Acts of the Apostles – 27

The Inspired History

  1. Paul Sailed from Caesarea (1-6).
  2. Paul Warned of Trouble (7-13).
  3. Paul Encountered a Great Storm (14-20).
  4. Paul Prophesied of a Safe Shipwreck (21-38).
  5. Paul Was Shipwrecked but Safe (39-44).

The Sense and Meaning

  1. Because Paul had appealed to Caesar, Agrippa and Festus sent Paul by ship to Rome (Acts 27:1-6).
    1. Observe that Luke is back with Paul, as he writes that “we” should sail into Italy.
      1. Luke had arrived in Jerusalem with Paul two years earlier (Acts 21:17-18).
      2. Since “Paul and certain other prisoners” were delivered, Luke was not one.
      3. And Aristarchus was with them also (Acts 19:29; 20:4; Col 4:10; Philemon 1:24).
    2. Cornelius was of the Italian band (Acts 10:1), and Julius was of the emperor’s own troops.
    3. They were put on a ship with a home base of Adramyttium (port in the Aegean Sea).
    4. The intent was to sail by the coast of Asia (modern Turkey) for other business.
    5. They stopped the second day at Sidon, where Elisha had once lived (Luke 4:26; 6:17).
      1. Julius, the Roman centurion, “courteously entreated” Paul to visit his friends.
      2. This sounds more like a “cruise” than the transportation of a capital offender.
      3. The Lord takes care of Paul with pagans, just as He did Joseph and Daniel.
    6. Due to the nature of sailing, the wind was favorable to the longer, circuitous route.
    7. Though it was the Mediterranean Sea, it also had the names of adjacent provinces.
    8. Their next stop after Sidon was Myra of Lycia, a port on the south of Asia Minor.
    9. Here Julius transfers Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus to a ship out of Alexandria, Egypt.
  2. Sailing from Myra on the second ship, Paul prophesies danger for ship and occupants (Acts 27:7-13).
    1. With unfavorable winds, they progressed only to Cnidus after many days of sailing.
      1. “Over against” is an expression meaning near or opposite of but not truly at.
      2. Cnidus was a city and promontory off the cost of Asia Minor.
    2. Turning south, they sailed under the island of Crete to the fair havens and Lasea.
      1. Salmone is the eastern tip of Crete, a very visible promontory when at sea.
      2. A promontory is a high piece of land jutting into the sea beyond the coastline.
      3. They sailed south of Crete passing near the eastern end called Salmone.
      4. The fair havens was a safe place to stop, and it was a few miles from Lasea.
    3. Due to the contrary winds, many days had been lost and it was now dangerous sailing.
      1. They have had a difficult time at several points with poor wind (Acts 27:4,7).
      2. The fast was the Day of Atonement, in our October (Lev 16:29-31; 23:27-28).
      3. It was after the autumnal equinox, when the Mediterranean was dangerous.
    4. Paul warns them to stay put with a spirit of prophecy of the danger to sail at this time.
      1. He warns with spiritual perception that there will be hurt and much damage.
      2. He warns the cargo and ship will be greatly damaged and lives endangered.
    5. Paul is overridden by the ship’s owner, the centurion, and a majority of the crew.
      1. Like the owners of the Titanic, the ship owner was too confident of his vessel.
      2. And a majority of the sailors agreed, for the fair havens was not a winter port.
      3. The goal was to sail to Phenice, a port on Crete’s south coast, for the winter.
      4. It was a very safe harbor, as it contained a right angle to protect from storms.
      5. When a gentle wind came in their favor, they presumed they had their choice.
      6. But confident leaders, majority votes, and positive circumstances can lie.
      7. Showing all due precaution to increase their odds, they sailed close to shore.
  3. Paul and his company encounter an incredible storm in the Mediterranean Sea (Acts 27:14-20).
    1. The Lord sent a great tempestuous and contrary wind that beat against Crete.
      1. Euroclydon was a great storm we would call hurricane, typhoon, or cyclone.
      2. The wind caught the ship so they couldn’t tack into it, so they let it run free.
      3. Clauda was a small island southwest of Crete, which they passed on the south.
      4. Their lifeboat, used for going to shore, was with great difficulty taken on deck.
      5. They tried to strengthen the ship with cables to hold the wooden ship together.
      6. Fearing “quicksands” (great sand reefs) near Africa, they dropped all sails.
      7. So the ship was driven by the wind against her mast and poles without sails.
    2. Being exceedingly tossed with this storm, on the second day they dumped some cargo.
    3. Being exceedingly tossed with this storm, on the third day they cast out the tackling.
    4. The sun and stars (a clear day or night) were not seen for many days, causing despair.
    5. But in the midst of such despair and fear, Paul finds comfort from the Lord he served.
  4. Paul prophesied they should be cast upon an island with the deliverance of all hands (Acts 27:21-38).
    1. He first reminds them that he had warned them of this calamity at fair havens (Acts 27:9-10).
    2. Paul fasted long unto the Lord and then was granted a comforting vision by an angel.
      1. He exhorted them to good cheer, for they would all be saved, but for the ship.
      2. He identifies Himself with the God able to send angels and give such visions.
      3. He identifies Himself as the most important passenger and the others as extras.
      4. The conclusion of such promises is this: be of good cheer, for I believe God!
    3. On the fourteenth night, the sailors could tell that they were approaching land.
      1. Adria is the Adriatic Sea, for then it continued from Italy and Greece to Africa.
      2. They were not in the Adriatic Sea as we limit it, for they were very near Malta.
      3. They sounded in those days without radar or sonar, but by lines and weights.
      4. A fathom is from the middle finger of each hand with arms stretched out wide, or approximate six feet on the average man.
      5. With only crucial tackling left, they used four anchors to keep from wrecking.
    4. The sailors try to escape by using the lifeboat under guise of casting more anchors.
      1. Paul informs the centurion that all must be kept in the ship for total salvation.
      2. God is going to vindicate and magnify Paul without the use of natural means.
      3. With Julius now trusting Paul, the soldiers cut the ropes and let the lifeboat go.
      4. Consider wisely (Acts 27:1) conditions for God’s promises and (Acts 27:2) salvation by grace.
    5. Paul exhorts the entire company of men to eat and trust God for a safe deliverance.
      1. They would need strength to swim to shore, so Paul urged food on them.
      2. We have a godly hyperbole that not a hair from any head would perish.
      3. Paul gave a wonderful example by taking bread, thanking God, and eating!
      4. And look at the effect he had on the rest of the men. They took cheer and ate.
      5. There were 276 on board, and when they had eaten, they cast out the food.
  5. They are shipwrecked on the island of Malta, but all 276 arrive safely on shore (Acts 27:39-44).
    1. With the light of day, they are able to see the land, but they do not recognize it yet.
    2. They aim for a creek with the remaining rudder and mainsail to avoid wrecking.
    3. They ran aground, which allowed the sea to smash the ship from the rear and break it.
    4. The soldiers determine to kill the prisoners to fulfill their duty of not losing a prisoner.
    5. But Julius the centurion has come to trust Paul by the grace of God and he is saved.
    6. The swimmers were urged to dive in and swim, and the rest came on parts of the ship.
    7. All men – all 276 – escaped this violent storm and shipwreck and made it safe to land.