New Defender's Study Bible Notes
27:2 we launched. Luke’s description of the sea voyage, storm and shipwreck in this chapter is very realistic, obviously written by an eyewitness. All of its geographical and other references have been determined by authorities to be accurate in description, location and time setting. It has been called perhaps the best record of nautical practice from ancient times.
27:2 Aristarchus. Aristarchus (Acts 19:29), as well as Luke, traveled with Paul on this long voyage from Caesarea to Rome. Possibly they were acting as Paul’s servants, as this would help assure more considerate treatment of Paul. As a Roman citizen, as well as a highly educated religious leader, it was appropriate, in the eyes of the centurion and ship officers, that Paul have attendants, and this may well account in part for the courtesies he was shown.
27:8 The fair havens. “Fair havens,” a harbor on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean, is still identified by that name in the modern Greek language.
27:9 the fast. The “fast” mentioned here is probably that associated with the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32) in October. Sailing after that date on the Mediterranean was hazardous at best, and Paul’s advice was wise.
27:10 I perceive. In addition to his natural wisdom and traveling experience, Paul had, by God’s grace, the gift of prophecy, and they should have heeded him.
27:12 if by any means. This seemingly insignificant phrase (Greek ei pos) actually is used to express the urgency of an object sought, and the means for its attainment. Its only four occurrences seem to follow a significant order. Note:
(1) Search for physical comfort (Acts 27:12)
(2) Search for spiritual ministry (Romans 1:10-11)
(3) Search for conversion of others (Romans 11:13-14)
(4) Search for Christ-centered life (Philippians 3:10-11).
27:14 tempestuous wind. The “tempestuous” (literally, “typhonic”) wind was not unusual for that time of year. It was characterized by fierce whirling of the clouds and ocean, its name meaning literally “north wind-east wind.” They had been trying to sail along the coast of Crete to reach the harbor of Phenice (i.e., Phoenix), but the sudden storm drove them out into the open sea.
27:16 the boat. The “boat” was a dinghy, normally pulled along behind the ship. As the latter was for a short while on the leeward side of the small island of Clauda, they were able to haul the dinghy up on board.
27:17 helps. These “helps” were probably cables for bracing the hull.
27:17 quicksands. The “quicksands” were off the African coast, west of Cyrene.
27:24 before Caesar. Once before, Paul had received this direct assurance from God that he would bear witness at Rome (Acts 23:11). Furthermore, the angelic messenger assured him that all on board would also be saved from death. It is often that God will spare the ungodly because of godly men in their midst (note Genesis 18:23-32; II Thessalonians 2:6-8.
27:25 I believe God. It is important to “believe God,” not just to “believe in God” (notes James 2:19). To “believe God,” of course, means to believe God’s Word.
27:32 let her fall off. This time the centurions insisted that Paul’s advice be followed. The sailors, ostensibly to help orient the casting of the anchors, were apparently preparing to use the dinghy to get to shore, leaving all the rest to fend for themselves, whereas the skills of these sailors would be needed to get the ship closer to shore the next day.
27:39 a certain creek. The small bay on the island of Malta where the ship finally grounded, behind a small island where “two seas met” (Acts 27:41), has been called St. Paul’s Bay since that time.
27:44 all safe to land. Thus, all 276 men (Acts 27:37) on the ship were saved, just as God had promised through Paul (Acts 27:24,34), but the ship and its cargo were lost, just as Paul had warned (Acts 27:10). God keeps His Word!