They Encounter a Massive Storm
When a light wind began blowing from the south, the sailors thought they could make it. So they pulled up anchor and sailed close to the shore of Crete. But the weather changed abruptly, and a wind of typhoon strength (called a “northeaster”) burst across the island and blew us out to sea. The sailors couldn’t turn the ship into the wind, so they gave up and let it run before the gale. We sailed along the sheltered side of a small island named Cauda, where with great difficulty we hoisted aboard the lifeboat being towed behind us. Then the sailors bound ropes around the hull of the ship to strengthen it. They were afraid of being driven across to the sandbars of Syrtis off the African coast, so they lowered the sea anchor to slow the ship and were driven before the wind.
The next day, as gale-force winds continued to batter the ship, the crew began throwing the cargo overboard. The following day they even took some of the ship’s gear and threw it overboard. The terrible storm raged for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone. No one had eaten for a long time. Finally, Paul called the crew together and said, “Men, you should have listened to me in the first place and not left Crete. You would have avoided all this damage and loss. But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, and he said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What’s more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.’ So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said. But we will be shipwrecked on an island.”
About midnight on the fourteenth night of the storm, as we were being driven across the Sea of Adria, the sailors sensed land was near. They dropped a weighted line and found that the water was 120 feet deep. But a little later they measured again and found it was only 90 feet deep. At this rate they were afraid we would soon be driven against the rocks along the shore, so they threw out four anchors from the back of the ship and prayed for daylight. Then the sailors tried to abandon the ship; they lowered the lifeboat as though they were going to put out anchors from the front of the ship.
But Paul said to the commanding officer and the soldiers, “You will all die unless the sailors stay aboard.” So the soldiers cut the ropes to the lifeboat and let it drift away. Just as day was dawning, Paul urged everyone to eat. “You have been so worried that you haven’t touched food for two weeks,” he said. “Please eat something now for your own good. For not a hair of your heads will perish.” Then he took some bread, gave thanks to God before them all, and broke off a piece and ate it. Then everyone was encouraged and began to eat— all 276 of us who were on board. After eating, the crew lightened the ship further by throwing the cargo of wheat overboard.Acts 27:13-38
Some questions to consider:
- How far off course were they blown such that they were afraid of being blown on the sandbars of Syrtis off the African coast?
The map doesn’t seem to do justice to the time they ran with the typhoon.
I doubt they would have made much headway westward if they had run with a wind blowing out of the Northeast. I think they would have got closer to the African coast than a short distance from Cauda (which was just south of Crete). Verse 27:20 tells us the storm had raged for many days. Surely they would have been blown further south by a typhoon strength Northeaster? Two days and a night had already passed by time Luke tells us it lasted for many more days. Assuming it was still a north-east wind blowing.
- How would they manage to strap the ship with ropes in a typhoon?
- Why had they not eaten for many days? They took on supplies at Myra.
- How is it the prisoner Paul called the crew together and they listened to him! What is going on here?
- Where is the ship’s captain let alone the Commanding Officer of the guard and his soldiers?
- How come Paul tells the Commanding Officer and the guard to cut the rope to the life boat? Who is in charge here?
- What cargo would they have been throwing overboard?
I am trying to get my head around the time frame Ian. Something seems wrong with it. The amount of time that has elapsed since Myra. The fact they had not eaten since taking on supplies at Myra, yet they had not eaten for two weeks, and they end up on Malta blown by a wind out of the northeast when they were running with the wind. Would you comment on this please Ian?
- Where did Paul get bread from?
- Was it wheat they were carrying or corn?
- Why did they throw the wheat overboard?
- Wouldn’t the owner protest at losing the cargo?
- How could Paul take charge like he did if the captain and the owner were on board?
- Were the sailors going to abandon ship and leave the prisoners and everyone else on the ship? That is how it seems to read.
- Seriously, one lifeboat for 276 people and they cut it adrift? Why?
- What is the Sea of Adria? Is it the Mediterranean?
- Are you going to dissect Paul’s speech from 27:21-26? I hope so.
- Really? Paul led them in communion and then they were saved. I can’t get my head around that. How could Paul led a bunch of non-Christian heathen in communion? It doesn’t seem right when he says not to take communion lightly in 1 Corinthians 11:27-31
Well that is certainly a collection of very different questions from a narrative passage. You all surprised me with how many questions I received on such a straight piece of narrative. It amazed me how you could keep your head to ask such questions in the middle of a typhoon.
- Are there any other questions to add before we begin to look at them?
And yes Stephen I will look at the speech since you asked. (I probably would have anyway).
Troubles to the left of us, threats on the right, danger lurking behind us and obstacles ahead; but that’s alright, there’s God above.Anon
When you have exhausted all your possibilities, remember you haven’t.Ian Vail
Perhaps now that you are at the end of your rope it is time to call out to God.Ian Vail
You can’t change the world if you are afraid of it.Ian Vail
All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism. And many times the predicted storms don’t eventuate.Ian Vail
Don’t point a finger; hold out a hand.Ian Vail