CHAPTER 27

Verse 1. And when it was determined. By Festus, Acts 25:12 and when the time was come when it was convenient to send him.

That we should sail. The use of the term "we" here shows that the author of this book, Luke, was with Paul. He had been the companion of Paul; and though he had not been accused, yet it was resolved that he should still accompany him. Whether he went at his own expense, or whether he was sent at the expense of the Roman government, does not appear. There is a difference of reading here in the ancient versions. The Syriac reads it, "And thus Festus determined that he [Paul] should be sent to Caesar in Italy," etc. The Latin Vulgate and the Arabic also read "he" instead of "we." But the Greek manuscripts are uniform; and the correct reading is, doubtless, that which is in our version.

Into Italy. The country still bearing the same name, of which Rome was the capital.

And certain other prisoners. Who were probably also sent to Rome for a trial before the emperor. Dr. Lardner has proved that it was common to send prisoners from Judea and other provinces to Rome. Credibility, Part i., chap. x., & 10, pp. 248, 249.

A centurion. A commander of a hundred men.

Of Augustus' band. For the meaning of the word "band," See Barnes "Matthew 27:27", See Barnes "Acts 10:1". It was a division in the Roman army, consisting of from four to six hundred men. It was called "Augustus' band" in honour of the Roman emperor Augustus, See Barnes "Acts 25:21", and was probably distinguished in some way for the care in enlisting or selecting them. The Augustus cohort or band is mentioned by Suetonius in his Life of Nero, 20.

{b} "Paul" Acts 25:12,25
{*} "certain" "some"

Verse 2. A ship of Adramyttium. A maritime town of Mysia, in Asia Minor, opposite to the island of Lesbos. This was a ship which had been built there, or which sailed from that port, but which was then in the port of Caesarea. It is evident, from Acts 27:6, that this ship was not expected to sail to Italy, but that the centurion expected to find some other vessel into which he could put the prisoners to take them to Rome.

We launched. We loosed from our anchorage; or we set sail. See Acts 13:13.

By the coasts of Asia. Of Asia Minor. Probably the owners of the ship designed to make a coasting voyage along the southern part of Asia Minor, and to engage in traffic with the maritime towns and cities.

One Aristarchus, a Macedonian. This man is mentioned as Paul's companion in travel, in Acts 19:29. He afterwards attended him to Macedonia, and returned with him to Asia, Acts 20:4. He now appears to have attended him, not as a prisoner, but as a voluntary companion, choosing to share with him his dangers, and to enjoy the benefit of his society and friendship. He went with him to Rome, and was a fellow-prisoner with him there, Colossians 4:10 and is mentioned Philemon 1:24) as Paul's fellow-labourer. It was, doubtless, a great comfort to Paul to have with him two such valuable friends as Luke and Aristarchus; and it was an instance of great affection for him that they were not ashamed of his bonds, but were willing to share his dangers, and to expose themselves to peril for the sake of accompanying him to Rome.

{a} "Aristarchus" Acts 19:29

Verse 3. We touched at Sidon. See Barnes "Matthew 11:21". It was north of Caesarea.

And Julius courteously entreated Paul. Treated him kindly, or humanely.

And gave him liberty, etc. The same thing had been done by Felix, Acts 24:23.

Unto his friends. In Sidon. Paul had frequently travelled in that direction, in going to and returning from Jerusalem; and it is not improbable, therefore, that he had friends in all the principal cities.

To refresh himself. To enjoy the benefit of their kind care, to make his present situation and his voyage as comfortable as possible. It is probable that they would furnish him with many supplies which were needful to make his long and perilous voyage comfortable.

{b} "courteously entreated" Acts 24:23; 28:16
{*} "refresh himself" "Take refreshment"

Verse 4. We sailed under Cyprus. For an account of Cyprus, See Barnes "Acts 4:36". By sailing "under Cyprus" is meant that they sailed along its coasts; they kept near to it; they thus endeavoured to break off the violent winds. Instead of steering a direct course in the open sea, which would have exposed them to violent opposing winds, they kept near this large island, so that it was between them and the westerly winds. The force of the wind was thus broken, and the voyage rendered less difficult and dangerous. They went between Cyprus and Asia Minor, leaving Cyprus to the left. Had it not been for the strong western winds they would have left it on the right.

The winds were contrary. Were from the west, or south-west, which thus prevented their pursuing a direct course. See the Map.

Verse 5. The sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia. The sea which lies off the coast from these two regions. For their situation, see the Map, and Notes, Acts 6:9; 13:13.

We came to Myra, a city of Lycia. Lycia was a province in the south-western part of Asia Minor, having Phrygia and Pisidia on the north, the Mediterranean on the south, Pamphylia on the east, and Caria on the west.

Verse 6. A ship of Alexandria. A ship belonging to Alexandria. Alexandria was in Egypt, and was founded by Alexander the Great. It appears, from Acts 27:38, that the ship was laden with wheat. It is well known that great quantities of wheat were imported from Egypt to Rome; and it appears that this was one of the large ships which were employed for that purpose. Why the ship was on the coast of Asia Minor, is not known. But it is probable that it had been driven out of its way by adverse winds or tempests.

Verse 7. Had sailed slowly. By reason of the prevalence of the western winds, Acts 27:4.

Over against Cnidus. This was a city standing on a promontory of the same name in Asia Minor, in the part of the province of Cans called Doris, and a little north-west of the island of Rhodes.

The wind not suffering us. The wind repelling us in that direction; not permitting us to hold on a direct course, we were driven off near to Crete.

We sailed under Crete. See Acts 27:4. We lay along near to Crete, so as to break the violence of the wind. For the situation of Crete, See Barnes "Acts 2:11".

Over against Salmone. Near to Salmone. This was the name of the promontory which formed the eastern extremity of the island of Crete.

{1} "under Crete" "Candy"

Verse 8. And, hardly passing it. Scarcely being able to pass by it without being wrecked. Being almost driven on it. They passed round the east end of the island, because they had been unable to sail directly forward between the island and the main land.

The fair havens. This was on the south-eastern part of the island of Crete. It was probably not so much a harbour as an open kind of road, which afforded good anchorage for a time. It is called by Stephen, the geographer, "the fair shore."

{++} "whereunto" "near which"

Verse 9. When much time was spent. In sailing along the coast of Asia; in contending with the contrary winds. It is evident that, when they started, they had hoped to reach Italy before the dangerous time of navigating the Mediterranean should arrive. But they had been detained and embarrassed contrary to their expectation, so that they were now sailing in the most dangerous and tempestuous time of the year.

Because the fast was now already past. By "the fast," here is evidently intended the fast which occurred among the Jews on the great day of atonement. That was the tenth of the month Tisri, which answers to a part of September and part of October. It was therefore the time of the autumnal equinox, and when the navigation of the Mediterranean was esteemed to be particularly dangerous, from the storms which usually occurred about that time. The ancients regarded this as a dangerous time to navigate the Mediterranean. See the proofs in Kuin”el on this place.

Paul admonished them. Paul exhorted, entreated, or persuaded them. He was somewhat accustomed to the navigation of that sea; and endeavoured to persuade them not to risk the danger of sailing at that season of the year.

{2} "fast" "The fast was on the tenth day of the seventh month,
Leviticus 23:27,29

Verse 10. Sirs. Greek, Men.

I perceive. It is not certain that Paul understood this by direct inspiration. He might have perceived it from his own knowledge of the danger of navigation at the autumnal equinox, and from what he saw of the ship as unfitted to a dangerous navigation. But there is nothing that should prevent our believing also that he was guided to this conclusion by the inspiration of the Spirit of God. Comp. Acts 27:23,24.

Will be with hurt. With injury, or hazard. It is not meant that their lives would be lost, but that they would jeoparded.

The lading. The freight of the ship. It was laden with wheat, Acts 27:38. Paul evidently, by this, intended to suggest the propriety of remaining where they were, until the time of dangerous navigation was past.

{1} "hurt" "injury"

Verse 11. The master. The captain, or the pilot. The person who is here meant was the helmsman, who occupied, in ancient ships, a conspicuous place on the stern, and steered the ship, and gave directions to the crew.

The owner of the ship. Probably a different person from "the master." He had the general command of the ship as his own property, but had employed "the master," or the pilot, to direct and manage it. His counsel, in regard to the propriety of continuing the voyage, would be likely to be followed.

{a} "believed" Proverbs 27:12

Verse 12. The haven. The fair havens, Acts 27:8.

Was not commodious to winter in. Not safe or convenient to remain there. Probably it furnished rather a safe anchorage-ground in time of a storm, than a convenient place for a permanent harbour.

The more part. The greater part of the crew.

To Phenice. This was a port or harbour on the south side of Crete, and west of the fair havens. It was a more convenient harbour, and regarded as more safe. It appears, therefore, that the majority of persons on board concurred with Paul in the belief that it was not advisable to attempt the navigation of the sea, until the dangers of the winter had passed by.

And lieth toward. Greek, Looking toward; i.e., it was open in that direction.

The southwest. \~kata liba\~. Toward Libya, or Africa. That country was situated south-west of the mouth of the harbour. The entrance of the harbour was in a south-west direction.

And northwest. \~kata cwron\~. This word denotes a wind blowing from the north-west. The harbour was doubtless curved. Its entrance was in a south-west direction. It then turned so as to lie in a direction towards the north-west. It was thus rendered perfectly safe from the winds and heavy seas; and in that harbour they might pass the winter in security.

{*} "more part" "greater"
{b} "Crete" Acts 27:7

Verse 13. The south wind. The wind before had probably been a headwind, blowing from the west. When it veered round to the south, and when it blew gently, though not entirely favourable, yet it was so that they supposed they could sail along the coast of Crete.

Had obtained their purpose. The object of their desire; that is, to sail safely along the coast of Crete.

Loosing thence. Setting sail for the fair havens.

Close by Crete. Near the shore. It is evident that they designed, if possible, to make the harbour of Phenice, to winter there.

{c} "loosing thence" Acts 27:7.

Verse 14. Arose. Beat violently.

Against it. Against the island of Crete.

A tempestuous wind. Turbulent, violent, strong.

Called Euroclydon. Interpreters have been much perplexed about the meaning of this word, which occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The most probable supposition is, that it denotes a wind not blowing steadily from any quarter, but a hurricane, or wind veering about to different quarters. Such hurricanes are known to abound in the Mediterranean, and are now called Levanters, deriving their name from blowing chiefly in the Levant, or eastern part of the Mediterranean. The name Euroclydon is derived probably from two Greek words, \~eurov\~, wind, and \~kludwn\~, a wave; so called from its agitating and exciting the waves. It thus answers to the usual effects hurricane, or of a wind rapidly changing its points of compass.

{2} "arose" "beat"
{d} "tempestuous wind" Psalms 107:25

Verse 15. The ship was caught. By the wind. It came suddenly upon them as a tempest.

Could not bear up, etc. Could not resist its violence, or could not direct the ship. It was seized by the wind, and driven with such violence that it became unmanageable.

We let her drive. We suffered the ship to be borne along by the wind, without attempting to control it.

{+} "caught" "Borne away"

Verse 16. And running under. Running near to an island. They run near to it, where the violence of the wind was probably broken by the island.

Which is called Clauda. This is a small island southwest of Crete.

We had much work. Much difficulty; we were scarcely able to do it.

To come by the boat. This does not mean that they attempted here to land in the boat, but they had much difficulty in saving the small boat attached to the ship, from being staved to pieces. Whether it was carried in the ship or towed at the stern, does not appear; but it is evident that it was in danger of being broken to pieces, or lost, and that they had much difficulty in securing it. The importance of securing the small boat is known by all seamen.

{++} "much work" "difficulty"

Verse 17. Which when they had taken up. When they had raised up the boat into the ship, so as to secure it.

They used helps. They used ropes, cables, stays, or chains, for the purpose of securing the ship. The danger was, that the ship would be destroyed; and they, therefore, made use of such aids as should prevent the loss of the ship.

Undergirding the ship. The ancients were accustomed to pass cables or strong ropes from one side of the ship to another, to keep the planks from springing or starting by the action of the sea. The rope was slipped under the prow, and passed along to any part of the keel which they pleased, and made fast on the deck. See cases mentioned in Kuin”el on this verse. An instance of the same kind is mentioned in Lord Anson's voyage round the world. Speaking of a Spanish man-of-war in a storm, he says, "They were obliged to throw overboard all their upper-deck guns, and take six turns of the cable round the ship, to prevent her opening." (Clark.)

Lest they should fall into the quicksands. There were two celebrated syrtes, or quicksands, on the coast of Africa, called the greater and lesser. They were vast beds of sand driven up by the sea, and constantly shifting their position, so that they could not know certainly where the danger was, and guard against it. As they were constantly changing their position, they could not be accurately laid down in a chart. They were afraid, therefore, that they should be driven on one of those banks of sand, and thus be lost.

Strake sail. Or, rather, lowered or took down the mast, or the yards to which the sails were attached. There has been a great variety of interpretations proposed on this passage. The most probable is, that they took down the mast, by cutting or otherwise, as is now done in storms at sea, to save the ship. They were at the mercy of the wind and waves; and their only hope was by taking away their sails.

And so were driven. By the wind and waves. The ship was unmanageable, and they suffered it to be driven before the wind.

{e} "fall into the quicksands" Psalms 107:25

Verse 18. They lightened the ship. By throwing out a part of the cargo.

{f} "tossed" Psalms 107:27

Verse 19. The tackling of the ship. The anchor, sails, cables, baggage, etc. That is, they threw over everything that was not indispensable to its preservation, for it seems still Acts 27:29.

{g} "cast out" Job 2:4; Jonah 1:5

Verse 20. Neither sun nor stars, etc. As they could see neither sun nor stars, they could make no observations; and as they had no compass, they would be totally ignorant of their situation, and gave up all is lost.

{i} "all hope" Ezekiel 37:11

Verse 21. But after long abstinence. By the violence of the storm, by their long-continued labour, and by their apprehension of danger, they had a long time abstained from food.

And to have gained this harm. To have procured this harm, or have subjected yourselves to it. Had you remained there, you would have been safe. It seems to be bad English to speak of gaining a loss, but it is a correct translation of the original, \~kerdhsai\~, which expresses the idea of acquiring or procuring, whether good or evil. See Acts 27:9,10.

{a} "hearkened" Acts 27:10
{b} "have loosed" Acts 27:13
{*} "gained" "procured"

Verse 22. There shall be no loss. This must have been cheering news those who had given up all for lost. As Paul had manifested great wisdom in former advice to them, they might now be more disposed to listen to him. The reason why he believed they would be safe, he immediately states.

{c} "I exhort" Job 22:29; Psalms 112:7; 2 Corinthians 4:8,9

Verse 23. There stood by me. There appeared to me.

The angel of God. The message of God were often communicated by angels. See Hebrews 1:14. This does not mean that there was any particular angel, but simply an angel.

Whose I am. Of the God to whom I belong. This is an expression of Paul's entire devotedness to him.

Whom I serve. In the gospel. To whom and to whose cause I am entirely devoted.

{d} "this night the angel" Acts 22:11
{e} "angel of God" Hebrews 1:14
{f} "whom I serve" Deuteronomy 32:9; Psalms 135:4; Isaiah 44:5; Malachi 3:17; John 17:9,10
1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 2:9,10

Verse 24. Fear not, Paul. Do not be alarmed with the danger of the loss of life.

Thou must be brought, etc. And therefore thy life will be spared.

God hath given thee all, etc. That is, they shall all be preserved with thee. None of their lives shall be lost. It does not mean that they should be converted; but that their lives should be preserved. It is implied here that it was for the sake of Paul, or that the leading purpose of the Divine interposition to rescue them from danger was to save his life. The wicked often derive important benefits from being connected with Christians; and God often confers important favours on them in his general purposes to benefit his own people. The lives of impenitent men are often spared because God interposes to save his own people.

{h} "given thee" Genesis 19:21,29

Verse 25. No Barnes text on this verse.

{+} "good cheer" "courage"
{i} "For I believe God" Luke 1:45; Romans 4:20,21; 2 Timothy 1:12

Verse 26. Howbeit. Nevertheless.

Upon a certain island. Malta. See Acts 28:1

{k} "certain island" Acts 28:1

Verse 27. The fourteenth night. From the time when the tempest commenced.

In Adria. In the Adriatic Sea. This sea is properly situated between Italy and Dalmatia, now called the Adriatic Gulf. But, among the ancients, the name was given not only to that gulf, but to the whole sea lying between Greece, Italy, and Africa, including the Sicilian and Ionian Sea. It is evident, from the narrative, that they were not in the Adriatic Gulf, but somewhere in the vicinity of Malta. See the Map.

Deemed. Judged. Probably by the appearance of the sea.

{&} "Adria" "The Adriatic Sea"
{|} "shipmen deemed" "The sailors thought"

Verse 28. And sounded. To sound is to make use of a line and lead to ascertain the depth of water.

Twenty fathoms. A fathom is six feet, or the distance from the extremity of the middle finger on one hand to the extremity of the other, when the arms are extended. The depth, therefore, was about one hundred and twenty feet.

Fifteen fathoms. They knew, therefore, that they were drawing near to shore.

Verse 29. They cast four anchors. On account of the violence of the storm and waves, to make if possible the ship secure.

And wished for the day. To discern more accurately their situation and danger.

{l} "wished for the day" Psalms 130:6

Verse 30. The shipmen. The sailors, leaving the prisoners.

Under colour. Under pretence. They pretended that it was necessary to get into the boat, and carry the anchors ahead of the ship so as to make it secure, but with a real intention to make for the shore.

Out of the foreship. From the prow, so as to make the fore part of the ship secure. The reason why they did this was, probably, that they expected the ship would go to pieces; and as all on board could not be saved in one small boat, they resolved to escaped to a place of safety as soon as possible.

{%} "shipmen" "sailors"
{**} "flee" "escape"
{++} "under colour" "pretence"

Verse 31. Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers. The centurion had, it appears, the general direction of the ship, Acts 27:11. Probably it had been pressed into the service of the government.

Except these. These seamen. The soldiers and the centurion were unqualified to manage the ship, and the presence of the sailors was therefore indispensable to the preservation of any.

Abide in the ship. Remain on board.

Ye cannot be saved. You cannot be preserved from death. You will have no hope of managing the ship so as to be secure from death. It will be remembered that Paul had been informed by the angel, and had assured then, Acts 27:22-24, that no lives should be lost. But it was only in the use of the proper means that their lives would be safe, yet this did not, in his view, prevent the use of the proper means to secure it. From this we lay learn,

(1.) that the certainty of an event does not render it improper to use means to obtain it.

(2.) That though the event may be determined, yet the use of the means may be indispensable. The event is rendered no more certain than the means requisite to accomplish it.

(3.). That the doctrine of the Divine purposes or decrees, making certain future events, does not make the use of man's agency unnecessary or improper. The means are determined as well as the end; and the one will not be secured without the other.

(4.) The same is true in regard to the decrees respecting salvation. The end is not determined without the means; and as God has resolved that his people shall be saved, so he has also determined the means. He has ordained that they shall repent, shall believe, shall be holy, and shall thus be saved.

(5.) We have in this case a full answer to the objection that a belief in the decrees of God will make men neglect the means of salvation, and lead to licentiousness. It has just the contrary tendency. Here is a case in which Paul certainly believed in the purpose of God to save these men; in which he was assured that it was fully determined; and yet the effect was not to produce inattention and unconcern, but to prompt him to use strenuous efforts to accomplish the very effect which God had determined should take place. So it is always. A belief that God has purposes of mercy; that he designs, and has always designed, to save some, will prompt to the use of all proper means to secure it. If we had no evidence that God had any such purpose, effort would be vain. We should have no inducement in exertion. Where we have such evidence, it operates as it did in the case of Paul, to produce great and strenuous endeavours to secure the object.

Verse 32. Cut off the ropes, etc. It is evident that the mariners had not yet got on board the boat. They had let it down into the sea, Acts 27:30, and were about to go on board. By thus cutting the ropes which fastened the boat to the ship, and letting it go, they removed all possibility of their fleeing from the ship, and compelled them to remain on board.

Verse 33. And while the day was coming on. At daybreak. It was before they had sufficient light to discern what they should do.

To take meat. Food. The word meat was formerly used to denote food of any kind.

That ye have tarried. That you have remained or been fasting.

Having taken nothing. No regular meal. It cannot mean that they had lived entirely without food; but that they had been so much in danger, so constantly engaged, and so anxious about their safety, that they had taken no regular meal; and that what they had taken had been at irregular intervals, and had been a scanty allowance. "Appian speaks of an army which for twenty days together had neither food nor sleep; by which he must mean that they neither made full meals, nor slept whole nights together. The same interpretation must be given to this phrase." (Doddridge.) The effect of this must have been, that they would be weak and exhausted, and little able to endure the fatigues which yet remained.

{*} "meat" "food"
{+} "tarried" "waited"

Verse 34. Not an hair fall from the head, This is a proverbial expression, denoting that they should be preserved safe; that none of them should be lost; and that in their persons they should not experience the least damage, 1 Samuel 14:45, 1 Kings 1:52.

{a} "for your health" Matthew 15:32; 1 Timothy 5:23
{b} "shall not an hair fall" 1 Kings 1:52; Matthew 10:30; Luke 12:7; 21:18

Verse 35. And gave thanks, etc. This was the usual custom among the Hebrews. See Barnes "Matthew 14:19". Paul was among those who were not Christians. But he was not ashamed of the proper acknowledgment of God, and was not afraid to avow his dependence on him, and to express his gratitude for his mercy.

{c} "gave thanks" 1 Samuel 9:13; Matthew 15:36; Mark 8:6; John 6:11,23; 1 Timothy 4:3,4

Verse 36. No Barnes text on this verse.

{+} "good cheer" "courage"
{*} "meat" "food"

Verse 37. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 38. They lightened the ship. By casting the wheat into the sea. As they had no hope of saving the cargo, and had no further use for it, they hoped that by throwing the wheat overboard, the ship would draw less water, and that thus they would be able to come nearer to the shore.

{&} "wheat" "corn"

Verse 39. They knew not the land. They had been driven with a tempest, without being able to make any observation; and it is probable that they were entire strangers to the coast, and to the whole island.

A certain creek with a shore. Greek, A certain bosom--\~kolpon\~--or bay. By its having a shore is probably meant that it had a level shore, or one that was convenient for landing. It was not a high bluff of rocks, but was accessible. Kuin”el thinks that the passage should be construed, "they found a certain shore, having a bay," etc.

Were minded. Were resolved.

{|} "minded" "determined"

Verse 40. Had taken up the anchors. The four anchors with which they had moored the ship, Acts 27:29. See the margin. The expression may mean that they slipped or cut their cables, and that thus they left the anchors in the sea. This is the most probable interpretation.

And loosed the rudder-bands. The rudder in navigation is that by which a ship is steered. It is that part of the helm which consists of a piece of timber, broad at the bottom, which enters the water, and is attached by hinges to the stern-post on which it turns. (Webster.) But what was the precise form of the rudder, among the ancients, is not certainly known. Sometimes a vessel might be steered by oars. In most ships they appear to have had a rudder at the prow as well as at the stern. In some instances also they had them on the sides. The word used here in the Greek is in the plural--\~twn phdaliwn\~--and it is evident that they had in this ship more than one rudder. The bands mentioned here were probably the cords or fastenings, by which the rudder could be made secure to the sides of the ship, or could be raised up out of the water in a violent storm, to prevent its being carried away. And as in the tempest the rudders had become useless, (Acts 27:15,17,) they were probably either raised out of the water, or made fast. Now that the storm was passed, and they could be used again, they were loosed, and they endeavoured to direct the vessel into port.

The mainsail. \~artemona\~. There have been various explanations of this word. Luther translates it, the mast. Erasmus, the yards. Grotius, who supposes that the mainmast had been cast away, (Acts 27:17,) thinks that this must mean the foremast or bowsprit. The word usually means the mainsail. The Syriac and Arabic understand it of a small sail, that was hoisted for a temporary purpose.

{1} "taken up the anchors" "Or, cut the anchors, they left them in the
sea"

Verse 41. And falling. Being carried by the wind and waves.

Into a place where two seas met. Gr., Into a place of a double sea. \~diyalasson\~. That is, a place which is washed on both sides by the sea. It refers properly to an isthmus, tongue of land, or a sand-bar, stretching out from the main land, and which was washed on both sides by the waves. It is evident that this was not properly an isthmus that was above the waves, but was probably a long sandbank that stretched far out into the sea, and which they did not perceive. In endeavouring to make the harbour, they ran on this bar or sand-bank.

They ran the ship aground. Not designedly, but in endeavouring to reach the harbour, Acts 27:39.

The hinder part was broken. The stern was broken or staved in. By this means the company was furnished with boards, etc., on which they were safely conveyed to the shore, Acts 27:44.

Verse 42. And the soldiers' counsel, etc. Why they gave this advice is not known. It was probably, however, because the Roman military discipline was very strict, and if they escaped, it would probably be charged on them that it had been done by the negligence and unfaithfulness of the soldiers. They therefore proposed, in a most cruel and bloodthirsty manner, to kill them, though contrary to all humanity, justice, and laws; presuming probably that it would be supposed that they had perished in the wreck. This is a remarkable proof that men can be cruel even when experiencing the tender mercy of God; and that the most affecting scenes of Divine goodness will not mitigate the natural ferocity and cruelty of those who delight in blood.

{d} "counsel" Psalms 74:20

Verse 43. But the centurion, willing to save Paul. He had at first been disposed to treat Paul with kindness, Acts 27:3. And his conduct on board the ship; the wisdom of his advice, Acts 27:10; the prudence of his conduct in the agitation and danger of the tempest; and not improbably the belief that he was under the Divine protection and blessing, disposed him to spare his life.

Kept them from their purpose. Thus, for the sake of this one righteous man, the lives of all were spared. The instance here shows,

(1.) that it is possible for a pious man, like Paul, so to conduct in the various trying scenes of life--the agitations, difficulties, and temptations of this world--as to conciliate the favour of the men of this world; and,

(2.) that important benefits often result to sinners from the righteous. Paul's being on board was the means of saving the lives of many prisoners; and God often confers important blessings on the wicked for the sake of the pious relatives, friends, and neighbours with whom they are connected. Ten righteous men would have saved Sodom, Genesis 18:32; and Christians are in more ways than one the salt of the earth, and light of the world, Matthew 5:13,14. It is a privilege to be related to the friends of God--to be the children of pious parents, or to be connected with pious partners in life. It is a privilege to be connected with the friends of God in business, or to dwell near them, or to be associated with them in the various walks and dangers of life. The streams of blessings which flow to fertilize their lands, flow also to bless others; the dews of heaven which descend on their habitations, descend on all around; and the God which crowns them with loving-kindness, often fills the abodes of their neighbours and friends with the blessings of peace and salvation.

And commanded. Probably they were released from their chains.

{e} "save Paul" 2 Corinthians 11:25

Verse 44. And the rest. Those who could not swim.

They escaped all safe to land. According to the promise which was made to Paul, Acts 27:22. This was done by the special Providence of God. It was a remarkable instance of Divine interposition to save so many through so long-continued dangers; and it shows that God can defend in any perils, and can accomplish all his purposes. On the ocean or the land, we are safe in his keeping; and he can devise ways that shall fulfil all his purposes, and that can protect his people from danger.

{a} "so it came to pass" Acts 27:22; Psalms 107:28-30.