Acts 27
Pulpit Commentary
And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band.
Verse 1. - For, for into, A.V.; to a centurion named Julius of the Augustan band for unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus band, A.V. That we should sail. Observe the "we," denoting that Luke was of the party. Connecting it with the "we" of Acts 21:17, the inference is obvious that Luke was with Paul through the whole of these two eventful years, and that it is to this presence that we owe the detailed circumstantial narrative of Acts 21. - 28, as well as, perhaps, the composition of St. Luke's Gospel, for which the two years at Caesarea afforded an admirable opportunity. The Augustan band; or, cohort (σπεῖρα); as Acts 10:1 (where see note). This σπεῖρα Σεβαστή, cohors Augusta, was probably one of the five cohorts stationed at Caesarea, consisting of auxiliary troops (though Alford does not think so). Its name "Augustan" was given, after the analogy of the Augustan legion, just as there was an "Italian band" as well as two or three "Italian legions." It has been conjectured (Kuinoel, in loc.), indeed, that the name may rather be taken flora Sebaste, Samaria, as consisting of Samaritans, seeing that Josephus ('Bell. Jud.,' 2. 12:5) actually mentions a troop of cavalry (καλουμένην Σεβαστηνῶν) called the troop of Sebaste. But the Greek name is Σεβαστηνῶν, not Σεβαστή, which latter designation is not supported by any similar example (Meyer).
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.
Verse 2. - Embarking in for entering into, A.V.; which was about to sail unto the places on the coasts of Asia, we put to sea for we launched, meaning to sail by the coast of Asia, A.V. and T.R.; Aristarchus for one Aristarchus, A.V. Adramyttium (now Adra-myti, where ships are still built), on the north-western coast of Asia Minor, south of Troas, on the gulf opposite which lies the island of Lesbos, was a place of considerable trade, situated on the great Roman road which connected the Hellespont with Ephesus and Miletus. Which was about to sail; μέλλοντι (not μέλλοντες, as in the T.R.), describing the ship as a coasting-vessel, trading between Adramyttium and other ports on the coast of Asia. She was now on her homeward voyage. Aristarchus. He is first mentioned in Acts 19:29, as a Macedonian, and one of Paul's companions at Ephesus, pro-badly, therefore, the fruit of his first visit to Thessalonica. We find him again with St, Paul on his last journey from Corinth to Asia (Acts 20:4), and we gather from the present notice of him that he kept with him till he arrived at Jerusalem, and followed him to Caesarea. It would appear at first sight, from Colossians 4:10, that he not only stayed with St. Paul during his two years' imprisonment at Rome, but was his "fellow-prisoner," if at least the word συναιχμάλωτος μου ισ to be taken literally. This, however, is very doubtful, because in the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 16:7) St. Paul calls Andronicus and Junius his "fellow-prisoners," though he was not then in prison himself; and also because, in the Epistle to Philemon (Philemon 1:23, 24), he gives this epithet to Epaphras, with the addition ἐν Ξριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ("my fellow-prisoner in Christ Jesus"), and does not give it to Aristarchus, who is named in the same sentence as his συνεργός (see Bishop Lightfoot, on Colossians 4:10, and Bishop Ellicott, on ibid.). If συναιχμάλωτος is to be taken of a bodily captivity, nothing is known of the occasion which gave rise to it in the case of any of the persons to whom it is applied.
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.
Verse 3. - Treated Paul kindly for courteously entreated Paul, A.V.; leave for liberty, A.V.; and refresh for to refresh, A.V. We touched; κατήχθημεν (as Luke 5:11; Acts 21:3; Acts 28:12) of coming from the sea to land, contrasted with ἀνήχθημεν in vers. 2 and 4 (ἀναχθέντες) of going out to sea (as Luke 8:22; Acts 13:13; Acts 16:11; Acts 18:21; Acts 21:1, 2; and frequently in this chapter). At Sidon; where doubtless there were disciples, as well as at Tyre (Acts 21:4), though there is no special mention of such. Paul was glad to have an opportunity of visiting them while the ship was stopping there to unload, and set down and take up passengers; and Julius, perhaps by the orders of Festus and Agrippa, and also from the influence Paul's character and conduct had on him (comp. Daniel 1:9), courteously gave him leave to land, probably accompanied by a soldier. And refresh himself; literally, to meet with care. Ἐπιμελεία occurs only here in the New Testament, but is found in 1 Macc. 16:14 2Macc. 11:23, and is frequent in Xenophon and other classical writers, by whom it is used with τυχεῖν, as here. Luke also uses the verb ἐπιμελέομαι (Luke 10:34, 35); and ἐπιμελῶς (Luke 15:8). It is in very common use among medical writers for the care and attention required by the sick. It is very probable that St. Paul was suffering from his long confinement at Caesarea, and that the ἐπιμελία here mentioned has reference to his invalid state.
And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary.
Verse 4. - Putting to sea (ἀνάχθεντες, see ver. 3, note) for when we had launched, A.V.; under the lee of for under, A.V. We sailed under the lee of; ὑπεπλεύσαμεν, only here and ver. 7. A nautical term, very rarely met with. The winds were contrary. The wind apparently was westerly, the prevalent wind at that season of the year. Smith ('Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul') quotes Admiral De Saumarez as writing from near Cyprus, "The westerly winds invariably prevail at this season;" and M. De Page, a French navigator, as saying, "The winds from the west which prevail in these places (Cyprus) forced us to run to the north." This is exactly what the ship in which Paul sailed did. Instead of going in a westerly direction, and leaving Cyprus on her right, she turned due north, having Cyprus on her left. It was now late in August (Farrar, p. 363).
And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.
Verse 5. - Across for over, A.V.; which is off for of, A.V. (τὸ κατὰ τὴν Κιλικίαν.). Across the sea. When they got under the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, they found the northerly wind, as M. De Pages did, and that enabled them to take a westerly course to Myra, a seaport in Lycia. The modern Turkish name of Myra is Dembre. (For an account and drawings of the wonderful rock-tombs of Myra, see Fellows's 'Lycia,' Acts 9.)
And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein.
Verse 6. - For, for into, A.V. He put us therein; ἐνεβίβασεν, only here in the New Testament, and once in the LXX. (Proverbs 4:11). It is a nautical term for embarking men on board ship (Thucydides, Xenophon, Lucian, etc.), and is also used by medical writers for "placing patients in a bath." The corn-vessel (naris frumentaria) from Alexandria to Italy may very probably have been driven out of its direct course by the same contrary winds which forced St. Paul to sail under Cyprus (see Howson, vol. it. p. 325, note 5), or commercial objects may have brought it to Lycia, to carry Asiatic merchandize to Rome, in addition to its cargo of Egyptian wheat - possibly "timber from the woody mountains of Lycia" (Lewin, vol. it. p. 188, note).
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;
Verse 7. - Were come with difficulty for scarce were come, A.V.; further suffering for suffering, A.V.; under the lee of for under, A.V. Had sailed slowly (βραδυπλοοῦντες, only here). They were evidently sailing near the wind, and would have to tack frequently. They made in many days no more progress (some hundred and thirty miles) than they would have made in twenty-four hours with a favorable wind. With difficulty (μόλις) they could only just manage to do it, the wind not suffering them (μὴ προσεῶντος, here only). When they had with great difficulty got as far as over against Cnidus, on the coast of Carla, the north wind which caught them made it impossible to go further north. Accordingly they struck nearly due south, and bore down upon Crete, and passing Cape Salmone, its eastern extremity, they came along the southern side of the island.
And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.
Verse 8. - With difficulty coasting along it for hardly passing it, A.V.; we came for came, A.V.; a certain place called for a place which is called, A.V.; Fair for the Fair, A.V. With difficulty coasting along it; παραλεγόμενοι, only here and ver. 13. It is a nautical phrase, meaning to sail alongside of the coast. In Latin legere has the same meaning. The difficulty arose from their being under the lee of the island, which sheltered them from the north-west wind, but left them without any motive power. However, they managed to get as far as Fair Havens, where they anchored in the roadstead so called, near to an obscure and otherwise unknown town called Lasea, possibly the same as Lasos, mentioned by Pliny as one of the inland cities of Crete ('Nat. Hist.,' 4. 12:20), or as Elaea (ibid.).
Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,
Verse 9. - And for now, A.V.; the voyage for when sailing, A.V.; gone by for past, A.V. Much time (ἱκανοῦ χρόνου διαγενομένου). The word ἱκανός is very frequently used by St. Luke, both in the Gospel and the Acts, for "much," "many," or "long," but the exact quantity of time, or words, or people, etc., indicated is of course relative to what might reasonably be expected in each case. Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37) drew "much" people after him; the Jews at Damascus conspired to kill Saul after "many" days were fulfilled (Acts 9:23); Paul and Barnabas abode "long time" at Iconium (Acts 14:3); Paul talked a "long" while at Tress (Acts 20:3); and they sailed slowly off the coast of Asia "many" days (ver. 7); the length, i.e. the "sufficiency" (ἱκανότης) must depend in each case upon the standard by which it is measured. Here "much time," measured by the common experience of sailing-vessels waiting for a favorable wind, may mean one or two weeks. It is more natural to apply the phrase to the time of their detention at Fair Havens, than, as Meyer and others do, to the time that elapsed since they sailed from Caesarea. The voyage was now dangerous (τοῦ πλοός, a late form for the older πλοῦ). Dangerous; ἐπισφαλοῦς, only here in the New Testament, and in Wisd. 9:14; also occasionally in classical authors, but very frequently in medical writers. The Fast. The great Jewish fast on the Day of Atonement, in the month Tisri, which fell this year on September 24 (Lewin and Farrar), probably while they were at Fair Havens. The Jews considered navigation unsafe between the Feast of Tabernacles (five days after the Day of Atonement) and the Feast of Pentecost (Lewin, vol. it. p. 192, note). It became, therefore, a very serious question what they were to do. Fair Havens was an inconvenient anchorage for the winter, and not near any large town. On the other hand, if they passed beyond the shelter of Cape Matala, which lay a few miles to the east, and where the coast of Crete suddenly trends due north, they would be exposed to the violence of the Eterian westerly wind. They called St. Paul into their counsels. Admonished them; παρήνει, only here and ver. 22. In classical Greek used especially of advice given by a speaker in a public speech. In medical writers it expresses the advice given by a physician to his patient.
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.
Verse 10. - The, for this, A.V.; injury for hurt, A.V.; loss for damage, A.V.; the ship for ship, A.V. Sirs, I perceive; etc. St. Paul's opinion and reasons are evidently not fully given; only the result, that he strongly advised against the course to which they were inclined, and foretold disaster as likely to ensue from it. I perceive (θεωρῷ), as John 4:19; John 12:19; Acts 17:22. In all these places something actually seen or heard leads to the inference or conclusion stated. So here the angry state of the weather and of the sea - perhaps they had walked as far as Cape Matala, and seen the rough waves - convinced him of the rashness of the enterprise contemplated. Injury (ὕβρεως, and at ver. 21); literally, violence, rough usage - properly of persons to persons (as 2 Corinthians 12:10), but metaphorically here transferred to inanimate objects. Compare the use of ὑβρίζω (Matthew 22:6; Luke 18:32; Acts 14:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:2), and the phrases ναυσίστονον ὕβριν (Pindar), θαλάττης ὕβριν (Anthol.), ὀμβρῶν ὕβρις (Josephus), quoted in Kninoel and Meyer. Meyer's explanation of ὕβρις, as meaning "presumption" or "temerity" on the part of the navigators, is quite inadmissible, especially in view of ver. 21. Also of our lives. Observe the thorough honesty of the historian who thus records the words of the apostle, though they were not justified by the event (vers. 22, 24).
Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.
Verse 11. - But for nevertheless, A.V.; gave more heed to for believed, A.V.; to the owner for the owner, A.V.; than to for more than, A.V. The master (κυβερνήτης), in the sense of "a commander of a trading-ship" (Johnson's 'Dictionary'); i.e. the navigator and helmsman, in Latin magister naris. The owner (ναύκληρος). The owner, no doubt, of the cargo as well as of the ship itself: ὁ δεσπότης (Hesych.); οἱ ναῦς κεκτημένοι (Ammonius). The κυβερνήτης and the ναύκληρος are often mentioned together; e.g. in Plutarch, Artemidorus, quoted by Alford, Kuinoel, etc.
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.
Verse 12. - Put to sea from thence for depart thence also, A.V. and T.R.; could reach Phoenix for might attain to Phenice, A.V.; winter there for there to winter, A.V.; a haven for an haven, A.V.; looking north-east and south-east for and lieth toward the south-west and north-west, A.V. Not commodious; ἀνευθέτου (not well placed, or disposed), only here. But the simple εὔθετος is used twice by St. Luke (Luke 9:62; Luke 14:35), in the sense of "fit" (also Hebrews 6:7), and is of frequent use in medical writers, for "convenient," "well adapted to," and the like. To put to sea (αναχθῆναι); see ver. 3, note. Reach; καταντῆσαι, only in the Acts (frequently) and in St. Paul's Epistles. It is generally, if not always, used of coming from the higher to the lower place, and from the sea to the land (see Acts 16:1; Acts 18:19, 24; Acts 20:15; Acts 21:7; Acts 28:13, etc.). Phoenix. It is variously written Phoenicus, Phoenice, and Phoenix; and probably derived its name from the palm tree, (φοῖνιξ), which is indigenous in Crete. It is identified with almost certainty with the modern Lutro or Loutro, which is both "an admirable harbor," situated exactly where Phoenice ought to be, and further by its proximity to a village called Aradhene, and another called Anopolis, shown to be the same as. Phoenix, or Phenice, which is described m ancient writers (Hierocles and Stephanus of Byzantium) as identical with or close to Aradhena and Anopolls (the upper city). Winter; παραχειμάσαι, so too Acts 28:11; 1 Corinthians 16:6; Titus 3:12, and παραχειμασία in this verse. It is found also in classical writers. Looking north-east and south-east. The margin of the R.V. has "Greek, down the southwest wind, and down the north-west." This phrase has caused considerable perplexity to commentators. To say, as a recommendation of a harbor for winter quarters, that it lies or looks toward the south-west and north-west, and consequently is exposed to the most furious winter storms, is obviously impossible. If Phoenix was open to the south-west and the north-west, it would not be as commodius a place to winter in as Fair Havens was which was sheltered by Cape Matala. Two methods, therefore, have been adopted of explaining the phrase so as to make it give a reasonable sense. One, that adopted by Dean Howson and Bishop Wordsworth, viz. that it looks southwest and north-west, from the point of view of the sailor, or any one approaching it from the sea, the object upon which it looks being the land which locks it in and shelters it. The other is that supported by Alford, and adopted by the R.V., and rests upon the observation that λίβς and χῶρος are not points or' the compass, but the names of the south-west and north-west winds, and that to look down (κατά) a wind is the same as looking down a stream. If the harbour looks down the south-west wind it looks toward the north-east, and if it looks down the north-west wind it looks toward the southeast. Its open side would be from northeast to south-east, it would be entirely sheltered on the south-west and north-west side. This is the explanation adopted also by Dean Plumptre. The south-west wind; λίψ, only here in the New Testament, but frequent in classical Greek and in the LXX. (see Psalm 78. [82, Septuagint] 26). As a point of the compass, it is the rendering of נֶגֶב (Genesis 13:14, etc.), תֵימָן (Numbers 2:10, etc.), of דָרום (Deuteronomy 33:23). The north-west wind; χῶρος (the Latin Caurus or Corus), only here in the New Testament, and not found in Greek writers.
And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.
Verse 13. - They weighed anchor and for loosing thence, they, A.V.; along Crete, close in shore for close by Crete, A.V. Blew softly; ὑποπνεύσαντος, only here in the New Testament, and not found elsewhere. Supposing that they had obtained their purpose. A south wind would be quite favorable for sailing east or east by north, from Fair Havens to Phoenix. They not unreasonably, therefore, thought they could effect their purpose of wintering at Phoenix. And so they at once weighed anchor; ἄραντες, without an objective case following, "having lifted up," understand τὰς ἀγκύρας, as in Julius Pollux, quoted by Smith. It was the nautical phrase. Sailed along (παρελέγοντο); see ver. 8, note. Close in shore (ᾶσσον, comparative of ἄγχι, nearer, meaning "very near "). For the earlier part of their voyage they would be obliged to keep very near the shore, to enable them to weather Cape Matala, which lay a little to the south of west from Fair Havens. Some take ᾶσσον as the name of a town on the coast, but the grammar of the sentence makes this impossible.
But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.
Verse 14. - After no long time for not long after, A.V.; beat down from for arose against, A.V.; which is called Euraquilo for called Euroclydon, A.V. and T.B. There beat down from it (ἔβαλε κατ αὐτῆς). The meaning of this somewhat difficult phrase clearly is that given by Alford and Howson, and, on second thoughts, by Smith, viz. that a violent squall from the north-east beat down the heights and through the valleys of the island, becoming more violent when they had passed Cape Matala, and compelled them to alter their course, and run south-west before the wind towards the island of Clauda; ἔβαλεν in a neuter sense, "struck," or "beat," or "fell," as in Homer (see Liddell and Scott). Κατ αὐτῆς. Farrar thinks it "certain" that the right rendering is "against her," viz. the ship, because ἔβαλεν could not be used with nothing to follow it," 1.e. he thinks you must say ἔβαλεν κατὰ something. But as πλοῖον is the word used for the ship, not ναῦς, it seems very difficult to suppose that Luke could say αὐτῆς, and not αὐτοῦ. It is better, therefore, to refer ἀὐτῆς to Κρήτη, and either to understand it "down it," like κατ Οὐλύμποιο καρήνων, "down the heights of Olympus;" κατὰ πέτρης, "down the rock," etc., or simply "against it," as in the A.V., which obviates Dr. Farrar's objection. If taken in the sense of "down" there is the same idea of a squall "rushing down" from the hills into the lake, in Luke 8:23; and again in ver. 33 of the same chapter St. Luke tells us how the swine rushed κατὰ τοῦ κρημνοῦ, "down the steep," into the lake. A tempestuous wind; ἄνεμος τυφωνικός, only here, and not found in Greek writers; but the substantive τυφώς τυφῶνος, is common for a "furious storm" or "whirlwind." Euraquilo. Compounded - after the analogy of Euronotus, the south-east wind - of Eurus, the east wind, and Aquilo, the north wind, both Latin words (like Corns, in ver. 12), though Eurus is also Greek. This reading of the R.T. is supported by the Vulgate, and by "Lachmann, Bornemann, Ewald, J. Smith, Hackett, Bentley, Olshausen, after Erasmus, Grotius, Mill, Bengel, and others" (Meyer), and by Wordsworth, Alford, Lid-dell and Scott, Factor. On the other hand, Meyer, Tischendorf, Dean Howson, and others support the reading of the T.R. Αὐροκλύδων, and Lewis is doubtful. The derivation of Euroelydon would be from Αῦρος, and κλύδων, a wave. Whatever its name was, it must have been a north-easter. Psalm evil. 25 naturally arises to one's remembrance, with its fine description of a storm at sea.
And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.
Verse 15. - Face the wind for bear up into the wind, A.V.; gave way to it, and were driven for let her drive, A.V. Was caught; συναρπασθέντος, only here in this sense of being caught and carried away by the gale, but used in three other places by St. Luke (and only by him), viz. Luke 8:29; Acts 6:12; Acts 19:29. It is found more than once in the LXX., and is common in classical Greek. Sophocles uses it of a storm which carries everything away, Πάντα ξυναρπάσας θύελλ ὅπως ('Elect.,' 1150). Face; ἀντοφθαλμεῖν, only here in the New Testament; but in Polybius and elsewhere it is said or' looking any one in the face with defiance. And so Wisd. 12:14; Ecclus. 19:5 (Complut. Edit.), ἀντοφθαλμῶν ἡδονᾶις, "resisteth pleasures," A.V. Compare the phrase, "looked one another in the face" (2 Kings 14:8, 11, ὤφθησαν προσώποις). Hence here it means simply "resist," or "stand against," or, as well rendered in the R.V., "face." Gave way to it, etc.; ἐπιδόντες ἐφερόμεθα, a rather obscure phrase, but best explained "giving her" (the ship) to the wind, "we were carried" rapidly before it. Ἑπιδίδωμι, is to give, to give up, to give into any one's hand (Luke 4:17; Acts 15:30). ἐπιδόντες is opposed to ἀντοφθαλμεῖν, giving up to, abandoning her to, as opposed to resisting. Ἐφερόμεθα, we were hurried along before the wind, without will or choice of our own (as ver. 17). Common in Homer and other classical writers, for being borne along by wind, or waves, or storm, etc. (For the application of φέρομαι in the middle voice to a wind, see Acts 2:2.)
And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:
Verse 16. - Under the lee of for under, A.V.; small for certain, A.V. (νήσιον); called Cauda for which is called Clauda, A.V. and T.R; were able, with difficulty, to secure for had much work to come by, A.V. Running under the lee of; ὑποδραμόντες, only here in the New Testament, but common in classical Greek for "running under" or "between." (For the use of ὑπό in compound in the sense of "under the lee of," see ver. 7.) Cauda, or Caudos, as it is called by Pomp. Mela (2. 7)and Pliny ('Nat. Hist.,' 4. 12. 20), the modern Gozzo. Ptolemy (3:7) calls it Claudus. The manuscripts greatly vary. Clauda, or Cauda, was about twenty-three miles south-west of Crete. With difficulty (μόλις, as in vers. 7, 8). To secure the boat. The boat was doubtless being towed astern. But in the violence of the storm, there was a danger every moment of her being parted from the ship by the snapping of the hawser, or by being broken by the waves, and it was impossible to take her up. Under the lee of the little island, however, the sea was somewhat quieter; and so after greater efforts they secured the boat, and, as it is said in the next verse, "hoisted it up" on to the deck.
Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.
Verse 17. - And when they had hoisted it up for which when they had taken up, A.V.; be cast upon the Syrtis for fall into the quick-sands, A.V.; they lowered the gear for strake sail, A.V. Helps; βοηθείαις, in the New Testament only here and Hebrews 4:16; but frequent in medical language, for "bandages, "ligaments," "muscles," and all kinds of supports both artificial and natural, and generally to medical aid. Undergirding the ship; ὑποζωννύντες, only here in the Bible; but found, as well as its derivative ὑπόζωμα, in classical Greek, in the same sense as it has here. In medical language it is used of certain membranes which "under gird" and so strengthen and hold together certain parts of the human body, and specially was applied to the πλευρά. As regards the nautical sense in which St. Luke here uses the word, Dean Howson, in his excellent chapter (23.) on the 'Navigation and Ships of the Ancients,' writes as follows: - "In consequence of the extreme danger to which the ships of the ancients were exposed from leaking, it was customary to take to sea, as part of their ordinary gear, ὑποζώματα, undergirders, which were simply ropes for passing round the hull of the ship, and thus preventing the planks from starting;" and he adds in a note that "within the last twenty years (in 1837) marble tables had been dug up in the Piraeus, containing a list of Athenian ships and an inventory of their tackle, and that they all carried, as part of their "hanging gear," ὑποζώματα. Another great ship described by Athenaeus carried twelve such. The operation of undergirding is still occasionally performed, and is called by seamen "frap- ping." The German word is umgurten (Howson). Among ether recent examples (Howson, p. 33) the Albion was frapped with iron chains after the battle of Navarino. Cast upon the Syrtis. The wind was driving them straight toward the Syrtis Major, "the Goodwin Sands of the Mediterranean" (Farrar), and another twenty-four hours of such a gale might bring them there. The Syrtis Major was a wide gulf off the northern coast of Africa, now the Gulf of Sidra, lying between Tunis and Tripoli, considered very dangerous from its rocks and shoals. Be east upon (ἐκπέσωσι). The verb ἐκπίπτειν is the classical word (Homer, Herodotus, Euripides) for being driven or thrown ashore, and is used in this sense in vers. 26, 29 of this chapter, and in a slightly different sense in ver. 32. They lowered the gear (χαλάσαντες). Σκεῦος is a very common word, variously rendered "goods," "stuff," "vessel," according to the material to which it is applied (Matthew 12:29; Luke 8:16; Luke 17:31, etc.). In the LXX. it is used of agricultural implements (1 Samuel 13:20, 21), of weapons of hunting (Genesis 27:3), of household furniture (Genesis 31:37), weapons of war (Deuteronomy 1:41), instruments of music (2 Chronicles 5:13). This is the only passage in the Bible where it is used in its technical sense as a nautical term. In classical Greek, when applied generally to ships, it means the whole tackling, sails, ropes, yards, stores, engines, etc. The meaning, of course, is narrowed when applied to some particular part of the ship. Here, on the whole, it seems to mean the "great yard," or, if that had been already lowered, the heavy "head-gear," ropes, pulleys, and the like, which, under the circumstances, would contribute to make the ship roll and be unsteady. The word rendered "lowered" is χάλασαι. It is rendered "let down" in Mark 2:4; Luke 5:4, 5; Acts 9:25; 2 Corinthians 11:33; and ver. 30 of this chapter (A.V.). In the R.V. it is sometimes rendered "let down" and sometimes "lowered." In the LXX. it is used in the sense of "spreading" a sail (Isaiah 33:23), which would be equivalent to "let down," if the sails were reefed at the top of the mast; and of "letting down" (Jeremiah 38:6). The R.V., therefore, is correct. The object of what they did was to enable the ship to go as near the wind as possible, and with as little straining and rolling as possible. The operation is called by sailors "lying to." Were driven (see ver. 15).
And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship;
Verse 18. - As we labored exceedingly for being exceedingly tossed, A.V.; the storm for a tempest, A.V.; began to throw the freight overboard for lightened the ship, A.V. Labored; χειμαζουμένων, only here in the New Testament; but used by Plato, Thucydides, Diodorus Siculus, Josephus, and others, and especially by medical writers. It is the passive voice, and this is best expressed by the A.V. "tossed." They began to throw, etc. The phrase ἐκβολὴν ἐποιοῦντο is one of the technical phrases for taking a cargo out of a ship, given by Julius Pollux; ἐκβολὴν ποιήσασθαι τῶν φορτίων (Alford, from Smith). It is also the phrase of the LXX. in Jonah 1:5, Ἐκβολὴν ἐποιήσαντο τῶν σκευῶν τῶν ἐν τῶ πλοίω. They began to expresses the imperfect. It is inferred from this, and the subsequent statement (ver. 19) as to throwing overboard the tackling of the ship, that, in spite of the undergirding, the ship was leaking, and therefore heavy with water, and in danger of going down (romp. Jonah 1:5). The freight here mentioned may have been heavy packages of merchandise other than the main cargo of wheat (see ver. 6, note).
And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.
Verse 19. - They for we, A.V. and T.R.; their for our, A.V. The third day after leaving Clanda. The leak doubtless con-tinned, and there was more water in the ship. With their (or, our) own hands; αὐτόχειρες, only here in the Bible, but frequent in classical Greek. The word seems to mark that the sacrifice was very great, implying a very pressing danger. The tackling (τὴν σκευήν). There is great difference of opinion as to what the σκευή means here. Smith thinks the main spar is meant, "the huge mainyard," and Farrar adopts his view, which he thinks is strengthened by the use of the aorist ἐρρίψαμεν (for he adopts the T.R.), implying one single act, and showing, by the use of the first person, that it was the act of the whole crew united. Alford thinks that it means all the furniture, beds, and movables of all kinds, and so Wordsworth and Meyer. Wetstein explains it of the passengers' baggage. Howson thinks it unlikely they would have thrown away a great spar which would have supported twenty or thirty men in the water in the event of the ship foundering. Schleusner renders it "apparatus quo navis erat instructa." Σκευή is not used elsewhere in the New Testament, and it is difficult to speak decisively. But the addition of τοῦ πλοίου, and the general use of σκευή in classical Greek favors the interpretation "the ship's furniture" ("meubles et ustensiles," Renan).
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.
Verse 20. - Shone upon us for many days for in many days appeared, A.V.; now for then, A.V. Neither sun nor stars, etc. This is mentioned, not only as a feature of the severity and length of the easterly gale (for the wind had shifted two or three points to the east), but specially because in the navigation of that time, before the invention of the compass, the sun, moon, and stars were the only things they had to steer by, or by which they could know the direction in which they were drifting. Shone upon us (ἐπιφαινόντων); showed themselves; i.e. "appeared," as in the A.V., which is the best rendering (romp. ἐπιφανεία, the appearance, or Epiphany). Now. Λοιπόν τὸ λοιπόν, and τοῦ λοιποῦ are used adverbially both in the New Testament and in classical Greek. It is sometimes rendered "now," i.e. for the time that remains; and sometimes "henceforth;" sometimes "finally" (Mark 14:41; 2 Timothy 4:8; 2 Corinthians 13:11, etc.). It seems that sometimes χρόνον ισ to be understood, and sometimes that it means "as for what remaineth" to be said or done (romp. the French du reste or au reste).
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.
Verse 21. - And when they had been long without food for but after long abstinence, A.V. and T.R.; then Paul for Paul, A.V.; set sail for loosed, A.V.; and gotten for to have gained, A.V.; injury for harm, A.V. Long without food (πολλῆς ἀσιτίας ὑπαρχούσης). Ἀσιτία is only found here in the Bible; but it was the common medical term for loss of the appetite, and such is the most natural rendering here. There is nothing about "long abstinence" in the text, nor does the verb ὑπαρχούσης admit of being translated "when they had been." It describes a present condition. The literal rendering is, when there was a great (or, general) loss of appetite among the crew. The terror, the discomfort, the sea-sickness, the constant pressure of danger and labor, the difficulty of cooking, the unpalatableness of the food, combined to take away relish of their food, and they were becoming weak for want of nourishment. Have gotten (κερδῆσαι). Schleusner, Bengel, Meyer, Alford, and the 'Speaker's Commentary' explain this as equivalent to "have avoided," or "have escaped," and quote Josephus ('Ant. Jud,' it. 3:2), Τὸ μιανθῆναι τὰς χεῖρας κερδαίνειν, "To avoid staining their hands;" and ' Bell. Jud.,' it. 16:4 (towards the close of Agrippa's speech), Τῆς ἥττης ὄνειδος κερδήσετε," You will gain (i.e. avoid) the disgrace of defeat," like the use in Latin of lucrifacere. But it is simpler on the whole to understand it in the sense of "getting" as the fruit of your own conduct. We should say in English, "What have yon gained by this? Nothing but loss and shame." Compare too the phrase Τὰ ὀψώνια τῆς ἀμαρτίας θάνατος (Romans 6:23). So Liddell and Scott give us one use of κερδαίνειν, to gain a loss, 1.e. reap disadvantage, and quote from Euripides, 'Hecuba,' 1. 518 (516, Scholefield), διπλᾶ δάκρυα κερδᾶναι, "to gain double weeping." Injury (ὕβριν); see ver. 10, note. In the A.V. "to have gained" observe the same idiom as in ver. 10, "and there to winter."
And 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.
Verse 22. - Life for any man's life, A.V.; but only for but, A.V, I exhort you to be of good cheer. Mr. Hobart remarks that this "has all the look of a doctor's expression, παραινεῖν being the term for a physician giving his advice," and "εὔθυμος εὐθυμεῖν, and εὔθυμως being used in medical language in reference to the sick keeping up their spirits, as opposed to ἀθυμία and δυσθυμυία (see ver. 25, note). Loss; ἀποβολή, only here and Romans 11:15; but found in Plato, Aristotle, Josephus, Plutarch, etc. Mark how the message of mercy and love follows the chastisement and its fruit of self-humiliation. In their prosperity and self-confidence they rejected Paul's word at Fair Havens; they listen to it at death's door.
For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,
Verse 23. - An angel of the God whose I am, whom also for the angel of God, whose I am, and whom, A.V. and T.R. Observe Paul's open confession of God before the heathen crew.
Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.
Verse 24. - Stand for be brought, A.V.; granted for given, A.V. Stand; παραστῆναι, the proper word for standing before a judge; comp. Romans 14:10, Πάντες παραστησόμεθα τῷ βήματι τοῦ Ξριστοῦ: and in the subscription to the Second Epistle to Timothy it is said that it was written "when Paul was brought before Nero the second time" (Greek, ὅτε ἐκ δευτέρου παρέστη Παῦλος τῷ Καίσαρι). God hath granted, etc. Doubtless in answer to his prayers. Compare the opposite statement in Ezekiel 14:14, 16, 18, 20, "Though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered themselves;" and see also Genesis 18:26, 32. Paul's calm courage and kind words, added to the proof they had of his prescient wisdom, were well calculated to inspire the crew with a reverential trust in him, and to rekindle their extinguished hope.
Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.
Verse 25. - Even so for even, A.V.; hath been spoken unto me for was told me, A.V. Be of good cheer; εὐθυμεῖτε, as ver. 22; elsewhere only James 5:13, but we have εὔθυμος ver. 36 and Acts 24:10; common in classical Greek and in medical language (see ver. 22, note). Note how the servant of God has the light of hope and trust in the darkest night of danger and suffering (Psalm 112:4, 7; Psalm 46:1-3). It shall be even so, etc. Compare for the lesson of faith in God's promise, Luke 1:45, "There shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord." "Lord, increase our faith."
Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.
Verse 26. - We must be east, etc. (ἐκπεσεῖν, ver. 17, note). Here St. Paul speaks distinctly by revelation, probably what was told him by the angel. We can see the same purpose here as in all miracles and prophetic utterances, viz. to give God's credentials to his ambassador as speaking in his Name and by his authority (John 20:31).
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;
Verse 27. - To and fro for up and down, A.V.; the sea of Adria for Adria, A.V.; sailors for shipmen, A.V.; surmised for deemed, A.V.; were drawing for drew, A.V. The fourteenth night, reckoned from their leaving Fair Havens (so vers. 18, 19). Driven to and fro (διαφερομένων); it is rather carried across, or along, from one end to the other. Sea of Adria. Adria, as in the A.V., is scarcely correct, as a translation of the Greek (though the Latins did call it Adria), because the nominative case in Greek is ὁ Ἀδρίας, sc. κόλπος, Adrias, the Adriatic Gulf. Ἀδρία is the name of the town near the mouth of the Po, which gave its name to the Adriatic. As regards the use of term ὁ Ἀδρίας, the Adriatic, it is used in two ways: sometimes strictly of the Gulf of Venice, the Adriatic; sometimes, chiefly in latter writers, in a much wider sense, of the whole sea between Greece and Italy, including Sicily. This last is its use here. So, too, Josephus says that he was wrecked κατὰ μέσον τὸν Ἀδρίαν, in the midst of the Adriatic, on his voyage from Caesarea to Puteoli, and was picked up by a ship from Cyrene. This implies that he used the word "Adria" in the same sense as St. Luke does (see further the appendix 5. and 6. in Smith's 'Voyage,' etc.; Conybeare and Howson, p. 343, note, and p. 350; Lewin, vol. 2. p. 198, note; Farrar, vol. 2. p. 377, note; Renan, ' St. Paul,' p. 552). Surmised that they were drawing near. Probably from hearing the waves breaking upon the Point of Koura, east of St. Paul's Bay. Υπονορω is only found in the Acts (Acts 13:25; Acts 25:18; and here); but it is used three or four times in the LXX. (Daniel, Job, Judith, Sirach), and is common in classical Greek in the sense of to "suspect, conjecture," "guess at" anything (see ὑπονοία, 1 Timothy 6:4). Were drawing near, etc.; literally, that some country (or, land) was drawing near to them. In like manner, the land is said ἀναχωρεῖν, to recede, as the vessel gets out to sea.
And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms.
Verse 28. - They sounded for sounded, A.V.; found for found it, A.V. (twice); after a little space for when they had gone a little further, A.V. After a little space (βραχὺ διαστήσαντες); literally, having interposed a short interval of time or space (comp. Luke 22:58, 59, μετὰ βραχύ κ.τ.λ., and then follows διαστάσης ὡσὲι ὥρας μιᾶς "after an interval of about an hour").
Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.
Verse 29. - And for then, A.V.; lest haply for lest, A.V.; be cast ashore on rocky ground for have fallen upon rocks, A.V.; let go for east, A.V.; from for out of, A.V. Cast ashore (see ver. 17, note). Rocky ground (τραχεῖς τόπους); Luke 3:5. The region of Trachonitis was so called from the rocky nature of the country - ἄκτη τραχεῖα, a rocky shore, Four anchors, "Naves quaternis anchoris destinabat no fluctibus moveretur" (Caesar, 'De Bell. Cir.,' 1:25). From the stern. Anchors are usually dropped from the bow, but under certain circumstances ships anchor from the stern. The British navy so anchored at the battles of the Nile, Algiers, and Copenhagen, and it is a earn-men practice of the Levantine caiques at the present day; and an ancient picture of a ship (at Herculaneum) distinctly represents "hawse-holes aft to fit them for anchoring by the stern." They did so in the present case, to obviate the danger of the ship swinging round and getting into breakers, and also that she might be in the best position for running on to the beach as soon as daylight came.
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,
Verse 30. - Sailors for shipmen, A.V.; seeking for about, A.V.; and had lowered for when they had let down, A.V.; lay out for have east, A.V.; from for out of, A.V. Had lowered (χαλάσαντες, see ver. 17, note). The sailors thought the only chance of safety was to get into the boat and run ashore on the beach. They pretended, therefore, that they wished to let down more anchors from the bow; and let down the boat, as if with that intention, being prepared to jump in and make for the shore, leaving the ship to be wrecked, with all on board her. What a contrast to the conduct of our English crews, who are always the last to quit a sinking vessel!
Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.
Verse 31. - Paul said. It is remarkable what ascendency Paul had gained during this terrible fortnight. He now penetrated in a moment the design of the selfish sailors, and, with his wonted decision, told the centurion, who was in command of the whole party (ver. 11), and who, it is likely, had iris soldiers on deck to preserve order and discipline. Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. The ὑμεῖς is emphatic, you yourselves.
Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.
Verse 32. - Cut away for cut off, A.V. Fall off (ἐκπεσεῖν, vers. 17, note, 26, and 29). The action of the soldiers in cutting the rope and letting the boat loose was very prompt, but rather rash, as the boat might have been useful in landing those on board. But it showed their implicit confidence in Paul's word.
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.
Verse 33. - Some food for meat, A.V.; wait and continue for have tarried and continued, A.V. All; including the treacherous sailors whose plot he had just defeated. Having taken nothing; not meaning that they had literally been fourteen days without tasting food, which is impossible; but that they had no regular meals, only snatching a mouthful now and then in the midst of their incessant toil.
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.
Verse 34. - Beseech for pray, A.V.; food for meat, A.V.; safety for health, A.V.; a hair for an hair, A.V.; perish for fall, A.V. and T.R. Take; here in the R.T. μεταλαβεῖν instead of προσλαβεῖν of the T.R. Your safety; or, health; i.e. for the preservation of your lives in the impending struggle. Not a hair perish; or, according to the T.R., fall. It is uncertain whether ἀπολεῖται (R.T.) or πεσεῖται (T.R.) is the right reading. The Hebrew proverb, as contained in 1 Samuel 14:45; 2 Samuel 14:11; 1 Kings 1:52, is, "fall to the earth' or "ground:" Αἰ πεσεῖται τριχός (or, ἀπὸ τῆς τριχός or τῶν τριχῶν) τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν (LXX.). In Luke 21:18, it is Θρὶξ ἐκ τῆς κεφαλῆς ὑμῶν οὐ μὴ ἀπόληται (comp. Luke 12:7). Absolute and complete safety is meant. He still speaks as a prophet.
And 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.
Verse 35. - Said this for thus spoken, A.V.; and had taken for he took, A.V.; he gave for and gave, A.V.; the presence of all for presence of them all, A.V.; be brake for when he had broken, A.V.; and began for he began, A.V. Had taken bread, etc. The concurrence of the words λαβὼν ἄρτον ηὐχαρίστησε, κλάσας, which all occur in the institution of the Holy Eucharist (Luke 22:19), is certainly, as Bishop Wordsworth says, remarkable. But there is the same similarity of phrase (except that εὐλόγησε is used for ηὐχαρίστησε in the first passage) in Matthew 14:19 and Matthew 15:36, and therefore the conclusion to be drawn is that St. Paul's action and words were the same as those of our Lord, as far as the breaking bread and giving thanks and eating, went, which were common to both occasions; but in the institution of the sacrament the words "This is my body" were additional, and represented an additional and sacramental truth. Observe, again, the devout confession of the living God in the presence of unbelieving men (vers. 23, 24).
Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat.
Verse 36. - Themselves also took food for they also took some meat, A.V. Of good cheer (εὔθυμοι); see above, vers. 22, 25, notes.
And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls.
Verse 37. - We were in all, etc. From the number of persons, two hundred and seventy- six, on board the ship it is calculated that she was of more than five hundred ions burden. The ship in which Josephus was wrecked on his way to Rome, under the procuratorship of Felix (κατὰ μέσον τὸν Ἀδρίαν), carried six hundred souls ('Life,' sect. 3). The ship of Alexandria described by Lucian is calculated to have been of above a thousand tons. The mention of the number brings before us a striking picture of so many persons at St. Paul's bidding, in the midst of so great a danger, taking a cheerful and leisurely meal together, in dependence upon a speedy deliverance promised to them in God s Name. It also adds another vivid touch to the picture of the eye-witness of what he relates. Dean Plumptre well suggests that St. Luke very likely counted the crew on the. occasion of their being all assembled together for the first time.
And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.
Verse 38. - Throwing out for and cast out, A.V. They lightened the ship; ἐκούφισαν, only here in the New Testament; but it is the technical word for lightening a ship so as to keep her afloat. So in Polybius, 1:39, Ἐκρίψαντες ἐκ τῶν πλοίων πάντα τὰ βάρη μόλις ἐκούφισαν τὰς ναῦς: and Jonah 1:5, "They cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them (τοῦ κουφισθῆναι ἀπ αὐτῶν (see ver. 18, note). Κουφίσαι τὴν ναῦν is one of the technical expressions for taking cargo out of a ship, given by Julius Pollux (Smith), The wheat (τὸν σῖτον). There is a difference of opinion as to what St. Luke here means by τὸν σῖτον. Meyer and others think it was merely "the ship's provision," and that, considering the number of persons in the ship, and the little consumption during the last fortnight, the weight of what was left would be considerable. They add that the cargo had been already thrown overboard in ver. 18. Others, as Howson, following Smith and Penroso, Farrar, Lewin, and many older commentators, with more reason, understand "the wheat" to mean the ship's cargo from Alexandria to Rome; they think it had been impossible to get at it while the ship was drifting; and that, even had it been possible, it was the last thing they would have recourse to. But now, when it was impossible to save the ship, and the only chance of saving their lives was to run her on the beach, it was an absolute necessity to lighten the ship as much as possible. They therefore cast her freight of Alexandrian corn into the sea, and waited for daylight (see note to ver. 18).
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.
Verse 39. - Perceived for discovered, A.V.; bay with a beach for creek with a shore, A.V.; and they took counsel whether they could drive the ship upon it for into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship, A.V. They knew not the land. It was seven miles from the harbor of Valetta, and a part of the island not likely to have been visited by the sailors, and presenting no marked features by which they would recognize it. A certain bay with a beach; αἰγιαλόν, a level pebbly or sandy beach (Matthew 13:2; Acts 21:5; and ver. 40), as opposed to ἄκτη, a high rugged coast (τρηχεῖα ὑψηλή, etc., Homer). They took counsel whether they could drive, etc. The rendering of the A.V. is surely infinitely better than the R.V. The meaning of βουλεύομαι, both in the New Testament and in classical Greek, is frequently and properly "to determine," "to resolve" or "purpose" (see Acts 5:33; Acts 15:37, note; 2 Corinthians 1:17; and Liddell and Scott's 'Lexicon '); and the order of the words here suits the rendering of the A.V. much better than that of the R.V., which would require καὶ ἐβουλεύοντο, instead of εἰς ο}ν κ.τ.λ. The Revisionists seem to have been misled by the resemblance of Luke 14:31. Drive; ἐξῶσαι, the technical word for driving a ship ashore (Thucyd., 2:10, etc.). It only occurs in the New Testament here, and in a different sense in Acts 7:45. It is not uncommon in the LXX. as the rendering of דָּחָה and דּוּהַ (see Deuteronomy 13:3; 2 Samuel 14:13; Jeremiah 49. [LXX., 26.] 36, etc.).
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.
Verse 40. - Casting off for when they had taken up, A.V.; they left them in the sea for they committed themselves unto the sea, A.V.; at the same time loosing the bands of the rudders for and loosed the rudder bands, A.V.; hoisting for hoised, A.V.; foresail for mainsail, A.V.; for the beach for toward shore, A.V. This verse, so obscure before, has been made intelligible by the masterly labors of Smith, of Jordan Hill. We will first explain the separate words. Casting off (περιελόντες). The verb περριαιρέω occurs in ver. 20; in 2 Corinthians 3:16; and in Hebrews 10:11; and in all those passages is rendered "taken away." So also in the LXX., where it is of frequent use, it means "take away," "put away," "remove," and the like. In classical Greek it means to "take away," "take off," "strip off." Here, then, applied to the anchors which were firmly embedded in the very strong clay at the bottom of the sea off Koura Point, περιελόντες τὰς ἀγκύρας means "putting away" or "casting off" the anchors by cutting the cables which fastened them to the ship, and, as it follows, leaving them in the sea, or, more literally, giving them up, dismissing them into the sea (εἴων εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν); comp. Acts 5:38. Loosing the bands of the rudders. "The ships of the Greeks and Romans, like those of the early Northmen were not steered by a single rudder, but by two paddle-rudders" (Howson, p. 310. See too an illustration from an ancient painting found at Herculaneum, in which the two paddle-rudders are very distinctly seen, at p. 346; and another illustration in Lewin, vol. it. p. 204, showing the two rudders and the foresail). 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, i.e. "the bands of the rudders," and at the same time they hoisted up the foresail. The foresail; τὸν ἀρτέμονα, a word found only here in this sense, but used in Vitruvius for a "pulley," and so explained in Ducange. But artimon was till recently used in Venice and Genoa as the name of the large sail of a vessel. In the Middle Ages artimonium was the "foremast," mat de prone; but it was also used of the foresail," Velum naris breve, quod quia melius levari potest, in summo periculo extenditur" (Ducange). They hoisted the foresail both to give them sufficient way to run on to the beach, and to give precision to their steering. (For a further account of the ἀρτεμών, or foresail, see Smith, of Jordan Hill.)
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.
Verse 41. - But lighting upon for and falling taro, A.V.; vessel for ship, A.V.; fore-ship for forepart, A.V.; struck for stuck fast, A.V.; stern for hinder part, A.V.; began to break up for was broken with, A.V. Where two seas met; τόπον διθάλασσον, only here, and in Dion Chrysostomus. The explanation of this "place where two seas met" is as follows: - As the ship stood at anchor in the bay on the north-east side of the island, it would have the Koura Point (Ras el-Kaura) on its left, and on entering deeper into the bay westward, the little island of Salmonetta, or Selmoon, otherwise called Gzeier, would lie on its right, and would appear to be part of the island of Malta, from which it is separated by a narrow channel about a hundred yards in width. When, however, she was just coming upon the beach for which she was making, she would come opposite to this open channel, and the sea from the north would break upon her and meet the sea on the south side of the island, where the ship was. Here, then, they ran the vessel aground. Ἐπώκειλαν, or, according to the R.T., ἐπέκειλαν, is only found here in the Bible; but it is the regular word for running a ship aground, or ashore, in classical writers. Ἐπικέλλω has exactly the same meaning. The simple verbs κἑλλω and ὀκέλλω are also both in use for running a ship to land. The foreship struck; ἐρείσασα, here only in the Bible, but very common in classical Greek. Its meaning here is not very different from its frequent medical meaning of a disease "fixing itself" and "settling" in some particular part of the body. Remained unmovable. "A ship impelled by the force of a gale into a creek with a bottom such as that laid down in Admiral Smyth's chart of St. Paul's Bay, would strike a bottom of mud graduating into tenacious clay, into which the forepart would fix itself and be held fast, whilst the stern was exposed to the force of the waves" (Smith, p. 144). Unmovable; ἀσάλεῦτος, only here and Hebrews 12:28, in the Bible; but common in Greek writers in the sense of "firm," "unmovable." Began to break up (ἐλύετο, like solvo and dissolvo in Latin). The planks were loosened and disjoined. By the violence. The R.T. omits the words τῶν κυμάτων, and so has βία alone, somewhat like ὕβρις in ver. 21.
And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.
Verse 42. - The soldiers' counsel, etc. The same stern sense of duty in the Roman soldier as moved the keeper of the jail at Philippi to destroy himself when he thought his prisoners had escaped (Acts 16:27). The prisoners; by which we learn, as also in ver. 1, that there were other prisoners beside Paul going to be tried before Caesar at Rome (comp. Josephus's account ('Life,' sect. 3) of certain priests, friends of his, who were sent as prisoners to Rome, to be tried). Swim out; ἐκκολυμβάω, only here, but not uncommon in the same sense in classical Greek (see next verse). Escape; διαφύγοι, peculiar to St. Luke here, but it is the common medical word for a narrow escape from Illness.
But 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:
Verse 43. - Desiring for willing, A.V.; stayed for kept, A.V.; overboard, and get first to the land for first into the sea, and get to land, A.V. To save Paul; διασῶσαι, and ver. 44 and Acts 28:1, 4; a word of very frequent medical use, employed six times by St. Luke, but only twice elsewhere in the New Testament (Matthew 14:26; 1 Peter 3:20). Swim; κοολυμβάω, here only in the Bible; though κολυμβήθρα, properly a swim-ruing-bath, rendered "pool" in the A.V., occurs five times in St. John's Gospel. The verb means "to dive" rather than "to swim." Both the verb and the noun are used frequently in medical language for "swimming in a bath," and ῤίπτειν σεαυτὸν (like ἀπορρίπτειν here) is the phrase for jumping into the bath.
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.
Verse 44. - Planks for boards, A.V.; other things from for broken pieces of, A.V.; all escaped (διασωθῆναι) for escaped all, A.V.; the land for land, A.V. Planks; σωνίσιν, only here and in the LXX. of 2 Kings 12:9 (for the "lid" of the box) and Song of Solomon 8:9 (for "boards"); very common in Homer and other Greek writers, for "boards" and "planks" of all kinds. They all escaped. In exact fulfillment of Paul's prediction in ver. 22. And thus ended the eventful voyage of about four hundred and eighty miles (as laid down in the charts) from Clauda to the Point of Koura on the north coast of Malta. It is one of the striking proofs of the identity of Melita with Malta, that the rate at which it is calculated that a large ship laying to in a gale would drift in twenty-four hours, viz. thirty-six miles, multiplied by thirteen and a half (the number of days occupied by the voyage), gives four hundred and eighty-six miles as the whole distance. (36X13.5 = 486) Smith thinks that the coincidence between "the actual bearing of St. Paul's Bay from Clauda, and the direction in which the ship must have driven," with the wind blowing in the quarter we know it did," is, if possible, still more striking" (pp. 127, 128).

The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010 by BibleSoft, inc., Used by permission

Bible Hub
Acts 26
Top of Page
Top of Page