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Acts 27:21-26

Acts 27:21- (NIV)

After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss.

Acts 27:22 – (NIV)

But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.

Acts 27:23 – (NIV)

Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me

Acts 27:24 – (NIV)

and said, “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.”

Acts 27:25 – (NIV)

So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.

Acts 27:26 – (NIV)

Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”

Note 56: It’s been a long trip

The sequence starts by telling us “After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said”. This brief opening sentence is packed with a great deal of unstated facts.  Everyone on board has been beat up, they are fatigued and afraid they are going to die.  Many are seasick! Once you experience the onset of seasickness, everything deteriorates very quickly.  If the condition last for more than an hour, you think you are going to die and are thinking that is a good alternative. You will not eat! You will revisit what you have eaten, often multiple times.  It is politely called feeding the fish.  If you have never experienced seasickness for an extended time you need to, at least once but only once. I am using humor to tell those unacquainted with this when you get it, you really want to die, I mean REALLY WANT TO.  The other problem created by extended seasickness is fatigue and loss of strength.

Note 57: “You should have listened to me the first time”

During this voyage Luke records Paul speaking to the others on the ship several times. In verse 21 he addresses everyone for the second recorded time during this voyage. Back in verse 10, Paul warned them not to sail, which they summarily ignored.  In that verse he said they would lose ship, cargo and life. It is important that Paul reminds them here they should have listened to him earlier.  His comment here (besides being irritating to those who overruled him the first time) serves to strengthen what he is

about to say and gives it more weight for their consideration.   The reminder here only helps build his credibility.

Note 58: Paul’s bold statements

Paul’s comments contain four major points. He tells them WHAT they should do, next WHY they should do it, he tells them what AUTHORITY is behind his comments, and finally he declares to them the logical CONCLUSION they should make based on the facts he has just given them, “so keep up your courage.”

1). The WHAT;  “I urge you to keep up your courage”

2). The WHY;  “because not one of you will be lost”

3). The AUTHORITY;  “Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’

Notice, Paul starts the statement with the same instructions given to him personally that he now passes on to the others, “do not be afraid.”.  I’m sure the  reason it was addressed to him personally, because he was afraid.

Next Paul continues to quote this angel messenger, (this is my paraphrase) Paul, your fate has been decided and you MUST stand trial.  This declaration has nothing to do with anyone else on the vessel, including Luke. It reminds Paul he will be saved so he can go before Caesar. Then the angel adds this (again my paraphrase) God, who will deliver Paul to stand trial, also has given the lives of everyone else on this vessel to Paul.

4). The CONCLUSION:   “So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.”  Notice Paul started his address to everyone in verse 22, with “I urge you…” a personal request.  This time he starts by saying “SO (after hearing what My God says) take courage.”  By using the term “So” this time he is basing the request on the evidence he was shown and the conclusion they should now draw from that evidence.

Paul’s encouraging words are meant to change their minds, their attitudes and their future actions.  These people are in a desperate situation where loss of their life is probable.  They have given up ALL HOPE of surviving.  These words are meant to encourage them and tell them they will survive.

Note 59: Paul’s Leadership

Paul shows real leadership by speaking to these people at this time. These statements are made so those around him can regain their hope and courage, and he gives them a reason for hope. He tells them they will not die. He tells them to take courage, DON’T BE AFRAID. Whether or not one is a Christian or believes that Paul was an inspired Apostle, he must be given credit as a leader. This statement is exactly what these folks needed at that moment.

If this were John Paul Jones, David Farragut, Sir Francis Drake or Admiral Nelson, or any other heroic figure from history, we would accept the testimony at face value. Why would we do that?.   Because we believe the testimony of the witnesses of their events. But because this testimony is recorded in the Bible some people refuse to believe this as credible testimony.

Note 60: Luke as a witness.

Let’s examine what we know about Luke as an eyewitness. So far our every sentence recorded by Luke has been detailed and believable. Luke has proven to be accurate and precise in his language and his observations. He is as consistent with his writing as other survivor accounts from recorded history.  In this dialog as well, Luke appears to be simply recording what Paul said.  There is no need to doubt whether Luke actually heard Paul say these things.  Since Luke has already stated that he had given up all hope, along with everyone else, he probably paid very close attention to what Paul said.  I can find no reason to doubt Luke’s eyewitness account of this portion of events.

Note 61: Do you believe Paul?

Believing that Luke wrote of what Paul said is an easy conclusion.  Believing Paul said it is also an easy decision since it is quite consistent with Paul’s testimony about God in other circumstances during his lifetime.  Believing Paul is the part where people have difficulty.  Aside from the tremendous leadership Paul provides to this situation he has made some pretty bold claims.  He said there is a God, to whom Paul belongs (a slave term) and that he serves (Paul does as his God commands him to do).  Paul’s God sent an angel (a messenger), who stood beside Paul the night before to confirm to Paul that the mission was from God, and that in order to fulfill God’s mission for Paul to stand trial, Paul must survive. This Messenger then tells Paul that the lives of everyone else on the ship have been (graciously) granted to Paul. Paul must have specifically asked God (through prayer) that they all be rescued.

Remember back in verse 10, Paul actually said “I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also. Here, he reverses his earlier comment and now informs them that God would spare their lives.

Some people doubt what Paul said is factual.  Some people doubt because the account appears in the Bible and they have made up their minds that the Bible can’t possibly be true.  The claims Paul made were apparently made in front of everyone.  One thing is certain, no one on this ship will have to wait very long to see if Paul’s words are true or false.  He said that no one on the ship will die, but the ship itself will be wrecked on some island.  I’m sure they were all clinging to the hope that his words and the God he declares are true.

Note 62: Luke’s reliability

Remember, the purpose of this analysis is to examine the reliability of Luke as an eyewitness of this voyage and shipwreck.  In that regard, once again his narration about the voyage continues to follow a logical sequence of events and Paul’s speaking to everyone seems perfectly plausible.  From this point forward, the account will quickly move to the ultimate fate of the ship and those on board who will test  the hope offered by Paul.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Mary Magnusson
    September 2, 2010 at 9:07 pm


    Your comments on these (and other) verses are insightful and faith-filled. Keep up the good work. Thank you for sharing your research with us.

    • September 3, 2010 at 2:00 pm

      Wow, I appreciate your comments and your encouragement. That is quite a compliment coming from someone who has studied the bible as much as you have. Luke’s detail is remarkable and his narrative puts us right in the middle of the events. The exciting thing is the really scary part is coming fast.

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