Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 27:6-17
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 27:6
v6 (continued): At Myra they needed to change ships because the small vessel they were on would continue north along the west coast of Asia Minor (Turkey) on its way back to its home port of Adramyttium (v2). So the centurion searched the harbor for a ship bound for Italy and found a merchant-ship carrying wheat to Rome. In better weather that ship would have been able to sail directly to Rome, but it appears it too was having to work its way west along the southern coast of Asia Minor to escape the strong westerly winds. Egypt was a major source of grain, and there was an entire fleet of ships whose primary business was to transport Egyptian wheat to Rome. These were huge merchant ships able to carry many tons of grain along with hundreds of passengers. The largest of these measured 150 feet long with a beam width of 50 feet (Thomas V. Brisco, Holman Bible Atlas, Banatt Publishing, Nashville, Tenn., 1998, p.256). The historian Josephus mentions that he sailed to Rome in A.D. 63 in a ship that was carrying 600 passengers (Josephus, Life, 3).

Monday: Acts 27:7-8
vs7-8: Luke says it took the ship “many days of sailing slowly” to reach the western-most port of a long, thin peninsula that stretches out into the Aegean Sea from Asia Minor. Cnidus (modern: Knidos) is basically an island connected by a thin strip of land to the main peninsula forming two harbors, one on the north and one on the south. To sail west of Cnidus meant to enter the southern part of the Aegean Sea, and the winds were still so strong this large merchant-ship could do nothing but tack hard to the south, hoping to reach the shelter of the southern coast of the island of Crete. Luke says they drew close to Crete at its northeastern tip, called Salmone (modern: Cape Sidero), and then sailed along the shore until they came to a place called “Good Harbors” (literal) (modern: Kaloi Limenes).

Tuesday: Acts 27:8-9
v8 (continued): This small harbor is sheltered from north and west winds, but if a strong wind came from the south or southeast a ship might find it necessary to move to another part of the harbor. But full shelter was available in that place, and it’s still used today as a marina, with freighters anchored offshore. Luke mentions a city named Lasea, and the ruins of that place have been located a few miles to the east. v9: Luke doesn’t tell us exactly how long they remained there, only that they stayed “…a sufficient amount of time,” which probably means until the ship owner’s patience ran out. Summer was long past and fall had arrived, so it was very dangerous to sail out in the open waters of the Mediterranean. The weather could change very quickly. By now everyone realized that they would have to wait out the winter season before traveling on. The ship would have to remain at anchor in the safety of a harbor for the next three months. This caused a discussion to take place among those in charge as to whether they should remain there or try to move to another harbor on the island.

Wednesday: Acts 27:10-11
v10: While this debate was going on God gave Paul a vision of what would happen if the ship left the harbor. Armed with this prophetic knowledge, he repeatedly warned them that they should not attempt to change locations. He said, “Men, I see (behold) that this sailing is going to be with unnecessary damage and much loss, not only of the ship’s cargo and of the ship itself, but also of our lives.” v11: In this verse, we discover that the centurion is the person who holds the senior rank on the ship. As an officer of the Roman army, and someone who is accompanied by an unspecified number of armed soldiers, he is the one who will make the final decision, even though the captain (who was probably also the owner of the ship) and the helmsman (the man who steered the ship) had strong opinions about what should be done.

Thursday: Acts 27:11-12
vs11-12: They told the centurion that the harbor they were in was “not well placed” because it might be exposed to winter storms, and they wanted to move the ship another 30 to 40 miles further west to a place called Phoenix (modern: Foinikas and Lutro). Phoenix actually provided a double harbor, one on either side of a small peninsula, which they said would give them better protection from southwest or northwest winds. However, it should be noted that the harbor they were in at the time also had excellent protection from southwest or northwest winds so that if that were their major concern, moving the ship made no sense. And even they had to admit leaving that harbor involved risk. Very soon after departing they would have to turn sharply north for about 10 miles before turning west again, and we should keep in mind that while this conversation was taking place that strong westerly wind was still blowing. Yet Paul’s voice was outnumbered. Most of those who counseled the centurion advised him to risk the move, and their voices prevailed.

Friday: Acts 27:13-15
v13: Then, in a remarkable turn of events, that strong westerly wind died down and a gentle wind began to blow from the south. This was exactly what they needed in order to sail around the nearby cape and move north. Thinking that if they acted quickly they could reach Phoenix before the wind changed again, they hoisted the anchor and began sailing as close as they could to the shore. vs14-15: But very soon after they left the harbor a violent typhoon swept across the island from the northeast driving them helplessly away from the shore and out into the open ocean. Luke uses an ancient nautical term to describe this wind (“Euraquilo”) which meant “north-one-third-east wind” (T.F. Bruce, Acts, Eerdmans, reprint 1974, p.509). It struck so suddenly that even though they were in close to shore, they had no time to find shelter and drop anchor. They must have heard a roar and then looked up to see a violent wind sweeping down the hillsides and then felt it slam into the side of the ship. At that point there was no resisting it. The ship was unable to turn its bow into the wind so the helmsman swung the ship around until the wind was at their back and they could run with the wind. At that point they had no choice but to let it carry them wherever it would.

Saturday: Acts 27:16-17
vs16-17: It blew them past a small island named “Clauda” (modern: Gavdos), which lay about 30 miles to the southwest. Almost all of the shoreline of that island is rocky and rises steeply from the water, so to try to land there in that gale meant crashing into the rocks, however the helmsman was able to steer the ship into some of the calmer waters on the southwest side of the island. He couldn’t draw close enough to find shelter, but as they passed by they were able to pull in the rowboat which had been towed behind them. Undoubtedly they had to bail it out before they could use it. It’s likely that it had been submerged by the waves and they were dragging it behind them. Then, once the rowboat was available, the sailors were able to use it to pull great loops of rope around the hull of the ship in order to keep its planks from separating. Ancient ships could be shaken apart by this kind of violent storm. 

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