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Acts 27

Thursday Evening Bible Study

May 8, 2014


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Target 4400 words

On the day of Pentecost, the church was born. It began with the Holy Spirit filling the believers. As the apostles preached about Jesus, the church began to grow.

By chapter seven, the church was beginning to experience persecution. Stephen was the first one to die for his faith. One of the main men behind the persecution was a man named Saul. But when Saul headed for the city of Damascus to pursue the Christians there, he was knocked off his horse by a bright light and he met Jesus. Saul is more well known by his Roman name, Paul.

By chapter 10, the gospel began to reach even the Gentiles, starting with a Roman Centurion named Cornelius.

In chapter 13, we began a new section of Acts as we began to focus on the ministry of Paul.

We followed Paul on three different journeys as he planted churches in cities like Ephesus, Philippi, and Corinth.

On his third journey, while Paul was in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, a riot breaks out in the Temple, and the Jews try to seize Paul and put him to death.

Some of the unbelieving Jews thought that Paul had brought a Gentile into the Temple because they had seen him walking around town with a Gentile.

He had not.

The Romans stepped in to take Paul away from the crowd, but Paul was allowed first to speak to the crowd.

Paul gave his first defense to the crowd, but they only went wild when he mentioned that Jesus had sent him to preach to the Gentiles.
Paul’s next defense was before the Sanhedrin.
When the Romans find out that there is a Jewish conspiracy to have Paul killed, they send him to Caesarea at night to be held for trial before the Roman governor.
Paul’s third defense was before Felix the governor in Caesarea.
His fourth defense was before a new governor, Porcius Festus.
Lastly, Paul has given his fifth defense to King Agrippa.
Paul has exercises his right as a Roman citizen and has appealed his case to Rome, so he is now going to be sent to Rome.

27:1-8 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.

:1 sail to Italy

We might think that they will simply get on a boat and go straight from Caesarea to Rome.

In ancient days, sailors kept their boats close to the coastline.  They will be sailing along the coast of the Mediterranean.

:1 Julius – “soft-haired”

:1 centurion – a commander of 100 soldiers

:1 Augustan Regiment – an honorary title given to special elite 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.

:2 a ship of Adramyttium

The ship originates from Adramyttium, a city on coast of modern Turkey, ancient “Asia”, and it is heading home to Adramyttium.

:2 Aristarchus

This is one of Paul’s traveling companions (Acts 19:29; 20:4). 

(Acts 19:29 NKJV) —29 So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul’s travel companions.
(Acts 20:4 NKJV) —4 And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia—also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia.

He will be staying with Paul even through his Roman imprisonment. (Col. 4:10; Phile. 24)

(Colossians 4:10 NKJV) —10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him),
(Philemon 24 NKJV) —24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.

:2 was with us

Luke is along for the ride as well.

It has been suggested that Luke and Aristarchus may have been allowed to accompany Paul on the condition that they were his slaves.

:2 to sail along the coasts of Asia

Video: Adramyttium map clip

The ship is from Adramyttium, and is presumably heading back there.
Aristarchus is from Thessalonica, a city in northern Greece (Macedonia)
They will depart from Caesarea.
The ship is planning on sailing along the coast of Asia, modern Turkey.

: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.

:3 landed at Sidon

Sidon is 67 miles up the coast from Caesarea, located in modern Lebanon.

The ship is most likely stopping to trade its cargo.  Though this is Paul’s first visit to Sidon, he apparently has some friends there.

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

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

:4 the winds were contrary

Video: Myra map clip

The winds were blowing from the northwest, so they couldn’t go from Sidon straight to Cyprus.
Instead they go north and hug the coasts of Cilicia, Pamphylia, and Lycia to the city of Myra

:4 Myra

One of the major harbors of the area, kind of like an airport hub.

This is where they’re going to find one of the larger ships (like a 747) to take them to Italy.

Or like the space port at Tattoine.

Video:  Star Wars Mos Eisley

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

:6 an Alexandrian ship

Alexandria is on the coast of Egypt.

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.

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

:7 sailed slowly

The wind is against them, they are tacking back and forth to make progress.

Video:  Fair Havens map clip

They leave the port city of Myra and make their way to the peninsula of Cnidus.
Then they head to the south side of the island of Crete.
They pass the tip of the island called Salmone.
They finally make port at Fair Havens.

27:9-12 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,

: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.”

:9 the Fast was over

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

(Proverbs 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.


Listening to advice

Sometimes it is our pride that keeps us from listening to what others might tell us.
Paul’s experience
When Paul was writing to the Corinthians about his experience as an apostle, he mentioned some experiences at sea:

(2 Corinthians 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 earlier 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.
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.
Even if they don’t want to listen, there comes a time that we still need to lovingly, carefully warn others.  We can only pray that they will understand that:
(Proverbs 27:6 NKJV) Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

:10 loss … cargo … ship… lives

This actually didn’t happen exactly as Paul is warning. 

They will lose the ship and all the cargo in the end, but no lives will be lost.
Even an apostle can be a little wrong now and then.

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

: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.

:12 the harbor was not suitableaneuthetos – not convenient, not fit, “not” + “well” + “placed”

They knew they were not going to be able to get too much farther at this time of the year.

They know they are going to need to spend the winter somewhere.

:12 Phoenix

Phoenix is only 40 miles to the west of Fair Havens.

27:13-38 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.

: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.

:14 EuroclydonEurokludon – “a violent agitation”. 

Video:  Euroclydon map clip

The winds start up in the mountains of Crete, 7,000 feet high, and come swooping down onto the sea.
The wind will drive them past the island of Clauda, 20 miles off the coast of Crete.

:14 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.

:17 the Syrtis Sands

These were 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.

:17 they used 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.

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

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:

(Hebrews 4:15–16 NKJV) —15 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.

:18 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.

:19 threw the ship’s tackle overboard

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.

:20 no small tempest

They are going to be in this storm apparently for two weeks.

Video:  Master and Commander – storm

: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.

:21 abstinence from food

They may have been conserving their food.  They may have been fasting and praying to their “gods”.

:12 you should have listened to me

It kind of sounds like Paul is saying, “I told you so…”

Perhaps he is just 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.

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

:23 stood by me this night an angel


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.’

:24 God has granted you all

grantedcharizomai – 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,

(Matthew 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 your shipmates

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.

:25 I believe God


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.”

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

They are going to run aground on the island of Malta, over 600 miles from Crete.

: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.

:27 Adriatic – the sea between Italy and Greece.

: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.

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

:28 twenty fathoms – 120 feet

:28 fifteen fathoms – 90 feet

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

They’re getting closer to shore

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

:29 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.


Our anchors

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?

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

4.     God never changes

All these things listed above are good, but what if God changes?  I have good moods and bad moods.  Does God get into a bad move?

(Hebrews 13:8 NKJV) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

(2 Timothy 2:13 NKJV) If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

He is all powerful, good, and loves me.  That doesn’t change.

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.”

:31 unless these men stay in the ship

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.
(James 1:2–4 NKJV) —2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Trials produce “patience” in us, and when we grow in patience we become more and more mature or “perfect”.

The root idea for the word for patience (hupomone) means to “remain under”.

Not abandoning 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.”

: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.

:36 they were all encouraged


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.

Pretty decent sized ship.

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

If they can just get the boat a little lighter, it will travel closer to the shore before getting stuck on the rocks.

27:39-44 Making Land

: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.

:41 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,

After all, it was Paul that saved them.

: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.

:44 they all escaped safely

They are on the island of Malta.


Promise kept

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