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Acts 27:1

Paul and Company Sail for Rome

27:1 When it was decided we 1  would sail to Italy, 2  they handed over Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion 3  of the Augustan Cohort 4  named Julius.

Acts 27:41-43

27:41 But they encountered a patch of crosscurrents 5  and ran the ship aground; the bow stuck fast and could not be moved, but the stern was being broken up by the force 6  of the waves. 27:42 Now the soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners 7  so that none of them would escape by swimming away. 8  27:43 But the centurion, 9  wanting to save Paul’s life, 10  prevented them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land, 11 

1 sn The last “we” section in Acts begins here and extends to 28:16 (the previous one ended at 21:18).

2 sn Sail to Italy. This voyage with its difficulty serves to show how God protected Paul on his long journey to Rome. From the perspective of someone in Palestine, this may well picture “the end of the earth” quite literally (cf. Acts 1:8).

3 sn See the note on the word centurion in 10:1.

4 tn According to BDAG 917 s.v. σεβαστός, “In σπεῖρα Σεβαστή 27:1 (cp. OGI 421) Σεβαστή is likew. an exact transl. of Lat. Augusta, an honorary title freq. given to auxiliary troops (Ptolem. renders it Σεβαστή in connection w. three legions that bore it: 2, 3, 30; 2, 9, 18; 4, 3, 30) imperial cohort.” According to W. Foerster (TDNT 7:175), “In Ac. 27:1 the σπεῖρα Σεβαστή is an expression also found elsewhere for ‘auxiliary troops.’” In no case would this refer to a special imperial bodyguard, and to translate “imperial regiment” or “imperial cohort” might give this impression. There is some archaeological evidence for a Cohors Augusta I stationed in Syria during the time of Augustus, but whether this is the same unit is very debatable.

sn The Augustan Cohort. A cohort was a Roman military unit of about 600 soldiers, one-tenth of a legion. There is considerable debate over the identification of this particular cohort and the meaning of the title Augustan mentioned here. These may well have been auxiliary (provincial) troops given the honorary title.

5 tn Grk “fell upon a place of two seas.” The most common explanation for this term is that it refers to a reef or sandbar with the sea on both sides, as noted in BDAG 245 s.v. διθάλασσος: the “τόπος δ. Ac 27:41 is a semantic unit signifying a point (of land jutting out with water on both sides).” However, Greek had terms for a “sandbank” (θῖς [qis], ταινία [tainia]), a “reef” (ἑρμα [Jerma]), “strait” (στενόν [stenon]), “promontory” (ἀρωτήρον [arwthron]), and other nautical hazards, none of which are used by the author here. NEB here translates τόπον διθάλασσον (topon diqalasson) as “cross-currents,” a proposal close to that advanced by J. M. Gilchrist, “The Historicity of Paul’s Shipwreck,” JSNT 61 (1996): 29-51, who suggests the meaning is “a patch of cross-seas,” where the waves are set at an angle to the wind, a particular hazard for sailors. Thus the term most likely refers to some sort of adverse sea conditions rather than a topographical feature like a reef or sandbar.

6 tn Or “violence” (BDAG 175 s.v. βία a).

7 sn The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners. The issue here was not cruelty, but that the soldiers would be legally responsible if any prisoners escaped and would suffer punishment themselves. So they were planning to do this as an act of self-preservation. See Acts 16:27 for a similar incident.

8 tn The participle ἐκκολυμβήσας (ekkolumbhsa") has been taken instrumentally.

9 sn See the note on the word centurion in 10:1.

10 tn Or “wanting to rescue Paul.”

sn Thanks to the centurion who wanted to save Paul’s life, Paul was once more rescued from a potential human threat.

11 tn BDAG 347 s.v. I. ἔξειμι has “ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν get to land Ac 27:43.”

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