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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 27

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1 WHEN it was decided that we should sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, of the Augustan Cohort. 2We embarked in a ship of Adramyttium, bound for ports in the province of Asia, and put out to sea. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, came with us. 3Next day we landed at Sidon, and Julius very considerately allowed Paul to go to his friends to be cared for. 4Leaving Sidon we sailed under the lee of Cyprus because of the head winds, 5then across the open sea off the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, and so reached Myra in Lycia.

6There the centurion found an Alexandrian vessel bound for Italy and put us on board. 7For a good many days we made little headway, and we were hard put to it to reach Cnidus. Then, as the wind continued against us, off Salmone we began to sail under the lee of Crete, 8and, hugging the coast, struggled on to a place called Fair Havens, not far from the town of Lasea.

9By now much time had been lost, and with the Fast already over, it was dangerous to go on with the voyage. So Paul gave them this warning: 10‘I can see, gentlemen, that this voyage will be disastrous; it will mean heavy loss, not only of ship and cargo but also of life.’ 11But the centurion paid more attention to the captain and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said; 12and as the harbour was unsuitable for wintering, the majority were in favour of putting to sea, hoping, if they could get so far, to winter at Phoenix, a Cretan harbour facing south-west and north-west. 13When a southerly breeze sprang up, they thought that their purpose was as good as achieved, and, weighing anchor, they sailed along the coast of Crete hugging the land. 14But before very long a violent wind, the Northeaster as they call it, swept down from the landward side. 15It caught the ship and, as it was impossible to keep head to wind, we had to give way and run before it. 16As we passed under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with a struggle to get the ship's boat under control. 17When they had hoisted it on board, they made use of tackle to brace the ship. Then, afraid of running on to the sandbanks of Syrtis, they put out a sea-anchor a 27:17 put … sea-anchor: or lowered the mainsail. and let her drift. 18Next day, as we were making very heavy weather, they began to lighten the ship; 19and on the third day they jettisoned the ship's gear with their own hands. 20For days on end there was no sign of either sun or stars, the storm was raging unabated, and our last hopes of coming through alive began to fade.

21When they had gone for a long time without food, Paul stood up among them and said, ‘You should have taken my advice, gentlemen, not to put out from Crete: then you would have avoided this damage and loss. 22But now I urge you not to lose heart; not a single life will be lost, only the ship. 23Last night there stood by me an angel of the God whose I am and whom I worship. 24“Do not be afraid, Paul,” he said; “it is ordained that you shall appear before Caesar; and, be assured, God has granted you the lives of all who are sailing with you.” 25So take heart, men! I trust God: it will turn out as I have been told; 26we are to be cast ashore on an island.’

27The fourteenth night came and we were still drifting in the Adriatic Sea. At midnight the sailors felt that land was getting nearer, 28so they took a sounding and found twenty fathoms. Sounding again after a short interval they found fifteen fathoms; 29then, fearing that we might be cast ashore on a rugged coast, they let go four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight to come. 30The sailors tried to abandon ship; they had already lowered the ship's boat, pretending they were going to lay out anchors from the bows, 31when Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, ‘Unless these men stay on board you cannot reach safety.’ 32At that the soldiers cut the ropes of the boat and let it drop away.

33Shortly before daybreak Paul urged them all to take some food. ‘For the last fourteen days’, he said, ‘you have lived in suspense and gone hungry; you have eaten nothing. 34So have something to eat, I beg you; your lives depend on it. Remember, not a hair of your heads will be lost.’ 35With these words, he took bread, gave thanks to God in front of them all, broke it, and began eating. 36Then they plucked up courage, and began to take food themselves. 37All told there were on board two hundred and seventy-six of us. 38After they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by dumping the grain into the sea.

39When day broke, they did not recognize the land, but they sighted a bay with a sandy beach, on which they decided, if possible, to run ashore. 40So they slipped the anchors and let them go; at the same time they loosened the lashings of the steering-paddles, set the foresail to the wind, and let her drive to the beach. 41But they found themselves caught between cross-currents and ran the ship aground, so that the bow stuck fast and remained immovable, while the stern was being pounded to pieces by the breakers. 42The soldiers thought they had better kill the prisoners for fear that any should swim away and escape; 43but the centurion was determined to bring Paul safely through, and prevented them from carrying out their plan. He gave orders that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land; 44the rest were to follow, some on planks, some on parts of the ship. And thus it was that all came safely to land.

Notes:

a 27:17 put … sea-anchor: or lowered the mainsail.

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