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Bible: What Does Acts 27 Teach Us About Leadership?
The Apostle Paul
Doctor Luke (Paul's Traveling Companion)
Acts 27: Paul's Sea Voyage to Rome; The Shipwreck
Luke Joins Paul on the Voyage to Rome
By using the word "we," Luke indicates that he and the Thessalonican Aristarchus accompanied Paul and other prisoners on a marine voyage to Rome, Italy, on board an Adramyttium ship under the authority of an Augustan Regimental centurion, Julius (vv. 1-2).
[Unless he was already a prisoner like Paul, Aristarchus would become one later (see Col. 4:10).]
First, they travel north along the coast to Sidon.
Luke notes that Julius showed kindness to Paul, allowing the apostle’s friends to care for him (v. 3).
[Paul’s need for assistance indicates that the years of imprisonment and other hardships have taken their toll on him.]
From Sidon, the crew drives the vessel north around Cyprus’ eastern shore, sheltering against contrary winds (v. 4).
Heading west, they skirt the Asian coastland and arrive in “Myra, a city of Lycia,” where Julius finds an Alexandrian ship having Italy as its destination (vv. 5-6).
With difficulty, they make their way in the newly boarded craft to Cnidus, a peninsula northeast of Crete (v. 7).
Unable to cross the open Mediterranean, they sail southwest “under the shelter of Crete” until the ship comes to Fair Havens(v. 8).
The Centurion Ignores Paul' Warning of Disaster
Luke notes a time element (“the Fast was already over”), indicating that they are sailing at a particularly dangerous season of the year, probably early October (v. 9).
[Ryrie estimates that Paul left Caesarea in August or September, A. D. 59, sailed around Crete on the Day of Atonement, and arrived in Rome in March, A. D. 60 (New Testament Study Bible, 258)].
Despite Paul’s warning that disaster and great loss awaited them if they continued across the open Mediterranean, the centurion and the ship’s owner prefer the helmsman’s judgment to that of the apostle’s (vv. 9-11).
Determining that Fair Havens would not provide a suitable harbor, most of the crew decide to try to reach Phoenix, another Cretan port, and dock their ship there for the winter (v. 12).
The Name of the Wind
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When the wind blows favorably, however, the sailors think that all is clear to proceed; yet even with this good sign, they sail close to Crete’s southern shore (v. 13).
This pleasant segment of the voyage does not last long, however, for Euroclydon (Euraquilo, NU)—a stormy, east-northeast wind causing rough waves—soon assaults them (v. 14).
Powerless against the gale, they let its gusts drive the ship wherever it willed (v. 15).
Somewhere in the mid-Mediterranean, the sailors find shelter by the island of Clauda, where they manage to bring the dinghy aboard and protect it from further damage (v. 16).
After securing the ship with cables, they strike sail and again allow the winds to drive them, causing them to fear shipwreck on the Syrtis Sands(v. 17).
Paul Takes Charge
As the days pass, the crew decides to jettison some cargo; Luke reports that he helped throw the tackle over the side (vv. 18-19).
Hopelessness finally sets in after they had endured the storm for several more days (v. 20).
At this point, Paul takes charge and, after chastising them for disobeying his initial warning, encourages everyone with a message from an angel of God, who told him that night that the storm would result in the destruction of the ship only, and not in the loss of their lives (vv. 21-23).
[The angel announced that God would bring Paul before Nero, and almost as an afterthought, related that God would rescue all his companions also (v. 24)].
Paul again encourages them, assuring them that God through the angel would be faithful to His word (v. 25).
He also communicates that he had received foreknowledge that they would have to shipwreck on a certain island, but he did not know which one (v. 26).
The Time of Shipwreck Approaches
Two weeks into their voyage on the Adriatic Sea (the Mediterranean E. of Sicily [Ryrie, New Testament Study Bible, 259]), the crew, aware in the pitch dark of midnight that they would make landfall soon, take continual soundings until they begin to fear shipwreck (vv. 27-29a).
Therefore, they drop four anchors and wish for daybreak (v. 29b).
Some sailors, pretending to put down anchors from the bow, attempt to lower the dinghy and escape from the vessel (v. 30).
Taking charge at this crucial point, Paul admonishes Julius that every sailor must stay aboard if the entire ship’s complement were to survive (v. 31).
They obey him this time and cut the dinghy loose (v. 32).
At daybreak, the apostle encourages them all to break their two-week fast; he also promises them that they will all survive if they eat something (vv. 33-34).
As Jesus customarily broke bread with His friends, so Paul does with his companions—and he blesses it, too (v. 35; cf. John 6:11).
Having eaten some food, every one of the two hundred seventy-six on board begins to take courage.
Afterwards, the sailors decide to lighten the ship even more, casting barrels of wheat into the sea (vv. 36-38).
The Shipwreck Occurs With No Fatalities
When day had fully come, they see an unknown island offering a bay with a beach; planning to run aground there, they perform all the necessary tasks to do so as safely as possible (vv. 39-40).
As they head in, the vessel strikes the reef and the ship starts to break into pieces (v. 41).
At this point, the soldiers gather to slaughter the prisoners to prevent their escape; Julius, however, bravely intercedes on the prisoners’ behalf, and stops the guards from carrying out their cruelty.
Then he wisely instructs swimmers to dive in the sea first, allowing “sinkers” to follow later on planks (vv. 42-44a).
By following this procedure, everyone survives the destruction (v. 44b).
© 2013 glynch1