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Acts - Chapter 27

Bible Study Notes

Acts 27:1-8 Paul, along with some other prisoners, was placed under the guard of a centurion name Julius, put on a ship, and embarked to Italy. Aristarchus from Thessalonica accompanied them. The next day, they landed at Sidon where Julius allowed Paul to visit his friends. Leaving Sidon, they set sail again and came to Myra in Lycia. Julius transferred Paul and the prisoners to a different ship from Alexandria that was sailing to Italy. They sailed slowly because of the strong winds and eventually arrived at Cnidus. They left Cnidus and arrived at a place called Fair Havens near the city of Lasea.

Notes: accompanied by Aristarchus. He had been seized by the crowd during the riot at Ephesus, while accompanying Paul to Jerusalem with the offering. Aristarchus would be with Paul during the apostle’s first Roman imprisonment. ship of Alexandria. Part of the imperial grain fleet.

Acts 27:9-12 The voyage became increasingly dangerous because of the strong winds on the open sea. Paul advised Julius that he feared loss and injury to the cargo and to their lives if they pressed forward sailing at the moment. Julius paid Paul no attention, but instead listened to the ship’s pilot and crew, for the harbor they were at was not suitable to spend the winter, and they wanted to set sail and reach a harbor called Phoenix in Crete and winter there instead.

Acts 27:13-17 They reached Crete and dropped anchor, then decided to sail along Crete close to the shore, but a great storm stuck, and the ship was caught in the middle of it. They could not fight against the wind, so they gave way and let the winds drive them along. They found temporary relief from the storm when they ran under a small island called Cauda where they managed to secure the ship’s boat by hoisting it up. The used supports to undergird the ship, but they feared running aground on the Syrtis, so they lowered the gear again, and thus were driven along by the winds.

Notes: used supports to undergird the ship. A procedure known as frapping. The cables, wrapped around the hull and winched tight, helped the ship endure the battering of the wind and waves.

Acts 27:18-26 The next day, they lightened the load by tossing cargo overboard. The following day, they threw the tackle overboard. Many days later with no sun or stars to guide their voyage, the men lost all hope of survival. They also had gone many days without anything to eat. Paul spoke up and told them that they should have listened to him and not set sail from Crete. He told them to take heart, for though the ship would be lost, all their lives would be saved according to the angel sent by the God he worshipped that appeared to him in the night. The angel told Paul not to fear for he will stand before Caesar and God granted that all those on the board would live. Paul again told the men to take heart for he had faith in his God that it will come to pass exactly as the angel proclaimed.

Notes: Throwing all unnecessary gear and cargo overboard would lighten the ship, enabling it to ride more easily over the waves.

Acts 27:27-32 Two weeks into their journey, crossing the Adriatic Sea, the sailors suspected they were nearing land. They tested the depth of the water and it was twenty fathoms. Again they tested and it was only fifteen fathoms. Fearing to hit rocks, they let down four anchors to keep the ship pointing toward the shore and prayed for daylight. Some of the sailors wanted to escape the ship and got into the boat pretending that they were going to lay out more anchors at the bow of the ship for better stability. Paul, perceiving what they were up to, warned Julius and the soldiers that unless the men stayed in the ship, they will all perish. Julius listened to Paul and had the soldiers cut the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it drift away.

Notes: twenty fathoms . . . fifteen fathoms. 120 feet . . . 90 feet. The decreasing depth of the water confirmed the ship was approaching land.

Acts 27:33-38 Before the sun rose, Paul urged the men to eat, for they needed their strength to get through the upcoming ordeal. He promised them not one of them would perish even though the ship would be destroyed. He then took bread and gave thanks to God in all their presence. This encouraged the men and they ate also. When all 276 men had their fill of food, they dumped the remaining wheat into the sea to lighten the load some more.

Acts 27:39-44 When the sun came up, they did not recognize the land in front of them. They prepared to run aground and cut away the anchors. They loosened the ropes to set free the rudders and hoisted the sails to allow the strong winds to push them to the beach. Before reaching the beach, the ship hit a reef. The bow was stuck and the stern was breaking up against the strong surf. The soldiers were about to kill the prisoners so they would not escape, but Julius kept them from carrying out their plan wishing to save Paul. Julius ordered all those that could swim to jump overboard and make it to land. Those that could not swim were commanded to hold on to broken pieces of the ship to help stay afloat. All were brought safely to dry land.

Notes: The ship’s rudders would have been pulled out of the water and tied down during the storm but were now placed back in the water to steer the ship. The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners. Knowing they could face punishment or death if their prisoners escaped.

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