Acts 27 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Acts 27)

Verse 2

[2] And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us.

Adramyttium — was a sea port of Mysia. Aristarchus and Luke went with Paul by choice, not being ashamed of his bonds.

Verse 3

[3] And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.

Julius treating Paul courteously — Perhaps he had heard him make his defence.

Verse 4

[4] And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary.

We sailed under Cyprus — Leaving it on the left hand.

Verse 7

[7] And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone;

Cnidus — was a cape and city of Caria.

Verse 8

[8] And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.

The Fair Havens still retain the name. But the city of Lasea is now utterly lost, together with many more of the hundred cities for which Crete was once so renowned.

Verse 9

[9] Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,

The fast, or day of atonement, was kept on the tenth of Tisri, that is, the 25th of September. This was to them an ill time of sailing; not only because winter was approaching, but also because of the sudden storms, which are still common in the Mediterranean at that time of the year.

Paul exhorted them — Not to leave Crete. Even in external things, faith exerts itself with the greatest presence of mind, and readiness of advice.

Verse 10

[10] And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.

Saying to them — To the centurion and other officers.

Verse 11

[11] Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.

The centurion regarded the master — And indeed it is a general rule, believe an artificer in his own art. Yet when there is the greatest need, a real Christian will often advise even better than him.

Verse 12

[12] And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.

Which is a haven — Having a double opening, one to the southwest, the other to the northwest.

Verse 14

[14] But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.

There arose against it — The south wind; a tempestuous wind, called in those parts Euroclydon. This was a kind of hurricane, not carrying them any one way, but tossing them backward and forward. These furious winds are now called levanters, and blow in all directions from the northeast to the southeast.

Verse 16

[16] And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:

We were hardly able to get masters of the boat — To prevent its being staved.

Verse 18

[18] And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship;

They lightened the ship — Casting the heavy goods into the sea.

Verse 19

[19] And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.

We cast out the tackling of the ship — Cutting away even those masts that were not absolutely necessary.

Verse 20

[20] And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.

Neither sun nor stars appeared for many days — Which they could the less spare, before the compass was found out.

Verse 21

[21] But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.

This loss — Which is before your eyes.

Verse 23

[23] For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,

The God whose I am, and whom I serve — How short a compendium of religion! Yet how full! Comprehending both faith, hope, and love.

Verse 24

[24] Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.

God hath given — Paul had prayed for them. And God gave him their lives; perhaps their souls also. And the centurion, subserving the providence of God, gave to Paul the lives of the prisoners. How wonderfully does his providence reign in the most contingent things! And rather will many bad men be preserved with a few good, (so it frequently happens,) than one good man perish with many bad. So it was in this ship: so it is in the world.

Thee — At such a time as this, there was not the same danger, which might otherwise have been, of St. Paul's seeming to speak out of vanity, what he really spoke out of necessity.

All the souls — Not only all the prisoners, as Julius afterward did, Acts 27:43; ask for souls, they shall be given thee: yea, more than thou hopest for, that sail with thee - So that Paul, in the sight of God, was the master and pilot of the ship.

Verse 27

[27] But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country;

The fourteenth night — Since they left Crete, Acts 27:18,19.

In the Adriatic sea — So the ancients called all that part of the Mediterranean, which lay south of Italy.

Verse 30

[30] And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship,

The sailors were attempting to flee out of the ship — Supposing the boat would go more safely over the shallows.

Verse 31

[31] Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.

Unless these mariners abide in the ship — Without them ye know not how to manage her, ye cannot be saved - He does not say we. That they would not have regarded. The soldiers were not careful for the lives of the prisoners: nor was Paul careful for his own. We may learn hence, to use the most proper means for security and success, even while we depend on Divine Providence, and wait for the accomplishment of God's own promise. He never designed any promise should encourage rational creatures to act in an irrational manner; or to remain inactive, when he has given them natural capacities of doing something, at least, for their own benefit. To expect the accomplishment of any promise, without exerting these, is at best vain and dangerous presumption, if all pretence of relying upon it be not profane hypocrisy.

Verse 33

[33] And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing.

Ye continue fasting, having taken nothing — No regular meal, through a deep sense of their extreme danger. Let us not wonder then, if men who have a deep sense of their extreme danger of everlasting death, for a time forget even to eat their bread, or to attend to their worldly affairs. Much less let us censure that as madness, which may be the beginning of true wisdom.

Verse 34

[34] Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.

This is for your preservation — That ye may be the better able to swim to shore.

Verse 36

[36] Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat.

Then they were all encouraged — By his example, as well as words.

Verse 38

[38] And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.

Casting out the wheat — So firmly did they now depend on what St. Paul had said.

Verse 39

[39] And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship.

They did not know the land — Which they saw near them: having a level shore.

Verse 40

[40] And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore.

Loosing the rudder bands — Their ships had frequently two rudders, one on each side. were fastened while they let the ship drive; but were now loosened, when they had need of them to steer her into the creek.

Verse 41

[41] And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.

A place where two seas met — Probably by reason of a sand bank running parallel with the shore.

Verse 42

[42] And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.

The counsel — Cruel, unjust, ungrateful.

Verse 44

[44] And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.

They all escaped safe to land — And some of them doubtless received the apostle as a teacher sent from God. These would find their deliverance from the fury of the sea, but an earnest of an infinitely greater deliverance, and are long ere this lodged with him in a more peaceful harbour than Malta, or than the earth could afford.