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Acts 27: 27

Act 27:27

On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land.

Note 63: Time Gap

“On the fourteenth night…” Luke’s narrative now skips to the fourteenth night of the journey.  This ‘fast forward’ of the account is not unusual to this story or other eyewitness accounts.  Often eyewitness accounts will skip across long time periods where nothing dramatic changed in their circumstances.  The length of time is also credible since it is more than 460 nautical miles from Caudia to the shores of Malta.

Note 64: Adriatic Sea:

“…we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea,” Some debate has occurred over the years about the location of the Adriatic Sea. In the first century the Adriatic Sea extended all the way down to Malta and over to Sicily back across to Crete. The map shows the modern area meant by the term.

Note 65: Land

“when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. My parents always told me that nothing good ever happens after midnight.  I have passed that wisdom on to my kids as well.  Well it’s now midnight.  This is a good news and bad news situation. Yeah! land… Oh no! land.  Land is really their only rescue, but at midnight land is also the biggest threat to their lives. Wooden ships on rocks are not a good combination, and the darkness gives them no time to react to hidden dangers.

Note 66: the sailors sensed danger

Here once again Luke’s narration is invaluable to understanding what is really happening.  First notice he has distinguished who is involved, the sailors.  Only the sailors notice or sense something has changed.  The sailors sense danger.  Notice he did not say they heard something, but they sensed something. Presumably they sensed some unknown danger of rocks or surf or something they could not yet identify.  I Personally have seen sailors do this very thing. It is remarkable when you see it happen. But, notice Luke did not sense anything nor did anyone else.  From this we can deduce that it was not a noise that alerted the sailors (or else Luke and the others on the boat would have been aware of the danger) but rather something else sensed only by the sailors.

Note 67: Personal Note, the Flower Gardens

Once when I was a younger man I was on a trip in Texas and was invited to dive a place called the Flower Gardens in the Gulf of Mexico with a dive shop from Houston.  The Flower Gardens are over 110 miles off the Texas coast and the northern most coral reef in the US.  One of the most unusual places on Earth to dive, but it requires a long boat ride to get there.  The overnight trip is generally made on larger dive boats, which leave at night for the long voyage so everyone can sleep.  In those days we did not have GPS, and it wasn’t that long ago.  We do have a depth finder, and there is no danger of hitting the bottom, but there is a chance of missing the dive spot entirely. There are no land marks, and we are traveling at night. On this trip the first mate was running the boat and I was talking to him when suddenly the captain who had been sleeping suddenly burst into the wheel house hollering “didn’t you feel that?” I had no clue and from the look on his face neither did the first mate, who was dumb enough to answer with “what?” The old captain responded “the bottom came up”.  Sure enough in just a moment we could see on the depth finder the bottom rise sharply.  The sleeping captain was awakened by something he sensed. Maybe tiny change in vibrations, sounds, or pressure, or the rolling of the waves I’m not sure what he sensed, he just sensed there was a change and it was time to act.

Note 68: Luke

The sailors on Paul’s ship knew something was changing and in Luke’s narrative his word choice describes the scene perfectly, PERFECTLY.  I can’t say it enough – Luke’s eyewitness account tells us far more than meets the eye or any ordinary writer could provide us with.  The next few verses tell us what the crew did next and how things progress from here.  Things are about to hit the fan!

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