Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 11 July 2021; Revised 8 August 2021
Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament. Scripture quotations may be taken from different versions. Click here for abbreviations of Bible versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: Citations marked as "DSS" are from the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries BC and the first century AD. Online DSS Bible.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.
● Josephus: Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
● MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began in the 2nd century A.D. under Rabbi Akiva, but completed by Jewish scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from around the 9th century A.D. Online.
● Talmud: Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. The Jerusalem Talmud, identified with "TJ," may be found here. Click here for Talmud abbreviations.
● Targums: The targums are early Aramaic translations of the Hebrew text with commentary: Targum Jerusalem (1st c. AD), Targum Neofiti (1st c. AD), Targum Onkelos (c. 35–120 AD) and Targum Jonathan (2nd c. AD). See an index of targum texts here.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations and pronunciation of Greek words. Parsing data for Greek words is from Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms ADONAI (for 'LORD' when quoting a Tanakh source), Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament).
See the article Introduction to Acts for background information on Luke and the book of Acts. For a suggested timeline of Acts see the dating chart of George Edmundson. All dates given for the narrative of Acts are estimates.
Chapter Twenty-Seven continues the narrative of the previous chapter and relates Paul's trip to Rome in the custody of a centurion and some soldiers. See the map of the journey here. Paul was accompanied by Aristarchus and Luke who provided the detailed account of the voyage across the Mediterranean Sea. Filled with nautical terminology Luke's account is a remarkable preservation of the knowledge of navigation in ancient times. Indeed, this chapter has 42 hapax legomena, unique words that appear only once in the Besekh, most of which are nautical terms.
The occasion of the voyage was the transfer of Paul to Rome, pursuant to his appeal to Caesar (Acts 25:11). The Lord had assured him that he would testify in Rome (Acts 23:11) and in so doing fulfill his own desire to minister there and raise support for ministry in Spain (Acts 19:21; Rom 15:24). In this chapter Luke offers several time references to mark the progress of the voyage (verses 3, 6, 9, 18, 19, 20, 33, 39). The only specific calendar day mentioned is the Fast (Yom Kippur, Tishri 10) in verse 9, which in AD 59 occurred on October 6 (Julian).
Departure from Caesarea likely took place in the middle or toward the end of August. Ramsay sets the departure date as August 17 (184) and the shipwreck before the middle of November (196). Thus, the narrative of this chapter extends over three months. The timeline in the next chapter also takes three months making a total of six months for the trip from Caesarea to Rome. Paul did not arrive in Rome (recorded in the next chapter), in any manner he might have anticipated. Indeed Luke's account records multiple providences of God working together to fulfill prophecy.
The voyage recorded in this chapter included using two vessels and making ports of call in Sidon, Myra and Fair Havens. The ship's captain ignored Paul's warning of seasonal danger and continued the trip, only to sail into a violent storm, which lasted many days. The end result was shipwreck on the island of Malta. Miraculously none of the 276 persons aboard the ship were lost at sea. Bruce notes that Luke portrays Paul as "standing out as a practical man in a critical emergency, keeping his head when all about him are losing theirs" (475).
Departure for Rome, 27:1-8
Trip Advice, 27:9-13
Difficulty in Sailing, 27:14-20
Advice of Courage, 27:21-26
Soundings and a Warning, 27:27-32
Advice of Food, 27:33-38
Shipwreck and Safety, 27:39-44
August A.D. 59
Rome: Caesar Nero (AD 54-68)
Procurator of Judaea: Porcius Festus (AD 59-61)
High Priest in Jerusalem: Ishmael b. Phiabi II (AD 58-61)
Departure for Rome, 27:1-8
1 Now when it was decided that we should set sail for Italy, they delivered both Paul and certain other prisoners to a centurion named Julius of an Imperial detachment.
Now: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The second meaning applies here. when: Grk. hōs, adv. used to express comparison, time, purpose, and consequence; here of time. it was decided: Grk. krinō, aor. pass., to separate or distinguish between options, i.e. judge; to come to a decision by making a judgment, either positive (a verdict in favor of) or negative (which rejects or condemns) (HELPS). The verb assumes Festus issuing an order.
that we: Grk. hēmeis, pl. first person pronoun. Luke resumes the "we" narrative that was last used in 21:18, because he is doing something. Luke was nevertheless an eyewitness to events involving Paul since that point. should set sail: Grk. apopleō, pres. inf., depart by ship, sail away, set sail (Thayer). The infinitive expresses purpose. Smith comments that Luke, by his accurate use of nautical terms, gives great precision to his language, and expresses by a single word what would otherwise require several (60). Luke alone of the sacred writers uses this nautical term, either simply or as in the present instance in composition.
for: Grk. eis, prep., with the root meaning of "within, in," generally focuses on entrance, and in composition may be translated as "into, in, to, upon, towards, for, or among" (DM 103). The preposition expresses purpose here, implying the vessel into which the party had boarded. Italy: Grk. Italia, the boot-shaped peninsula between Greece and Spain which extends from the Alps on the north to the Mediterranean Sea on the south. A Greek historian, Dionysius of Halicarnassus (first c. BC), said that the country was named for Italus, a legendary king who lived there (Roman Antiquities, Book I).
they delivered: Grk. paradidōmi (from para, "close-beside," and didōmi, "to give"), impf., to hand over or deliver, and here refers to delivering a person to custody in order to accomplish a judicial process. both: Grk. te, conj. used to connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; also, both.
Paul: Grk. ho Paulos, from the Latin cognomen or surname Paulus ("small" or "humble"). The definite article probably signifies "the one called." The name Paulos first appears in Acts 13:9. Paul was born in Tarsus of Cilicia to traditional Jewish parents of the tribe of Benjamin and given the Hebrew name Sha'ul (Acts 9:11; 21:39; 22:3; Php 3:5). The name Paulus was probably taken from the patron who made Roman citizenship possible for Paul's father or grandfather (see Acts 22:28). For a biography of Paul see my article The Apostle from Tarsus.
The CJB, in deference to its intended audience, substitutes the Hebrew name Sha'ul for "Paul" to emphasize the fact that the apostle never surrendered his Jewish identity (Stern 267). We should note that "Paul" is also the only name by which the apostle refers to himself in his writings and those were sent to congregations with largely Jewish membership, as well as to Jewish congregational leaders. In addition, the OJB, which also has Sha'ul, adds the title "Rav" in direct violation of Yeshua's instruction (Matt 23:8). Paul never used the honorific of himself and no one ever addressed Paul as "Rabbi."
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. This pronoun is often used to distinguish someone of consequence in contrast to others, or to denote a collective commonality of those in a group, as here.
other: pl. of Grk. heteros, adj., other, another, used here to distinguish others in the traveling party. prisoners: pl. of Grk. desmōtēs, one who is bound as a captive, a prisoner. The plural form means at least two, but the adjective "other" may imply more. Luke does not explain why these prisoners were being transported to Rome.
to a centurion: Grk. hekatontarchēs (from hekaton, "a hundred," and archō, to rule), ordinarily a commander of a century (Latin centuria), consisting of 80 fighting men (Latin milites) and 20 military servants (Latin calones). A centurion had administrative duties with respect to the soldiers, but more importantly he served as a tactical leader in combat. In addition, centurions served on a legion's command staff and the governor's staff.
named: Grk. onoma is used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of authority, qualities, powers, attributes or reputation. Julius: Grk. Ioulios, a proper name of Latin origin. Nothing further is known of this centurion. This centurion was apparently not the one that had been assigned as Paul's chaperon from the time of his arrival in Caesarea (Acts 24:23).
Spelling convention: The reader might be interested to know that there is no letter "J" in the Greek or Hebrew alphabets. Originally the Latin "J" was a vowel, simply a fancy "I," but after the Renaissance (14th-17th centuries) it became a consonant with a hard sound. The first five English Bible versions (1526-1611) spelled New Testament names (people and places) beginning with the Iota letter with the Latin "I." The Mace New Testament in 1729 introduced the letter "J" for the "I," which had become a consonant. From that point on Christians have been mispronouncing Bible names.
of the Imperial: Grk. sebastos, adj., meriting exceptional respect, the official Greek equivalent of the Latin Augustus, an honorific used of the Roman emperor. The term occurs only three times in the Besekh, all in Acts, and the other two times refer to Caesar Nero (Acts 25:21, 25). The adjective could refer to an Imperial Legion, successor to the Republican Legion. The Imperial Legion took its name from the reorganization of the legion that occurred in the first century B.C. under Julius Caesar. However, the term sebastos could also refer to a special unit assigned to Caesar Nero's headquarters, since it's not likely Luke would have changed the meaning of sebastos after the two previous uses in the book.
Detachment: Grk. speira, a military tactical unit, in early Greek literature translating the Latin manipulus, or maniple, a Roman unit of two centuries and later translating the Latin cohors (English "cohort") (LSJ). A cohort was the tenth part of an imperial legion, which had 6,000 men at full strength. The basic cohort consisted of ten centuria or 480 men, not counting officers. Bruce says that there were no legionary troops in Judaea in the period AD 6–66, and the Roman governor of Judaea only commanded auxiliary forces (201f).
There were independent cohorts of volunteers that served under the Roman standards (SBD, "Army"). Josephus says five cohorts were stationed at Caesarea at this time (Ant. XIX, 9:2; Wars III, 4:2). Luke mentions the Italian Cohort to which Cornelius was assigned (Acts 10:1). Roman forces were necessary, because the port and water supply of Caesarea were strategic assets to be protected. In addition, the Roman army preserved the peace between the diverse ethnic groups that made up the city.
However, in the Jewish Apocrypha speira could refer to any band, company, or detachment, of soldiers (e.g., 2Macc. 8:23; 12:20; Judith 14:11; cf. John 18:3). Luke probably uses the term in this Jewish sense of a detachment of Roman soldiers of undefined strength. See the Additional Note below on the Imperial Detachment.
Additional Note: The Imperial Detachment
The precise status of Julius is difficult to determine and thus Bible versions are divided over translation of speira. Many versions have "cohort" or "regiment," but other versions have "band" or "company," signifying a smaller unit. If Julius was assigned to one of the cohorts stationed at Caesarea, then he must have been highly respected to be taken from his unit assignment to escort prisoners to Rome. ISBE ("Centurion") notes that centurions were sometimes employed on detached service the conditions of which in the provinces are somewhat obscure.
Bruce comments that given the mention of the grain ship mentioned in verse 6 below the "Imperial detachment" may be a reference to a group of imperial officials called the frumentarii, who not only organized the transportation of grain (Latin frumentum) to Rome but also had police duties and performed escort services on their travels throughout the empire. Longenecker discounts this suggestion as lacking evidence that the frumentarii, if they did exist in the first century, had any police powers.
Instead Longenecker suggests that the soldiers who performed these services in Paul's day were the speculatores, a special body of imperial guards who were particularly prominent in times of military intrigue (cf. Tacitus, The Histories, "bodyguard," 1.24-25; 2.73). These speculatores belonged to no particular division of a Roman army legion. Instead, they formed a special unit of their own, assigned to various police and judicial functions.
Ramsay translates the phrase as "the troop of the Emperor" and suggests that based on the duty assigned to Julius, he must have been a legionary centurion on detached service for communication between the Emperor and his armies in the provinces (180). That the centurion belonged to a special unit is confirmed by the fact that, when he reached Rome, according to the Western Text, he handed Paul over to his captain (Acts 28:16 KJV). So, the "troop of the Emperor" must have been a popular colloquial way of describing the Imperial corps of officer-couriers.
Ellicott and Nicoll suggest that Julius might have belonged to the Augustiani, consisting of some 3, 000 young men of the equestrian order, who formed a kind of body-guard for Caesar Nero, instituted about A.D. 59, and that he may have been in Caesarea on some temporary special duty. See Suetonius, Life of Nero, 25; and Tacitus, Annals, XIV, 15.
In conclusion, the Imperial Detachment to which Julius belonged was not part of any cohort stationed in Caesarea. Whatever purpose he may have had for being in Caesarea he was going to return to Rome and was available to carry out an assignment for Festus to transport Paul for fulfillment of his appeal.
2 And having boarded a ship of Adramyttium, being about to sail to places along the coast of Asia, we set sail ─ Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us.
And: Grk. de, conj. having boarded: Grk. epibainō, aor. part., move so as to arrive at or be in an area; arrive, enter, set foot in/on. a ship: Grk. ploion in biblical times denoted any vessel that could go out on a body of water, whether lake, inland sea or ocean; used frequently of the fishing boats on the Sea of Galilee. In modern times "ships" are vessels that can traverse oceans, whereas "boats" cannot, and it is this distinction that has probably guided translation of the word in modern Bible versions. Most merchant ships in the first century ranged in size from 20 to 50 meters in length and could carry about 100 to 500 tons of cargo. (See the article Merchant Ships.)
of Adramyttium: Grk. Adramyttēnos, a Greek city in Mysia, a district of the north-west part of the Roman province of Asia. See the map here. The name identifies the home port of the ship.being about: Grk. mellō, pres. part., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to. to sail: Grk. pleō, pres. inf., to sail, travel by sea, voyage. to places: pl. of Grk. ho topos, a spatial area, generally used of a geographical area, especially an inhabited place, as a city, village, or district. Many versions translate the plural noun as "ports."
along the coast of: Grk. kata, prep., with the root meaning of "down," is generally used to signify (1) direction, 'against, down;' (2) opposition, 'against;' or (3) conformity, 'according to.' The first usage is intended here in the distributive sense of following a route to a destination. Asia: Grk. ho Asia, the Roman province bordered on the west by the Aegean Sea and on the east by the province of Galatia and its capital at Ephesus. See the Bible map of Asia here. Smith notes that this ship was evidently bound for her own port, and her course from Caesarea necessarily led her close past the principal seaports of Asia, of which three are mentioned by Luke (62).
we set sail: Grk. anagō, aor. pass, 1p-pl., to conduct from a lower place to a higher, to lead or bring up. The verb is used here as a technical nautical term; put to sea, set sail. Departure from Caesarea likely took place in the middle or toward the end of August. Ramsay sets the departure date as August 17 (184). A successful sea voyage required favorable weather and fair winds since ancient merchant ships were primarily propelled by sails. There were no passenger vessels, only freighters. Ramsay comments that the centurion chose this ship because there was no ship specifically sailing to Rome.
Therefore, desiring to leave as soon as possible Julius chose the convenience of a coastal freighter. He had to scout out a willing captain, strike a deal for passage, and bring enough food for the trip, as well as bedding for resting on the deck. See the article Roman Empire Sailing for more information. With favorable winds merchant ships traveled in open sea at a speed of about 4–6 knots (Casson).
Aristarchus: Grk. Aristarchos, "best leader." Aristarchus was identified by Hippolytus and Dorotheus as one of Yeshua's seventy disciples. According to these church fathers Aristarchus eventually served as overseer of Apamea in Syria. a Macedonian: Grk. Makedōn, an inhabitant of Macedonia. The fact that Aristarchus is identified according to the Roman province does not mean he was not Jewish. The Jewish pilgrims that attended the Shavuot (Pentecost) festival and heard Peter's sermon are identified according to the Roman provinces and other countries from which they came (Acts 2:9-11).
of Thessalonica: Grk. Thessalonikeus, an inhabitant of Thessalonica, the capital of the second district of Macedonia. Aristarchus probably met Paul when he came to Thessalonica on his second journey and proclaimed the good news in the local synagogue (Acts 17:1). Afterward Aristarchus became a member of Paul's ministry team (Acts 19:29; 20:4; Phm 1:24). Aristarchus is noted as having been seized in Ephesus by a mob instigated by Demetrius, a silversmith, because Paul's ministry had resulted in many people abandoning idolatry (Acts 19:29). Paul's friends were dragged into a theater, but later released after an appeal from the town clerk.
being: Grk. eimi, pres. part., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). with: Grk. sún, prep. used to denote association or connection, in this case the former. us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. Aristarchus had come to Jerusalem with Paul and his team a few years before (Acts 20:4), and as Luke was still part of Paul's support network.
In his letter from Rome to the congregation in Colossae Paul mentions Aristarchus as a "fellow-captive" (Col 4:10), using the Greek term sunaichmalōtos (a captive, someone taken by spear) instead of desmōtēs used in verse 1 above. This reference by no means proves that Aristarchus traveled with Paul as a Roman prisoner. Instead, the presence of Aristarchus in Rome in which Paul occupied rented quarters under "house arrest" (Acts 28:30) meant simply that Aristarchus shared Paul's captivity.
Ramsay raises the question of how Luke and Aristarchus would be permitted to accompany Paul (181). Luke and Aristarchus might have been able to arrange with the ship's captain to travel as passengers, but would they then be permitted to associate with Paul as a Roman prisoner on board the ship? Ramsay offers a solution to this theoretical problem by citing a story recounted in a letter by Pliny the Younger (AD 61 – c. 113), a Roman historian. He mentions (Epist. III, 180 16) that a man named Paetus was brought as a prisoner from Illyricum to Rome, and his wife Arria begged permission to accompany him. Several slaves were permitted to go with him as waiters, valets, etc., and Arria offered herself alone to perform all their duties; but her request was denied.
"The analogy shows how Luke and Aristarchus accompanied Paul: they must have gone as his slaves, not merely performing the duties of slaves (as Arria offered to do), but actually passing as slaves. In this way not merely had Paul faithful friends always beside him; his importance in the eyes of the centurion was much enhanced, and that was of great importance. The narrative clearly implies that Paul enjoyed much respect during this voyage, such as a penniless traveler without a servant to attend on him would never receive."
Ramsay's solution to his hypothetical problem seems to have been a matter of assuming too much. The governor Felix had ordered that Paul should have complete freedom to be attended to by his friends (Acts 24:23), and there is no reason to suppose that Festus changed this order. The privilege would naturally have been extended for the trip to Rome. See the next verse. Even in Rome Paul had complete freedom of association (28:30). Moreover, it would be contrary to the integrity of Yeshua's disciples to invent a fiction of being slaves when they were free men.
3 And the next day we put in to Sidon; also Julius having treated Paul humanely, allowed going to his friends to receive care.
And: Grk. te, conj. used to connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; and, also, both. the next day: Grk. ho heteros, adj. See verse 1 above. The adjective is used here to denote the day following the day of departure. we put in: Grk. katagō, aor. pass., 1p-pl., to lead or bring down someone from a point that is higher (BAG). The verb is used here as a nautical term, with the idea of descent from the 'high seas.' to: Grk. eis, prep. The decision to put into the port would have been made by the ship's captain no doubt for merchandise to be off-loaded (cf. Acts 21:3) or new merchandise to be loaded.
Sidon: Grk. Sidōn, which transliterates the Heb. Tzidôn (from Heb. tzun, "to fish"), a Phoenician coastal city in the province of Syria northwest of Galilee. The city was 69 nautical miles north of Caesarea (Nicoll). See the map here. Smith suggests the ship had a fair, or at least a leading wind, probably westerly, which is the wind which prevails in this part of the Mediterranean (64). A westerly wind would be fair between Caesarea and Sidon, as the bearing of the coast-line between the two places is about NNE. Thus, a full day of sailing brought the ship to Sidon.
Sidon was considered a sister city of Tyre, although founded earlier before 2000 BC. The city had been originally assigned to the tribe of Asher (Josh 19:28), but the Israelites were not able to capture it (Jdg 1:31; 3:3; 10:12). Sidon became thoroughly Hellenistic under the Seleucid kings and was treated as a free city by the Romans. According to classical writers Sidon had the finest harbor of the Continent, contested with Tyre the supremacy of the Phoenician cities and considered the metropolis of the Phoenicians. Sidon had two harbors, one of which was large with a narrow entrance, where merchant ships could winter in safety (Smith 64).
Yeshua had visited the district of Sidon (Matt 15:21), although he did not actually enter the city. In that district he delivered a woman's daughter of demon oppression and reminded the Syrophoenician mother of the priority of his mission to Israel (Mark 7:25-30). It was also from that territory that many people came to hear Yeshua and were healed of various physical maladies (Mark 3:8-10). The city is notable for being mentioned in a curse Yeshua uttered against two cities near Capernaum:
"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have turned long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 Yet it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the Judgment than for you!" (Luke 10:13-14 TLV)
Disciples that had been scattered because of the persecution in Jerusalem (Acts 11:19) had proclaimed the good news in Phoenicia among the traditional Jews with considerable success.
also: Grk. te, conj. Julius: Grk. Ioulios. See verse 1 above. having treated: Grk. chraomai, aor. mid. part., to use or make use of; used here to mean bearing oneself toward, dealing with, treating. Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 1 above. humanely: Grk. philanthrōpōs, adv., benevolently, humanely, kindly. allowed: Grk. epitrepō, aor., grant opportunity for an activity; permit, allow. going: Grk. poreuomai, aor. pass. part., to move from one area to another; go, journey, make one's way, transport, travel. to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" (DM 110), to, towards, with. Here the preposition denotes being in company with others and speaking face to face.
his friends: pl. of Grk. ho philos, in a close relationship with another, as opposed to a casual acquaintanceship; friend. The masculine form of the noun would suggest male friends. to receive: Grk. tugchanō, aor. inf., lit. "hit the mark" (HELPS), here meaning be privileged to receive a benefit; attain, obtain, reach, receive. care: Grk. epimeleia, consideration of needs or wants; care, attention. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Nicoll notes that the noun is found in the LXX (Prov 3:8, 1Macc 16:14, 2Macc 11:23, 3Macc 5:1), and also in classical Greek; it was also frequently employed in medical language for the care bestowed upon the sick.
Luke does not explain specifically how Paul gained friends in Sidon, but he did pass through Phoenicia when he traveled to Jerusalem for the conference of elders and met with Messianic brethren in the district (Acts 15:3). He also stayed with brethren in the sister city of Tyre on his return from his third Diaspora journey (21:3-4). Meyer comments that without doubt Paul had told the centurion that he had friends (namely Messianic brethren) in the city. Still the centurion would not leave him without military escort, as indeed his duty required this.
4 And from there having set sail we sailed under the shelter of Cyprus because of the winds being contrary.
And from there: Grk. kakeithen, adv. (derived from kai, "and," and ekeithen "from there, from that place"), a marker of movement from a place or time, here of the former. Luke describes leaving Sidon. having set sail: Grk. anagō, aor. part. See verse 2 above. we sailed under the shelter of: Grk. hupopleō, aor., 1p-pl., a nautical term meaning to sail under, i.e. to sail close by, pass to the leeward of. The term leeward refers to the side of a ship sheltered from the wind. The ship continued north along the coast of Syria.
Cyprus: Grk. ho Kupros, a large island at the east end of the Mediterranean Sea mentioned most prominently in Acts. See the map here. In the Tanakh the island is known as Kittim (Heb. Chittim, Isa 23:1; Jer 2:10) (HBD). The island is 138 miles long east to west and 60 miles wide from north to south; it is eclipsed in size only by Sicily and Sardinia. Much of Cyprus is mountainous with some peaks as high as 5900 feet. because of: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The second usage applies here.
the winds: pl. of Grk. ho anemos, the natural motion of air moving horizontally at any velocity along the earth's surface. The wind is very important in the hydrologic cycle to transfer water vapor from the oceans to the land in the form of precipitation. In general the air currents normally move out of the west, although wind locally can come from any direction. being: Grk. eimi, pres. inf. See verse 2 above. contrary: Grk. enantios, adj., opposite or opposed, used here to mean in opposition; contrary, hostile. Luke explains that unlike Paul's return voyage from his third Diaspora journey when his ship sailed south of Cyprus (Acts 21:3), the winds would not permit the same route across the Mediterranean in order to sail to Rome.
5 And having sailed through the open sea along Cilicia and Pamphylia, we arrived in Myra of Lycia.
And: Grk. te, conj. having sailed through: Grk. diapleō, aor. part., sail across or over. The verb depicts the transit through a particular body of water. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. the open sea: Grk. ho pelagos, a deep area of a large body of water; open water or sea. along: Grk. kata, prep., lit. "against." Cilicia: Grk. ho Kilikia, a province of Asia Minor, bounded on the north by Cappadocia, on the south by the Mediterranean, on the east by Syria, and on the west by Pamphylia. Cilicia was part of the Roman province of Syria. Tarsus was the capital of Cilicia, a maritime city situated about ten miles inland from the Mediterranean coast. See the map here.
and: Grk. kai, conj. Pamphylia: Grk. Pamphulia, a Roman province, bordered on the west by Asia, on the north by Galatia, on the east by Cilicia and on the south by the Mediterranean Sea. Its city of note is Perga (Acts 13:13-14; 14:25). See the map here. Paul ministered there on his first Diaspora journey (Acts 14:24-25). The point of the narrative seems to be that the ship did not stop at any of the ports in Cilicia or Pamphylia. we arrived: Grk. katerchomai, aor., 1p-pl., to go down or to come down, generally of moving in a geographical context from a higher to lower elevation. The verb is used here as a technical nautical term meaning to arrive or put in.
in: Grk. eis, prep. Myra: Grk. Mura, a city 500 miles from Sidon and about 50 miles east of Patara where Paul stopped on the return trip of his third Diaspora journey (Acts 21:1). According to the Western Text Paul also stopped at Myra on the previous trip (Bruce 397). Myra lay due north of Alexandria, Egypt (Smith 72), although ships did not make such a direct journey. The city stood upon a hill formed by the openings of two valleys. At an early period Myra was of less importance than its neighbor Patara, yet later it became a regular port for ships from Egypt and Cyprus. Myra had a prominent theater measuring 360 feet in diameter (Smith 63) and was also famed as the seat of worship of an Asiatic deity whose name is no longer known ("Myra," ISBE).
of Lycia: Grk. Lukia, a small Roman province on the south coast of Asia Minor. The place name occurs only here in the Besekh. See the map of Lycia with Myra here. Based on the time of one day to travel from Caesarea to Sidon, the trip from Sidon to Myra, without any intermediate stops, would have taken at least 8 days. According to a later Syriac version and other authorities "the ship is said to have spent fifteen days in beating along the Cyprio-Pamphylian coast" (Ramsay 182).
6 And there the centurion having found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy, he transferred us to it.
And there: Grk. kakei, conj., a combination of kai, 'and,' with ekei, 'in that place, there;' serving as a simple connective. The conjunction refers to Myra. the centurion: Grk. ho hekatontarchēs. See verse 1 above. The centurion, having the mission of conveying Paul to Rome, was fully responsible for arranging transportation. having found: Grk. heuriskō, aor. part., to find, learn, discover, especially after searching. an Alexandrian: Grk. Alexandrinos, adj., Alexandrian, belonging to Alexandria in Egypt. ship: Grk. ploion. See verse 1 above. According to verse 38 below the cargo of this ship was wheat.
sailing: Grk. pleō, pres. part. See verse 2 above. for: Grk. eis, prep. Italy: Grk. ho Italia. See verse 1 above. Hirschfield says "There is little doubt that the ship in question was one of a very special fleet, designed and constructed by the Romans expressly to transport grain from the fertile land of the Nile to Italy, particularly to Rome" (28). This ship was quite large. Lucian of Samosata, a second century Syrian rhetorician, provides a detailed description of an Alexandrian grain ship called Isis. The ship was 180 feet in length, a quarter of that in width, and 44 feet from the deck to the lowest point in the hold. Hirschfield puts the ship's capacity at almost 2,000 tons (27). The size of the ship is also indicated by the number of people onboard (verse 37 below).
he transferred: Grk. embibazō (causative form of embainō, "go onboard a ship, embark"), aor., "cause to go," used here as a maritime expression; cause to embark, put on board. A few versions have "transferred" (AMPC, MSG, VOICE), which simplifies the grammar. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. to: Grk. eis, prep. it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here regarding the ship.
7 And within many days, sailing slowly, and with difficulty having arrived off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone;
And: Grk. de, conj. within: Grk. en, prep. many: Grk. hikanos (from hikō, "arrive, come to"), adj., sufficient, and thus means reach to or attain and condition that is adequate or sufficient (Thayer). The adjective is used here to denote large or much of number and quantity. Bible versions are divided over translation with either "many" or "number of." days: pl. of Grk. hēmera, day, as a specific time reference may refer to the daylight hours, the entire 24-hour period, or an appointed day for some purpose. Ellicott suggests the period of "many days" could be two or three weeks. Ramsay concurs with this view and specifies the time for this portion of the voyage as September 1 to 25 (184).
sailing slowly: Grk. braduploeō, pres. part., to sail with slow speed, a nautical term. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. and: Grk. kai, conj. with difficulty: Grk. molis, adv. used to indicate that an event just barely takes place; hardly, with difficulty, scarcely. Gill notes that the Syriac version translates it, "and because it sailed heavily;" that is, the ship being laden with goods. having arrived: Grk. ginomai, aor. part., to become, and here equivalent to come to pass or happen, used of historical events or something happening to someone; take place, happen, occur, arise. off: Grk. kata, prep., perhaps "down from." See verse 2 above.
Cnidus: Grk. Knidos, a town on the coast of Caria (south-west Asia Minor) to the east of the island of Cos. The distance from Myra to Cnidus was 130 miles. See the map here. According to Thucydides (c.460–c.400 BC), the Greek historian, Cnidus was frequented by merchant ships from Egypt (Smith 72). Lumby comments that Jews dwelled there in the days of the Maccabees (1Macc. 15:23). The city was a notable seat of the worship of Aphrodite. In any event the ship did not make it to Cnidus.
the wind: Grk. ho anemos. See verse 4 above. not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation, not. It differs from the other standard negative particle, oú, in that oú is objective, dealing only with facts, while mē is subjective, involving will and thought (DM 265). permitting: Grk. proseaō, pres. part., allow to go forward, to permit further. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. The expression of "not permitting" seems to personify the wind. us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. The plural pronoun personalizes the apostolic band in contrast to the ship.
Luke does not mean there was no wind, but that the local winds were unfavorable for optimum movement. Ellicott comments that the gales from the north-west, which prevail in the Archipelago during the latter part of July and the whole of August, were still blowing strongly. Luke perhaps implies that the ship's captain had intended to sail between Crete and Achaia (southern Greece) on a straight heading for Italy, but the NW wind prevented taking that direction. Casson provides this definition of "unfavorable wind."
"Unfavorable or "foul" winds are those that blow from some point ahead. These force a vessel to tack, i.e., sail at an 80 degree angle to the wind, a procedure that is uncomfortable, wearisome, and slow. The vessel heels heavily, the decks are forever wet with spray, and the sails are constantly being reset. When the destination lies 80 degrees to the right or left of the direction from which the wind is blowing, a vessel can head directly for it. More often the destination lies either nearer than 80 degrees or right in the eye of the wind and then the ship must tack back and forth in zigzag fashion. This is the most time-consuming course of all since it forces the vessel actually to cover far more distance than a straight line to its goal would measure."
we sailed under the shelter of: Grk. hupopleō, aor., 1p-pl. See verse 4 above. Crete: Grk. Krētē, a mountainous island south of mainland Greece, running 170 miles east to west but never more than about 35 miles wide. Crete is the largest and most fertile island of the Mediterranean archipelago or Aegean Sea. See the map here. The island had a long history as a center of maritime commerce. Crete came under Roman rule in 67 BC and became part of a double province with Cyrene, under a proconsul who ruled the island and the opposite coast of North Africa from the Roman capital Gortyna. off: Grk. kata, prep. Again the preposition suggests "down from," or south of.
Salmone: Grk. Salmōnē, a promontory on the east end of Crete. The distance from Cnidus to Salmone was 130 miles. The name appears only here in the Besekh. Nicoll suggests that there does not seem to have been any reason why the ship should not have entered the southern harbor of Cnidus. They might have done so, and waited for a fair wind, but the ship's captain adopted the alternative of running for the east and south coast of Crete. Accordingly they rounded the eastern promontory, Salmone, protected by it from a northwesterly wind, and began anew to work slowly to the west under the shelter of the island.
8 also with difficulty coasting past it we came to a certain place called Fair Havens, to which the city of Lasea was near.
also: Grk. te, conj. with difficulty: Grk. molis, adv. See the previous verse. coasting past: Grk. paralegomai, pl. pres. mid. part., make way alongside; sail past or coast along. The verb occurs only in this chapter of the Besekh. it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The pronoun refers to the southern coast of Crete. we came: Grk. erchomai, aor., 1p-pl., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. to: Grk. eis, prep. a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. place: Grk. topos. See verse 2 above. called: Grk. kaleō, pres. pass. part., to identify by name or give a term to; call.
Fair: pl. of Grk. kalos, adj., meeting a high standard; fine, good. Bible versions are unanimous in translating the adjective as "Fair." In Hellenistic culture the adjective was used to denote excellence and usefulness. Havens: pl. of Grk. limēn, smooth waters, and so a harbor, port or haven. Thus the name could mean "Good Harbor." The distance from Salmone to Fair Havens was 80 miles. to which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that.
the city: Grk. polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly, a city or town. of Lasea: Grk. Lasaia, a city in Crete, about the middle of the south coast. See the map here. The name occurs only here in the Besekh. was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 2 above. near: Grk. engus, adv., near or close to, here in a spatial sense. The location reference means that Fair Havens was not a town but simply a good place to anchor a ship. Luke is the only ancient writer to mention Fair Havens and Lasea.
October A.D. 59
9 Now much time having passed and the voyage being already dangerous, because of even Yom Kippur already gone by, Paul began advising,
Now: Grk. de, conj. much: Grk. hikanos, adj. See verse 7 above. time: Grk. chronos may mean (1) a span or period of time, or (2) a point or definite moment in time. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX chronos occurs about 100 times and primarily translates Heb. yom, "day, days" (DNTT 3:841). Jews did not conceive of time in the abstract, but used yom overwhelmingly in the sense of ordinary measurable time. Luke again notes a time period without giving its length (cf. 8:11; 13:11; 14:3, 28).
having passed: Grk. diaginomai, aor. part., to go through, to elapse, to pass time. and: Grk. kai, conj. the voyage: Grk. ho ploos, a sailing, a voyage. being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 2 above. already: Grk. ēdē, adv. with focus on temporal culmination; now, already. dangerous: Grk. episphalēs, adj., prone to fall, dangerous, unsafe. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 4 above. even: Grk. kai. Yom Kippur: Grk. ho nēsteia, a religious abstinence from food, lit. "the fast," a Jewish euphemism for Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement, which occurred on Tishri 10.
In AD 59 Yom Kippur fell on October 6 (Julian), although Ramsay gives the date as October 5 (184). Of course, the Jewish day began at sundown the previous evening. Yom Kippur was the only day on which Jews were required by Torah to fast (Lev 16:2-31; 23:26-32), although Jews observed other traditional fast days and the Pharisees routinely fasted twice a week. For a detailed discussion of the significance of fasting in the Bible and Jewish culture see my article Fasting. Ramsay comments:
"We might be disposed to infer that the Feast of Tabernacles, Oct. 10, fell after they left Fair Havens, otherwise Luke would have mentioned it rather than the Fast, as making the danger more apparent. The picturesque ceremonies of the Tabernacles would have remained in Luke’s mind; but at sea they were not possible; and the Fast was therefore the fact that impressed him, as it was observed by Paul and Aristarchus." (184)
already: Grk. ēdē, adv. gone by: Grk. parerchomai (from para, "close-beside" and erchomai, "to come"), perf. inf., used here to mean to come to an end and so no longer be on the scene, to pass away. The infinitive expresses a result. The point of mentioning Yom Kippur is that the season having changed from summer to fall the Mediterranean became more treacherous. Ramsay notes that the dangerous season for navigation lasted from September 14 to November 11, when all navigation on the open sea was discontinued (184). The ship reached Fair Havens in the latter part of September, and was detained there by a continuance of unfavorable winds until after Yom Kippur.
The modern reader might wonder how Luke and Paul knew that Yom Kippur had occurred. There was no printed calendar to which they could refer. Also, they weren't in Jerusalem to mark the day when the high priest offered the required sacrifices (Heb 9:7). However, since Jews in ancient times regulated their time by the moon cycles, the weekly Sabbath and the major festivals, they were able to track the passage of time in accordance with the schedule established in the Torah (Lev 23).
Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 1 above. began advising: Grk. paraineō, impf., to offer counsel or advice. Paul speaks four times in this chapter. Ramsay suggests that a meeting of the principals was held to consider the situation, at which Paul was present, as a person of rank whose convenience was to some extent consulted, and whose experience as a traveler was known to be great (184). Paul certainly had personal experience in ocean sailing and knew common maritime practice. Perhaps prompted by the Spirit he felt duty-bound to offer an opinion and a warning.
10 saying to them, "Men, I can see that the voyage is about to be with hardship and great loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but indeed our lives."
saying: Grk. legō, pres. part., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing, often used to introduce quoted material. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative. In the LXX legō translates Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Men: pl. of Grk. anēr, an adult man without regard to marital status. In the LXX anēr translates several Heb. words, but primarily ish, man or husband, Gen 2:23 (DNTT 2:562). The noun is used in the sense of a respectful address, although it confirms there were no females on the ship. Paul addresses those responsible for the ship, the principals being listed in the next verse.
I can see: Grk. theōreō, pres., to look at or gaze, used here to mean conclude on the basis of personal experience; consider, infer, see. A number of versions adopt the meaning of having awareness in depth with the translation of "perceive" (e.g., AMPC, ESV, KJV, MW, NASB, NKJV, RSV). More versions have "see" or "can see" (e.g., CJB, CSB, MJLT, NIV, NRSV, TLV). The present tense could be used to give vividness to a past event. Given the specificity of the warning Paul could have meant "have seen," that is, he either had a vision or the Spirit gave him a revelation of what would happen.
that: Grk. hoti, conj. used for (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect. The second usage applies here. the voyage: Grk. ho ploos. See the previous verse. is about: Grk. mellō, pres. inf. See verse 2 above. to be: Grk. eimi, fut. inf. See verse 2 above. with: Grk. meta, prep. with a root meaning of "in the midst of" (DM 107), may be used (1) as a marker of association; with, among; or (2) as a sequential marker; after, behind. The first usage is intended here.
hardship: Grk. hubris, experience of wanton disregard for well-being, and used in reference to (1) insolence, arrogance; (2) insult, injury, indignity, mistreatment or shame; or (3) hardship, disaster, or damage caused by the elements (BAG). The third meaning is intended here as a result of stormy weather. However, there may be a hint of the first meaning here as reflected in the decision of the ship authorities. Some versions have "damage," but Paul is concerned about the potential of something worse than the ship suffering some damage.
However, there may be a hint of the first meaning here as reflected in the decision of the ship authorities. Some versions have "damage," but Paul is concerned about the potential of something worse than the ship suffering some damage. and: Grk. kai, conj. great: Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, whether of quantity ("many") or quality ("much"), here the former. loss: Grk. zēmia, damage, detriment, loss. not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. only: Grk. monon, adv. marking a narrow limitation; merely, just, only. of the cargo: Grk. ho phortion (diminutive of phortos, 'load, cargo'), something carried as a load, lit. of a ship's freight or cargo. The cargo was wheat (v. 38 below).
and: Grk. kai. the ship: Grk. ho ploion. See verse 2 and 6 above. but: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. indeed: Grk. kai. The conjunction has an intensive use here. our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. lives: pl. of Grk. psuchē may mean (1) a quality without which a body is physically dead; life; (2) that which possesses vital being; person; or (3) that which is integral to being a person beyond mere physical function; life (inner) self, soul. The first meaning dominates here.
With the last clause Paul emphasizes that lives are more important than cargo. Paul had previously reported in his letter to the congregation in Corinth that he had been shipwrecked three times and had spent a night and a day in the deep (2Cor 11:25). He knew full well what could happen in Mediterranean storms.
11 But the centurion was more persuaded by the pilot and the captain than the things spoken by Paul.
But: Grk. de, conj. the centurion: Grk. hekatontarchēs. See verse 1 above. was more: Grk. mallon, adv. of increase or additive to some aspect of activity, situation, or condition; (much) more. persuaded: Grk. peithō, aor., to bring about a convinced state in regard to something; convince, persuade, urge. The verb implies that having heard Paul's warning he sought another opinion concerning whether to halt the trip or continue. The mention of the centurion being persuaded indicates that the centurion was really in charge of the vessel, which operated as part of the Imperial fleet. Nevertheless, he was willing to be advised by the ship's officers.
by the pilot: Grk. ho kubernētēs, one in charge of a ship; shipmaster, captain. Mounce defines the noun as a pilot or helmsman. Some versions translate the noun as "captain." This officer was in charge of navigation. The pilot sat in the stern of the ship and gave orders to direct the sailing. Gill notes from ancient sources three things that qualified the pilot for his post: (1) in the knowledge of the constellations, and winds, of the former that he might direct the course of the ship according to them, and by them foresee future tempests, and of the latter, that he might be acquainted with the several points, from whence they blew; (2) also in the knowledge of ports, and places to put into, and of rocks and sands, that they might be escaped; and (3) in the knowledge of the use of the helm, and sails.
and: Grk. kai, conj. the captain: Grk. nauklēros, one in charge of a ship, a shipowner or shipmaster. Thayer says the noun refers to one who hires out his vessel, or a portion of it, for purposes of transportation. BAG clarifies that the term can also mean captain, since the sailing-master of this ship was engaged in state service. The captain was responsible for the crew and the maintenance of the ship and its cargo. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Ramsay asserts that the translation of "shipowner" is incorrect and that the owners of private merchant ships were distinguished as emporoi (185). Most versions have "shipowner," but a few translate the term as "captain" (CEB, DLNT, DRA, NASB, NLV, RGT, TLV, TPT).
than: Grk. ē, conj. used to denote (1) an alternative, 'or,' or (2) a comparative function, 'than.' The second usage applies here. the things: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. spoken: Grk. legō, pres. mid. part. See the previous verse. by: Grk. hupo, prep., under, used here to indicate agency or cause; by. Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 1 above. The centurion, being one to respect expertise and desiring to expedite the trip, would naturally defer to the opinion of the pilot and captain. The pilot was the resident expert on navigation. Nicoll suggests the captain may have desired to continue the voyage to avoid having to provide for the upkeep of the large crew during a long stay at Fair Havens.
Nicoll then asks regarding the centurion, "what would be said of him in Rome, where provision ships for the winter were so eagerly expected, if out of timidity he, though a soldier, had hindered the captain from continuing his voyage?" In addition, the centurion would not give credence to a prophetic statement uttered by a Jew that might have been influenced by superstition. The centurion might even have reflected on his own experience of traveling from Rome and Caesarea without being endangered on the trip and thus discount Paul's warning.
12 Now the harbor being unsuitable for wintering, the majority made a decision to set sail from there, if somehow they might be able, having come to Phoenix, to winter there ─ a harbor of Crete facing down the southwest and down the northwest.
Now: Grk. de, conj. the harbor: Grk. ho limēn. See verse 8 above. The noun refers to the harbor of Fair Havens. being: Grk. huparchō, pres. part., to function or be in a state as determined by circumstance; to be or exist. HELPS notes that the verb properly means already have or be in possession of what exists, especially what pre-exists. unsuitable: Grk. aneuthetos, adj., poorly situated, unsuitable. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. for: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 3 above. Here the preposition denotes "advantageous for."
wintering: Grk. paracheimasia, spending the winter, wintering. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. A port in which to spend the winter must not only have sufficient provisions to take care of the crew during that time, but most important have protection for the ship from storms. Smith notes that while Fair Havens was protected by small islands it had the disadvantage of being open to half the compass (86f). the majority: pl. of Grk. ho polus. See verse 10 above. In other words three of the four discussing the situation.
made: Grk. tithēmi, aor. mid., 3p-pl., to put, place or set; and here means to arrive at a conclusion after discussion. a decision: Grk. boulē , counsel, and here refers to the product of deliberation, decision, resolve. The pilot and captain may have insisted that there was a better harbor but a few miles further on the coast. to set sail: Grk. anagō, aor. pass. inf. See verse 2 above. The infinitive expresses purpose. from there: Grk. ekeithen, adv., from there, from that place; i.e., Fair Havens. if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker ("if, whether"), used here to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument.
somehow: Grk. pós, adv., a particle expressing an undetermined aspect; somehow, perhaps. they might be able: Grk. dunamai, pres. pass. opt., 3p-pl., to be capable of doing or achieving; be able. having come: Grk. katantaō, aor. part., used of coming or arriving at a destination in the course of travel. to: Grk. eis, prep. Phoenix: Grk. Phoinix, a prominent city on the south side of Crete. Phoenix was 40 miles west of Fair Havens. to winter there: Grk. paracheimazō, aor. inf., to pass or spend the winter. a harbor: Grk. limēn. of Crete: Grk. ho Krētē. See verse 7 above. facing: Grk. blepō, pres. part., to look or see, and here refers to looking in a certain direction.
down: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 2 above. The preposition is used here to signify direction. the southwest: Grk. lips, the southwest or southwest wind, here the latter. The southwest wind was called Africus, because it blew from Libya (Barnes). The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. and: Grk. kai, conj. down: Grk. kata. the northwest: Grk. chōros, the northwest or northwest wind, here the latter. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The northwest wind was called Coros or Caurus (Nicoll). Bruce notes that according to an ancient scheme wind directions were labeled according to a twelve-point scheme with names in Greek and Latin.
Thus the lips or Lat. Africus blew from 30 degrees south of west and the Lat. Chorus blew from 30 degrees north of west. Some commentators as Bruce then interpret these directions as the entrances to the harbor, but if that were true the harbor would not be a safe haven. Exell explains that "southwest" and "northwest" being the names of the southwest and northwest winds, the preposition kata describes the wind as looking down a stream. If the harbor looks down the southwest wind it looks toward the northeast, and if it looks down the northwest wind it looks toward the southeast.
In other words, the open side of the harbor would be from northeast to southeast, and it would be entirely sheltered on the southwest and northwest sides. Smith concurs with this view saying that the harbor looked to the east and Luke's terminology is intended to indicate a harbor open in the opposite direction from the wind's point of origin (88).
13 Now a south wind was blowing gently, and supposing to have attained their purpose, they weighed anchor and began coasting along very near Crete.
Now: Grk. de, conj. a south wind: Grk. notos, the south wind, hence the southern quarter. was blowing gently: Grk. hupopneō, aor. part., send a current of air with decreased vehemence; blow underneath or gently. and supposing: Grk. dokeō, pl. aor. part., to think, to have an opinion, here to entertain an idea or form an opinion about something on the basis of what appears to support a specific conclusion; think, opine, regard. to have attained: Grk. krateō, perf. inf., to be strong, to rule, and used here to mean have firm hold on; take hold of, hold fast, hold to.
their purpose: Grk. ho prothesis (from pro, "before," and tithēmi, "to set"), a setting forth or placing, here conceiving a plan or design in one's mind; purpose, intent. they weighed anchor: Grk. airō, aor. part., to raise, take up, or lift, used here in the nautical sense of drawing up anchors from the bottom of the sea. and began coasting along: Grk. paralegomai, impf. pass. See verse 8 above. very near: Grk. asson, adv., closer to shore or inshore. Crete: Grk. ho Krētē. See verse 7 above.
Difficulty in Sailing, 27:14-20
14 But not long after there rushed down from it a tempestuous wind, the one called Northeaster;
But: Grk. de, conj. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 10 above. long: Grk. polus, adj. See verse 10 above. The adjective is used here in a quantitative sense of time. after: Grk. meta, prep. See verse 10 above. there rushed: Grk. ballō, aor., cause movement toward a position, here of sudden, rapid and vigorous action. down: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 2 above. from it: Grk. autos, n. personal pronoun; i.e., the island of Crete. a tempestuous: Grk. tuphōnikos (from tuphōn, "raging storm"), adj., with whirlwind or hurricane force. wind: Grk. anemos. See verse 4 above.
Ellicott notes that the Greek adjective is perpetuated in the modern "typhoon," as applied to whirlwinds like that now described. The "vortex" of such a wind is indeed its distinguishing feature. Gill suggests that this wind may very well be thought to be the same which is called Typhon by ancient writers, its name being taken from a heathen deity called Typhoeus. Typhon was considered the mightiest and deadliest monster in Greek mythology. Pliny called the storm Typhon the chief plague of sailors, it breaking their sails, and even their vessels to pieces (Natural History, Book II. c. 48).
the one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. called: Grk. kaleō, pres. part. See verse 8 above. Northeaster: Grk. eurakulōn, an east-north-east wind. The name occurs only here in the Besekh. The Greek noun is formed from euros, "the east wind," plus the Latin Aquilo (Metzger), which resulted in the spelling of Euraquilo found in some versions (AMP, ASV, DRA, NASB, OJB, VOICE). The explanatory comment by Luke illustrates that the naming of local winds is a practice dating from antiquity. The sudden wind could result from the difference in temperature between the seacoast and the mountains beyond.
Behind Phoenix was a range of mountains with an elevation of over 7,000 feet. The large difference in height between the mountainous terrain and the sea causes large temperature and pressure changes. This results in strong winds dropping to the sea. Ellicott says that such a sudden change in the wind from south to north, with a great increase of violence, is a common phenomenon in the autumnal storms of the Mediterranean. In this instance the blast would seem to have rushed down on the ship from the hills of Crete. Ramsay recounts an anecdote of a ship-captain who related his own experience in the Cretan waters, "the wind comes down from those mountains fit to blow the ship out of the water" (187).
15 moreover the ship having been seized by it and not being able to face the wind, and having given way to it we were being driven along.
moreover: Grk. de, conj. the ship: Grk. ho ploion. See verse 2 and 6 above. having been seized by it: Grk. sunarpazō, aor. pass. part., take forcibly under control; seize. Of interest is that the verb occurs only in Luke-Acts (Luke 8:29; Acts 6:12; 19:29). The choice of verb seems to personify the wind, and perhaps there was a demonic influence at work. and: Grk. kai, conj. not: Grk. mē, adv. See verse 7 above. being able: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid. part. See verse 12 above. to face: Grk. antophthalmeō, pres. inf., a nautical term of meeting the force of wind; face, withstand. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. Ellicott comments that the verb received additional vividness from the fact that a large eye was commonly painted on the prow of Greek vessels.
the wind: Grk. ho anemos. See verse 4 above. and having given way to it: Grk. epididōmi (from epi, "upon," and didōmi, "give"), aor. part., give up control. we were being driven along: Grk. pherō, impf., 1p-pl., properly means to bear, carry (bring) along, especially temporarily or to a definite or prescribed conclusion (HELPS). The pilot was initially unable to turn the ship windward and consequently the ship was now at the mercy of the whirlwind and surging sea.
16 Then having run under the lee of a certain island called Cauda, we were able with difficulty to gain control of the lifeboat.
Then: Grk. de, conj. having run under the lee of: Grk. hupotrechō (from hupo, "under," and trechō, "to run, make progress"), aor. part., a nautical term meaning to run under the protection of. Sailing to the leeward side means the left side from the direction of movement (cf. verse 4 above). a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. small island: Grk. nēsion (dim. of nēsos, "island"), a small island. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. See verse 26 below. called: Grk. kaleō, pres. pass. part. See verse 8 above. Cauda: Grk. Kauda, an island twenty-three miles south of Phoenix at the western end of Crete. See the Textual Note below. The island is only 12.5 square miles in area and its highest point is 1,132 feet in elevation.
we were able: Grk. ischuō, aor., 1p-pl., to have the capacity for accomplishing, either to cope with a situation or to achieve an objective; have power or strength, be able. Smith notes that upon reaching Cauda the crew and passengers availed themselves of the smooth water under its lee, to prepare the ship to resist the fury of the storm (106). The first person verb implies that Luke assisted in this action (Ramsay 187). with difficulty: Grk. molis, adv. See verse 7 above. to gain: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. inf. See verse 7 above.
control: pl. of Grk. perikrates, adj., having full power over, mastering, gaining control over. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. of the dinghy: Grk. ho skaphē, anything scooped out, a hollow vessel, a light or small boat. Meyer explains that this boat belonged to the ship and swam attached to it. Most versions translate the noun either as "boat" or "lifeboat." There is no implication that this boat was designed to rescue crew and passengers in the event of a threat to the ship as lifeboats attached to modern ships.
The small boat would have multiple uses and therefore "dinghy" seems a better translation (MRINT, NABRE, TLV). Luke does not explain why there was difficulty in gaining control over the dinghy in calm water. Smith comments that independently of the gale which was raging at the time, the boat had been towed between twenty and thirty miles after the gale sprung up, and could scarcely fail to be filled with water (107f).
Textual Note: Cauda or Clauda
Bible versions are divided over the spelling of this small island. The Nestle-Aland and UBS Greek texts have "Kauda," but the Textus Receptus has "Klauda." The earliest MSS have "Kauda," but the majority of MSS have "Klauda" (GNT 522). Metzger believes the reading of Klaudēn found in later MSS "betrays an editorial hand that corrected the grammar to the accusative." Of interest is that even the NASB is divided over the spelling with the 1995 version using "Clauda" and the 2020 version using "Cauda." In addition, James Smith in his Dictionary (1854) spells the name as Clauda, but William Smith in his book Shipwreck (1880) uses Cauda (103). As an alternative, Pliny the elder (AD 23-79) called the island Gaudos (Natural History, 4.20).
17 which having hoisted up, they began using cables undergirding the ship; also fearing lest they might be driven into Syrtis, having lowered the gear, thus they were driven along.
which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 8 above. having hoisted up: Grk. airō, pl. aor. part. See verse 13 above. The verbal phrase refers to the dinghy in the previous verse. The crew worked hard to lift the dinghy out of the water to prevent it from being torn away by the storm and then secured it on the deck. Smith comments that the dinghy had not been secured on deck at first, because the weather was moderate, and the distance they had to go short (106). Under such circumstances it is not usual to hoist the dinghy on board, but anticipating further storm made it necessary. Having secured the dinghy on deck, the next task was to undergird the ship, which they considered imperative for the safety of the ship.
they began using: Grk. chraomai, impf., 3p-pl. See verse 3 above. cables: pl. of Grk. boētheia, help or assistance, but used here as a technical nautical term for supports. Most versions translate the noun as "cables" or "ropes." undergirding: Grk. hupozōnnumi (from hupo, "under," and zōnnumi, "to gird"), pl. pres. part., girdle a ship's hull with cables for stability; undergird. the ship: Grk. ho ploion. See verse 2 and 6 above. Smith notes that the ships of the ancients were provided with hupozomata, or cables ready fitted for undergirding, as a necessary part of their stores (105).
Gill comments that large ropes were drawn under the keel of the ship and over the gunwale, and so bound both sides of the ship, that it might not split and fall to pieces, a procedure later called "frapping." Both Ramsay (188) and Smith (108f) concur that the cables were passed underneath the ship's hull. Such an operation would have been difficult during a storm and so some commentators suggest the girding was done longitudinally from stem to stern to secure the whole plankage of the ship. However, at present the ship was in calmer water so the task was doable.
Barnes quotes the definition of "frapping" in Falconer's Marine Dictionary (1780): "To frap a ship is to pass four or five turns of a large cable-laid rope round the hull or frame of a ship to support her in a great storm, or otherwise, when it is apprehended that she is not strong enough to resist the violent efforts of the sea." The verb Luke uses clearly depicts passing the rope cables under the ship, which would require the skill and strength of experienced seamen. Smith describes the procedure as beginning at the bow of the ship and passing the cable under the bottom of the ship (109).
also: Grk. te, conj. fearing: Grk. phobeomai, pl. pres. mid. part., to fear, used here to refer to a state of apprehension, being fearful. lest: Grk. mē, adv. See verse 7 above. The adverb is used here to introduce a clause expressive of an action or occurrence requiring caution. they might be driven: Grk. ekpiptō (from ek, "from, out of" and piptō, "to fall"), aor. sub., 3p-pl., to fall off, fall down from, hence in nautical language, "to fall off or driven out of a straight course. into: Grk. eis, prep. Syrtis: Grk. ho Surtis, "shoal," the name of two large sandbanks on the Libyan coast.
Thayer explains that Syrtis is the name of two places in the African or Libyan Sea between Carthage and Cyrenaica, full of shallows and sandbanks, and therefore destructive to ships. The western Syrtis lies between the islands of Cercina and Meninx (or the promontories of Zeitha and Brachodes), and was called Syrtis minor. The eastern Syrtis (extending from the promontory of Cephalae to that of Boreum on the East) was called Syrtis major (sinus Psyllicus). This latter must be the one referred to here, for upon this the ship in which Paul was sailing might easily be cast after leaving Crete.
having lowered: Grk. chalaō, pl. aor. part., to slacken or effect movement downward in unfilled space; let down, lower. the gear: Grk. ho skeuos, something that is serviceable in carrying out a function, here of a ship's gear. The majority of Bible versions translate the noun either as "anchor" or "sail." Some versions translate the singular noun incorrectly as plural with "sails" (AMP, CJB, TLB, MSG). Noteworthy is that Luke does not use here the normal word for a ship anchor (Grk. agkura) as he does in verses 29, 30 and 40 below. Some versions have "gear" (ASV, AMPC, DARBY, DLNT, ESV, RSV). Smith says the term skeuos can when applied to a ship, means appurtenances of every kind, such as spars, sails, rigging, anchors and cables (109).
Whitewright explains that in the first century the majority of merchant vessels were rigged with a square sail, usually a single large sail, or sometimes two square sails on two masts. The rigging used on the square-sail consisted of many small rings, made from wood, lead or horn, that were sewn onto the face of the sail. These rings, called brail rings, guided a series of lines that could be hauled on from the deck in order to change the shape of the sail, reduce the size of it in stronger wind and to furl the sail when needed. Unlike on vessels in later periods, no crew needed to climb the rigging to trim or take in the sails.
To determine what "lowering the gear" means we must consider what the ship's crew would do in a dangerous storm. Ramsay comments:
"An ancient ship with one huge sail was exposed to extreme danger from such a blast; the straining of the great sail on the single mast was more than the hull could bear; and the ship was exposed to a risk which modern vessels do not fear, foundering in the open sea. It appears that they were not able to slacken sail quickly; and, had the ship been kept up towards the wind, the strain would have shaken her to pieces. Even when they let the ship go, the leverage on her hull must have been tremendous, and would in a short time have sent her to the bottom." (187)
Gill comments that letting down an anchor in a storm would have been improper and not beneficial. He notes that the Syriac version translates the phrase, "we let down the main sail;" or, "the sail," using the Greek word "armenon," which signifies "a sail." Smith explains,
"The only plausible conjecture I have met with respecting what was lowered, is that of Pricaeus, who supposes it was 'not the mast, but the yard with the sail attached to it.'" (112)
thus: Grk. houtōs, adv. used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, way or fashion, so. they were driven along: Grk. pherō, impf., 3p-pl. See verse 15 above. In other words, the ship was driven before the wind under her bare mast.
18 And we being violently storm-tossed, the next day they began to make a removal;
And: Grk. de, conj. we: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. Luke includes himself as part of the apostolic band that was enduring the circumstances. being violently: Grk. sphodrōs, adv., exceedingly, vehemently. The adverb occurs only here in the Besekh. storm-tossed: Grk. cheimazō, pres. pass. part., to expose to winter cold, to drive with storm. Luke's description depicts a storm with extreme conditions of wind and height of waves. When waves are being generated by strong winds in a storm, the sea surface generally looks very chaotic, with lots of short, steep waves of varying heights.
the next day: Grk. ho hexēs, adv., the next, next in order, the next day, the following day, at the period immediately following. they began to make: Grk. poieō, impf., 3p-pl., to do, a verb of physical action, and here means to express by deeds the thoughts of the mind; cause, make, perform. a removal: Grk. ekbolē (from ekballō, "to cast out, expel"), a throwing out or throwing overboard. LSJ adds "casting out of it, getting rid of it, unloading." The noun occurs only here in the Besekh.
In the LXX ekbolē occurs twice without Hebrew equivalent to translate a Hebrew verbal construction: (1) in a prophecy that the Israelites would be expelled from Egypt (Ex 11:1); and (2) in the story of Jonah the narrative of sailors throwing items (Grk. skeuos for Heb. keli, "article, object, or utensil") overboard from the ship (Jon 1:5). Bible versions translate keli in that verse as "cargo." In Luke's narrative skeuos (the previous verse) has a different meaning.
Luke's intention of ekbolē is somewhat vague because he does not actually define what was removed. In Greek literature the writer typically stated the item or object removed. The determination must be made from the context. Commentators generally assume that sacks of wheat being carried in the hold of the ship were thrown overboard and many Bible versions accept this assumption with the translation of "jettison of cargo" or words to that effect.
Smith also presents a conjecture that the ship was leaking (116). Ramsay says similarly,
"In their situation the great danger was of foundering through leakage caused by the constant straining due to the sail and the force of the waves on the broadside, which ancient vessels were not strong enough to stand." (189)
Falconer defines a leak as a chink or breach in the deck, sides or bottom of a ship through which water may pass into the hull. When a leak first commences, the vessel is said to have sprung a leak. Some commentators (e.g., Brown, Bruce, Ellicott, Exell and Nicoll) have accepted Smith's conjecture that the ship was leaking. Both Ellicott and Exell assume that removing the cargo was done because of this supposed leakage. However, Luke makes no mention of holes or cracks in the bottom of the ship that would permit leaking, nor does he mention leaking. Indeed, the hull of a grain ship was specially constructed to make it watertight (Hirschfield 28).
Any removal of cargo would be for the purpose of lightening the vessel in distress, in order to make it go less deep and to keep it from grounding. Since wheat was a vital resource to Rome only the captain could make a decision to destroy this precious commodity, literally worth its weight in gold. Casting out the cargo would demonstrate the desperate nature of the situation. Of interest is that Josephus records a trip taken by Herod the Great to Rome in which his ship experienced great peril at sea near Pamphylia. In handling the danger, the crew was "obliged to cast out the greatest part of the ship's lading" (Wars I, 14:3). The word translated as "lading" is Grk. phortos, which means load, freight, or cargo (LSJ).
Against the commonly accepted view is that Luke does not say that the crew threw the cargo of wheat overboard at this point. This action is not taken until verse 38 below where it specifically says that in order to lighten the ship they threw the wheat into the sea. A number of versions do offer a different perspective. The CJB translates ekbolē as "jettison non-essentials." Some versions leave the matter ambiguous with the translation of "they lightened the ship" (BRG, DRA, JUB, KJV, NEB, NKJV, NMB; Weymouth). It's possible the ship was carrying other cargo besides the wheat and the removal was of such cargo deemed less important.
19 and the third day they threw overboard with their own hands the equipment of the ship.
and: Grk. kai, conj. the third day: Grk. ho tritos, ordinal number (from treis, "three"), third in a sequence, here in a temporal sense of the day following that of verse 18. they threw overboard: Grk. rhiptō, aor., to throw, cast, to throw off, or toss. The third person plural of the verb denotes the sailors carrying out this task. with their own hands: Grk. autocheir, adj., with dispatch, the very act, with one's own hand. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. the equipment: Grk. ho skeuē, equipment, probably selected rigging and tackle. Mounce concurs with this definition. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh.
Thayer defines skeuē as any apparatus, equipment, or furniture; or tackling of a ship. In Classical Greek the term was used in two settings: (1) attire, apparel, or equipment worn by a person or horse; and (2) the tackle of a ship, including nets (LSJ). The majority of versions translate the noun as "tackle" (e.g. AMP, ASV, CSB, ESV, KJV, MJLT, MSG, NABRE, NASB, NIV, NKJV, NRSV, RSV). The use of the adjective autocheir indicates equipment that was moveable and could be easily picked up by hand. of the ship: Grk. ho ploion. See verse 2 and 6 above. Metzger notes that the Western Text emphasizes the obvious by adding "into the sea."
There are contrary points of view on the meaning of the skeuē. Smith offers the following explanation.
"I suppose the main-yard is meant; an immense spar, probably as long as the ship, which would require the united efforts of passengers and crew to launch overboard. The relief which a ship would experience by this, would be of the same kind as in a modern ship when the guns are thrown overboard." (116)
Bruce quotes Smith's interpretation without comment. Ramsay offered the general suggestion that anything of little or no value was cast overboard (189). The KJV translates the term as "tackling," which most commentators (Barnes, Ellicott, Exell, Gill, Longenecker, Lumby, Meyer, Nicoll, Poole, Rienecker) interpret to mean the furniture of the ship, its fittings and equipment, anything movable lying on the deck and everything not indispensable to the preservation of the ship. Vincent explains why Smith's interpretation is not reasonable.
"The word [skeuē] means equipment, furniture. The exact meaning here is uncertain. Some [as Smith] suppose it to refer to the main-yard; an immense spar which would require the united efforts of passengers and crew to throw overboard. It seems improbable, however, that they would have sacrificed so large a spar, which, in case of shipwreck, would support thirty or forty men in the water. The most generally received opinion is that it refers to the furniture of the ship - beds, tables, chests, etc."
Since many versions translate the term skeuē as "tackle," it is possible these translators used "tackle" in the sense presented above (superfluous stuff). Yet, "words mean things." Falconer defines tackle as
"a machine formed by the communication of a rope with an assemblage of blocks, and known in mechanics by the name of pulley. Tackles are used in a ship to raise, remove, or secure weighty bodies; to support the masts, or to extend the sails and rigging."
If the cargo was cast overboard the crew might reason there was no longer any need of the pulley equipment used for hoisting items on and off the ship. However, the common interpretation that the "equipment" was extraneous movable items seems a better alternative.
In the Textus Receptus the verb rhiptō is first person plural and thus the KJV and several other versions assert that the passengers assisted the sailors in the task described in this verse. However, as Ellicott notes, the better MSS have third person plural. Nicoll comments that "from a seaman's point of view; the sailors would have kept the passengers in their places, and not have allowed them to engage in a work in which they might perchance have done more harm than good."
20 Now neither sun nor stars appearing for many days, also no small storm was lying on us, from then on all hope of our being saved was being abandoned.
Now: Grk. de, conj. neither: Grk. mēte, conj., a negative particle foreclosing a conceived option in continuation after a preceding negative; either, neither, nor. The particle emphasizes that the options are not a possibility. sun: Grk. hēlios (for Heb. shemesh), the sun, the star that is the central body of the solar system, created on the fourth day to "govern the day" (Gen 1:16-19). In both the solar system and on the earth "there is nothing hidden from its heat" (Ps 19:6). The sun moves in an orbit through the Milky Way Galaxy (Ps 19:5-6), at a speed that scientists estimate to be 600,000 mph (BBMS 165). Observation of the sun was important not only for determining the time of day, but direction of the ship's movement on the water.
nor: Grk. mēte, conj. stars: pl. of Grk. astron, used for a single star, but here for a constellation of stars viewed as one entity. The term is used here of the stars observed for navigation at sea. The pilot had a tool that could measure angles between the constellations and the horizon, and in this way he could do some calculations and determine their latitude. appearing: Grk. epiphainō, pres. part., to make an appearance, to show forth, used of heavenly luminaries and by extension divine beneficence. for: Grk. epi, prep. many: Grk. pleiōn, adj., the comparative form of polus ("many"), meaning "greater in quantity" (comparatively speaking); more than (numerically); or abundant (greater in number).
days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 7 above. As indicated by verse 27 the time reference of "many days" was well over a week, approaching two weeks. Smith interprets the time reference as eleven days (116), which Bruce accepts. also: Grk. te, conj. no: Grk. ou, adv., lit. "not." small: Grk. oligos, adj., used (1) of extent or degree; little, small; (2) of quantity, few; or (3) adverbially of time. The first usage is intended here. storm: Grk. cheimōn, winter, but used here to mean stormy or rainy weather, a tempest. The phrase "no small storm" was a euphemism for a major storm.
was lying on us: Grk. epikeimai (from epi, "upon," and keimai, "to lie, be laid"), pres. mid. part., lie in a superimposed position, a graphic description personifying the storm as pressing on the ship. from then on: Grk. loipon, adj., remaining, but used here adverbially to mean from now on; henceforth. all: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. hope: Grk. elpis (from elpō, "to anticipate, welcome"), may refer to (1) a state of looking forward to something that is desirable, or (2) the basis of firm expectation. The second meaning is intended here.
of our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. being saved: Grk. sōzō, pres. pass. inf., to deliver, or rescue from a hazardous condition; save, rescue. The verb is used in reference to rescue from bodily peril or bodily death, as well as rescue from spiritual peril. In this setting all three perils could be envisioned. was being abandoned: Grk. periaireō (from perí, "around" and haireō, "to take, choose"), impf., take something away that is around or attached to something, used here fig. of hope at its end. Two factors would have contributed to this sense of hopelessness.
First, an ancient ship, without a compass and without celestial observation, had no means of keeping a reckoning. The ship could end up considerably off the desired course, and they would not be able to tell which way to make for the nearest land. Second, the duration and violent persistence of the storm could seriously damage the ship, posing an increased risk of sinking and drowning.
Advice of Courage, 27:21-26
21 Also there being much abstinence, then having stood up in their midst Paul said, "Men, you ought indeed to have listened to me, not to have set sail from Crete to have incurred both this hardship and loss.
Also: Grk. te, conj. there being: Grk. huparchō, pres. part. See verse 12 above. much: Grk. polus, adj. See verse 10 above. abstinence: Grk. asitia, condition of no interest in food, lack of appetite, abstinence from food. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Paul does not mean the crew had been fasting, but that there was insufficient food to eat due to the condition of the ship. Smith observes that a ship with nearly three hundred people on board, on a voyage of some length, must have had more than a fortnight's provisions. The connection between heavy gales and much abstinence might not be obvious, yet it was not uncommon in bad storms for a ship's provisions or its cooking place to be ruined from seawater (Smith 117f). The crew and passengers had thus been placed on reduced rations (Ellicott).
then: Grk. tote, temporal adv. that focuses on a time or circumstance that is closely associated with what precedes in the narrative; at that time, then, thereupon. having stood up: Grk. histēmi, aor. part., be in an upright position, used of bodily posture, but the verb could also have a fig. meaning of "taking a stand." in: Grk. en, prep. their: 3p-pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. midst: Grk. mesos, adj., at a point near the center, midst, middle, in the midst of, among. This clause suggests Paul speaking from a place at which he could be heard by the crew and perhaps the passengers.
Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 1 above. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 10 above. Paul now speaks the second time in this chapter. Men: pl. of Grk. anēr, voc. See verse 10 above. Paul again addresses the principal men responsible for the ship and crew. you ought: Grk. dei, impf., conveys the idea of something that's necessary, something that must or needs to happen; must, necessary, ought. indeed: Grk. mén, adv., a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Many versions do not translate the particle. to have listened: Grk. peitharcheō, pl. aor. part., comply with a directive; obey, follow advice.
to me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Paul essentially declares "I told you so." not: Grk. mē, adv. to have set sail: Grk. anagō, pres. pass. inf. See verse 2 above. from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation, here denoting a point of origin; from. Crete: Grk. ho Krētē. See verse 7 above. to have incurred: Grk. kerdainō, aor. inf., properly, to gain or acquire, an ancient mercantile term for exchanging or trading one good for another (HELPS). The verb is used here in a sense of irony.
both: Grk. te, conj. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. hardship: Grk. hubris. See verse 10 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. loss: Grk. ho zēmia. See verse 10 above. Paul's words could be taken as an accusation of a dereliction of duty.
22 "But as to the things now I urge you to cheer up, for loss of life there will be none among you, except the ship.
But: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above. as to the things: neut. pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun, equivalent to "as in the present situation." Bible versions don't translate the term here, but its presence is important. now: Grk. nun, adv. of time in the present, 'now' or more emphatically 'right now.' I urge: Grk. paraineō, pres., to urge acknowledging what is praiseworthy, i.e. recommend, advise, or urge (BAG). you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The plural pronoun refers to the principal men responsible for the ship and crew.
to take heart: Grk. euthumeō (from eú, "good" and thumós, "passion"), pres. inf., to show positive passion as it proceeds from a sound disposition (HELPS); be cheerful, take heart, exhibit courage, be in good spirits, or maintain morale. The present tense emphasizes to start and continue the action and the infinitive expresses purpose. Meyer notes that the verb was used in medical language of the sick keeping up spirit. Many versions have "cheer up," but somehow this seems an inappropriate translation in the circumstances.
for: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that; for." The conjunction has an inferential function here. loss: Grk. apobolē, a throwing away, and thus rejection, losing, or loss. of life: Grk. psuchē. See verse 10 above. there will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. See verse 2 above. none: Grk. oudeis, adj. used to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; no one, none, nothing. among: Grk. ek, prep., may be used to denote derivation or separation, here the former; from, out of, out from among.
you: Grk. humeis. The plural pronoun extends the meaning to all the crew and passengers. The assurance of everyone surviving the storm was certainly good news. The duration of the storm would induce fear of death in many on the ship. except: Grk. plēn, adv. introducing a modifying or incremental clause in a statement or narrative; except. the ship: Grk. ho ploion. See verse 2 and 6 above. Those hearing Paul might well wonder how the ship could be lost without any lives being lost, but Paul's words could induce encouragement even before hearing the basis of his assurance.
23 "For this night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood by me,
For: Grk. gar, conj. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 21 above. night: Grk. nux, night as a chronological period, sunset to sunrise. The time reference may have occurred just a short time before Paul began this conversation. an angel: Grk. angelos, means one sent, a messenger, whether human or heavenly, here the latter. In the LXX angelos translates Heb. malak, which means messenger, representative, courier or angel (DNTT 1:101f). There are many millions of angels in heaven (Rev 5:11). According to 1Enoch 20:1-7; 40:1-9 each angel is assigned a special function that either serves God or His people Israel. See my web article The Host of Heaven.
of the God: Grk. ho theos, properly, God, the Creator and owner of all things (John 1:1-3). The definite article probably signifies "the one called." In the LXX the singular theos translates the plural Heb. Elohim (SH-430), when used of the true God, the God of creation (Gen 1:1). In Hebrew thought the plural form represents fullness (DNTT 2:67), which excludes the possible existence of any other deity (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). Also, theos is not a philosophical construct for monotheism. God is a Person, and in the apostolic narratives He is particularly the God of the patriarchs and Israel (Matt 22:32; Luke 1:68).
Paul then makes an important statement of his personal religious devotion. whose: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 8 above. I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. am: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. whom: Grk. hos. I serve: Grk. latreuō, pres., to minister or serve God, often in the context of religious activity at the sanctuary. The verb can also mean being committed and devoted to God beyond religious activities. stood by: Grk. paristēmi (from para, "beside" and histēmi, "to stand"), aor., be in a position beside; stand near or stand by. me: Grk. egō. This is the only mention of Paul receiving an angelic visitation.
24 saying, 'Fear not, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted to you all those sailing with you.'
saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 10 above. 'Fear: Grk. phobeomai, pres. mid. imp. See verse 17 above. not: Grk. mē, adv. See verse 7 above. Paul: Grk. Paulos, voc. See verse 1 above. The command implied that Paul had been experiencing fear. Paul had experienced fears on a prior occasion (2Cor 7:5). you: Grk. su, second person pronoun. must: Grk. dei, pres. See verse 21 above. stand before: Grk. paristēmi, aor. inf. See the previous verse. The verb is used here in the sense of standing in a judicial setting.
Caesar: Grk. Kaisar, originally the family name of Julius, the first emperor. In time it became a title of the Roman head of state. The Caesar in power at this time was Nero, although his name does not appear in the Besekh. He was born in A.D. 37 and given the name Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus. In 50 he took the name Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus. In 54 Nero succeeded Claudius as emperor after his assassination. Nero became infamous for cruelties, his personal debaucheries and extravagances, and late in his reign horrific persecutions of Christians. He died by suicide in 68.
For a summary of Nero's life see the article at Livius.org. For original biographies of Nero see Tacitus, The Annals, (AD 109), Books XII−XVI, and Suetonius, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars (AD 121), Book VI, The Life of Nero.
and: Grk. kai, conj. behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp., demonstrative interjection (derived from eidon, "to see"), that arouses the attention of hearers or readers. The Greek verb, like its corresponding Heb. word hinneh (SH-2009, e.g., Gen 1:29), serves to enliven divine monologues and narratives, particularly as a call to closer consideration and contemplation of something, to introduce something new or to emphasize the size or importance of something; (you) see, look, behold (BAG).
God: Grk. ho theos. See the previous verse. has granted: Grk. charizomai, perf. mid., to grant as a favor, to give graciously to. to you: Grk. su. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 20 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. sailing: Grk. pleō, pl. pres. part. See verse 2 above. with: Grk. meta, prep. See verse 10 above. you: Grk. su. The angel's promise implies that Paul had petitioned God to save all those on board the ship. He knew that the greater majority of those with him were not ready to meet their Maker and he prayed that they would have an opportunity to embrace the good news of Yeshua.
25 "Therefore, take courage, men, for I believe God that thus it will be, according to the way which was told to me.
Therefore: Grk. dio, conj., wherefore, on which account, therefore. take courage: Grk. euthumeō, pres. mid. imp. See verse 22 above. The present imperative of the entreaty means to start and keep on doing the action. men: pl. of Grk. anēr, voc. See verse 10 above. for: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 22 above. The conjunction has an explanatory function here. I believe: Grk. pisteuō (from pistis, trust, faithfulness, which is from peithō, be persuaded), pres., to have complete confidence in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone; believe, have faith in, trust in. In the LXX pisteuō translates Heb. aman (SH-539), to be reliable, to stand firm, trust, believe, be faithful, first used in Genesis 15:6 where it describes Abraham's response to God.
God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 23 above. The message of the angel was from God so Paul could rightly say "I believe God" instead of "I believe the angel." that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 10 above. The conjunction is used here to introduce a subordinate clause as complementary of the preceding verb "believe." thus: Grk. houtōs, adv. See verse 17 above. it will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. See verse 2 above. A promise made by God is guaranteed to be fulfilled. God is not a man that He should lie (Num 23:19) or make a promise and not accomplish His word (Isa 55:11; Rom 4:21).
according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 2 above. the way: Grk. tropos, the mode or procedure in which something takes place; way, manner. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 8 above. was told: Grk. laleō, perf. pass., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about. to me: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. He will mention "the way" in the next verse.
26 "But we must be driven into a certain island."
But: Grk. de, conj. we: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. must: Grk. dei, pres. See verse 21 above. be driven: Grk. ekpiptō, aor. inf. See verse 17 above. Many versions translate the verb as "run aground." into: Grk. eis, prep. Most versions translate the preposition as "upon." a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 1 above. The pronoun could have the sense of divinely selected. island: Grk. nēsos (from neō, "to swim"), properly "floating land," a tract of land surrounded by water, but not large enough to be considered a continent; island. An island is simply the tip of a mountain mostly covered by water (cf. Gen 7:19-20; Jon 2:6).
Based on divine revelation this declaration expressed Paul's belief in God's sovereign care. The "certain island" turned out to be Malta (Acts 28:1). Failing to run into Malta the ship could have been blown for another 200 miles where they would crash on the Tunisian coast.
Soundings and a Warning, 27:27-32
27 Now when the fourteenth night came, we being driven in the Adriatic Sea, toward the middle of the night the sailors began supposing some land to be approaching them.
Now: Grk. de, conj. when: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 1 above. the fourteenth: Grk. tessareskaidekatos (from tessares, "four," + kai, "and," + dekatos, "tenth"), fourteenth. night: Grk. nux. See verse 23 above. Luke gives the temporal reference from the Jewish perspective (cf. verse 33 below). came: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 7 above. The time reference is given in relation to when the ship departed Fair Havens. Smith provides a calculation that by the thirteenth day the ship had traveled 476.6 miles (126f). It's not unusual for an oceanic storm to last two weeks, but the time is significant by virtue of the helpless ship being unable to break free of the storm. God was in control.
we: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. being driven: Grk. diapherō (from dia, "through" and pherō, "to bear or carry"), pl. pres. mid. part., properly, take all the way through (i.e. to the end) (HELPS); bear through, transport. Many versions translate the verb to convey Luke's supposed landsman's idea that they were driven to and fro or up and down in the Mediterranean. However, by virtue of the gale winds blowing from the east the ship was driven in a uniform direction. Some versions recognize this uniformity with "drifting across" (NRSV, TLV), "driven across" (ESV, NET, NIV, NLT) or "being driven" (GNB). The crew had no control over the direction of the ship.
in: Grk. en, prep. the Adriatic Sea: Grk. ho Hadrias, the Hadria, a name given by sailors not merely to the sea that lay between Italy and Macedonia, but also to the open Mediterranean to the south-east of Italy, to the sea that lay between Malta, Italy, Greece, and Crete. Ellicott points that that Josephus in his autobiography narrates his experience of shipwreck in the Adriatic just two years after that of Paul while en route from Judaea to Italy (Life, c. 3). Josephus states that he was picked up by another ship sailing from Cyrene to the same port. The intersection of the lines of the two vessels would fall, as a glance at a map will show, within the region now mentioned by Luke under the same name.
Strabo the Roman geography (64 BC - AD 24) said, "The Ionian Gulf forms part of what we now call the Adriatic" (Geography 2.5.20). Nicoll notes that Claudius Ptolemy (AD 100-170), applies the name Adriatic to the sea extending from Sicily to Crete (Geography, Book 3, Ch. 4, 14, 15, 16), and thus represents, although living some sixty or seventy years after him, what was no doubt the current usage in Luke's day.
toward: Grk kata, prep. See verse 2 above. The preposition is used here to signify temporal progress. the middle: Grk. mesos, adj. See verse 21 above. of the night: Grk. ho nux. Romans divided the night into four watches: 6-9 pm; 9 pm-12 am; 12-3 am; and 3-6 am. So, the phrase "toward the middle of the night" would indicate approaching the halfway point between sundown and sunrise. Many versions translate the time reference simply as "about midnight." the sailors: pl. of Grk. ho nautēs, one engaged in the operation of a ship. Sailors served on merchant vessels and helped to load the ship, manned oars and hoisted sails. The term designates the crew as distinguished from the officers.
began supposing: Grk. huponoeō, impf., 3p-pl., have an idea constituting preconception; assume, conjecture, expect, suppose. some: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. land: Grk. chōra, properly, the space lying between two places or limits and may refer to (1) a stretch of territory as contrasted with owned property or open country contrasted with city, region, area; or (2) an area under a proprietor, landed property or fields. The first meaning applies here. to be approaching: Grk. prosagō, pres. inf., may mean (1) to bring to or lead to; or (2) move toward, approach. The second meaning applies here. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The sailors might make such an assumption by sound of breakers.
"If we assume that St. Paul's Bay, in Malta, is the actual scene of the shipwreck, we can have no difficulty in explaining what these indications must have been. No ship can enter it from the east without passing within a quarter of a mile of the point of Koura; but before reaching it the land is too low, and too far from the track of a ship driven from the eastward, to be seen in a dark night. When she does come within this distance, it is impossible to avoid observing the breakers; for with north-easterly gales the sea breaks upon it with such violence." (121)
28 And having taken soundings they found twenty fathoms; then having gone farther a little and again having taken soundings they found fifteen fathoms.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having taken soundings: Grk. bolizō (from bolis, "missile"), pl. aor. part., a nautical term for dropping a line (plummet) with sounding lead attached to the seabed; take soundings, lit. "heave the lead." The verb occurs only in this verse of the Besekh. The action of taking soundings would be performed by a member of the crew at the direction of an officer.
Soundings were taken with two different plummets. Falconer defines the two plummets as hand-lead, weighing 8 or 9 pounds, and deep-sea lead, weighing 25-30 pounds. The former was used in shallow water and the latter was used at a great distance from the shore. The plummets are marked at specific intervals in order to determine an exact measurement. Falconer defines the sounding procedure as follows:
"Sounding with the hand-lead is generally performed by a man who stands in the main-chains to the windward. Having the line all ready to run out, without interruption, he holds it nearly at the distance of a fathom from the plummet, and having swung the latter backwards and forwards three or four times, in order to acquire the greater velocity, he swings it round his head, and thence, as far forward as is necessary; so that, by the lead's sinking while the ship advances, the line may be almost perpendicular when it reaches the bottom. The person founding then proclaims the depth of the water in a kind of song resembling the cries of hawkers in a city."
they found: Grk. heuriskō, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 6 above. The third person of the verb alludes to the action of the crew and the plural form of the two verbs perhaps indicate the sailor engaged in taking the sounding and a fellow sailor who would yell the number to the pilot at the stern. twenty: Grk. eikosi, adj., an indeclinable numeral, twenty. fathoms: pl. of Grk. orguia, a nautical term for measuring depth, a fathom. Originally the term designated the distance between the tips of the left and right hands when outstretched (Smith 131); about 1.8 meters (Danker). The noun occurs only in this verse of the Besekh. Twenty fathoms equals 118 feet.
then: Grk. de, conj. having gone farther: Grk. diistēmi (from dia, "through" and histēmi, "to stand"), aor. part., put apart, make an interval, separate, put some distance between. a little: Grk. brachus, adj., short, brief, or little, used here of distance. Smith estimates a half-hour had passed (131). and: Grk. kai. again: Grk. palin, adv. with focus on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again. having taken soundings: Grk. bolizō, pl. aor. part. they found: Grk. heuriskō, aor., 3p-pl. fifteen: Grk. dekapente (from deka, "ten," and pente, "five"), adj., the number fifteen. fathoms: pl. of Grk. orguia. Fifteen fathoms equals 88.7 feet. The reduction in depth would signal getting nearer the shore. Smith says the fifteen fathom position was about a quarter of a mile from the shore (132).
29 Also fearing lest we might be driven somewhere against rough places, and having cast four anchors from the stern they were praying for day to come.
Also: Grk. te, conj. See verse 1 above. The conjunction indicates the addition of tasks to that described in the previous verse. fearing: Grk. phobeomai, pl. pres. mid. part. See verse 17 above. The verb describes the emotional state of the crew. lest: Grk. mē, adv. See verse 7 above. we might be driven: Grk. ekpiptō, aor. subj., 1p-pl. See verse 17 above. The first person includes crew and passengers together. somewhere: Grk. pou, adv. of place; where, at which place. The adverb emphasizes the inability of the crew as being able to choose.
against: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 2 above. rough: Grk. trachus, adj., marked by rugged or jagged condition, use here of a hazardous underwater condition; rough, rugged, uneven. A few versions have "rocky." places: pl. of Grk. topos. See verse 2 above. Many versions combine the adjective and noun together as "the rocks" (e.g., CJB, CSB, ESV, GNB, NASB, NKJV, NIV, NLT, NRSV, TLV). and having cast: Grk. rhiptō, pl. aor. part. See verse 19 above. four: Grk. tessares, the number four. anchors: pl. of Grk. agkura, something bent so as to grab hold, anchor. Ancient anchors were of iron, provided with a stock, and with two teeth-like extremities often but by no means always without flukes (Thayer).
from: Grk. ek, prep., "out of." See verse 22 above. the stern: Grk. prumna, rear part of a boat or ship, stern. The anchor cable passed through a port in the side of the ship, and the cable was coiled round an upright beam or capstan (Smith 134). Smith reproduces, from a picture from papyri at Herculaneum, the figure of a ship fitted with hawse-holes aft (135), through which anchor-cables could be passed if necessary, and says, "We see, therefore, that ships of the ancients were fitted to anchor by the stern; and in the present instance that mode of anchoring was attended with most important advantages." Ramsay comments:
"Anchoring by the stern was unusual; but in their situation it had great advantages. Had they anchored by the bow, the ship would have swung round from the wind; and, when afterwards they wished to run her ashore, it would have been far harder to manage her when lying with her prow pointing to the wind and away from the shore." (191)
they were praying for: Grk. euchomai, impf. pass., 3p-pl., may mean (1) to pray for, used of a petition to God; or (2) in a diminished religious sense to wish for or long for. Lexicons are divided between these two options with Mounce and Thayer applying the first option and BAG and Danker applying the second option. The great majority of Bible versions translate the verb as "prayed," but some have "longed for" or words to that effect (KJV, MW, NASB-1995, NET, TLV). The praying would be driven by the fear Luke mentioned.
day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 7 above. The noun refers to daybreak here. to come: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. inf. See verse 7 above. Since the sun and the stars had not been visible for days it would be natural for members of the crew to pray to their deities for the celestial means of navigation (cf. Jon 1:5).The crew desperately needed the daylight to determine their relative position to the rocks. Smith gives another reason for the prayer for daylight,
"The proximate cause of anchoring was no doubt that assigned by St. Luke, namely the fear of falling on the rocks to leeward; but they had also an ulterior object in view, which was to run the ship ashore as soon as daylight enabled them to select a spot where it could be done with a prospect of safety; for this purpose the very best position in which an ancient ship could be, was to be anchored by the stern." (133)
30 But some of the sailors were trying to escape from the ship and having let down the dinghy into the sea, as a pretext of being about to let down anchors from the bow,
But: Grk. de, conj. some: A few versions add this qualifying term since only a small number of the crew is intended (CSB, ERV, EXB, ICB, TLB, MSG, NCV, TPT, VOICE). of the sailors: pl. of Grk. ho nautēs. See verse 27 above. were trying: Grk. zēteō, pl. pres. part., to seek, here with a focus on striving for a goal. to escape: Grk. pheugō, aor. inf., to make a decisive movement away to avoid a hazard, to flee or to escape. from: Grk. ek, prep. the ship: Grk. ho ploion. See verse 1 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. having let down: Grk. chalaō, pl. aor. part. See verse 17 above. the dinghy: Grk. ho skaphē. See verse 16 above. into: Grk. eis, prep.
the sea: Grk. ho thalassa is used of both oceanic bodies water and inland bodies of water, whether salt or fresh. In the English language 'sea' normally refers to a body of salt water and 'lake' to a body of fresh water, although local convention can override this rule. Thalassa simply refers to a body of water deep enough and wide enough to require a boat to cross it. Here the term has the local meaning of the sea between the boat and the shore. Ramsay notes that these sailors were about to save themselves by the dinghy and abandon the ship to its fate without enough skilled hands to work it (191).
as: Grk. hōs, adv., used here to introduce a subjective perspective. a pretext: Grk. prophasis, appearance or show that hides or conceals; pretext. of being about: Grk. mellō, pl. pres. part. See verse 2 above. to let down: Grk. ekteinō, pres. inf., cause an object to extend in space, put out or let out, which here equals "let down." anchors: pl. of Grk. agkura. See the previous verse. from: Grk. ek. the bow: Grk. prōra, the prow or front part of the ship, bow. The fact that there were anchors in the bow as well as the stern indicates that the ship was amply supplied with this important equipment (Smith 134). Smith offers this further analysis:
"It is to be observed, that casting anchors out of the foreship could have been of no possible advantage in the circumstances, and that as the pretext could not deceive a seaman, we must infer that the officers of the ship were parties lo the unworthy attempt, which was perhaps detected by the nautical skill of St. Luke, and communicated by him to St. Paul." (137)
31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, "If these men do not remain in the ship, you are not able to be saved."
Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 1 above. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 10 above. Paul now speaks the third time in this chapter. to the centurion: Grk. ho hekatontarchēs. See verse 1 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. to the soldiers: mp. of Grk. ho stratiōtēs, soldier in the military sense. The Greek term is broad in scope and included ranks below Centurion. This is the first mention of soldiers having accompanied the centurion, no doubt for the purpose of guarding the prisoners (verse 1 above).
Luke does not provide information on the number of soldiers, but perhaps a troop or tent group (Grk. strateuma; Lat. contubernium) of eight soldiers as mentioned in Acts 23:10 that secured Paul in the Jerusalem council meeting. The soldiers could have been members of the Praetorian Guard (cf. Php 1:13) and had traveled to Caesarea with the centurion. Exell comments that the centurion, who was effectively in command of the whole party (verse 11 above), had his soldiers on deck to preserve order and discipline.
If: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. these men: mp. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. do not: Grk. mē, adv. See verse 7 above. remain: Grk. menō, aor. subj., 3p-pl., to be in a situation for a length of time; abide, remain, stay or wait for. in: Grk. en, prep. the ship: Grk. ho ploion. See verse 2 and 6 above. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. are not: Grk. ou, adv. able: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid., 2p-pl. to be saved: Grk. sōzō, aor. pass. inf. See verse 20 above.
Nicoll comments that Paul appeals to the law of self-preservation. Although safety had been divinely promised (verse 24 above), human means were not excluded. Paul's declaration may seem peremptory, but all 276 persons on board had been given to him. Divine salvation requires cooperation with the divine plan. Brown observes that the soldiers and passengers could not be expected to possess the necessary seamanship in so very critical a case. The flight of the crew, therefore, might well be regarded as certain destruction to all who remained. Since the ship was destined for grounding, then the dinghy could be jettisoned as other unnecessary equipment had been.
32 Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the dinghy and allowed her to fall away.
Then: Grk. tote, adv. See verse 21 above. the soldiers: mp. of Grk. ho stratiōtēs. See the previous verse. cut off: Grk. apokoptō, aor., 3p-pl., to cut off in reference to physically severing. the ropes: pl. of Grk. ho schoinion, something twisted or plaited, rope or cord made of rushes. The soldiers probably hacked the ropes with their swords. of the dinghy: Grk. ho skaphē. See verse 16 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. allowed: Grk. eaō, aor., 3p-pl., let alone. The basic idea is the removal of a real or perceived impediment to a desired action; let something happen or take place; allow, permit, let.
her: fsg. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Modern versions translate the pronoun as "it." However, it is customary to refer to ships and boats with the feminine form, as found in a few versions (ASV, BRG, DRA, JUB, KJV, MEV). to fall away: Grk. ekpiptō, aor. inf. See verse 17 above. The description suggests the dinghy was hanging over the side of the ship so that cutting the hoisting ropes allowed the dinghy to drop into the water and drift away. For the soldiers taking such a radical action, no doubt with a nod of approval from the centurion, perhaps implied respect for the authority of Paul, but certainly they would have agreed with the common sense rationale of Paul.
Advice of Food, 27:33-38
33 And until that day was about to dawn, Paul was urging all to partake of food, saying, "Today is the fourteenth day watching without eating, you continue having taken nothing.
And: Grk. de, conj. until: Grk. achri, prep., a function word signifying an interval between two points with focus on continuity, here meaning up to a certain point. that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 7 above. The noun here refers to daylight hours. was about: Grk. mellō, impf. See verse 2 above. to dawn: Grk. ginomai, pres. mid. inf., lit. "to become." See verse 7 above. Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 1 above. was urging: Grk. parakaleō, impf., to motivate performance; urge, exhort, encourage. The imperfect tense pictures the repeated appeal. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 20 above. Given the following instruction the adjective probably takes in the officers and crew.
Paul appointed himself as ship's counselor and did what he could to maintain the morale of the crew and officers. Since this was a divinely ordered trip he was not going to be a passive bystander to everything happening on the ship. to partake: Grk. metalambanō, aor. inf., have or get a share, partake. of food: Grk. trophē, that which is needed to nourish or sustain physical life; food, victuals. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 10 above. Paul now speaks the fourth time in this chapter. Today: Grk. sēmeron, adv., today, this day, now. is the fourteenth: Grk. tessareskaidekatos. See verse 27 above. day: Grk. hēmera. Paul uses the noun here of the 24-hour day that began the previous sundown.
watching: Grk. prosdokaō, pres. part., be on alert for; expect, wait for, look for. The verb most likely alludes to anxious watching for daylight, as well as watching for perils. without eating: pl. of Grk. asitos, adj., going without meals. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. Paul does not refer to absolute abstinence, but a lack of regular meals due to the impossibility of cooking and the constant attention given to the care of the ship. you continue: Grk. diateleō, pres., 2p-pl., proceed through to the end, continue. The verb refers back to the action of watching, i.e., "you continue with your vigilance."
having taken: Grk. proslambanō, aor. part., to take to oneself, often with strong personal interest. The verb effectively means "having eaten." nothing: Grk. mēdeis, adj. (from mē, "not" and heis, "one"), not even one, nothing, none. The adjective constitutes an emphatic denial. Nicoll suggests that Paul did not mean a fourteenth day of continuous fasting, but fourteen successive nights of anxious watching for the dawn, all alike spent in restless hungry expectation of what the day might reveal. Nicoll adds that in ancient ships there were no tables spread, or waiters to bring food to the passengers, and each one who wanted refreshment must fetch it for himself.
34 Therefore I encourage you to partake of food, for this is toward your preservation, for not one of you will lose a hair from the head."
Therefore: Grk. dio, conj. See verse 25 above. I encourage: Grk. parakaleō, pres. See the previous verse. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person; used of the group whom Paul addressed. to partake: Grk. metalambanō, aor. inf. See the previous verse. of food: Grk. trophē. See the previous verse. for: Grk. gar, conj. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 21 above. The pronoun alludes to the food Paul has encouraged the group to eat. is: Grk. huparchō, pres., "exists." See verse 12 above. toward: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 3 above. The preposition has the sense of "advantageous for."
your: Grk. humeis. preservation: Grk. sōtēria, deliverance, preservation, rescue, or salvation from physical harm, but often from God's wrath, which can have an application here. The noun depicts the result of being transferred from danger to safety. In the LXX sōtēria translates six different Hebrew formations derived from the root verb yasha (SH-3467), to deliver (DNTT 3:206). Preservation of life was dependent on keeping up one's strength. Paul's declaration about the purpose of food effectively rebuts the practice of asceticism.
There were Jewish groups in the first century that practiced asceticism, which as a minimum would include self-denial and fasting, but some Jews chose to limit their diet to vegetables (Rom 14:2), such as the Therapeutae in Egypt (Philo, On the Contemplative Life, 4:34-39). Paul later cautioned Timothy, "For bodily discipline is of little benefit, but godliness is beneficial for everything" (1Tim 4:8 BR). The fad of frequent fasting by some believers today has the character of an unhealthy addiction, sometimes resulting in significant weight loss and loss of good health. The Jewish Sages considered the one who repeatedly afflicts his body a sinner (Ta'anith 11a; Nedarim 10a).
Paul prophesied of a future danger to the body of Messiah regarding abhorrent doctrines and practices. Paul's admonition should not be ignored.
"But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer." (1Tim 4:1-5 NASB)
for: Grk. gar. not one: Grk. oudeis, adj. See verse 22 above. of you: Grk. humeis. will lose: Grk. apollumi, fut. mid., experience disconnection or separation; lose, perish. a hair: Grk. thrix, a hair, the hair of the head. from: Grk. apo, prep. See verse 21 above. the head: Grk. ho kephalē, the head as an anatomical term. Paul repeats a proverbial saying long in use in Hebrew culture (1Sam 14:45; 2Sam 14:11; 1Kgs 1:52; Luke 21:18). The proverbial saying means that the God who numbers the hairs on the head (Matt 10:30) will guarantee the utmost safety of everyone on board the ship. Gill says that among ancient sailors to dream of shaving the hair portended shipwreck, nor would they cut off the hair at sea, and so some interpreters think Paul alludes to this belief.
35 Now having said these things and having taken bread, he gave thanks to God before all, and having broken it he began to eat.
Now: Grk. de, conj. having said: Grk. legō, aor. part. See verse 10 above. these things: n. pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. The verbal clause refers to the content of Paul's words in the previous two verses. and: Grk. kai, conj. having taken: Grk. lambanō, aor. part., to actively lay hold of by accepting what is available or offered; get, obtain, receive, take (HELPS). bread: Grk. artos (for Heb. lechem, SH-3899, bread or food), which refers to a baked product made from cereal grain. Bread would be made with yeast, except for Passover.
Since bread was eaten at every meal in biblical lands, it was often used as a synonym for food and the support of life in general quite apart from its literal meaning (DNTT 1:250). The bread could be made from wheat, barley, spelt, rye, or oats (Pesachim 2:6). The bread was apparently not unleavened (Grk. azumos), which was used only in the time of Passover (Matt 26:17; Mark 14:1, 12; Luke 22:1, 7; Acts 12:3; 20:6). Presumptively this bread was from Paul's own provisions.
he gave thanks: Grk. eucharisteō, aor., to give thanks, which is generally distinguished in Scripture from a prayer of petition, and of which God is explicitly the recipient. The verb occurs not at all in the LXX of the Tanakh, but is found six times in the Jewish Apocrypha (Jdth 8:25; 2Macc 1:11; 10:7; 12:31; 3Macc 7:16; Wis 18:2) and the Epistle of Aristeas 177 (DNTT 3:818). In the Besekh the verb often occurs in reference to Yeshua or an apostle offering a b'rakhah ("blessing") to God.
Jews had b'rakhot for many circumstances, which are discussed in the Tractate Berachot. The content of the b'rakhah is a sentence or paragraph of praise and thanksgiving to God for something He has provided, in this case bread: Barukh attah ADONAI ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz, "Blessed are you, O LORD, who brings forth bread from the earth" (Berachot 1:4; 6:1). It is important to remember that Jews do not bless food; they bless God for the food He provides.
to God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 23 above. before: Grk. enōpion, prep., from a word meaning "facing" with the basic idea of being 'in sight of' or 'in the presence of.' all: m. pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 20 above. The adjective includes the entire ship's company. and: Grk. kai. having broken it: Grk. klaō, aor. part., to break, and in the LXX, other Jewish literature (Josephus and Philo) and the Besekh, the verb is only used of breaking off pieces of bread.
In the LXX klaō occurs one time and translates Heb. paras (SH-6536), break in two, divide, in reference to bread (Jer 16:7). In the LXX of Isaiah 58:7 paras is translated with diathruptō ("break bread into small pieces") in reference to sharing bread with the hungry. This verb is used previously in the accounts of Yeshua breaking bread for the multitudes and in the last supper. "Breaking bread" is a Jewish idiomatic expression for the ritual that began a meal in which the head of the household offered the blessing.
he began: Grk. archō, aor. mid., can mean either (1) in the active voice 'to rule,' or (2) in the middle voice (as here) 'to begin' something. to eat: Grk. esthiō, pres. inf., to consume food, to eat. In a Jewish setting the act of breaking (or more accurately 'tearing') the bread would be followed by passing the bread to others for sharing (cf. Luke 9:16; 22:19). Luke does not intend to imply that Paul was selfish and kept the bread to himself. Indeed the Western Text inserted into the text after the verb "broken," "having given also to us" to indicate Paul passing the bread to Luke and Aristarchus (Metzger).
Some commentators have interpreted the verbs of "taking bread," "giving thanks" and "breaking the bread" as indicating a "eucharistic meal," a term later coined by the church fathers, and which has become part of the Christian lexicon. See my article The Messianic Meal. Ramsay comments, "It is characteristic of Christianity in all periods to seek after resemblances between the Founder and any great hero of the faith at some crisis of history; and this addition seems a later touch to bring out the resemblance" (192).
Paul's action here was a common practice of devout Jews at the beginning and the end of meals and in no way signifies any kind of liturgical ritual. Gill, citing a Naval source, explains that the bread that Paul possessed was of the kind that seafaring men commonly ate. They had bread which was of a red color, being hard baked and scorched in the oven, such as the modern sea biscuit. For long voyages this bread was baked four times, and prepared six months before the voyage began.
36 Then having become encouraged they all also took food.
Then: Grk. de, conj. having become: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. part. See verse 7 above. encouraged: Grk. euthumos, adj., possessing confidence or courage. Luke describes a "sea-change" in attitude, which represents a striking contrast to the emotional state in verse 20 above. they: m. pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. all: m. pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 20 above and the previous verse. also: Grk. kai, conj. took: Grk. proslambanō, aor. See verse 33 above. food: Grk. trophē. See verse 33 above. The calmness of Paul eating in the midst of the storm was an inspiration to the crew and passengers.
37 Now we were, all the souls in the ship, two-hundred seventy six.
Now: Grk. de, conj. we were: Grk. eimi, impf. mid., 1p-pl. See verse 2 above. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 20 and 35 above. the souls: pl. of Grk. ho psuchē. See verse 10 above. in: Grk. en, prep. the ship: Grk. ho ploion. See verse 1 and 6 above. two-hundred: Grk. diakosioi, pl. cardinal number from dis, "twice," and hekaton, "one hundred." seventy: Grk. hebdomēkonta, the number seventy; from hebdomos, "seventh," and a modified form of deka, "ten." six: Grk. hex, the number six. It has been thought by some interpreters that the number of Paul and his companions on the ship, 276, are too many; whereas Josephus reported that he and his companions on board a ship, a very few years after this account, were about 600 (Life, c. 3).
37 Now we were, all the souls on the ship, two-hundred seventy six.
Now: Grk. de, conj. we were: Grk. eimi, impf. mid., 1p-pl. See verse 2 above. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 20 and 35 above. the souls: pl. of Grk. ho psuchē. See verse 10 above. on: Grk. en, prep. the ship: Grk. ho ploion. See verse 1 and 6 above. two-hundred: Grk. diakosioi, pl. cardinal number from dis, "twice," and hekaton, "one hundred." seventy: Grk. hebdomēkonta, the number seventy; from hebdomos, "seventh," and a modified form of deka, "ten." six: Grk. hex, the number six.
It has been thought by some interpreters that the number of Paul and his companions on the ship, 276, are too many; whereas Josephus reported that he and his companions on board a ship, a very few years after this account, were about 600 (Life, c. 3). While the number may seem large, Luke says nothing of the size and manning of the Alexandrian ship. Thus, 276 persons on board would suggest a very large ship. Ellicott comments,
"A man does not commonly count the number of passengers on board a ship until there is some special occasion, and here it comes naturally as explaining the 'all' of the previous verse. It was, we may well imagine, a striking spectacle to see the two hundred and seventy-six all under the influence of one brave and faithful spirit."
38 Then having enough of food, they began to lighten the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea.
Then: Grk. de, conj. having enough: Grk. korennumi, pl. aor. pass. part., fill to full; satiate, fill, have enough. of food: Grk. trophē. See verse 33 above. The words describe a full and hearty meal (Ellicott). With their strength renewed from having a meal, the crew made a last effort to save the ship. they began to lighten: Grk. kouphizō (from kouphos, "light"), impf., 3p-pl., to make light in weight, make less heavy; lighten, make light. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. In the LXX of Jonah 1:5 kouphizō translates Heb. qalal (SH-7043), to make light or lighten. The sailors on Jonah's ship also took drastic action to reduce vessel weight.
the ship: Grk. ho ploion. See verse 1 above. throwing out: Grk. ekballō, pl. pres. mid. part., to cause to move out from a position, state or condition; to put out, drive out, send out, bring out, cast out. the wheat: Grk. ho sitos, grain of any kind, although in the Besekh wheat or barley may be inferred. In the LXX sitos chiefly translates Heb. dagan (SH-1715), corn or cereal grain, first in Genesis 27:28. The type of grain must be determined from the context. Here the grain is presumptively wheat since wheat was the staple commodity imported from Alexandria to Italy (Smith 139). into: Grk. eis, prep. the sea: Grk. ho thalassa. See verse 30 above.
Dumping the cargo of the ship was the last resort for saving a ship, but the captain could justify the drastic action to save lives. Loss of cargo would mean loss of revenue but Rome did provide compensation for shipwreck. The only chance of saving their lives was to run the ship on the beach, which made lightening the ship as much as possible an absolute necessity.
Shipwreck and Safety, 27:39-44
39 Now when it became daylight, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay having a beach, into which they were deliberating whether they might be able to drive the ship.
Now: Grk. de, conj. when: Grk. hote, temporal adv., when, at which time. it became: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 7 above. daylight: Grk. hēmera. See verse 7 above. they did not: Grk. ou, adv. recognize: Grk. epiginōskō, impf., 3p-pl., "know about," here referring to familiarity with something through observation, experience or receipt of information. the land: Grk. ho gē, the earth or land, here referring to land as contrasted with the sea.
Smith notes that it has been asked, if Malta was the island (Acts 28:1), how came the crew did not recognize the land, for it is not to be supposed that Alexandrian seamen could be ignorant of that island (140). Smith answers that St. Paul's Bay, as the location of the shipwreck was later named, is remote from the great harbor of Malta into which ships commonly sailed, and possesses no marked features by which it could be recognized.
but: Grk. de. they observed: Grk. katanoeō, impf., 3p-pl., to pay close attention to, to take a close look at. a bay: Grk. kolpos, lit. "the bosom," used here to denote a portion of a body of water on a shoreline; bay, gulf, inlet. having: Grk. echō, pres. part., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. a beach: Grk. aigialos, the shore of the sea, beach. In Greek literature the term is commonly used for a flat, sandy beach. into: Grk. eis, prep. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. they were deliberating: Grk. bouleuō, impf. mid., 3p-pl., take counsel with oneself, with either the focus on (1) a deliberative process; deliberate, consider; or (2) the decision following the deliberative process; decision, resolve. The first meaning applies here.
whether: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 12 above. they might be able: Grk. dunamai, pres. opt. mid., 3p-pl. See verse 12 above. to drive: Grk. exōtheō, aor. inf., lit. "drive out," but here meaning to propel or drive. the ship: Grk. ho ploion. See verse 1 and 6 above. The verb is a quasi-technical one, equivalent to "run the ship aground" (Ellicott). On St. Paul's Bay see the description and chart on p. 132-133 of Smith.
40 And having cast off the anchors, they let them go into the sea, at the same time having loosened the ropes of the rudders. And having hoisted the foresail to the blowing wind, they were holding course into the beach.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having cast off: Grk. periaireō, pl. aor. part. See verse 20 above. the anchors: pl. of Grk. ho agkura. See verse 29 above. they let them go: Grk. eaō, impf., 3p-pl. See verse 32 above. The verb effectively means "abandoned" (Nicoll). into: Grk. eis, prep. the sea: Grk. ho thalassa. See verse 30 above. at the same time: Grk. hama, adv. primarily signifying simultaneity; at the same time. having loosened: Grk. aniēmi, pl. aor. part., to cause to be separate; loosen, let go, unfasten. the ropes: pl. of Grk. ho zeuktēria, a lashing or binding device, a nautical term; band, cable, rope. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh.
of the rudders: pl. of Grk. ho pēdalion, steering device on a ship found at the stern, steering paddle or rudder. Ancient ships had two rudders, like broad oars or paddles, joined together by a pole, and managed by one steersman (Vincent). Exell explains,
"These paddle-rudders had been hoisted up and lashed, lest they should foul the anchors at the stern. But now, when the free use of them was absolutely necessary to steer the ship toward the beach, they unloosed the lashings."
And: Grk. kai. having hoisted: Grk. epairō, pl. aor. part., to raise up over, used here of lifting an item of ship gear. the foresail: Grk. ho artemōn, something hung up or fastened, a foresail, a small sail set on the bow. Nicoll observes that no other sail could be so well used by sailors under the circumstances. Smith comments that the artemōn was certainly the foresail, not the mainsail as in the KJV (141). The mainsail was lowered in verse 17 above. Hoisting the foresail was done to give precision to the steering (Exell). to the blowing wind: Grk. ho pneō, pres. part., to blow. The verb occurs only seven times in the Besekh, all in reference to the wind.
they were holding course: Grk. katechō, impf., 3p-pl., to hold fast, to hold down. The verb implies a steady direction. into: Grk. eis. the beach: Grk. ho aigialos. See the previous verse. The crew did their best to head the ship toward the beach they had observed.
41 But having fallen into a place between seas, they ran aground the vessel; and indeed the bow having stuck fast remained immovable, moreover the stern was being broken up by the force of the waves.
But: Grk. de, conj. having fallen: Grk. peripiptō, aor. part., to fall in with the effect of being surrounded, to fall among or to encounter. into: Grk. eis, prep. a place: Grk. topos. See verse 2 above. between seas: Grk. dithalassos, adj., location with sea on both sides; that is, a point, reef or sandbar. Thayer defines the term as "an isthmus or tongue of land, the extremity of which is covered by the waves." Some versions translate the term as a place where two currents meet (AMPC, CJB, LEB, MRINT, NET). Danker says that the specific meaning remains debatable. However, the following description is decisive for the ship being stopped by a terrain feature before it could reach the shore.
they ran aground: Grk. Grk. epikellō, aor., 3p-pl., force forward, run a ship to land; run aground. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. the vessel: Grk. ho naus (from vaō, "to flow, float, or swim"), a maritime vessel, ship. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. and: Grk. kai, conj. indeed: Grk. mén, conj. See verse 21 above. the bow: Grk. ho prōra. See verse 30 above. having stuck fast: Grk. ereidō, aor. part., to jam or stick fast, fix firmly. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. remained: Grk. menō, aor. See verse 31 above. immovable: Grk. asaleutos, adj., unshaken, immovable.
moreover: Grk. de. the stern: Grk. ho prumna. See verse 29 above. was being broken up: Grk. luō, impf. pass., lit. "to loose," and by extension to breakup, demolish or destroy. The imperfect tense expresses continuous action. by: Grk. hupo, prep. See verse 11 above. the force: Grk. ho bia, strength in violent action; force, strength, violence. of the waves: pl. of Grk. ho kuma, heaped up mass of water, wave. Ellicott explains Luke's description:
"At the west end of St. Paul’s Bay lies the island of Salmonetta. From their place of anchorage the crew could not have seen that it was an island, and in trying to run the ship on the beach they grounded on a mud-bank between the small island and the coast. The waves swept round the island and met on the bank, and the position of the ship was accordingly one of extreme danger, the prow imbedded in the mud, the stern exposed to the billows."
42 Now the plan of the soldiers was that they would kill the prisoners, lest anyone having swum away would escape;
Now: Grk. de, conj. the plan: Grk. ho boulē. See verse 12 above. The noun refers to a decision arrived at by mutual discussion. of the soldiers: Grk. ho stratiōtēs. See verse 31 above. Again there is no mention of the number of soldiers, certainly at least two, but possibly as many as eight. was: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid., lit. "came to be." See verse 7 above. that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that. they would kill: Grk. apokteinō, aor. subj., 3p-pl., put an end by force to the existence of someone, kill. the prisoners: pl. of Grk. ho desmōtēs. See verse 1 above. Again Luke does not clarify how many prisoners were on the ship, but at least two besides Paul.
lest: Grk. mē, adv. See verse 7 above. The adverb is used here to introduce a clause expressive of an action or occurrence requiring caution. anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 1 above. having swum away: Grk. ekkolumbaō (from ek, "from out of," and kolumbaō, "plunge into the sea, swim"), aor. part., plunge into the water and swim away. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. Presumptively swimming was a common skill in ancient times. would escape: Grk. diapheugō, aor. subj., to escape by flight. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh.
The explanation for the soldiers consulting among themselves to kill the prisoners is their fear of Roman law. Allowing a prisoner to escape could result in suffering capital punishment (see Acts 12:19; 16:27). The soldiers believed the only chance they had of escaping death themselves was to kill the prisoners. The belief of the soldiers was not completely logical. There was no guarantee that anyone who went into the water would survive. And, where would the prisoners escape to? If both prisoners and soldiers made it to the beach, the prisoners could be taken into custody.
43 but the centurion, wanting to save Paul, hindered their purpose; also he commanded "those being able to swim, having jumped overboard first, get to the land,
but: Grk. de, conj. the centurion: Grk. ho hekatontarchēs. See verse 1 above. wanting: Grk. boulomai, pres. mid. part., have in one's mind; wish, want, desire. The desire was manifested as a firm decision to act. to save: Grk. diasōzō, aor. inf., "save thoroughly," to bring someone through danger and into a safe condition (HELPS). Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 1 above. The centurion was fully committed to complete the mission assigned to him by Governor Festus. hindered: Grk. kōluō, aor., to stop someone from doing something; hinder, prevent. their: m.pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
purpose: Grk. boulēma, a pre-set fully resolved plan; purpose or will. The centurion was a seasoned veteran who was not going to tolerate insubordination. The hindrance of the centurion could have been as simple as getting in their faces and ordering them to put their swords away. Liberman suggests the centurion made it clear that he would assume full responsibility for the security of the prisoners in relation to Roman law. also: Grk. te, conj. he commanded: Grk. keleuō, aor., give an authoritative order; command, order. The centurion, being in charge of the ship, issued an order to everyone on board, assigning a task according to ability as if all 276 persons were his troops. The rest of the verse is the first part of the centurion's order.
those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. being able: Grk. dunamai, pl. pres. mid. part. See verse 12 above. to swim: Grk. kolumbaō, pres. inf., to dive, swim. having jumped overboard: Grk. aporiptō, pl. aor. part., cast away, throw away from, throw overboard; jump off. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. first: Grk. prōtos, adj., having to do with beforeness, here denoting sequence of action. get to: Grk. exeimi, pres. inf., to go forth, to go out, here meaning to escape from the ship. the land: Grk. ho gē. See verse 39 above. The centurion made a general appeal to all with the ability to swim.
44 and the rest, some indeed on planks, and some on things from the ship." And thus it happened that all were brought safely upon the land.
The centurion completes his order for those who lacked the swimming skill. and: Grk. kai, conj. the rest: pl. of Grk. ho loipos, adj., remaining of what's left, other, rest of. The adjective refers to those unable to swim. some: m. pl. of Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 8 above. indeed: Grk. mén, adv. See verse 21 above. on: Grk. epi, prep. planks: pl. of Grk. sanis, a piece of timber fashioned to serve as part of a structure; board, plank. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The planks were probably from the decks, as the term is used in the LXX of Ezekiel 27:5 (Nicoll).
and: Grk. de, conj. some: m. pl. of Grk. hos. on: Grk. epi. things: n.pl. of Grk. ho tis, indefinite pronoun. from: Grk. apo, prep. the ship: Grk. ho ploion. See verse 1 above. Ellicott suggests that these items might have been pieces of timber from the bulwarks, loose spars, tables, stools, and the like. And: Grk. kai. thus: Grk. houtōs, adv. See verse 17 above. it happened: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 7 above. that all: m. pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 20 above. were brought safely: Grk. diasōzō, aor. pass. inf. See the previous verse. upon: Grk. epi. the land: Grk. ho gē. See verse 39 above.
The last statement reflects exact fulfillment of Paul's prophecy in verse 22 above. Ramsay observes, "Only the rarest conjunction of favorable circumstances could have brought about such a fortunate ending to their apparently hopeless situation" (194).
Luke's narrative of this chapter not only recounts the maritime trip of Paul but the progression of Paul's influence during the voyage. He began the trip, apparently without influence, but by the end of the chapter everyone was listening to him. Liberman offers an analysis of how this happened.
● He built trust. Julius allowed Paul special privileges, obviously noting his trustworthiness.
● He took initiative. With no position or permission, Paul stepped in and took action.
● He possessed good judgment. Paul's speeches revealed wisdom and experience.
● He spoke with authority and credibility. Paul unashamedly remined the crew he had been right earlier.
● He was optimistic and confident. Paul spoke boldly.
● He gave encouragement. Paul gave hope for survival and rescue.
● He was honest. Paul candidly told the crew they would face problems.
● He didn't compromise on absolutes. Paul wouldn't drift from God-given instructions.
● He stayed focused. Paul focuses on objectives, not obstacles.
● He led by example. Paul led by modeling the right attitude.
● He ultimately succeeded. Paul eventually accomplished what he set out to do.
AMP: The Amplified Bible. The Lockman Foundation, 2015. Online.
Ant.: Flavius Josephus (c. 37–100 A.D.), Antiquities of the Jews (AD 93; Latin Antiquitates Judaicae). trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
Barnes: Albert Barnes (1798-1870), Notes on the Whole Bible (1834). Baker Book House, 1949. Online.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
BBMS: Henry Morris, Biblical Basis for Modern Science. Baker Book House, 1984.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
Brown: David Brown (1803-1897), The Acts of the Apostles, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871), 2 vols., by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown. Online.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts. Rev. ed. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1988. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Casson: Lionel Casson, "Speed under Sail of Ancient Ships," Transactions of the American Philological Association, Vol. 82, New York University, 1951. Online.
Danker: Frederick William Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.
Ellicott: Charles John Ellicott (1819–1905), Commentary for English Readers (1878). Online.
Exell: Joseph S. Exell, ed. (1849–1910), Acts, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 18. Hendrickson Pub., 1985. Online.
Falconer: William Falconer (1732-1770), An Universal Dictionary of the Marine. T. Cadell, 1780. Online. Accessed from the University of California Libraries.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
Hirschfeld: Nicolle E. Hirschfeld, "The Ship of Saint Paul: Historical Background," Biblical Archaeologist. Vol. 53, 25-30. Trinity University, March 1990. Online.
ISBE: James Orr, ed., International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. William. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1939. Website HTML, 2011. Online.
Liberman: Joel Liberman, The Acts of the Emissaries: Practical Sermons on the Spirit-filled Birth & Explosive Growth of Messianic Judaism. Tree of Life, Inc., 2014.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (1889). rev. by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online
Longenecker: Richard D. Longenecker, The Acts of the Apostles, Vol. 9, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
Lucian: Lucian of Samosata (120-180), Works: Vol. 4, The Ship or the Wishes. Trans. by H. W. Fowler and F. G. Fowler. Clarendon Press, 1905. Online.
Lumby: J. Rawson Lumby, Acts, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Cambridge University Press, 1891. Online.
Meyer: Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer (1800-1873), Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (1859). 21 vols. T&T Clark, 1880. Online.
Nicoll: W. Robertson Nicoll (1851–1923), The Expositor's Greek Testament (1897), 5 vols. Online.
Poole: Matthew Poole (1624–1679), A Commentary on the Holy Bible. Hendrickson Publishers, 1985. Online.
Ramsay: Sir William Mitchell Ramsay (1851-1939), St. Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen, 10th ed., Hodder & Stoughton, 1907. Online.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. 2 Vol. Zondervan Pub. House, 1980.
Schonfield: Hugh J. Schonfield (1901-1988), The History of Jewish Christianity (1936). Vine of David, 2008. Online.
Smith: James Smith (1782–1867), The Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul. 4th ed. Longman, Green and Company, 1880. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889. Website HTML 2011 by Biblesoft, Inc. Online.
Vincent: Marvin R. Vincent (1834-1922), The Word Studies in the New Testament. 4 vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1886. Online.
Wars: Flavius Josephus (c. 37–100 A.D.), Wars of the Jews (AD 78; Latin De Bello Judaico). trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
Whitewright: Julian Whitewright, Ships; Building and Sailing in the Ancient Mediterranean. University of Southampton, 2017. Online.
Copyright © 2021 Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.