Bruce, F.F. The Book of Acts Revised. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988. Kindle Electronic Edition. “VI. Paul Plans to Visit Rome and Gets there by an Unforseen Route (19:21-28:31).” “E. Paul’s Voyage and Shipwreck (27:1-44)” pp. 473-495.
Bruce notes that Luke’s voyage and shipwreck narrative is a clear and comprehensive piece of eyewitness storytelling. It not only serves to move Paul from Caesarea but also teaches us a great deal about sea travel (Bruce 1988, 474). Paul is portrayed here as a Christian man of great faith and practical wisdom. Meanwhile, Luke shows that Paul is divinely destined to reach Rome. He endures many hardships but always trusts that he will arrive (Bruce 1988, 475).
Bruce reminds the reader that Paul would have received fairly positive treatment by his guards since he was a prisoner who had appealed to Caesar (Bruce 1988, 477). The eact identity of those with Paul is slightly unclear. Bruce is quite sure Luke was present. He also suspects Aristarchus may have been on board. Because of the extensive grain shipments to Rome at the time, it appears the passage from Myra was on a grain ship on its way to Rome (Bruce 1988, 479). The weather caused delays on the way to and around Crete (Bruce 1988, 480). At that point they considered stopping the journey for the winter. The dating of the events is unclear. However, Bruce places the shipwreck in late October or early November (Bruce 1988, 481).
The text speaks of Paul’s advice not to sail on from Crete. However, the more experienced sailors and travelers chose to continue, at least in search of a better place to spend the winter (Bruce 1988, 482). On the way to a safe winter port, a storm came up, driving the ship off course. The ship was apparently in considerable danger (Bruce 1988, 485). Dropping cargo overboard was an act of desperation, as it represented the livelihood of the ship owner. But the situation was desperate so they used the only means they could find to try preserving the lives of the crew and passengers (Bruce 1988, 486).
After almost two weeks of being lost, in 27:21, Paul encouraged the others aboard that in a vision he had learned all would survive (Bruce 1988, 488). A few days later the ship approached Malta. Bruce cites various commentators who find this location and the timing of the arrival predictable given the weather conditions (Bruce 1988, 489). Verses 30-32 record an attempt on the part of the sailors to abandon the ship. This action was stopped by the centurion (Bruce 1988, 491). Before dawn, at paul’s urging, the people ate their last meal on the ship. The remaining extra weight was thrown overboard to help gain approach to the shore (Bruce 1988, 494). The crew attempted a landing on some beach, which has since been identified as St. Paul’s Bay on Malta. Though the ship broke up, all the people arrived ashore safely.