Verse of the Day

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Pastor's Sermon Notes: The Voyage and Shipwreck of the Apostle Paul, Part One: A Tale of Two Travelers Typifyng Two Testaments (Acts 27:1-44)

The Voyage and Shipwreck of the Apostle Paul,[1]
Part One: A Tale of Two Travelers Typifyng Two Testaments[2], Subtitle: Paul as Counter-Jonah
Acts 27:1-44


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”[3]


I. The First Leg of the Journey — Failure to Follow Paul’s Counsel (27:1-11)
II. The Second Leg of the Journey — Failure to Reach Safe Haven (27:12-20)
III. The End of the Ship — The Deliverance of the Crew by Heeding Paul’s Counsels (27:21-44)


There is more than one concern that we need to have as we grapple with the content of this chapter. We need to consider it in the light of the entire Canon, and we need to visualize it in the purpose of Luke-Acts. Precious little of either has been done to date. There is work to be done here!

I. The First Leg of the Journey — Failure to Follow Paul’s Counsel (27:1-11)

1 And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band. 2 And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us. 3 And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself. 4 And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. 5 And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. 6 And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein. 7 And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone; 8 And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea. 9 Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, 10 And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. 11 Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.

Geographical details:

the coasts of Asia
the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia
Myra, a city of Lycia
Crete, over against Salmone
The fair havens
the city of Lasea

Nautical details:

contrary winds
dangerous sailing (during the approximate period from September 14th to November 11th)

II. The Second Leg of the Journey — Failure to Reach Safe Haven (27:12-20)
12 And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west. 13 And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete. 14 But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. 15 And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive. 16 And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat: 17 Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven. 18 And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; 19 And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship. 20 And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.

Phenice….which is an haven of Crete

a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon

a certain island which is called Clauda

Compare verse 18 to Jonah 1:5 - Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them.

Sent to Gentiles
Sent to Gentiles

On a ship in severe weather
On a ship in severe weather

Instructed crew how to save ship
Instructed crew how to save ship

Disobeyed God
Obeyed God
Went from the presence of God
Went with the presence of God

Not initially a prisoner, until made so by God after being thrown overboard
Already a prisoner prior to being taken on board, and remained a prisoner throughout

The reason for the danger to the crew
The reason for the salvation of the crew

Slept while the sailors tried to save the ship
Assisted the sailors in the actions taken to attempt to save the ship

Thrown overboard at his own request to save the ship
Counseled the commander not to allow the sailors to leave the ship, and later not to kill him and the other prisoners

The ship and crew were saved — in spite of the danger he had put it and them in — by heeding his counsel
The ship was not saved because of failure to heed his counsel — the crew was only by heeding his counsel

Old Covenant
New Covenant
Exception - Prophet to the Gentiles
Rule - Apostle to the Gentiles

Gentiles excluded as such
Gentiles included

His heart was not in the ministry since he feared God would be merciful to the Gentiles
His heart and soul was in the ministry that the Gentiles might see the light


Death required
Life preserved

“Besides the personal element, there is the inner spiritual meaning. There is one scene in the OT of which this is the most obvious counterpart — the shipwreck of Jonah. If S. Paul in some
respects resembled Jeremiah, the parallel between the NT prophet and Jonah is still more striking, — all the more so because of the equally obvious contrast in character. Jonah is the prophet in the OT who more than any other might, like S. Paul, be called 'the prophet of the Gentiles.' Jonah indeed received his mission in a very different way : he fled from the presence of the Lord and took ship for Tarshish. But in their voyages the experience of the prophets coincided. Both suffered shipwreck; and although Jonah, unlike S. Paul, brought the storm upon his vessel, yet in each case the prophet won the salvation of his company, — Jonah by the sacrifice of himself. Finally both alike experienced deliverance, Jonah from the deep, Paul from the peril of death; and after this they fulfil their respective missions to the great cities of Nineveh and Rome.”

— Richard Belward Rackham, The Acts of the Apostles: An Exposition, Oxford Commentaries, ed. Walter Lock (London: Methuen & Co., 1901), pg. 477; on Google Books at [accessed 25 APR 2015]; and on Internet Archive at [accessed 25 APR 2015]; 8th ed., Westminster Commentaries, ed. Walter Lock (London: Methuen & Co., Ltd., 1919) at [accessed 25 APR 2015].

Third, I was reminded of the story of Jonah in the Old Testament Book of Jonah. What an amazing contrast Jonah is to Paul. Both Paul and Jonah were Jews, but they were very different Jews. Jonah was commanded to take the gospel to the Gentiles of Nineveh, but he refused and fled in the opposite direction. Paul was commanded to take the gospel to the Gentiles as well, and he obeyed. Jonah fled aboard a ship, and his presence there put all the sailors at risk. His disobedience endangered these Gentile sailors. The sailors are saved by throwing Jonah overboard, off the ship. And thus they are delivered (and apparently converted). Jonah will eventually reach his destination, but only kicking and screaming. It is Paul’s presence on board the ship that saves all. Those who sought to abandon ship (like the sailors) would have put themselves and others at risk. God saved Paul’s shipmates because of Paul. God saved Jonah’s shipmates in spite of Jonah. What a backdrop the Book of Jonah is to Acts 27.”

— Bob Deffinbaugh, “34. Shipwreck (Acts 27:1-44)” on at

III. The End of the Ship — The Deliverance of the Crew by Heeding Paul’s Counsels (27:21-44)

21 But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. 22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. 23 For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, 24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. 25 Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. 26 Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island. 27 But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country; 28 And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms. 29 Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day. 30 And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship, 31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. 32 Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off. 33 And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing. 34 Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you. 35 And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat. 36 Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat. 37 And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls. 38 And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea. 39 And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship. 40 And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore. 41 And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves. 42 And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape. 43 But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: 44 And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.

We will focus more on this section in the next sermon (Part 2).


God sent the Ninevites a Jonah. God gave the world a Paul.

[Sermon preached 26 APR 2015 by Pastor John T. “Jack” Jeffery at Wayside Gospel Chapel, Greentown, PA.]

Appendix 3 — Resources on Acts

G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson, eds., Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), pp. 513-606.

Paul Barnett, The Birth of Christianity: The First Twenty Years, After Jesus, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2005).

Darrell L. Bock, Acts, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, eds. Robert W. Yarbrough and Robert H. Stein (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007).
F. F. Bruce, The Acts of the Apostles: The Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1951, 1952).

Dennis E. Johnson, The Message of Acts in the History of Redemption (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1997).

I. Howard Marshall, Acts: An Introduction And Commentary, Vol. 5 in Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, gen. ed. Leon Morris (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1980; 2008 reprint).

David G. Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles, in The Pillar New Testament Commentaries, gen. ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2009).

John B. Polhill, Acts, Vol. 26 in The New American Commentary, gen. ed. David S. Dockery (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, Publishers, 1992).

Eckhard J. Schnabel, Acts, Vol. 5 in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, gen. ed. Clinton E. Arnold (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012).

W. C. van Unnik, “The ‘Book of Acts’ the Confirmation of the Gospel,” in Novum Testamentum 4:1 (OCT 1960), pp. 26-59; reprinted in The Composition of Luke’s Gospel: Selected Studies from Novum Testamentum, compiled by David E. Orton, Vol. 1 of Brill’s Readers in Biblical Studies (Leiden: Brill, 1999), pp. 184-218.

William H. Willimon, Acts, in Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, series ed. James Luther Mays, New Testament ed. Paul J. Achtemeier (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010).

Appendix 4 — Resources on Paul

Kenneth E. Bailey, Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians  (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2011).

F. F. Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977).

D. A. Carson, The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), pp. 496-501.

W. J. Conybeare and J. S. Howson, The Life, Times and Travels of St. Paul, 2 vols. in 1, unabridged American ed. (New York: E. B. Treat U Co., 1869); on Google Books at [accessed 12 FEB 2013].

Adolf Deissmann, Paul: A Study in Social and Religious History, 2nd ed., trans. William E. Wilson (New York: Harper Torchbooks, n.d.).

F. W. Farrar, The Life and Work of St. Paul (New York: E. P. Dutton and Co., 1889); on Google Books at [accessed 12 FEB 2013].

Bruce N. Fisk, “Paul: Life and Letters”, in The Face of New Testament Studies: A Survey of Recent Research, ed. Scot McKnight and Grant R. Osborne (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), pp. 283-325.

Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., "Acts and Paul", 46 lectures (MP3 format), WTS Resources Media Center on Westminster Theological Seminary at [accessed 20 MAR 2013].

Frank J. Goodwin, A Harmony of the Life of the St. Paul According to the Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline Epistles (New York: American Tract Society, 1895); on Google Books at [accessed 12 FEB 2013].

Richard N. Longenecker, The Ministry And Message Of Paul (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971).

Richard N. Longenecker, Paul, Apostle Of Liberty (New York: Harper & Row, 1964).

Richard N. Longenecker, ed., The Road From Damascus : The Impact Of Paul's Conversion On His Life, Thought, And Ministry (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997).

Richard N. Longenecker, Studies In Paul, Exegetical And Theological (Sheffield : Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2004).

J. Gresham Machen, The Origin of Paul's Religion: The James Sprunt Lectures Delivered at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1925).

Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1955).

John Pollock, The Apostle: A Life of Paul, 3rd ed. (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 1969, 2012); also published as The Man Who Shook the World (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1972; originally The Apostle: A Life of Paul, New York: Doubleday, 1969).

Stanley E. Porter, Paul in Acts, in Library of Pauline Studies, gen. ed. Stanley E. Porter (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1999; 2001 reprint of The Paul of Acts: Essays in Literary Criticism, Rhetoric and Theology, in Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 115, by Mohr Siebeck, Tubingen).

W. M. Ramsay, The Cities of St. Paul: Their Influence on his Life and Thought (New York: A. C. Armstrong and Son; London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1908); on Google Books at [accessed 13 FEB 2013].

W. M. Ramsay, Pauline and Other Studies in Early Christian History (New York: A. C. Armstrong and Son, 1906); on Google Books at [accessed 13 FEB 2013].

W. M. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen, 10th ed. (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1907); on Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL) at [accessed 13 FEB 2013].

W. M. Ramsay, The Teaching of Paul in terms of The Present Day: The Deems Lectures in New York University (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1914); on Internet Archive at [accessed 13 FEB 2013].

A. T. Robertson, Epochs in the Life of Paul: A Study of Development in Paul's Character (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974).

Eckhard J. Schnabel, Paul The Missionary: Realities, Strategies And Methods (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008).

Udo Schnelle, Apostle Paul: His Life and Theology, trans. M. Eugene Boring (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003; trans. from Paulus: Leben und Denken, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co., n.d.).

Thomas R. Schreiner, Paul, Apostle of God's Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2001).

James Stalker, The Life of St. Paul, (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1885; rev. ed. 2010 by Kessinger Publishing from 1912 ed.); on Google Books at [accessed 7 FEB 2013].

James Ironside Still, St. Paul on Trial (London: Student Christian Movement, 1923).

End Notes:

[1] The title is adapted from the classic work on the subject by James Smith, The Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul with Dissertations on the Life and Writings of St. Luke, and the Ships and Navigation of the Ancients, 2nd ed. (London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, & Roberts, 1856); on Internet Archive at [accessed 23 APR 2015]; and 4th ed., rev. Walter E. Smith (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1880); on Google Books at [accessed 23 APR 2015]. Along with Smith the following imporant work should also be consulted on this episode: William M. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveler and Roman Citizen, 11th ed. (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1907), pp. 314-341; and 10th ed. (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1907), pp.195-211, s.v. Chapter XIV, “The Voyage to Rome;” on Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL) at [accessed 23 APR 2015].

[2] The subtitle is adapted from Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities: A Story of the French Revolution (London: Chapman & Hall, 1859); on Project Gutenberg at [accessed 25 APR 2015]; on Internet Archive (New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1894) at [accessed 25 APR 2015].

[3] Dickens, op. cit., pg. 1.

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