Acts 27:21-26

September 2, 2010 2 comments

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.

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New Map Section

August 27, 2010 3 comments

We have added a new menu on the right side of the site labeled Maps. It contains some maps about the journey of Luke and Paul.  We use Google Earth and I highly recommend this product, it is one of those things that is great about the Internet.  I hope you enjoy them.

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Acts 27: 18-20

August 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Acts 27: 18 (NIV)

We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard.

Note 50:  “WE” took such a violent battering

Again, Luke’s precise choice of words paints such a clear mental picture of what these people enduring at this moment.  First he chose the term “we took”, instead of “the ship took”, which I believe shows the personal nature of their suffering.  Quite often in shipwreck survival accounts you will see that during the process of long storms, many survivors internalize the struggle and it becomes about them personally and no longer just about the ship.  Thus, Luke’s choice of words is yet another indication that this text is indeed a true first-hand account of the events.

Next he chooses the words “violent battering”.  This description gives us a double dose of inflicted punishment on people and vessel, but then as if not enough he completes the verbal picture by making the phrase “such a violent battering”.  Keep in mind that verse 27:17 seemed to have a ray of hope hidden in the words; however, the words used here are certainly losing that positive tone.

Note 51:  (a Personal Note)  The psychology of personalizing the storm

The concept of personalizing catastrophic events is not uncommon. One of the worse times in my life was from 2000 – 2002, otherwise known as the “tech bubble burst”.  I was riding pretty high before the burst but when the recession hit, I felt as if the “burst”, the recession and the downward trend in the economy were personally directed at me.  It was a financially devastating time for me during which I often, OFTEN wondered if I had done something wrong.  Had I failed to be a good steward with the money God had given me?  Was God angry with me for some other failure on my part?  I know now that these thoughts weren’t logical.  God did not bankrupt entire industries and send the world into recession just because he was mad at me.  I know how ridiculous it must sound to someone to hear that these thoughts ran through my head.  I really do know in my brain that these were all silly thoughts of a man during a moment of weakness.  But, silly though they may be, even thinking about those times now makes me shake inside.  And to think, I wasn’t even facing eminent death by drowning.  The men in these verses were.

Note 52: The things people throw overboard in a storm.

Luke tells us that they take additional action in any attempt to improve the situation.  He states “…they begin to throw the cargo overboard”.  The reason for undertaking the voyage in the first place was to make money by moving the cargo of grain from Egypt to Rome.  There is no indication that the grain was in any way ruined at this point.  It is possible that the grain was wet and may have been unsalvageable at this point, but the text does not indicate that as fact.  As far as we know the cargo was still in perfect condition.  Jettisoning cargo was a common act among crews during this type of event.  It helped lighten the load on the ship and gave it some extra buoyancy to stay afloat.  It is amazing what people are willing to part with during times of crisis.

I believe he is referring to the crew when he says “they” in this case.  The order to dump cargo would have come from the owner or captain directly to the crew.

Acts 27:19 – (NIV)

On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands.

Note 53:

I believe that Luke is again referring to the crew when he says “they threw” because the order to throw tackle overboard would have come from the owner or captain and would have been directed toward the crew.  This theory is reinforced when he adds ” ‘with’ their own hands” at the end.

There are various theories as to what tackle this might refer to.  It could be broken equipment, spare equipment, or gear that is not in use at that moment.  Basically it could be anything not vital to this ship making it to the next port.  The equipment thrown overboard may very well have been in good condition but was also extra weight.  On the other hand, the dumping of the ship’s tackle may also indicate deterioration in the overall condition of the ship.  The more the ship deteriorates, the more items can be removed from it.  Regardless of whether the items thrown overboard were in good condition or bad, this statement CLEARLY indicates that the crew is continuing to do anything that might help them survive.

Actions such as this are quite common during shipwrecks throughout history, especially those of ships embarked on a long journey.  This fact lends credence, yet again, to the assertion that this chapter of Acts is indeed an accurate and first-hand account of these events.

Acts 27:20 – (NIV)

When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.

Note 54:

Like many of the statements in this chapter, Acts 27:20 is one of those that could be taken from almost any storm related shipwreck account ever written by a survivor.  First, Luke will justify a decision that was made by first providing the reasoning behind it:

“When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging,”

Can you imagine what a desperate situation this must have been?  Pure misery with no end in sight.  Anyone that has ever been sea sick for hours on end (or, for that matter, sick with any illness that seemingly had no end) may be able to appreciate the way these passages read.  I personally have been so seasick on some dive trips that I have actually thought death was preferable to the condition I was enduring.

The next sentence is the worst mental state of all: “… we finally gave up all hope of being saved.”

Again, notice that by using the pronoun “we”, Luke is again including himself in the group he is describing (i.e. those who gave up all hope of being saved).  I do not know whether Paul had given up hope at this point; I don’t think so.  However, Luke certainly sounds like he includes himself as part of “we”.  By using the phrase “we finally gave up ALL hope of being saved”, Luke paints a complete visual and emotional picture of the conditions through which these men were suffering and the state of mind that had begun to take hold of them.  Again, comments and recorded testimony exactly like this are common to other shipwreck accounts of a long duration.  Survivors’ narrations often clearly indicate the very moment that people give up.  On an interesting note, experts who study and teach survival skills all agree that the moment a person gives up hope of rescue, the chance for survival drop dramatically.

Note 55:

One final note here, remember the tone of optimism we read in verse 27:17, after they made preparation to face the storm.  The events described in verses 18 – 20 seem to have zapped all such optimism from those on the ship.

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Acts 27:16-17

August 13, 2010 4 comments

Acts 27:16 (NIV)

As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure.

Acts 27:17 (NIV)

When the men had hoisted it aboard, they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Fearing that they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along.

Once again I will analyze multiple translations to get a complete look at the full meaning of the text.

Act 27:16 (NAS)

Running under the shelter of a small island called Clauda, we were scarcely able to get the ship’s boat under control.

Acts 27:17 (NIV)

After they had hoisted it up, they used supporting cables in undergirding the ship; and fearing that they might run aground on the shallows of Syrtis, they let down the [fn] sea anchor and in this way let themselves be driven along.


Note 42:   Notice that now it’s “we” not “they”

Luke writes As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure.” (NIV).  Notice how Luke now uses the inclusive pronoun “we”, as opposed to the use of “they”, which he used in verse 13.  The first “we” clearly refers to the ship and all the people on board. The second “we” may show that even Luke himself was part of a work force.

Note 43:   “…under the shelter of…”

Luke Writes, “As we passed to the lee of (under the shelter of – NAS) a small island called Cauda . . .” The Greek name for the island of Caude (spelled Clauda in the NAS and KJV) is Gávdhos.  It has also been known by a wide variety of other names as used by various historical writers.  The island is pretty small, only about 27 km² in area.  It is positioned  a short distance from Crete, about 26 nautical miles south.  It is nearly WSW (just a little south of due west) from the point where we think they were originally hit by the storm.  The lee side of the island provided enough shelter to give them a small window of time to get ready to ride out the storm.

Note 44:   “…secure the lifeboat…”

Luke writes, “…we were hardly able to make the lifeboat ( the ship’s boat – NAS) secure…” .  Virtually all sailing ships through out history used small boats (hence the name the ship’s boat) that were towed behind the ship. It was used to ferry crew and passengers from ship to shore while in port or as a lifeboat if the ship was sinking. This arrangement works fine while sailing in normal weather.    Since the wind was pushing them from behind they would be unable to control the boat and it would have been in danger of either sinking or damaging the stern of the ship or the steering oars.  As they came around behind Cauda (Gávdhos), they tried to bring it aboard and secure it.  Luke tells us this was a difficult task and “‘we’ were scarcely able” to get the job done.

Note 45: “Hypozomata” this is a BIG deal

After the boat was secured on board the ship they turned their attention to keeping the ship afloat.  Luke writes they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together.” (NIV). The term used in the text is “Hypozomata”. This equipment and the procedure are well documented from classical history, particularly with military ships.  These ropes would help hold the ship together and make it more water tight.  Being watertight, is a very important concept to a grain ship, because all types of Grain will swell dramatically when it gets wet.  So here we have a ship that is in danger of leaking, in danger of external pressure of a storm crushing from the outside, and also in danger of potential internal pressure created by swelling cargo which is pushing outward.

Note 46:   A Personal note**

From this shipwreck hunters perspective, this action of passing a rope under the ship may one day prove to be the key to identifying this shipwreck.

Note 47:   Quicksands of Syrtis…

Luke tells us what the greatest fear was among the crew: “ fearing that they might run aground on the shallows of Syrtis”. The varying translations refer to them as the “shallows of Syrtis” (NAS), the “sandbars of Syrtis” (NIV), and “the quicksands” (KJV).  (So was it shallows, sandbars, or quicksand?  Yes!)

The fear of running aground in these moving sand banks was quite real.  The shallows of Syrtis are great shallow areas located along the coast of North Africa near Tunis and Tripoli, Libia.  In fact, they are still dangerous today.  The real problem with the area is the large expanse of shallow water and the shifting of the sand, which changes where the danger is actually located and making it hard to sail near the area.

Note 48:   The Sea Anchor

The text tells us that these men took action to fix the problem of Syrtis:

“. . . they let down the  sea anchor (NIV)”

“ . . . they lowered the sea anchor (NAS)”

“ . . . strake sail, or struck sail (KJV)”

The KJV translation initially creates some confusion:  did they lower the sea anchor or the sail?  Personally, I do not believe the sail would still have been up at this point after “giving way” to the wind and being driven along as we discussed in 27:15.  So, if not the main sail, then what is a sea anchor?  A sea anchor, or sea brake as it is sometimes called, is equipment designed to slow the rush of the ship in a storm, thus giving the crew more control.  It can be made on the spot or can be purchased and stored on board as standard equipment.  Quite often, a sea anchor is made from sail material, so it looks like an underwater sail and, once deployed, works to slow the ship.

Depending on where it is attached to the ship, a sea anchor can also help steer the ship and make it change direction.  For example, in the event that an obstacle appeared in front of and to the left of a ship, the sea anchor could be used to slow the ship down and steer right away from such obstacle.  Thus, I believe they tied the sea anchor from at least midship on the starboard side (right side) to somewhere near the stern in an effort to help steer the ship to the right and away from the danger they feared most – the shallow sands of Sytris.

I never use Wikipedia as a reliable source. HOWEVER, there is a good write up about sea anchors, so check it out if you like.

Note 49: “…and in this way”

Remember the desperation in Luke’s words back in verse 15: “so we gave way to it and were driven along”.  Those words imply the lack of control over the wind, the ship or themselves that these men had on this ship.  The choice of words also conveys the hopelessness they likely felt at that point.  Then there is a quick reprieve by this small island.  This time Luke use different terms “. . . and in this way let themselves be driven along.” These words are missing the desperation.  These words show us how the actions taken by the crew somehow changed their spirits.

The phrase “in this way”, leads the reader to recap the recent turn of events:  they regained control of the skiff, brought it aboard, secured it to the deck of the ship, and under girded the ship with rope to help hold it together.  These actions reduced the dangers presented both from without and within the ship.  They made the ship more watertight and finally lowered a sea anchor which slowed the speed and changed the direction away from the danger they feared.  Now Luke writes “. . . in this way, they LET themselves be driven along”.  The word “let” as used here, seems to show that Luke has the impression they now had some measure of control over the situation.  In testimony from other shipwreck accounts, we find that people often feel an improvement in spirits when they or the crew take actions, especially if they believe the actions may help save them from sinking.  The shipwreck testimony from Luke appears to be no different.

In my personal opinion, Luke’s words imply a more optimistic tone as he continues his story.

We will soon find out whether things have turned around for our boys for good as they will soon pass from the protection of this small island into the open sea… again!

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Acts 27:14-15

August 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Act 27:14  (NIV)

Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the “northeaster,” swept down from the island.

Note 34: Different version.

I have been using the NIV as my beginning text throughout this blog.  For this particular verse, I have included two additional translations below.  The alternate translations add a slightly different perspective to the text. (NAS) is New American Standard and (KJV) is King James Version.  I have also taken the liberty to underline and number some of the particular phrases I want you to notice.  Yes, these read differently from each other, but they are not written to guide the reader to some religious point of view; they just phrase it in a way that the reader will best understand what the passages say.

Act 27:14  (NAS)

But before very long there (1) rushed down  from the land (2) a violent wind, (3) called Euraquilo;

Act 27:14  (KJV)

But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.


Note 35: “Before very long…” (NIV)

Within a short time from leaving the anchorage a violent wind struck the ship.  It was not an uncommon event in the early days of sail for ships to be surprised by sudden storms.  Violent storms, like hurricanes, came upon ships quickly and have been known to sink entire fleets of ships.  Examples of such catastrophic events include the 1733 and 1622 Spanish treasure fleet that left Havana, Cuba and sank in the Florida Keys only 90 miles away.

Note 36: “…a violent wind…”(NAS)

Here Luke is describing the strength of the wind, particularly at this early point in the storm.  His description tells us it came on suddenly and with great force from the very beginning.  This is not unusual for large storms in the western Hemisphere, nor is it unusual in the eastern Mediterranean (according to my research).  There are three different descriptions of this wind offered in the alternate translations of this passage:  (1) “a wind of hurricane force”, (2)a tempestuous wind”, and (3) “a violent wind”.  Any of these three descriptions are adequate, but together they really tell you what the ship was hit with.  Notice that while they all describe the severity of the wind, they DO NOT label this a storm.  They do not say it is a Hurricane, but a “wind of Hurricane force”.


Note 37: “….called Euraquilo”

The word Northeaster used in the NIV version is an adequate word for us because we are more familiar with the storms called Northeasters.  However, the word “Northeaster” actually defines a particular type of cyclonic storm from the North Atlantic.  The word that Luke uses here is the word that would have been used by the sailors of the time, which is exactly why Luke selected it – it was accurate.  In this context, the word Euraquilo, probably comes from the Greek word ‘euros’, which is an ‘east wind,’ and Latin ‘aquilo’, which means ‘northeast wind’.  Hence you have “euraquilo”, an ‘east northeast wind’.

I know you are wondering why I am spending time talking about the name of the wind.  After all, we all know “They call the wind Maria” (Boy, I’m old). Actually, I am trying to show once again how accurate Luke is in the word he chooses.  They are nautically accurate, and were probably used by the sailors on this ship.  Also, focusing on the name of the wind explains how the ship could have ended up in the location I believe it sits today.  The wind described in the above passage was not a Northwest wind; it was an East-Northeast wind.  Amazingly, that would be the exact wind direction needed for this ship to somehow end up on the bottom of a bay in Malta which lies to the west of Crete.

Note 38: “swept down from the island”

The phrase “swept down from the island” has always given non-believers a problem.  They assume that this storm, or any storm, could not come “down from” the island.  The tallest mountain on Crete is named Mount Ida, or Mount Psiloritis in Greek.  It is about 8,060 feet high.  In Mythology, it is the mountain where Zeus was either born or raised.  Mountains can and do create their own weather systems.  They also deflect wind storms, rain, and snow and completely change weather patterns on the lee side.  This ship is on the lee side.


Acts 27:15  (NIV)

The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along.

Note 39: The ship was caught by the storm

Luke uses a very descriptive phrase here: “The ship was caught by the storm”. For Luke to use this phrase would not be unique nor unusual, just a very accurate choice of words to describe the relationship between the storm and it’s effect on the vessel.  It almost sounds like a description of a predator and it’s prey.

How would you describe this same situation? The storm hit us hard, the ship was pounded, we were pushed from the stern, we were pounded, we had no control – what choice of words would you use?

Note 40: They could not head into the wind

Simply put they were unable to reverse course and retrace their path the few miles back to Fairhaven.  At this point, they may have still been within sight of land.

Note 41:  SO we gave way to it and were driven along.

In verse 13, I spent time discussing this phrase and how scary that phrase is to me.  Here is another translation, my version (the JMH version): “So we gave up and surrendered to its power and it controlled us from then on.”  Though I’m most likely not as precise as Luke in my word skills, I have read words like those in this verse from other survivors on other ships, in other centuries, and in all cases you can feel the sense the of dread carried by the writers of such words.  The words emit a sense of having no control.  To me, Luke’s description carries that same sense of hopelessness.

Unfortunately, things are only going to get worse.

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Acts 27:7-13 Summary

August 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Summary of Acts 27:7-13

In these verses, the Alexandrian ship carrying Paul and Luke, has made a major course correction and moved south to the coast of Crete.  Here they are protected from the wind by the island and they come to rest in a small bay known as Fairhaven.  They then make the fateful decision to weigh anchor and move along the coast about 34 miles to a better port.  The reasons for the decision to move seem to be well thought out, but fatal in any event.

The fateful words of this verse ring out like a warning bell to sailors through out the ages:

“they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed….”

In a short time this ship and everyone on board will get caught up in a storm that will send this ship to the bottom.  All on board will be saved.

In verses 1 – 13, I noted how Luke was a careful observer and his style of writing gives us very precise and accurate details of what transpired.  He is economical with his words, yet he packs a great deal of information by the selection of the few words he does choose.  This style will become increasingly important as events unfold.

From this point forward events will develop rapidly and many critical actions will be used by the crew to try to save their lives and the ship.  The crew must move fast and secure the ship as best they can, because the full fury of the storm is about to come crashing down on these travelers and their vessel.

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Acts 27:13

August 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Act 27:13 – (NIV) – “When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete.”


Note 29: “. . . a gentle wind . . .”

As we saw in verses 11 and 12, the owner, the pilot (captain), the centurion and the “majority” had decided they would sail on to a better (safer) harbor despite a warnings from Paul. After making this decision, there was a change in the weather and the direction of the wind for the better. It was at this point they all thought they had exactly what they needed to travel the short 34 mile route to the Port of Phoenix also located on Crete.

Note 30: A Personal Note

This comment is not related to the text, but it is my observation from my life and some lessons I have learned during my life. The worst problems any of us will face during our life will come after we think we have achieved what we long for and we relax our guard. I’ll say it another way “when things are going really good, a gentle breeze is blowing and you think to yourself I am right where I want to be” …about that time….BOOM!

It has been my experience in life that when things really start going good, I should get ready because the bottom is about to fall out. One of my daughter’s favorite sayings from our senior minister, Brother Gary Bradley, is that all of us on this earth are either, (1) just coming out of a trial, (2) right in the middle of a trial, or (3) on the verge of a trial. My advice then is to get prepared for the worst because it will come and often more than once. Expect it at anytime – no, expect it all the time – and be prepared. That way, when bad things do arise, you will not be surprised and you can handle them, survive and stay afloat.

There is a quote from Adlai Stevenson, which I have changed slightly over the years to read as follows:

On the verge of sweet success, lie the blackened bones of countless millions, who at the dawn of victory stopped to rest, and in resting were overtaken and died.”

Then there is a quote from my high school football coach, during two-a-day practices:

Work hard today, make yourself ready today because one Friday night in your future it will be too late to get ready, but you’ll be in the fight of your life.”  Get Ready!

-John

Note 31: “They” vs. “We”

This is an interesting point in Luke’s narrative because he introduces a new word and a new concept to the story. The new word is “they” and it appears to introduce the “us vs. them” concept into the text. Paul gave his warning to everyone, yet the “majority” decided to pull up and go to the next port anyway. Prior to this point in the text, Luke has referred to the passengers by either their specific name (like Julius or Aristarchus) or by positions (the owner, the pilot). Up to this point, he has used the pronouns ‘we’ and ‘us’ several times, but in this verse he uses the word ‘they’ and he does so four times in rapid sequence:

“. . . they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed.”

We know that Paul disagreed with the decision to pull anchor and sail on.  After reading this verse, I am pretty sure that Luke disagreed as well, and he suddenly no longer seems to be just dispassionate casual observer.  He seems to make a clear demarcation between himself and “they”.  Personally, after reading Luke’s shift in the way he refers to the other people on the ship, I believe that he is providing us with his deep seeded opinion of whether they should have set sailed toward Phoenix. To test my theory, notice the fourth ‘they’ in particular. Here Luke could have used the pronoun ‘we’ as so it might read ‘we weighed anchor and sailed’.  The actions he is describing here does involve the ship and everyone on board. Yet he uses the phrase  ‘they weighed anchor and sailed’.  I believe this may be one point where he actually enters the story with an opinion by his choice of words.

It is quite normal in survivor accounts from other shipwrecks, to see an eyewitness clearly point to a specific person, action, or event as either the cause or the turning point of the disaster they were involved in. It appears to me, that Luke is being quite clear, though certainly not obvious, and is making it a point to establish THEY did this.

Well, that’s my 2¢ worth, remember it’s not Gospel

Now, as I have already stated, given the available information, I believe I would have made the same decision as the owner, the crew, the captain, the centurion and yes, even the majority.

Note 32: “. . . they weighed anchor. . .”

Again, Luke uses a very interesting choice of terms here. He said they “weighed anchor”. This is a good translation of the Greek words used in the text to describe exactly what they did. They pull up the anchor and left. While this may seem like a small or unimportant detail, it is a continuation of Luke’s style of using correct and accurate terminology and it gives Luke’s narrative more creditability to a shipwreck hunter.

Note 33: “. . . and sailed along the shore of Crete.”

The ship was to sail very close to the southern shore of Crete. This was a common practice since they did not have far to sail.  Sailing close to shore should also help protect the ship from weather during this season. Again, Luke’s mention of this detail, small though it may be, enhances Luke’s credibility and provides us with a record of his skill at recording very accurate observations about what is going on during this voyage.

So they are on their way to a good place to spend the winter.  Things will be fine, after all they do have what they wanted with the gentle breeze and there’s no reason to worry, right?

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Acts 27:11-12

August 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Title Acts 27:11-12

Act 27:11 (NIV) – “But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship.”

Note 25:  The centurion
In this verse, Luke refers to Julius by his rank, “the centurion”, and not his name. He will continue to do so for the rest of Chapter 27.

Note 26: Not listening to Paul
Luke points out “instead of listening to what Paul (the prisoner going to stand trial in Rome) said,” the centurion listened to the man who owned the vessel and the man who piloted the vessel for a living.  OF COURSE the Centurion took the advice of these men.  HeThey were the experts after all, simply by virtue of being the owner and operator of the vessel.  Also, Paul gave no indication in these verses that his warning was based on any special first hand knowledge or information provided by God.  Thus, there was nothing particularly compelling about Paul’s warning to sway the centurion from heeding the advice of the experts.

Aside from the obvious reasons listed in this verse for the Centurion listening to the vessel owner’s decisions regarding the ship’s course, the following verse gives us even more information as to why the decision to continue sailing was made.

Act 27:12 (NIV) – “Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there. This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest.

Note 27: Unsuitable to winter here
Luke gives us three VERY important facts:

1.   The current anchorage “was unsuitable to winter in.” This indicates that they could not stay where they were for very long under any circumstances.  They could not make it through the entire winter in this location.

2.      “The majority decided that we should sail on,”

3.      They were “hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there.  This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest.” Phoenix was a true harbor and offered better protection from the impending winter storms.

Note 28: What would you do?
It is easy to play Monday Morning quarterback; however, as you read these verses, try to put yourself in the position of the centurion.  Based on these verses, the facts of the situation were as follows:  (1) the current location was not suitable to winter in and they may not have been able to stay much longer, (2) a suitable port did exist at Phoenix, only 34 miles away and it was possible to winter in that port, (3) the sailing to get to Phoenix was close to the protection of the island, (4) the two most senior people on board, both of whom qualify as experts on the matter, advised that sailing for Phoenix was the wisest choice.  Oh wait!  There was the prisoner Paul that chimed in with his two cents saying: I wouldn’t do that if I were you.  It’s hard to imagine why, but Paul gets out voted (assuming he even had a vote to begin with!).
So, the leaders and the group decide to travel a little further up the coast; after all, a more suitable port was only a few hours away.  It appears to me, given all the available information we have, the decision to continue sailing was the best decision these men could make at the time.  Faced with the same situation and the same information listed above, what decision would you have made?

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Acts 27:9-10

August 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Acts 27:9 – (NIV)  “Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Fast. So Paul warned them,”

Acts 27:10 – (NIV)  “Men, 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.”

Note 21: Lost Time

Luke says, “Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous…” The time had been lost due to the course they were taking and the primary direction of the wind was against them.  It was getting later into the ‘sailing season’, which was the time of year when the sailors could count on a good wind and safer weather.  Why dangerous?  It was the time of year and it was just related to that calendar event.

Note 22: After the Fast

Luke continues the description about the danger they now faced and he describes why “because by now it was after the Fast.”    “The Fast” Luke is talking about is of no religious importance what so ever in this context. This was simply a date, or event, used as a calendar reference that marks the beginning of the storm season.  In this country people talk about the beginning of ‘Hurricane season’, after ‘Labor Day’.

Note 23: I can see.

This is the first time during the voyage, that we know of, where Paul interjects comments.  Notice it starts here with ‘So’, which indicates that Paul’s warning is a based on the previous comment about sailing being ‘dangerous because’ of the time of year.  Paul DOES NOT say, nor does the text imply, that he had some special knowledge or inspired message he was delivering here.  His comments here about weather and its danger are based on common knowledge of the time.  These facts could be and should have been considered by others, like the owner of the ship.  In fact, they may have considered what Paul said and just decided to go anyway.

Note 24: Bad Times they are a comin’

Luke records Paul’s warning in verse 10 which includes “great loss’ to ship, to cargo and loss of lives”.  Again, these predictions are not miraculous;  The dangers were probably known to everyone – so why did they leave this anchorage?

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Acts 27:7-8

Acts 27:7 – (NIV)  “We made slow headway for many days and had difficulty arriving off Cnidus. When the wind did not allow us to hold our course, we sailed to the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone.”

Note 18: Myra to Cnidus

Remember they have just left from the port of Myra and are sailing west.  From Myra to Cnidus is about 130 miles.  Luke says “We made slow headway for many days and had difficulty arriving off Cnidus.” This makes total sense, because they were heading west directly into a west wind.  There are some westerly currents in this area that might have helped them make some headway.

“When the wind did not allow us to hold our course”, This was probably close to Cnidus as they moved farther away from the coast.

Note 19: Cnidus to Crete

Luke continues, “we sailed to the lee of Crete, opposite SalmoneIf you look at a map this means they took a very dramatic sharp left turn. They headed South, finally rounding the Eastern coast of Crete (point Salmone). This is probably the lee side of Crete.  Once around the point they would turn and head west again, this time along the southern coast of Crete.

Acts 27:8 – (NIV)  “We moved along the coast with difficulty and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea.”

Note 20: Fairhaven

They have a hard time once they rounded the eastern shore of Crete in moving along the southern shore, finally arriving at a place called Fairhaven.  Luke calls Fairhaven “a place, near the town of Lasea.”  In this text, Fairhaven is not referred to as a port or harbor and the description doesn’t sound like it was a port.  In fact, the nearby town of Lasea is mentioned. These descriptions lead me to believe that Fairhaven was probably just an anchorage. An anchorage is a place (an inlet or cove) that offered some protection from, wind, storms or heavy seas.

If you have Google Earth  look up Crete, then look up Lasea.  When I do the map pulls up a location on the Southern coast named, Lasaia.  Close by there are several places that appear they might offer a ship some protection.

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