Acts 27:32

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Sunday, 19 May 2024

Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let it fall off. Acts 27:32

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).

In the previous verse, Paul told the centurion and the sailors that if the crew were to get away on the skiff, the ship and those on it were not able to be saved. Therefore, heeding his advice, Luke records, “Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff.”

The action here shows that they immediately accepted Paul’s words. The skiff had probably already been completely lowered, but the sailors weren’t yet on it. Luke records no arguments, no conversations, and no dispute by any party.

It is as if the centurion nodded his head and the soldiers simply cut away the skiff in a moment. This shows clearly that the centurion trusted Paul’s faith in the message he had received from the angel enough to act as was needed.

Again, it is very similar to what occurred with Jonah. The skiff could have been useful later. It was contrary to sound reason to simply cut it away. Likewise, it was contrary to sound reason to dump a person overboard in hopes of calming a storm. But in both cases, those who were faced with a decision made it according to the word they had heard.

In this verse, two words are used for the last time. The first is schoinion. It signifies a cord or rope. Its only other use was in John 2:15 –

“When He had made a whip of cords [schoinion], He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.”

The other word is skaphé, the skiff. All three of its uses were in this chapter. Once the ropes were cut, it says, “and let it fall off.” More precisely, “and let her fall away.” Like a ship, the skiff is a feminine noun. Her ropes were cut, and she fell away from the boat, proceeding on by herself.

Life application: The words of this verse are not unlike our own walk with the Lord. We are asked to do something which seems beyond reason, meaning to trust in the death of a Man from two thousand years ago in order to save us.

We have been told that He died in fulfillment of a law that we have never been under, but in doing so, He met the righteous requirements of God. From there, and proving that He did so, He rose again. It is otherwise incredible to consider, but this is what faith is, and this is what we are rewarded for. God looks for faith in His faithless creatures, so a little bit will do.

In receiving Jesus, we are cutting away our own source of attempts at personal salvation, and we are trusting in God’s provision alone. The soldiers had a choice. They could attempt to save themselves on a ship without someone to properly guide it – a picture of works-based salvation – or they could trust the word they had heard and do what seemed otherwise contrary to reason.

Be wise in how you proceed! Trust God’s word by trusting in Jesus. He can and He will deliver you on that day. Let us thank God for Jesus and praise His name forever and ever.

Heavenly Father, we know that we will be found worthy to stand before You, not on our own merits, but on the merits of Christ Jesus who alone has fulfilled Your law. May we rest in Him, trust in Him, and be delivered by Him on that day. To Your glory, we pray. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 27:31

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 27:30

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Friday, 17 May 2024

And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, when they had let down the skiff into the sea, under pretense of putting out anchors from the prow, Acts 27:30

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).

More exactingly, it reads, “And the sailors, seeking to flee from the ship, and having let down the skiff into the sea, a pretext, as being about to extend anchors from the prow” (CG).

In the previous verse, the crew feared they would be dashed on rocks when they came to land, so they dropped four anchors from the stern, hoping for the day to come. Now, Luke continues with, “And the sailors, seeking to flee from the ship.”

Some translations add in the word “of,” and thus it is then translated, “And of the sailors.” This would then indicate that it wasn’t all of them that were doing this. Though not in the original, this is likely the case. Some of the sailors had a plan to abandon the ship, leaving the rest to fend for themselves. Therefore, it next says, “and having let down the skiff into the sea.”

In order to make it appear that they wanted to doubly secure the ship, these sailors let down a skiff, probably the same smaller boat that had been hauled in during verses 16 & 17. However, Luke notes this was “a pretext.”

They were working cunningly to save themselves, figuring it was safer to take a small ship that could be more easily maneuvered as shore approached. Their pretext was to let down this skiff, “pretending to extend anchors from the prow.”

Here is a new word, próra. It signifies the front of the ship, thus the bow or prow. It is derived from pro, to be in front of, which is where our modern prefix is derived from. One can see the logical movement from pro to próra, the prow.

The meaning of their action is that they were going to take anchors that were aboard the main ship and carry them out from the ship a distance before dropping them in. This would allow for a greater angle on the line in relation to the ship.

However, the true intent was to take the skiff and get away from the massive hull of the larger ship which could come apart violently. In the skiff, they would find a spot that was safe to drive up to the shore saving themselves.

Life application: The actions of the sailors are a normal response by anyone who has only this life to look forward to. Even many Christians cling unnecessarily to this life, sacrificing personal dignity and respect for others in the process. It is the stuff of movies, but that is so because it is the normal human condition to want to save oneself, even at the expense of others.

However, there is another unnatural human condition that is often highlighted in books and movies: the self-sacrificing hero. The marine jumps on a grenade to save his friends, the father gives up his life for his family, or – most incredibly of all – the Creator becomes the Redeemer by uniting with His creation, sending His Son into the world to save it from the consequences of sin.

Because of Jesus, an eternal hope is given to those who believe in Him. From there, the Christian can faithfully trust that this life is not all there is. With an eternal hope, we should consider this life of far less value, so that we dismiss the thought of betraying others to save ourselves for the sake of a temporary extension of our current walk in this fallen world.

Lord God, may we not be selfish or peevish in the face of troubles or disaster. Instead, may we faithfully trust that the events of this world cannot separate us from the promise of eternal life in Christ. Therefore, may our actions reflect this and be honorable before the eyes of all. To Your glory, we pray. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Acts 27:29

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Thursday, 16 May 2024

Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come. Acts 27:29

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).

The Greek more literally reads, “And fearing, lest perhaps we might fall into rough places, having cast four anchors out of the stern they were wishing for day to come” (CG).

In the previous verse, soundings had been taken, finding first twenty fathoms and then fifteen. Because of that, the sailors assumed land was not far off. As it was still night, it next says, “And fearing, lest perhaps we might fall into rough places.”

The word is trachus. It is used for the second and last time, having first been used in Luke 3:5. It signifies rough, rugged, or uneven. Saying “rocky” is a bit of a paraphrase, even if it is correct.

The sailors were afraid that the ship would crash onto an unfriendly reef or shore. If so, this could be disastrous for those on the ship. Therefore, they wanted to slow down the ship so that the force of such a crash would be lessened.  To do this, it next says, “having cast four anchors out of the stern.”

Another word is used for the last time, rhiptó, to cast, scatter, etc. It gives the sense of sudden motion, as if in flinging. They had four anchors which they chucked out of the stern. This would increase the drag on the ship and cause it to lumber more slowly as it approached the land.

And more, the violence of the storm necessitated this full complement of anchors to be cast in. Doing this from the stern would eliminate the danger of having the ship swing around and be brought into any rock or reef. It would also mean that it would be in the best alignment for running the ship up onto any visible beach once daylight came. Along with that, it says, “they were wishing for day to come.”

The word used can mean to either wish or pray. As praying wouldn’t make the day come any sooner, it probably is better translated as wish. However, even the sailors in Jonah’s adventure did pray out to their gods. And Joshua did pray for the moon to stand still over the valley of Aijalon during his battle, so that translation is not out of the question.

Life application: Hebrews 6, using the word agkura, or anchor, says this –

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:19, 20

If we truly possess the anchor of hope in Christ, we will never get swung around when troubles aplenty come our way. We will remain steadfast and properly directed, even in the greatest storms of life. The rocky shores may be out there, but our direction will remain unchanged, and we will have the certainty that God will direct us safely to the soft and pleasant shores of a land we have yet to see.

This doesn’t mean we won’t get there if our faith is weak. If we believe in Jesus, having received Him, we shall arrive. But think of the difference between Paul and maybe a new believer on the ship.

Paul had already been told they would be delivered. He knew it would come to pass, and there would be no question in his mind it was so. However, Sam Shipwright may have heard and believed the message of Jesus, but his hope was not yet as grounded as Paul’s.

There he would be, fearful of the coming shoreline and the trials they might face once they were cast upon it. Paul’s hope is grounded, and his anchor holds. Sam’s is not and he is still like his own little ship being cast about on the waters of uncertainty.

How grounded is your faith? Do you completely and fully trust every word of Scripture and that it will come about just as you have read? Do you even know all the promises contained there? You can’t, unless you read the Bible. And your faith can only increase through trusting the Lord with every aspect of your existence.

Have faith and read your Bible. This will be a great line that connects you to the anchor of hope that will rest your otherwise troubled soul.

Lord God, may our faith be increased from day to day as we learn to trust You and Your word. Give us the desire to know You more and more. May our anchor hold fast and may the line of our knowledge and trust be sure and sound. Help us in this, O God. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Acts 27:28

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Wednesday, 15 May 2024

And they took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms; and when they had gone a little farther, they took soundings again and found it to be fifteen fathoms. Acts 27:28

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).

More literally, it reads, “And, having sounded, they found twenty fathoms. And having distanced a little, having sounded again, they found fifteen fathoms” (CG).

In the last verse, the sailors sensed that they were approaching land. To confirm this, it next says, “And, having sounded, they found twenty fathoms.”

Here are two words found only in this verse. Each is used twice by Luke. The first is bolizó. It is derived from bolis, a dart or a javelin. In this case, it is something like a dart that is attached to a line. When it is cast out, it sinks directly to the bottom.

The distance until it stops is then measured. That measurement is known as an orguia. This word signifies “outstretched.” HELPS Word Studies notes that it was “originally the distance between the tips of the left and right hands when outstretched; a fathom, the unit of measure (roughly) five to six feet long.”

Assuming six feet, the depth would then be about one hundred and twenty feet deep. Once that was determined, a baseline is now set to know if it is getting deeper or shallower. Thus, it next says, “And having distanced a little.”

This is a word used for the third and last time, diistémi. It signifies to set apart, make an interval, etc. It can be used for time, such as waiting for an hour to elapse, or space, such as being separated from another person. In this case, it includes both.

They waited a certain amount of time which would have meant a certain distance had been traversed. After this interval, Luke next records, “having sounded again, they found fifteen fathoms.”

The depth is now about ninety feet. By taking soundings and finding that the depth was decreasing, the logical deduction is that they were approaching land. It would be welcome to know that there was land nearby after such a long, agonizing time.

And yet, it would be a fearsome thing knowing that land was near while it was still the middle of the night. Due to Paul’s words that they would be shipwrecked on some island, some level of fear factor may have set in, even if they had been assured that all would survive.

Life application: Paul had told those on the ship what would take place. Depending on who trusted his words, there would be anything from relief at the coming end of the ordeal to mild trepidation about how it would transpire, or even to fear in some measure knowing that any type of greeting may meet them, from a sandy shore to a rocky reef or a high cliff.

Paul was an apostle of Jesus. Because of this, he was conveying words that ultimately came from the Lord. Luke, for example, may have pulled out a harmonica and started playing a song, knowing that standing on firm, dry ground was not far off.

We have the words of Paul written down. At times, they have come directly from Jesus. At other times they came while being under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Either way, they have come from God. When Paul writes that God will receive those who have died in Christ, raising them from the dead and bringing them to Himself, how do we personally take the otherwise bad news of an incurable malady or disease?

Will you be filled with terror, mild trepidation, or will you pull out a harmonica and play a tune to the Lord? The attitude you display will reflect just how much you trust the words of Scripture which reveal the promises of God.

The words of Scripture are true. Unless the rapture occurs, we are all going to die. There is no escaping this. So don’t be frustrated at the news that you or a saved loved one has come to the point where death is not far off. The Lord already has a plan for retrieving you or your loved one from that state. Without a doubt, it will come about.

Lord God Almighty, You have the days of our lives already numbered and set. You know how our departure will come about at the end of this earthly life. And You already have the moment of our resurrection set and prepared. Why should we worry when we know these things are true? Hallelujah that You have a plan. Amen.