The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Acts 27

Act 27:1

Description of weather in Mediterranean: Xd 119:376.

JULIUS: This centurion, mentioned half a dozen times in Acts 27, and once in Acts 28:16 (according to some mss but not in others), was the man put in charge of Paul the prisoner when he was sent to Rome after his appeal to Caesar. Julius was presumably his family name. There is no certainty that he was a Roman citizen. Soldiers in Palestine were not members of the legionary forces but rather auxiliary troops recruited from the provincial subjects. Julius treated Paul kindly (Acts 27:3) and spared his life when his soldiers counseled killing him prior to the shipwreck (Acts 27:42,43). There is some possibility that this man (and some of the others) became believers (Phi 1:12-14).

THE IMPERIAL REGIMENT: The emperor's bodyguard, or a diplomatic corps.

Act 27:2

ADRAMYTTIUM: A seaport in Mysia of the Roman province of Asia.

A SHIP: With 276 passengers, one of the largest ships afloat at this time (Xd 119:376).

ARISTARCHUS: A Macedonian from Thessalonica (Acts 19:29; 27:2), probably of Jewish ancestry (Col 4:10,11), who accompanied Paul on his third missionary journey. He is with Paul when he writes to the ecclesia at Colosse and to Philemon, who was also at Colosse.

Act 27:3

Paul seems to have developed a relationship of trust with Julius, all in one day.

Act 27:4

THE WINDS WERE AGAINST US: In summer the winds blow regularly and strong from the north and the west (HistGeo 44).

Act 27:5

MYRA: A city in Lycia on the south coast of Asia Minor, where Paul transferred to a grain ship from Alexandria on his voyage to Rome (Acts 27:5). Myra was located two miles from the sea on a navigable river.

LYCIA: This Roman province occupied the sw tip of Asia Minor. A rather mountainous region, its chief importance lay in its harbors, of which two are mentioned in the NT. Paul touched at Patara in the course of his last journey to Jerusalem, where he changed ships, presumably to make faster time (Acts 21:1,2). Later, on his journey to Rome as a prisoner, his ship touched at Myra and there he was transferred to a grain ship bound for Italy (Acts 27:5.6). Lycia became Roman territory in 188 BC, but was not organized into a Roman province until Claudius ordered it in AD 43.

Act 27:8

// Psa 107:23-30: "their desired haven".

Act 27:9

FAST: Or "Day of Atonement". In October the regular northern and western winds became erratic, and travel was not as predictable (HistGeo 44).

PAUL WARNED THEM: The Day of Atonement was a time of warning, and soul-searching and repentance!

Act 27:10

Paul was a man of prudence, not tempting providence: "We should not test the Lord" (1Co 10:9).

Act 27:12

THE HARBOR WAS UNSUITABLE TO WINTER IN: The "fair havens" (v 8) of Christ are not pleasant to the flesh; and many seek to leave their "confines".

Act 27:14

"NORTHEASTER": AV has "Euroclydon" (Acts 27:14): From "euros" (east wind) and "kludon" (to billow or dash over, as a wave of the sea). It was a violent wind which frequently arose in the Cretan waters, swooping down from the mountains in strong gusts, or squalls. It is still common that tempestuous winds from the east, south, and ne agitate the Mediterranean.

Act 27:17

SYRTIS: "The quicksands" of the AV is transliterated "the Syrtis" in other versions: a tempest from the Gulf of Sidra, on the coast of Africa southwest of Crete.

Act 27:19

THE SHIP'S TACKLE: Sail-cloth tied by ropes, prob thrown overboard to act as a brake.

Act 27:21

YOU SHOULD HAVE TAKEN MY ADVICE: Not an unkind 'I told you so!', but a renewed encouragement to them to listen to Paul's advice.

Act 27:22

KEEP UP YOUR COURAGE: Paul's face stood firm in the face of a seemingly hopeless situation (2Th 1:4; Heb 11:6; 13:7). He saw the providence of God in events which might otherwise seem mere chance (Phi 1:12; Rom 8:28).


Act 27:23

Vv 23,24: An angel strengthened Paul as the shipwreck was approaching. An angel strengthened Christ in the garden of Gethsemane, just before his death (Luk 22:43).

Paul, a man of prayer: 1Th 5:7; 1Ti 2:8.

Act 27:24

Power of faith and intercession of others: Mat 8:13; 9:32; 15:28; 17:14-18; Luk 8:50; Joh 4:49; Jos 6:17; Gen 7:1; 18:25-33; 19:12; Act 27:24.

Act 27:27

SENSED THEY WERE APPROACHING LAND: "The long talk of the Lord's coming will end in the event itself, and that end is close upon us, though how close we cannot exactly say. The great prophetic periods are nearly all elapsed; and the tokens are visible on every hand to the eyes able to see, but the exact place in the latter-day programme at which the Lord appears to His house is unknown. We are like a ship at the end of a long voyage. We have travelled the great ocean for many months, letting the months stand for centuries that have passed since Christ's departure. We know by the general reckonings that we are not far from land; and our conclusion on this head is confirmed by the altered appearance of the sea, the shallowness of the soundings, the landmists on the horizon, and certain other tokens in the shape of birds, seaweed, etc. but exactly how many miles we are from port, we do not know. We know we are sufficiently near that the pilots may come in sight at any moment" (RR).

Act 27:30

The sailors attempt to abandon the passengers -- including the Roman soldiers!

Act 27:31

Whereas the centurion who was travelling with and guarding Paul starts the trip trusting the captain more than Paul (Acts 27:9-11), he ends up having great respect for Paul (Acts 27:31-32,42-43; 28:16). Cp this with the centurion who guarded Christ on the cross and ended up having great respect for him (Mat 27:54), although initially the soldiers were very disrespectful of him (Mat 27:27-31).

Paul was vigilant, recognizing that prayer is efficacious only if men also use the means they have at hand to make it so: "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong" (1Co 16:13). "So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled" (1Th 5:6).

Act 27:33

Vv 33-36: On the fourteenth night Paul "took bread, and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all: and when he had broken it he began to eat... and they also took some meat." Jesus on the fourteenth night, which was the passover, "took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave it to them" (Luk 22:19).

Paul was practical: 'You need to eat something.' Cp 1Ti 4:4-8; 5:23.

Act 27:34

NOT ONE OF YOU WILL LOSE A SINGLE HAIR FROM HIS HEAD: A phrase descriptive of long life: Luk 12:7; 21:18; Mat 10:30; Acts 27:34; 1Sa 14:45; 2Sa 14:11.

Act 27:38

THEY LIGHTENED THE SHIP...: They heed Paul's prophecy (v 22), realizing the ship itself is doomed.

Practical lesson: is there something we need to throw "overboard"?

Act 27:39

WHEN DAYLIGHT CAME: "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light" (Rom 13:12).

THEY DID NOT RECOGNIZE THE LAND: "Principles are like stars, constant and comprehensive, but not local or particular. The pilot with only local knowledge may guide the ship through the well-known channel and into the old port, but a knowledge of the stars is necessary when sailing in unknown seas. If a pilot should mistake a foreign port for the one he knows and attempt to guide the vessel according to the old rules he will bring it to disaster. Ships of various kinds have been wrecked through such mistaken confidence. Oftentimes men have ignored principles and have applied the lessons learned in former years to circumstances that are totally different. They have even quoted the words of former leaders in a manner that would horrify such leaders could they rise from their graves and witness the application" (PrPr 1).

Act 27:43

Every NT ref shows centurions in a good light: Luk 7:1-10; 23:47; Act 10:1,2; 22:25,26; 23:17,18; 27:43.

"You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions" (Heb 10:34).

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