Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Acts
Book: Acts
Chapter: 27

Paul's voyage towards Rome. (1-11) Paul and his companions
endangered By a tempest. (12-20) He receives a Divine Assurance
of safety. (21-29) Paul encourages those with him. (30-38) They
are shipwrecked. (39-44)

1-11 It was determined By the counsel of God, before it was
determined By the counsel of Festus, that Paul should go to
Rome; for God had work for him to do there. The course they
steered, and the places they touched at, are here set down. And
God here encourages those who suffer for him, to trust in him;
for he can Put it into the hearts of those to befriend them,
from whom they least expect it. Sailors must make the best of
the wind: and So must we all in our Passage over the ocean of
this world. When the Winds are contrary, yet we must be getting
forward as Well as we can. Many who are not driven backward By
Cross providences, do not get forward By favourable providences.
And many real Christians complain as to the concerns of their
souls, that they have much ado to keep their ground. Every fair
Haven is not a safe Haven. Many show respect to good ministers,
who will not take their advice. But the event will convince
sinners of the vanity of their hopes, and the folly of their

12-20 Those who launch forth On the ocean of this world, with a
fair gale, know not what storms they may meet with; and
therefore must not easily take it for granted that they have
obtained their purpose. Let us never expect to be quite safe
till we enter Heaven. They saw neither Sun nor Stars for many
days. Thus melancholy sometimes is the condition of the people
of God as to their spiritual matters; they walk in Darkness, and
have No Light. See what the wealth of this world is: though
coveted as a blessing, the time may come when it will be a
Burden; not only too heavy to be carried safely, but heavy
enough to sink him that has it. The children of this world can
be prodigal of their goods for the saving their lives, yet are
sparing of them in Works of Piety and Charity, and in suffering
for Christ. Any Man will rather make shipwreck of his goods than
of his Life; but many rather make shipwreck of Faith and a good
Conscience, than of their goods. The means the sailors used did
not succeed; but when sinners give up all Hope of saving
themselves, they are prepared to understand God's Word, and to
trust in his Mercy through Jesus Christ.

21-29 They did not hearken to the Apostle when he warned them
of their danger; yet if they acknowledge their folly, and repent
of it, he will speak comfort and relief to them when in danger.
Most people bring themselves into trouble, because they do not
know when they are Well off; they come to harm and loss By
aiming to mend their condition, often against advice. Observe
the solemn profession Paul made of relation to God. No storms or
tempests can hinder God's favour to his people, for he is a Help
always at Hand. It is a comfort to the Faithful servants of God
when in difficulties, that as long as the Lord has any work for
them to do, their lives shall be prolonged. If Paul had thrust
himself needlessly into bad company, he might justly have been
cast away with them; but God Calling him into it, they are
preserved with him. They are given thee; there is No greater
satisfaction to a good Man than to know he is a public blessing.
He comforts them with the same comforts wherewith he himself was
comforted. God is ever Faithful, therefore let all who have an
interest in his promises be ever cheerful. As, with God, saying
and doing are not two things, believing and enjoying should not
be So with us. Hope is an Anchor of the soul, sure and stedfast,
entering into that within the Veil. Let those who are in
spiritual Darkness Hold Fast By that, and think not of putting
to Sea again, but abide By Christ, and wait till the Day break,
and the shadows flee away.

30-38 God, who appointed the End, that they should be saved,
appointed the means, that they should be saved By the help of
these shipmen. Duty is ours, events are God's; we do not trust
God, but tempt him, when we say we Put ourselves under his
protection, if we do not use proper means, such as are within
our power, for our safety. But how selfish are men in general,
often even ready to seek their own safety By the Destruction of
others! Happy those who have such a one as Paul in their
company, who not only had intercourse with Heaven, but was of an
enlivening Spirit to those about him. The sorrow of the world
Works Death, while joy in God is Life and peace in the greatest
distresses and dangers. The comfort of God's promises can only
be ours By believing dependence On him, to fulfil his Word to
us; and the Salvation he reveals must be waited for in use of
the means he appoints. If God has Chosen us to Salvation, he has
also appointed that we shall obtain it By Repentance, Faith,
Prayer, and persevering obedience; it is fatal presumption to
expect it in any other way. It is an encouragement to people to
commit themselves to Christ as their Saviour, when those who
invite them, clearly show that they do So themselves.

39-44 The ship that had weathered the storm in the open Sea,
where it had room, is dashed to Pieces when it sticks Fast.
Thus, if the Heart fixes in the world in Affection, and cleaving
to it, it is lost. Satan's temptations beat against it, and it
is gone; but as long as it keeps above the world, though tossed
with cares and tumults, there is Hope for it. They had the shore
in view, yet suffered shipwreck in the harbour; thus we are
taught never to be secure. Though there is great difficulty in
the way of the promised Salvation, it shall, without fail, be
brought to pass. It will come to pass that whatever the trials
and dangers may be, in due time all believers will get safely to
Heaven. Lord Jesus, thou hast assured us that none of thine
shall perish. Thou wilt bring them all safe to the heavenly
shore. And what a pleasing landing will that be! Thou wilt
present them to thy Father, and give thy Holy Spirit full
possession of them for ever.