be in readiness to succour those who drifted to the land on the floating spars and planks.Acts 27:43. Ἀποῤῥίψαντας) viz. ἑαυτούς.Verse 43. - Desiring for willing, A.V.; stayed for kept, A.V.; overboard, and get first to the land for first into the sea, and get to land, A.V. To save Paul; διασῶσαι, and ver. 44 and Acts 28:1, 4; a word of very frequent medical use, employed six times by St. Luke, but only twice elsewhere in the New Testament (Matthew 14:26; 1 Peter 3:20). Swim; κοολυμβάω, here only in the Bible; though κολυμβήθρα, properly a swim-ruing-bath, rendered "pool" in the A.V., occurs five times in St. John's Gospel. The verb means "to dive" rather than "to swim." Both the verb and the noun are used frequently in medical language for "swimming in a bath," and ῤίπτειν σεαυτὸν (like ἀπορρίπτειν here) is the phrase for jumping into the bath.
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