Acts 27
William Kelly Major Works Commentary
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.
Acts Chapter 27

Thereon follows the voyage of the apostle to Rome, a narrative full of interest in every way. What believer can fail to find refreshment and cheer as he ponders its details and sees the prisoner as perfectly master of the situation on board ship in a storm and wreck, as before in the presence of judges and a king who attested his guiltlessness? But what reader of any version, even if believing, could anticipate, what every scholar ought to know, that here is more of real information about an ancient merchant ship, quite simply and incidentally conveyed, than is found perhaps in all the extant remains of Greek and Roman authors? So the late Dean Howson owns in Smith's Bible Dictionary, as indeed the soundness of the judgment is notorious.

'And when it was determined that we should sail away for Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other-prisoners to a centurion named Julius of an Augustan cohort. And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium about1 to sail to2 the places along Asia, we put to sea, Aristarchus of Macedonia, a Thessalonian, being with us. And the next day we arrived at Sidon, and Julius treated Paul kindly and permitted [him] to go unto the (or, his3) friends and receive attention. And thence putting to sea we sailed under the lee of Cyprus because the winds were contrary. And having sailed across the sea that is along Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came unto Myra [a city] of Lycia. And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy, and put us on board. And sailing slowly many days and coming with difficulty abreast of Cnidus, as the wind did not further suffer us, we sailed under the lee of Crete abreast of Salmone, and coasting it with difficulty, we came unto a certain place called Fair Havens, near to which was [the] city of Lasaea. And much time being spent and the voyage being already dangerous because the Fast was already past, Paul admonished them saying, Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship but also of our lives. But the centurion believed the master and the ship-owner rather than the things said by Paul. And the harbour being ill-suited to winter in, the most gave counsel to put to sea thence, if by any means they might arrive at Phoenix to winter in, a harbour of Crete, looking north-east and south-east. And when a south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and coasted close by Crete' (vers. 1-13)

1 μέλλοντι (i.e. the ship) AB, some 30 cursives, and the ancient versions. μέλλοντες (i.e., we) Text. Rec. with which agrees HLP and most MSS.

2 εἰς is doubtful, but the sense remains.

3 The article is genuine, though omitted in the Text. Rec.

We see at once that Luke is with the apostle on his voyage, and Aristarchus also. 'One' (ver. 1) in this case is quite uncalled for, as in all the Protestant English Versions from Tyndale. The fact is that he has been before us from time to time in this Book as the companion of the apostle. See Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4; as he is afterwards named in Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:24. Neither appears to have been at this time a prisoner. Both became partakers with the one that was so used. Love led these to Join him in the face of shame and danger. They did not therefore cast away their boldness which has great recompense of reward.

Of Julius the centurion nothing more is certainly known than what is here recorded? but we are enabled to see at least his amiability, and the moral respect inspired by the apostle from first to last, hindered, one may say perhaps, at one point which must in the sequel have increased it more and more as we shall observe. It would seem that there was no special Augustan cohort, nor does the text say more than that he commanded a cohort which bore that designation. It is known that the emperor Nero had a body-guard organized at this very date, consisting of veterans specially called out for service. Julius may have been an officer among them. They were called Augustani (Tacitus Annales xiv. 15). Why he was in Palestine does not appear: if there, we can readily understand the prisoners and soldiers being under his charge on his return to Rome.

It seems amazing that there should be the least doubt about 'Asia' in verse 2. Neither the continent, nor even Asia Minor is meant, but the Roman province, which was but the western seaboard of the latter according to the usage of the Book.

'The [or his] friends' were the believers in Sidon, a mode of speech which we find in the Third Epistle of John (ver. 14). Evil times made them manifest: false brethren turned aside, ashamed of the cross. What the 'attention' was that is meant is conjectural, and may be expressly left so to meet any case in future.

The lee of Cyprus was in this instance to the north of the island, the winds being contrary. Hence they coasted along the south of Cilicia and Pamphylia. Otherwise the direct course must have been south of Cyprus. But it would seem that the ship had to touch at places (ver. 2). which called them north. Myra lay due north of Alexandria; so that the ship from this port met the one of Adramyttium1 in that Mysian harbour. Both ships were in their right course according to the winds then blowing. Where the first was bound we are not told. But the centurion avails himself of that from Alexandria, which had a cargo for Italy, and transferred all his company accordingly (ver. 6).

1 It is a strange oversight of Grotius, followed by not a few commentators, that Hadrumetum on the African coast is here meant. Even to this day Adramyti retains its old name, though reduced from an important seaport to a poor fishing village.

Great difficulties speedily follow; but disciples need not be agitated if the Lord seem not to heed. 'Scarce' as in the Authorized Version (ver. 7) does not give the thought intended, but 'with difficulty'. The wind being about N.W., as Mr. Smith shows in his interesting Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul, made it slow and hard work to bring up the ship from Myra and Cnidus, even though with the advantage of a weather shore and a westerly current. The wind did not allow them to go on (not, to put in); so that their course lay under the lee of Crete, and this time its south side after sailing abreast of its eastern point, Salmone (called Sammonium by Pliny the elder, as by Strabo Σαμὠνιον). And it may be mentioned that Fair Havens to this day bears the same name corrupted - Kalolimounias, five miles west of Cape Leonda, in the immediate neighbourhood of which inland, lie the ruins of Lasaea, as distinctly identified by our countrymen lately.

The insurmountable delay from adverse winds and other circumstances brought them to a season of no small peril in that sea (ver. 9); and the apostle gave counsel on which events soon after, but too late, impressed the seal of indisputable value. Nevertheless he seems not to claim divinely given foresight for his warning: the terms employed in verse 10 are rather his own judgment simply, in apparent contradistinction from the prophetic intimation announced in verses 21-26. 'I perceive', introducing a general admonition of danger, differs widely from 'I believe God' with a precise assurance of the loss of the ship but of no life among the passengers and crew, which last he was unable to guarantee when he first spoke out.

But the shipmates and the shipowner were opposed to the warning words of the apostle; and we can easily understand why the centurion paid more heed to the opinion of men accustomed to the sea (ver. 11), themselves no doubt disposed to regard cheaply what a landsman might think or say. Then again, whatever its title promised, Fair Havens was beyond doubt inconvenient for wintering in, as the bay is open to almost one-half of the compass; and as all could see this, the majority advised to put to sea also from there, as from other places before (ver. 12): not that they meant to pursue the voyage to Italy in such weather and at such a time, but hoping to reach the unquestionably better port of Phoenix,1 now identified as Lutro, though well aware of their risk in attempting it.

1 This harbour on the south of Crete ought to have been distinguished by its true name from Phoenice or Phoenicia (Acts 11:19; Act 15:3; Act 21:2), the Canaanite land of Tyre and Sidon: the one deriving its designation from the palm tree that flourished there; the other from the famous dye, or shell fish, that produced all shades from red to violet, generally called purple.

It may interest some to know that competent men declare Fair Havens to be a better harbour than its exposed look conveys at first sight. Mr. Smith who studied the whole question on the spot with minute care and professional skill pronounced it to be 'so well protected by islands and reefs, that though not equal to Lutro, it must be a very fair winter harbour; and that considering the suddenness, the frequency, and the violence with which gales of northerly wind spring up, and the certainty that, if such a gale sprung up In the passage from Fair Havens to Lutro, the ship must be driven off to sea, the prudence of the advice given by the master and owner was extremely questionable.' (Smith's Voyage etc., p. 88, 2nd ed.) Hence we may learn that there is such a thing as divine guidance in the ordinary things of life, short of inspiration, no doubt, but superior to man's experience and wisdom. Are we so unbelieving as to deny its reality save in an apostle? Blind indeed must we be, if we do, to the facts of every day among God's children.

The value of a close adherence to the text is remarkably shown by the numerous mistranslations of this chapter, which had introduced confusion and insuperable difficulty for exposition. A striking instance occurs at the end of verse 12, where the Authorized Version represents this haven of Crete, Phoenix or Lutro, as lying 'toward the south-west and north-west.' What the clause says is that the harbour looks 'down' (κατὰ) south-west and down north-west. But looking down a wind means along or with the direction in which it blows, and not to the quarter whence it came. The meaning therefore is that the port of Phoenix looks north-east, and southeast, the points precisely opposite to those which have been understood. Now this (says Mr. Smith) is exactly the position of Lutro, which 'looks' or is open to the east; but, having an island in front which shelters it, it has two entrances, one looking to the north-east, which is κατὰ Λίβα, and the other to the south-east, κατὰ Χῶρον.1

1 The translators not only mistake κατὰ in this connection, but they omit the precision of the repetition of it from Tyndale downwards, as others did before them.

Hackett, who does not think it safe to give up the common interpretation, objects to this view of Mr. Smith that it involves two inconsistencies. First, it assigns opposite senses to the same term, viz., south-west as the name of a wind and north-east as the name of a quarter of the heavens. Secondly, it destroys the force of βλέποντα, which implies that the wind and the harbour confronted each other, and not that they were turned from each other. But the reasoning is faulty, because the fact is misunderstood. The harbour in question does look with the wind in each case, so that the force of 'looking' is preserved intact; and again the winds in question are preserved in their exact force and not confounded with aught else. Only looking down south-west wind and down north-west wind means in fact looking north-east and south-east. The Authorized Version confounds κατὰ with πρός or εἰς. The direction toward the source of the wind is expressed by the latter; whereas the nautical phrase of down the wind means whither it blows. Hence Phoenix looked north-east and south-east. The look of the harbour signifies the direction to which - not from which - these winds blow. The harbour looked down the southwest and down the north-west winds, i.e., in both directions; and hence to the north-east and south-east quarters, as the resulting force. The winds are only to mark the outlook definitely. Nautical phrases abound in the chapter. Josephus uses κατὰ λίβα just as it is here (Antt. Jud. xv. 9, 6). See Liddell & Scott on κατὰ B.I. 1.

But appearances often deceive, as they did here. For when a south wind blew softly they thought to gain their purpose, and weighing anchor ('lifting' is the technical phrase), they coasted close by Crete. Here the Vulgate misled Wiclif, Tyndale, and Cranmer to give the imaginary port of Assos (the true place was away in Mysia, compare Acts 20:13-14), instead of 'close', rectified in the Geneva Version after Beza who refuted the proper name with ability, and proved the necessity of understanding the adverb.

The result justified the apostle's advice notwithstanding a fair start. But seamen ought to have remembered how apt a mild southerly breeze, in those seas especially, is to shift to a violent northerly wind. So it was now.

'But not long after there beat down it a tempestuous wind that is called Euraquilo1; and when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave up and were driven. And running under the lee of a certain small island called Clauda2, we were able with difficulty to secure the boat: and when they hoisted it, they used helps, frapping the ship, and fearing lest they should be cast upon the Syrtis, they lowered the gear and so were driven. But as we were exceedingly pressed by the storm, the next day they began a clearance overboard; and the third [day] they3 cast out with their own hands the gear [or, furniture] of the ship. And when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small storm lay on, at last every hope that wished us saved was taken away. And when they had been long without food, then Paul stood forth in their midst and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened to me, and not have put to sea from Crete, and have gained this injury and loss. And now l exhort you to be of good courage, for there shall be no loss of life among you, only of the ship. For an angel of the God Whose I am and Whom I serve stood by me this night saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must stand before Caesar; and, behold, God hath granted thee all that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good courage; for I believe God that it shall be as it hath been spoken to me But we must be cast upon a certain island' (vers. 14-26).

1 So in the oldest MSS. and Versions; but most have Euroclydon.

2 In the Vatican and Vulgate it is Cauda.

3 Most MSS., et al., have 'we', but not the most ancient.

The hurricane that caught the ship 'beat down' from Crete, which appears to be the true force of κατ᾽ αὐτῆς, not 'arose against it', i.e., the ship, as in the Authorized Version (ver. 14). This is confirmed by Luke 8:23, though ἔβαλε κατὰ is a far more forcible expression than κατέβη . . . εἰσ as indeed the case here demanded. Compare also, as Mr. Smith suggested, κατὰ τοῦ κρημνοῦ in Luke 8:33. Other ways of taking the words are unnatural in the extreme. Tyndale, after Luther probably, refers 'it' to 'their purpose' in verse 13. The version of Geneva (1557) should be noticed: 'But anone after there arose agaynst Candie, a stormye wynd out of the north-east.' Now this was not the fact. The wind blew down from Crete, not against Crete, which it could not do. Besides the accusative not the genitive would have been employed in that case. The Authorized Version, with most, understood the ship, which however is in the context always πλοῖον, and therefore ungrammatical. Only in verse 41 is ναῦς employed. The beating of the tornado down the highlands of Crete seems a far more graphic account than its striking against the ship, which was a matter of course in that sea when exposed to a rushing east-north-east wind.

And here it may be remarked that Euroclydon is no known appellation, nor is there any satisfactory source of the word. The more ancient εὐρακύλων is to be preferred, testified by the best MSS. and Versions. J. Bryant's objections to the compound are not well grounded. Euro-Auster is a similar hybrid. A north-easterly wind fully accounts for the course of the ship. 'Bear up into' is more literally to 'face', a term often applied to the collisions of warfare and of common life. Some have attributed it to the practice of painting an 'eye' on each side of the prow, so common of old and not unknown still in the Levant.

The small island to the leeward of which they drove before the wind is now called Gozzo. Chlavda they say on the spot, which is the Romaic pronunciation of Clauda; so that the identification is certain. It was under this lee that they got the boat on board, though with difficulty (ver. 16). When ἄραντες was used absolutely as in verse 13 (cf. Thucydides ii. 15), it meant weighing anchor, here in verse 17 it has its ordinary force of lifting or taking up. The 'helps' in question were means to counteract the violence of the gale, rather than the aid of the passengers as some have thought. 'Frapping' is the technical English expressed by 'undergirding'. It is done by passing a large cable four or five times round the ship's hull. It was common of old, but has been practised in recent times and on British ships, mercantile and naval. The precariousness of mere scholarship in explaining such a thing may be seen in the learned A. Bockh's notion that the cable was applied horizontally. Indeed on his authority Dr. L. Schmitz so gave it in the article on 'Ships' in Dr. W. Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

What is rendered in the Authorized Version 'the quicksands' ought really to be 'the Syrtis'. Two Syrtes are spoken of. This was the greater or eastern, now the gulf of Sidra, which Admiral Smyth was the first to survey adequately, as shown in his Memoirs on the Mediterranean: an object of great and natural dread to ancient seamen.

In this same verse (17) occurs one of the most serious of the many mm takes in the older versions, even Meyer and other moderns perpetuating them. Had they 'struck sail', the ship must inevitably have been driven directly into the Syrtis. 'It is not easy (says Mr. Smith) to imagine a more erroneous translation than that of our Authorized Version "Fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, they strake sail, and so were driven." It is in fact equivalent to saying that, fearing a certain danger, they deprived: themselves of the only possible means of avoiding it.' Some sail, as the authorities lay down and as common sense feels, is absolutely requisite to keep the ship steady, and hinder her from pitching about and rolling so deeply as to strain and work herself to pieces. Hence the measures necessary were that storm-sails should be set, and the ship go on the starboard tack. 'Lowering the gear' is the right translation. Kypke who was a sensible man and sound scholar, is surprisingly loose in his annotations here. He will have it to be 'letting down the anchor'! as βλέποντα κατὰ in verse 12 and elsewhere: he illustrates by βλέποντα πρός. It is singular that KÂ?hnÂ?l, De Wette, and Meyer followed in this wake, so inconsistent with the context.

In verse 18 we see them reduced to the very frequently adopted resource of getting rid of cargo, ἐκβολὴν ποιεῖσθαι being the proper terms employed, as we may see in the Onomasticon of Julius Pollux. In verse 19 they go farther, and 'with their own hands' the seamen threw away - what they would not have done save in imminent danger - the ship's furniture, spare gear, etc. The inability to see sun or stars added to their danger, and also the violence of the weather so prolonged.

But now leaving the details of the voyage, interesting though they are in the decisive proof they afford at every turn of the absolute reliableness of the divine word, and of its incomparable superiority to all the versions and the commentaries of the learned and pious, let us turn to the devoted servant of the Lord, who stands forth in the hour of need and danger and darkness. If he gently recalls their former slight of his counsel, it is neither to pain them nor to exalt himself. Dwelling in love, he dwelt in God and God in him; as every Christian should; and thus he is enabled to use wisely what grace gave.

He confesses openly the secret of favour from on high, a favour that extended to them; for the true God despises not any, while He loves perfectly those whom He adopts as sons to Himself by Jesus our Lord. Yet He does not overlook His offspring, as the same apostle once preached to the Athenians, idolatrous though they were. It is of no small moment that we too should remember this; for evangelical men are apt to think only of the relations of grace. These are of all importance, and only too feebly held by the saints in general. We can scarcely exaggerate what sovereign grace has given us in Christ. But we do not well to slight what scripture reveals of the place man has, as man, and sinner though he be, in the divine mind and compassion. It is the more to be remembered in these days when infidel dreams of development or evolution entice and defile real believers. Truth ignored or neglected by the faithful is the constant resource of Satan for those who know not God and His Son.

Man has a relationship to God which he alone of earthly beings possesses. Other creatures here below began to live when they were organized. Not so man, till Jehovah Elohim breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, the ground of his immortal soul and of his immediate responsibility to God. Therefore, when for him death came in through sin, he alone is to rise again and to give account to God.

Undoubtedly another than Adam was in the counsels of God, the Second Man and Last Adam, infinitely higher than man, even the Son of God, no less than the Father, in due time to become the new Head of divine blessing to God's glory, far, far, more than retrieving in obedience unto death what the old head had lost through disobedience; so that mercy might rejoice over judgment, and grace to the sinner be a display of God's righteousness in virtue of the blood of Jesus.

There are three considerations of no little moment to hold intact and without confusion. First, the moral nature of God abides in its invisible purity and honour. He loves good and hates evil. His will alone is entitled to guide and govern. The creature is responsible to obey Him. Secondly, the race being fallen and sinful (for Adam innocent had no child), grace in Christ alone produces what suits God's nature according to His word and by His Spirit; as grace alone provided an adequate and everlasting redemption in Christ's blood and gave that life in Him which is ever holy, dependent, obedient as He Himself was in all perfection. But, thirdly, God does not for all this give up His place as 'a faithful Creator.' He is the Saviour (i.e., Preserver) of all men, specially of those that believe. Not a sparrow falls on the ground without our Father; yea, the very hairs of our head are all numbered. Surely there is no reason to fear those that kill the body but are unable to kill the soul. He only is to be feared Who is able to kill both body and soul in hell. Not only are others not to be feared, but, as the children and servants of God, we are in a position, and ought to have the heart, to make supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings for all men; for kings and all that are in high places. no less than for the wretched, and suffering, and degraded, whom their fellows avoid and despise. Grace not only elevates above all the present glory of the world by uniting us to Christ at God's right hand, but sheds abroad in our hearts the love of God through the Holy Ghost given to us.

All these elements we may see here full, and active, and in harmony. Christ before the heart delivers from mere and barren theory as well as onesidedness. Not only is there the union of humbleness and dignity, but faith and love with the unflinching confession of Him Whose he was and Whom he served. There is no seeking to please or win men as his aim. He abides the Lord's bondman. He testifies a direct revelation sent at that very time. He declares the witness it bore to God's compassion toward them all, united to His special favour to His servant; and all this in the midst of this busy, blind, selfish, ungodly world.

Two things are to be noticed in that divine message to the apostle, while a prisoner in the hands of the Gentiles through the malice of the Jews. First, he can speak of all his fellow-voyagers given him by God, not of course for eternal life, but for present security. Secondly, he predicts that they must be cast on a certain island, without pretending to know more. God had not disclosed its name: and he faithfully follows. Revelation was given to exalt not man but God.

'But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven to and fro in the Adriatic, about midnight the sailors surmised that they were drawing near to some country, and on sounding, found twenty fathoms, and after going a little farther and again sounding, found ten fathoms; and fearing that haply we should be cast off on rough places, they cast four anchors from the stern and wished that day were come. And as the sailors were seeking to flee out of the ship and had lowered the boat into the sea, under pretext as though they would lay out anchors from the bow, Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat and let her fall off. And while daylight was about to come on, Paul exhorted them all to partake of food, saying, [The] fourteenth day today ye wait and continue without food, having taken nothing. Wherefore I exhort you to partake of food for this is for your safety; for not a hair from the head of any of you shall perish. And when he said this, he took bread, and gave thanks to God before all, and having broken, he began to eat. And all were of good cheer, and themselves also took food. And we were in the ship, all the souls, two hundred and seventy-six. And being satisfied with food, they lightened the ship by throwing out the wheat into the sea. And when it was day, they did not recognize the land, but perceived a certain bay with a beach, on which they took counsel, if they could, to drive the ship. And casting off, they left the anchors in the sea, at the same time loosening the lashings of the rudder and hoisting the foresail to the wind, they made for the beach. And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the vessel aground; and the bow stuck and remained immovable; but the stern began to break up by the violence [of the waves]. And the soldiers' counsel was that they should kill the prisoners, lest they should swim out and escape; but the centurion, wishing to save Paul, hindered them from their purpose, and commanded those able to swim to cast themselves off first and go to land, and the rest, some on planks and some on things from the ship. And it came to pass that all got safe to land' (vers. 27-44).

A fortnight's drifting under such a storm brought the end near, which is set as clearly before us as their previous course and efforts. The sounding of the lead indicated the approach of land, and no small danger imminent, which the night made more felt. There is no real difficulty in the Adriatic (ver. 27); because it was often used in a much wider application than to the sea between Greece and Italy, as has been shown in Ptolemy and in Pausanias. Modern usage confines the Adriatic to the gulf only. There is no ground, therefore, on this score to conceive of another Melita (that is, Melida) instead of Malta, as generally understood. The breakers (which are characteristic of the point of Koura, near St. Paul's Bay, as Mr. Smith has shown from Smyth's view of the headland), gave occasion, probably, to the surmise of the sailors, confirmed as it was by their repeated soundings (ver. 28). Anchoring from the stern (ver. 29) was the safer course under such circumstances; and ancient ships had many anchors. It is shown from the sailing directions that the ground is exceptionally good there; so that there is no danger as long as the cables hold.

The unworthy design of the sailors was defeated by Paul. It was not exactly 'casting out anchors', which would not require the use of a boat. Under pretence of extending anchors from the prow, which was no unusual measure, they meant to desert the ship (ver. 30); but his word of warning to the centurion and the soldiers sufficed: 'Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved' (ver. 31). With the promptitude of their class, they cut off the ropes and let the boat fall off (ver. 32). God had given His word to save all, but it must be in His way; and He Who promised the end insists on His own means. We have only to be subject and obey.

Nor was the apostle vigilant only thus; he sought, and not in vain, to comfort all and animate them with courage and confidence in God on the eve of the utmost apparent peril. He besought all to partake of food after their long abstinence, assuring them absolutely of preservation (vers. 33, 34), and he set the example himself after thanking God before all (ver. 35). There is no ground for the observation of Olshausen that it was, for the Christians, the celebration of the Lord's Supper or of an agape. For though the terms are just such as were so employed, they are no less expressly applied to an ordinary meal in Luke 24:30, and elsewhere. Indeed, there is no small superstition in the sense too often attached to them. It is the object of the Eucharist which gives it its character; and this was quite out of place here. But the most ordinary food should be sanctified by the word of God and prayer, and the apostle here acts on his own instructions to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:5-6). No wonder that all became cheerful and took food (ver. 36) after long dejection and disinclination with death before their eyes! Their number (ver. 37) is carefully added as two hundred and seventy-six, and then the lightening of the ship (a fresh nautical expression) by casting out the corn (ver. 38). They had eaten their last meal before the wreck, which is minutely described in the closing verses.

Wonder has been expressed that none of the sailors knew the land (ver. 39), but we are told by those competent to judge, that, remote from the well-known harbour of Valetta, this spot possesses no marked feature by which it might be recognized.

The Authorized Version here (ver. 40) is far from accurate. They did not take up the anchors, but cast them away (lit., round), and abandoned them (not 'themselves') into the sea. The loosing of the bands of the rudders, attached to the stern on each quarter, was a necessary act; for when a ship was anchored by the stern, the rudders had to be lifted out of the water and secured by lashings, which again were loosed when the ship got under way. Further, it was not the 'mainsail', but the foresail, which they raised to the wind. Possibly the French term misled here, but the weight of practical or circumstantial evidence, as in Smith's Dissertation iii., seems decisive. In this sense ἀρτἑμὼν occurs in no ancient Greek author. We see a foresail in an old painting of Pompeii. Luke alone designates it here. It is remarkable how the master and the pilot vanish from notice at all these times of danger, and for wise measures. The apostle really guides at the crisis. The sailors are only mentioned as meditating ineffectual treachery. The centurion takes action, with the soldiers on one occasion, on another preventing a cruel deed to secure themselves from risk as to the prisoners.

For now the supreme moment had arrived. The ship must be stranded, as it was impossible to save it any more than its lading. Making for the beach, they fell into a place where two seas met, apparently through the island now called Salmonetta, in St. Paul's Bay; and there they drove the ship aground (ver. 41). In few spots, save there, could the fact have been as here described, owing to a deep deposit of mud, where the bow stuck and remained fast, whilst the stern began to break up, exposed as it was to the force of the waves.

The soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners (ver. 42). They were responsible under the severest penalties not to let them go, as even this Book itself shows on more occasions than one. But the centurion, not so much out of pity for the rest as through regard for Paul, interfered to save him at all cost (ver. 43). 'Wishing' is the force, not merely 'willing'. His order was for such as could swim to cast off and get to land; as the rest did, some on boards, and some on parts of the ship now going to pieces. They all got safe ashore, as verse 44 tells us. The promise was made good, to God's glory, as a living God and faithful Creator.

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.
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.
And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary.
And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.
And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein.
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;
And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.
Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,
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.
Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.
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.
And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.
But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.
And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.
And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:
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.
And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship;
And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.
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.
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.
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.
For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,
Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.
Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.
Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.
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;
And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms.
Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.
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,
Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.
Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.
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.
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.
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.
Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat.
And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls.
And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.
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.
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.
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.
And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.
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:
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.
Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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Acts 26
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