Acts chapter 27

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21But 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. 22And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. 23For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, 24Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. 25Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. 26Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island. 27But 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; 28And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms. 29Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day. 30And 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, 31Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. 32Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off. 33And 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. 34Wherefore 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. 35And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat. 36Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat. 37And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls. 38And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea. 39And 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. 40And 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. 41And 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. 42And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape. 43But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: 44And 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.

What does Acts chapter 27 mean?

Paul is finally on his way to Rome. He has wanted to go for some time (Romans 1:11), but a short visit to Jerusalem to check in with the apostles turned into a two-year house arrest in Caesarea Maritima. He was falsely accused by the Sanhedrin. Roman governors wouldn't release him—because that would irritate the Jewish leaders—but wouldn't hand him over to the council because of his Roman citizenship. Ultimately, Paul appealed his case to Caesar. The text of the chapter alternates between Luke's detailed description of the sea voyage and Paul encouraging the people on board to make choices that won't kill them all.

Acts 27:1–8 records the calm part of this trip. Luke and Aristarchus have rejoined Paul. Paul, along with other prisoners, is under the watchful eye of Julius, a centurion. Luke records their voyage. They sail north from Caesarea to Sidon where Julius allows Paul to visit friends. From Sidon, they curve around the northeast isthmus of Cyprus, and land in Myra on the southern coast of modern-day Turkey. Julius finds a grain ship in Myra that is sailing for Rome. On board, the prisoners and companions sail west, then south, and skim the southern coast of Crete until they reach the port of Fair Havens.

In Acts 27:9–12, Paul tries to warn Julius to stop for the winter. Paul is an experienced sea traveler: he's already been shipwrecked three times and left adrift at sea (2 Corinthians 11:25). He knows if they launch it will not go well for them. Unfortunately, Fair Havens is not a safe place for a ship to winter, and the ship's captain and pilot convince Julius to go on a little to Phoenix which has two large, sheltered ports.

Acts 27:13–20 records the beginning of bad weather. Not only do the winds prevent the ship from landing at Phoenix, but they push it out into open water. The sailors haul up the lifeboat before it floods and sinks and use ropes to support the ship's hull. The winds drive the ship southwest toward an expanse of dangerous sandbars north of Libya. If they run aground they will be too far from shore to swim. Attempting to raise the ship above the hazards, the crew throws out much of the cargo. They toss equipment into the water to try to slow the ship down. Both the crew and the passengers begin to lose hope.

Acts 27:21–26 returns the focus to Paul. He delivers a relatively gentle "I told you so," but reassures them. Although the ship will be destroyed and the cargo lost, no one will die. He bases this on a promise given by an angel. Paul's divine promise is that he will face Caesar and that God will spare those who sail with him.

In Acts 27:27–32, the sailors realize they are near land. It's too dark to see, so they lower the aft anchors to keep the ship from running into any rocks. They then quietly lower the lifeboat into the water, planning to abandon the passengers. Paul notices and warns the centurion. The soldiers cut the ropes, and the lifeboat floats away.

Paul takes control again in Acts 27:33–38. No one has eaten in fourteen days, and he encourages them to build up their strength. He takes the bread, gives thanks to God, breaks it, and passes it among the crew and passengers. Once everyone has eaten, they throw the remaining wheat overboard.

In Acts 27:39–44, the sailors find a sandy beach and try to reach it, but the ship gets stuck on a reef a ways from the shore. The soldiers plan to kill the prisoners to make sure none escape, but the centurion stops them. Those who can swim, do so; those who don't, find planks from the quickly deteriorating ship and ride the waves to the shore.

In Acts 28, the bedraggled survivors learn they are on the island of Malta, just south of Sicily. While collecting firewood, Paul is bit by an extremely venomous serpent but survives. The locals wonder if he's a god. Paul heals the father of the local leader, as well as many others, and the islanders treat Paul and his companions well. After three months, they catch another ship and land southeast of Rome. From there, they walk. Paul spends two years in Rome under house arrest where he learns Jewish leaders in Rome are just as stubborn as any others he has met. He also writes the "prison epistles": Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. Luke gives few details about Paul's stay in Rome and the book ends with Paul's release.
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