Paul Is Sent to Rome

Now when it was determined that [a]we (including Luke) would sail for Italy, they turned Paul and some other prisoners over to a centurion of the Augustan Regiment named Julius. And going aboard a ship from Adramyttian which was about to sail for the ports along the [west] coast [province] of Asia [Minor], we put out to sea; and Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, accompanied us. The next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius, treating Paul with [thoughtful] consideration, allowed him to go to his friends there and be cared for and refreshed. From there we put out to sea and sailed to the leeward (sheltered) side of Cyprus [for protection from weather] because the winds were against us. When we had sailed across the sea along the coasts of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia [on the south coast of Asia Minor]. There the centurion [Julius] found an Alexandrian ship [a grain ship of the Roman fleet] sailing for Italy, and he put us aboard it. For a number of days we sailed slowly and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus; then, because the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the leeward (sheltered) side of Crete, off Salmone; and hugging the shore with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea [on the south side of Crete].

Now much time had been lost, and [b]navigation was dangerous, because even [the time for] the fast (Day of Atonement) was already over, so Paul began to strongly warn them, 10 saying, “Men, I sense [after careful thought and observation] that this voyage will certainly be a disaster and with great loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” 11 However, the centurion [Julius, ranking officer on board] was persuaded by the pilot and the owner of the ship rather than by what Paul said. 12 Because the harbor was not well situated for wintering, the majority [of the sailors] decided to put to sea from there, hoping somehow to reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete facing southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there.

13 So when the south wind blew softly, thinking that they had obtained their goal, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, hugging the coast.


14 But soon afterward a violent wind, called Euraquilo [a northeaster, a tempestuous windstorm like a typhoon], came rushing down from the island; 15 and when the ship was caught in it and could not head against the wind [to gain stability], we gave up and [letting her drift] were driven along. 16 We ran under the shelter of a small island [twenty-five miles south of Crete] called Clauda, and with great difficulty we were able to get the ship’s [c]skiff on the deck and secure it. 17 After hoisting the skiff [on board], they used [d]support lines [for frapping] to undergird and brace the ship’s hull; and fearing that they might run aground on the shallows of Syrtis [off the north coast of Africa], they let down the [e]sea anchor and lowered the sails and were driven along [backwards with the bow into the wind]. 18 On the next day, as we were being violently tossed about by the storm [and taking on water], they began to jettison the cargo; 19 and on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle (spare lines, blocks, miscellaneous equipment) overboard with their own hands [to further reduce the weight]. 20 Since neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small storm kept raging about us, from then on all hope of our being saved was [growing worse and worse and] gradually abandoned.

21 After [f]they had gone a long time without food [because of seasickness and stress], Paul stood up before them and said, “Men, you should have followed my advice and should not have set sail from Crete, and brought on this damage and loss. 22 But even now I urge you to keep up your courage and be in good spirits, because there will be no loss of life among you, but only loss of the ship. 23 For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, 24 and said, ‘Stop being afraid, Paul. You must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has given you [the lives of] all those who are sailing with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I believe God and have complete confidence in Him that it will turn out exactly as I have been told; 26 but we must run [the ship] aground on some island.”

27 The fourteenth night had come and we were drifting and being driven about in the [g]Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors began to suspect that they were approaching some land. 28 So they took soundings [using a weighted line] and found [the depth to be] twenty fathoms (120 feet); and a little farther on they sounded again and found [the depth to be] fifteen fathoms (90 feet). 29 Then fearing that we might run aground somewhere on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern [to slow the ship] and kept wishing for daybreak to come. 30 But as the sailors were trying to escape [secretly] from the ship and had let down the skiff into the sea, pretending that they were going to lay out anchors from the bow, 31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men remain on the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes that held the skiff and let it fall and drift away.

33 While they waited for the day to dawn, Paul encouraged them all [and told them] to have some food, saying, “This is the fourteenth day that you have been constantly on watch and going without food, having eaten nothing. 34 So I urge you to eat some food, for this is for your survival; for not a hair from the head of any of you will perish.” 35 Having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all, and he broke it and began to eat. 36 Then all of them were encouraged and their spirits improved, and they also ate some food. 37 All told there were two hundred and seventy-six of us aboard the ship. 38 After they had eaten enough, they began to lighten the ship by throwing the [h]wheat [from Egypt] overboard into the sea.

39 When day came, they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, and they decided to run the ship ashore there if they could. 40 So they cut the cables and severed the anchors and left them in the sea while at the same time [i]unlashing the ropes of the rudders; and after hoisting the foresail to the wind, they headed steadily for the beach. 41 But striking a [j]reef with waves breaking in on either side, they ran the ship aground. The prow (forward point) stuck fast and remained immovable, while the stern began to break up under the [violent] force of the waves. 42 The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, so that none of them would dive overboard and swim [to land] and escape; 43 but the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from [carrying out] their plan. He commanded those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to the shore; 44 and [he commanded] the rest to follow, some on [floating] planks, and others on various things from the ship. And so it was that all of them were brought safely to land.


  1. Acts 27:1 Luke apparently stayed nearby, so that he could visit and assist Paul during the two years of his imprisonment.
  2. Acts 27:9 Sailing in the Mediterranean was dangerous for ancient ships after the second week of September, and virtually impossible after Nov 11, so now there was no hope of reaching Italy before winter.
  3. Acts 27:16 This was a small boat towed behind the ship for transportation to and from shore or as a lifeboat for emergencies. In a violent sea it might collide repeatedly with the ship and cause major damage.
  4. Acts 27:17 These were ropes that were tightly wrapped around (and sometimes under) the hull of an ancient ship to firm and strengthen it in heavy seas.
  5. Acts 27:17 A sea anchor (para-anchor) is a sturdy fabric parachute set at the end of an anchor rode (designed for use with a rope/chain windlass) or other long line and sometimes weighted so it rides deep. A sea anchor is placed off the bow (front) so that the boat’s bow would be held into the wind while drifting or being blown downwind. One danger of this is that the rudder may be damaged and that is what happened later—the rudder was lost (see v 40). A drogue is set off the stern (back) when sailing downwind to slow the boat and provide more control. The sea anchor held the bow into the wind and slowed the drift. The Annapolis Book of Seamanship, Third Edition.
  6. Acts 27:21 Lit there was much loss of appetite.
  7. Acts 27:27 The Ionian Sea was then considered part of the Adriatic (Adrian Gulf) which, in ancient times, extended much farther south than today’s Adriatic Sea.
  8. Acts 27:38 Wheat was a major Egyptian export.
  9. Acts 27:40 Ships of this period and region often had two large paddles on either side of the stern for steering, and when not in use they would be secured with ropes. This was particularly necessary in foul weather, where the sea might dislodge a rudder. Now that they were casting off, the rudders had to be freed and lowered into the water for use.
  10. Acts 27:41 Lit place with water on both sides. This may have been a strip of land extending from the beach, but most of it evidently was awash by the waves at the time, since the centurion commanded everyone to swim or paddle on debris to land (vv 43f).