Acts 27:31

Wyoming painting. Wyoming Capitol.

Saturday, 18 May 2024

Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” Acts 27:31

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, scrolling with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

A closer translation to the original is, “Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, If these don’t remain in the ship, you are not able to be saved” (CG).

In the previous verse, some of the sailors were putting out the skiff, pretending they were going to lay out anchors from the prow. However, seeing this was just a pretext to get away from the ship, “Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, If these don’t remain in the ship, you are not able to be saved.”

Depending on one’s view of what is occurring, the words of Paul here can be taken from a logical or a spiritual viewpoint. Is Paul saying that the abandonment of the sailors would mean that God’s wrath would be on the ship, thus bringing death to all?

Or is this logically saying that without the skills and abilities of the ship’s crew to navigate the vessel after the rising of the sun, death is the certain end as it would be in any such circumstance?

It is probably best to assume that Paul is making an obvious deduction. There were passengers, there were soldiers, there were prisoners, and there was at least one owner, all of whom would be left to handle the ship without the necessary skills required for the task. And therefore, he speaks logically to the centurion and the sailors that disaster was just ahead without the crew’s expertise.

The “you” here is emphatic, as if saying, “you yourselves.” Even in the middle of the night, Paul was ever vigilant to observe the circumstances around him and to advise according to the wisdom he possessed.

After having rejected his advice at the beginning of the voyage, and after having been given the assurances concerning the words of the angel, the centurion would have to decide now if Paul’s words were sufficiently reasonable.

Though long, Barnes’ thoughts on this verse are worth citing –

(1) That the certainty of an event does not render it improper to use means to obtain it.

(2) that, though the event may be determined, yet the use of means may be indispensable to secure it. The event is not more certainly ordained than the means requisite to accomplish it.

(3) that the doctrine of the divine purposes or decrees, making certain future events, does not make the use of man’s agency unnecessary or improper. The means are determined as well as the end, and the one will not be secured without the other.

(4) the same is true in regard to the decrees respecting salvation. The end is not determined without the means; and as God has resolved that his people shall be saved, so he has also determined the means. He has ordained that they shall repent, shall believe, shall be holy, and shall thus be saved.

(5) we have in this case a full answer to the objection that a belief in the decrees of God will make people neglect the means of salvation, and lead to licentiousness. It has just the contrary tendency. Here is a case in which Paul certainly believed in the purpose of God to save these people; in which he was assured that it was fully determined; and yet the effect was not to produce indolence and unconcern, but to prompt him to use strenuous efforts to accomplish the very effect which God had determined should take place. So it is always. A belief that God has purposes of mercy; that he designs, and has always designed, to save some, will prompt to the use of all proper means to secure it. If we had no such evidence that God had any such purpose, effort would be vain. Where we have such evidence, it operates, as it did in the case of Paul, to produce great and strenuous endeavors to secure the object.

Life application: There are things we are able to do and there are things beyond our ability. When it comes to salvation, no man is able to save himself. The Bible takes this as an axiom. Apart from God’s intervention, man is utterly corrupted before Him.

It is as if we are on a journey through a sea, being tossed about and where every moment could be our last. This is a truth we cannot deny. We are at the mercy of God alone for our next breath, and yet we must continue on until that final moment.

However, once death arrives, our fate will have been sealed. If we cut away from us the lifeline to God’s provision, meaning Jesus Christ, we are not able to be saved. We have forsaken the only One who has proven Himself worthy before God, and who is then willing to be our Substitute before Him.

The centurion and the soldiers on the ship had a choice to make. Should they listen to God’s appointed apostle and keep the sailors on board, making it possible for the ship to be saved, or should they allow things to continue without their needed experience.

Likewise, will we listen to the words of Scripture and receive Jesus, or will we attempt to go it alone? Let us use wisdom in this matter and call out to Jesus while we can. He is sure to deliver us safely to our place of rest and joy in the presence of God.

Almighty God, may we not be foolish and squander away our days walking in darkness and without the light of the Lord to conduct us back to You. Rather, may we call out to Jesus and find the right and proper path that will bring us into Your glorious presence once again. Amen.