Acts 27

1 When it was determined that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners to a centurion named Julius, of the Augustan band. 2 Embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail to places on the coast of Asia, we put to sea; Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us. 3 The next day, we touched at Sidon. Julius treated Paul kindly, and gave him permission to go to his friends and refresh himself. 4 Putting to sea from there, we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. 5 When we had sailed across the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. 6 There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy, and he put us on board. 7 When we had sailed slowly many days, and had come with difficulty opposite Cnidus, the wind not allowing us further, we sailed under the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone. 8 With difficulty sailing along it we came to a certain place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea. 9 When much time had passed and the voyage was now dangerous, because the Fast had now already gone by, Paul admonished them, 10 and said to them, “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.” 11 But the centurion gave more heed to the master and to the owner of the ship than to those things which were spoken by Paul. 12 Because the haven was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised going to sea from there, if by any means they could reach Phoenix, and winter there, which is a port of Crete, looking northeast and southeast. 13 When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to shore. 14 But before long, a stormy wind beat down from shore, which is called Euroclydon. 15 When the ship was caught, and couldn’t face the wind, we gave way to it, and were driven along. 16 Running under the lee of a small island called Clauda, we were able, with difficulty, to secure the boat. 17 After they had hoisted it up, they used cables to help reinforce the ship. Fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis sand bars, they lowered the sea anchor, and so were driven along. 18 As we labored exceedingly with the storm, the next day they began to throw things overboard. 19 On the third day, they threw out the ship’s tackle with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars shone on us for many days, and no small storm pressed on us, all hope that we would be saved was now taken away. 21 When they had been long without food, Paul stood up in the middle of them, and said, “Sirs, you should have listened to me, and not have set sail from Crete, and have gotten this injury and loss. 22 Now I exhort you to cheer up, for there will be no loss of life amongst you, but only of the ship. 23 For there stood by me this night an angel, belonging to the God whose I am and whom I serve, 24 saying, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul. You must stand before Caesar. Behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 Therefore, sirs, cheer up! For I believe God, that it will be just as it has been spoken to me. 26 But we must run aground on a certain island.” 27 But when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven back and forth in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors surmised that they were drawing near to some land. 28 They took soundings, and found twenty fathoms. After a little while, they took soundings again, and found fifteen fathoms. 29 Fearing that we would run aground on rocky ground, they let go four anchors from the stern, and wished for daylight. 30 As the sailors were trying to flee out of the ship, and had lowered the boat into the sea, pretending that they would lay out anchors from the bow, 31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, “Unless these stay in the ship, you can’t be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the boat, and let it fall off. 33 While the day was coming on, Paul begged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you wait and continue fasting, having taken nothing. 34 Therefore I beg you to take some food, for this is for your safety; for not a hair will perish from any of your heads.” 35 When he had said this, and had taken bread, he gave thanks to God in the presence of all, and he broke it, and began to eat. 36 Then they all cheered up, and they also took food. 37 In all, we were two hundred and seventy-six souls on the ship. 38 When they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea. 39 When it was day, they didn’t recognize the land, but they noticed a certain bay with a beach, and they decided to try to drive the ship onto it. 40 Casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea, at the same time untying the rudder ropes. Hoisting up the foresail to the wind, they made for the beach. 41 But coming to a place where two seas met, they ran the vessel aground. The bow struck and remained immovable, but the stern began to break up by the violence of the waves. 42 The soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, so that none of them would swim out and escape. 43 But the centurion, desiring to save Paul, stopped them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should throw themselves overboard first to go towards the land; 44 and the rest should follow, some on planks, and some on other things from the ship. So they all escaped safely to the land.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 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.

Verses 12–20

Those who launch forth on the ocean of this world, with a fair gale, know not what storms they may meet with; and therefore must not easily take it for granted that they have obtained their purpose. Let us never expect to be quite safe till we enter heaven. They saw neither sun nor stars for many days. Thus melancholy sometimes is the condition of the people of God as to their spiritual matters; they walk in darkness, and have no light. See what the wealth of this world is: though coveted as a blessing, the time may come when it will be a burden; not only too heavy to be carried safely, but heavy enough to sink him that has it. The children of this world can be prodigal of their goods for the saving their lives, yet are sparing of them in works of piety and charity, and in suffering for Christ. Any man will rather make shipwreck of his goods than of his life; but many rather make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience, than of their goods. The means the sailors used did not succeed; but when sinners give up all hope of saving themselves, they are prepared to understand God’s word, and to trust in his mercy through Jesus Christ.

Verses 21–29

They did not hearken to the apostle when he warned them of their danger; yet if they acknowledge their folly, and repent of it, he will speak comfort and relief to them when in danger. Most people bring themselves into trouble, because they do not know when they are well off; they come to harm and loss by aiming to mend their condition, often against advice. Observe the solemn profession Paul made of relation to God. No storms or tempests can hinder God’s favour to his people, for he is a Help always at hand. It is a comfort to the faithful servants of God when in difficulties, that as long as the Lord has any work for them to do, their lives shall be prolonged. If Paul had thrust himself needlessly into bad company, he might justly have been cast away with them; but God calling him into it, they are preserved with him. They are given thee; there is no greater satisfaction to a good man than to know he is a public blessing. He comforts them with the same comforts wherewith he himself was comforted. God is ever faithful, therefore let all who have an interest in his promises be ever cheerful. As, with God, saying and doing are not two things, believing and enjoying should not be so with us. Hope is an anchor of the soul, sure and stedfast, entering into that within the veil. Let those who are in spiritual darkness hold fast by that, and think not of putting to sea again, but abide by Christ, and wait till the day break, and the shadows flee away.

Verses 30–38

God, who appointed the end, that they should be saved, appointed the means, that they should be saved by the help of these shipmen. Duty is ours, events are God’s; we do not trust God, but tempt him, when we say we put ourselves under his protection, if we do not use proper means, such as are within our power, for our safety. But how selfish are men in general, often even ready to seek their own safety by the destruction of others! Happy those who have such a one as Paul in their company, who not only had intercourse with Heaven, but was of an enlivening spirit to those about him. The sorrow of the world works death, while joy in God is life and peace in the greatest distresses and dangers. The comfort of God’s promises can only be ours by believing dependence on him, to fulfil his word to us; and the salvation he reveals must be waited for in use of the means he appoints. If God has chosen us to salvation, he has also appointed that we shall obtain it by repentance, faith, prayer, and persevering obedience; it is fatal presumption to expect it in any other way. It is an encouragement to people to commit themselves to Christ as their Saviour, when those who invite them, clearly show that they do so themselves.

Verses 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.

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