Acts 27

Thursday Evening Bible Study

February 7, 2008


:1-8 Starting towards Rome

:1 And when it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to one named Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment.

centurion – a commander of 100 soldiers

Augustan Regiment – an honorary title given to special troops.

:2 So, entering a ship of Adramyttium, we put to sea, meaning to sail along the coasts of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, was with us.

Adramyttium – a port on the west coast of Asia Minor (Turkey), just south of Troas.  See map.

coasts of Asia – There original intent was to sail along probably the southern coast of modern Turkey.   See map.

Aristarchus – One of Paul’s traveling companions (Acts 19:29; 20:4).  He will be staying with Paul even through his Roman imprisonment. (Col. 4:10; Phile. 24)

us – Luke is along for the ride.

:3 And the next day we landed at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him liberty to go to his friends and receive care.

Sidon – on the coast of modern Lebanon, north of Israel.  See map.

:4 When we had put to sea from there, we sailed under the shelter of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary.

Cyprus – See map.

the winds were contrary – the winds would have been blowing from the northwest, so they couldn’t go from Sidon straight to Cyprus.

:5 And when we had sailed over the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.

Cilicia … Pamphylia – regions in Asia Minor (modern Turkey).  See map.

Myra – on the southern coast of Turkey. One of the major harbors of the area, this was a place to find the large ships, the 747’s to cross the sea with. See map.

Lycia – See map.

:6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing to Italy, and he put us on board.

Alexandrian ship – Julius finds a large Egyptian grain ship heading for Rome and transfers his prisoners.  Egypt was Rome’s breadbasket. The grain ships would commonly sail north to Asia Minor and then make their way west across the Mediterranean using the islands for as much protection as they could obtain from them.  This is one big boat – it has 276 people on board besides all the grain.

:7 When we had sailed slowly many days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone.

slowly – the wind is against them, they are possibly tacking back and forth to make progress.

Cnidus – a peninsula on the southwest corner of Turkey.  See map.

Crete – the island.  See map.

Salmone – the name of the promontory on the east end of Crete.  See map.

:8 Passing it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.

Fair Havens – a bay on the island of Crete.

Lasea – a city in Crete on the southern coast.  See map.

:9-12 Paul’s warning

:9 Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them,

the Fast – Luke is referring to the main Jewish fast, the Day of Atonement.  In AD 59, it fell on October 5.  Sailing in the Mediterranean was considered dangerous from early October to mid March because of the weather.  It is probable that Julius had expected to be in Rome by this time, but the bad winds have made the trip last longer than expected.

:10 saying, "Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives."

:11 Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul.

:10 disasterhubris – pride, haughtiness, impudence; a wrong springing from insolence, an injury, affront, insult; injury inflicted by the violence of a tempest

(Prov 16:18 NKJV)  Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.

The great loss will come because of the “pride” and arrogance of the centurion and the ship’s crew to not listen to the advice of Paul.

Paul’s experience

When Paul was writing to the Corinthians about his experience as an apostle, he mentioned some experiences at sea:

(2 Cor 11:25 NKJV)  …three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;
Remember that Paul wrote this about three years ago from Philippi (around Acts 20:1).

Paul had a lot of “frequent flyer miles”.  He wasn’t a stranger when it came to travel by ship.


Listening to advice

Apparently the centurion Julius was the one making the decisions on the ship.
He’s a good example of how we often make decisions.
He’s making his decision the best way he can, but he chooses to listen to the wrong “experts”.
Remember – the experts built the Titanic.  The Ark was built by amateurs.

:12 And because the harbor was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised to set sail from there also, if by any means they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete opening toward the southwest and northwest, and winter there.

the harbor was not suitable – they knew they needed to spend the winter months somewhere.  Fair Havens didn’t seem the best place to stay.  The Greek word here means “not convenient”.

Phoenix – only a short sail of thirty five miles to the west of Fair Havens. See map.

:13-38 The Storm

:13 When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete.

They hugged the coast to play it safe.

:14 But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon.

tempestuoustuphonikos (“typhoon”) – like a whirlwind

EuroclydonEurokludon – “a violent agitation”.  The winds start up in the Cretan mountains, 7,000 feet high, and come swooping down onto the sea.

:15 So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive.

:16 And running under the shelter of an island called Clauda, we secured the skiff with difficulty.

Clauda – ?? not sure where

the skiff – This was a small boat that was used for various tasks around the larger ship.  Luke writes as if he was pressed into service to help bring up the small boat.

:17 When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands, they struck sail and so were driven.

undergird – They would wrap cables under the ship to help hold it together.

Syrtis Sands – well known sandbars where a boat could be caught and destroyed. The sailors are afraid that they’re going to get the ship caught out in the middle of the Mediterranean on these sandbars, where the ship will break to pieces and they will all die.

cablesboetheia (“cry” + “run”) – help.  The word is translated “cables” here, but the root idea of the word is “help”, perhaps making a cry for someone to run to you and help.

The word is an example of the kind of color and flavor we find in the New Testament Greek language.

The word is only used one other place in the New Testament:

(Heb 4:15-16 NKJV)  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. {16} Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Just as the sailors were trying to wrap the boat with cables to hold it together, when we come to God’s throne we can find mercy and grace being “wrapped” under us to hold us together.

:18 And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship.

To keep from getting caught on the sandbars, they lighten the load so the ship rides higher. They did it to save their lives, though I’m sure the merchants weren’t thrilled that they did it.  Could you imagine the UPS man tossing all the boxes out of his truck every time he got in a traffic jam?

:19 On the third day we threw the ship's tackle overboard with our own hands.

tacklingskeue – any apparatus, equipment of a ship.  Probably stuff like extra ropes, sails, etc.

Notice again that Luke was helping out.

:20 Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.

all hope … given up – Anyone felt like that recently?  You can’t see where you’re going.  You don’t see any end in sight.

:21 But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, "Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss.

abstinence – they had not eaten in a long time.  Perhaps they were conserving their food.

you should have listened to me – I don’t think Paul’s intent is to rub their faces in their problem.

His intent in reminding them that he was right is so they will pay attention to him this time.

:22 "And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.

This shipwreck is almost a picture of the death of the believer.

No loss of real life, just the ship.

When a believer dies, their spirit lives on and goes to be immediately with Jesus.  The only thing you lose is the old house, the old tent, the old ship.

:23 "For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve,

servelatreuo – to serve for hire; used of the priests offering worship through sacrifice and ritual.


He’s with you in the storm.

Sometimes it’s not until we’re in the fire that we see the fourth one like the Son of God with us (Dan.3:25). Sometimes it looks as if He’s asleep at the back of the boat during the storm, but He’s with you (Mark 4:38).  Sometimes it looks as if He’s going to pass you by in the storm, but He’s with you (Mark 6:48).

:24 "saying, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.'

granted youcharizomai – to do something pleasant or agreeable (to one), to do a favor to; to give graciously, give freely; this is the root idea of the word “grace” – a gift, something undeserved.

If God has promised to give Paul the lives of all those with him, there’s a reason – it seems to me that Paul must have been asking for them, praying for them.  Jesus said,

(Mat 7:7 NKJV)  "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.


Pray for those in your boat.

This wasn’t a small little boat, it had 276 people on board (Acts 27:37), yet Paul had apparently been praying for each one of them.
Sometimes when I’m in a storm, all I can think about is myself.  I’m worried that I’m going to survive.
Paul is worried about the people with him.

:25 "Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.


Set the example

Paul believed God.
There are people watching to see if you will believe God.
Can you challenge them to follow your example?

:26 "However, we must run aground on a certain island."

certain island – it seems Paul didn’t know which island, but was simply promised by the angel that they would reach an island.

:27 Now when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven up and down in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors sensed that they were drawing near some land.

Adriatic – the sea between Italy and Greece.  See map.

:28 And they took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms; and when they had gone a little farther, they took soundings again and found it to be fifteen fathoms.

soundings – measuring the depth of the sea with a line and a sinker.

twenty fathoms – 120 feet

fifteen fathoms – 90 feet

They’re going to run aground if they aren’t careful.

:29 Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come.

four anchors – they are trying to slow the ship down so they can turn and not run aground.

The intent of the anchors is to keep from becoming shipwrecked.


A few anchors of our own

I think that as believers we will face our own storms from time to time.  We will wonder why we are in a storm.  We wonder if we will survive.
There are a couple of “anchors” I’ve found over the years that help keep me from being “shipwrecked”.
1.      God is all powerful

I wonder sometimes if maybe the trouble I’m in is too big for God to handle.  It isn’t.

(Luke 1:37 NKJV)  "For with God nothing will be impossible."

2.      God is good

If I know God can do anything, then why am I in such a mess?  I need to remember that God isn’t evil and that His plans are for my good.

(1 John 1:5 NKJV)  This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

3.      God loves me

If God can do anything, and God is good, then why am I having such a tough time?  Is it because God doesn’t love me?

(1 John 3:16 NKJV)  By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us….

(Rom 5:8 NKJV)  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I may not always understand why I’m in the storm I’m in, but it sure helps to have some anchors in your life.  Sometimes all I can do is simply hold on.

:30 And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, when they had let down the skiff into the sea, under pretense of putting out anchors from the prow,

:31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, "Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved."

The sailors are pretending that they’re going to take the little skiff out to help put out anchors in the front, but they’re really just going to abandon the ship and escape in the skiff.

Paul knows that they won’t make it without the sailors on board.  The prisoners and the soldiers need the sailors in order to survive.


Don’t abandon ship.

Abandoning ship is no way to go through life, but sadly, this is how many people operate.  Every time things get difficult, they bail.  Their marriage gets difficult, they’re gone.  For some, every time they find a fault in a church, they leave and look for a better church.  If you are here looking for the perfect church, I’ll save you some time and let you know that you won’t find it here.  You’re going to find real people here.  People who make mistakes.  People who say things they wish they had never said.  People who unintentionally hurt other people’s feelings.
I think that maturity as a Christian comes when I make a decision that I’m not going to abandon ship at each hint of difficulty, but instead I’m going to trust God and see what He wants to do in my life.
Trials, difficulties, are a big part of how we grow as Christians.
(1 Pet 1:6-7 NKJV)  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, {7} that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

Trials are how we are refined.  Gold is refined when the heat stays hot and the junk comes to the surface of the liquid metal.

As we experience trials, people get to see the “genuineness” of our faith.  People get to see that your faith is real.  But I’m not sure that happens if you’ve abandoned ship.

:32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let it fall off.

It looks like the centurion is taking Paul seriously now.

:33 And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, "Today is the fourteenth day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing.

:34 "Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you."

implored … urgeparakaleo – to encourage.  Paul is trying to encourage the people on his boat.

:35 And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat.

:36 Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves.


Encourage others by your example.

People were not only encouraged by the words Paul spoke, but by the example he gave.
He gave thanks to God in front of them.  He ate in front of them.
They were encouraged.
People watching, but what do they see?
“Small boys learn to be large men in the presence of large men who care about small boys.”  – Phyllis Therous
"You can impress people at a distance but you can impact them only up close. – Howard Hendricks

:37 And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship.

This was a pretty good sized ship.

:38 So when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship and threw out the wheat into the sea.

:39 When it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible.

:40 And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudder ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore.

:41 But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves.

a place where two seas met – the currents clash against each other.  There’s a place up in Monterey called “the restless sea” where you can see this happening.

:42 And the soldiers' plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape.

The rule for a Roman guard was that if your prisoner escaped, you would be punished with their punishment.  It seemed better to just kill them now.

:43 But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land,

:44 and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.

They have shipwrecked off the coast of the island of Malta. See map.


Promise kept

God promised that they would all escape with their lives.  God has kept His promise.
Delivered through the storm.