Acts 27:2 Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us
Paul is not traveling alone. The physician Luke has been his companion for most of the last several years. The third member of Paul's entourage is Aristarchus, a Thessalonian convert who was a close friend to Paul.
"During the Apostle's subsequent long journey to Jerusalem, Aristarchus was to be found by his side (Acts 20:4). It is reasonable to suppose that this faithful friend remained in Palestine during Paul's two years' imprisonment there, for we find him again accompanying the Apostle when the latter shipped for Rome as a prisoner in charge of the centurion Julius (Acts 27:2)...He had been so long faithful to his friend the Apostle that it would rather appear as if he had thrown in his lot with him altogether and had no intention of forsaking him at all, and this view is strengthened by the fact that we find him sharing Paul's imprisonment throughout the two years during which the latter dwelt in his own hired house in Rome (Col. 4:10 and Philemon 24). So far as one can gather from the few instances in which his name is mentioned, he was always near the Apostle, ready to render him service and to work with and for him in the cause of the gospel from the time that he was converted in Thessalonica in A. D. 53 up to the close of Paul's first Roman imprisonment in A. D. 64. This friendship was therefore one of several years' standing, and must have been a source of considerable comfort and consolation to the aged Apostle in the trying circumstances of his later life, and during his weary and lengthy imprisonments both in Palestine and in Imperial Rome." (St. Paul's Companions in Rome. by Col. R. M. Bryce-Thomas, Improvement Era, 1909, Vol. Xii. August, 1909. No. 10)
Acts 27:3 Julius courteously entreated Paul
The Roman centurion in charge of Paul allowed him to refresh himself and later kept his soldiers from killing him (v. 23-24). What can we learn from the way Julius treated Paul? This Roman had no interest in the Jewish religions; he did not believe that Paul was a messenger of God (see v. 11). Yet he treated him with courtesy as a matter of common decency. May we treat everyone, even our own enemies, with the same measure of courtesy.
Sterling W. Sill
"M. A. Kelty said, 'Small kindnesses, small courtesies, small considerations, habitually practiced in our social intercourse, give a greater charm to the character than the display of great talents or great accomplishments.' Goethe declared, 'There is no outward sign of true courtesy that does not rest on a deep moral foundation.' And Emerson said, 'We should be as courteous to a man as we are to a picture, which we are willing to give the advantage of the best possible light.'
"...One of the wisest decisions we can make is to always be courteous, kind, and gracious. A courteous person does not violate the rules of accepted conduct. A courteous person is not immodest or offensive. He is always thoughtful of God, of his country, of his family, of his friends, and even of his enemies.
"May we always be courteous in our speech, in our activities, in our appearance. Then, when we go to stand before God, it is likely that one of the qualities that will shine brighter in our lives than almost any other is that great gem of courtesy." (The Wealth of Wisdom, 83-85)
Acts 27:9 the fast was already past
The fast spoken of is presumed to be associated with the Feast of Tabernacles which was celebrated in October (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul, 234). This places the time of the voyage in late fall, 60 or 61 AD.
Acts 27:10-12 Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage
Paul, an apostle and a prophet, gives prophetic warning to his captors. But the centurion and owner were in a hurry to get somewhere! Aren't we all? As we read of the tempest and their tribulations, as we think of the prayers and fasting of Paul and his entourage, as we review the loss of property and danger to life, we are reminded that all of it could have been avoided by simply heeding the counsel of Paul. He later reminds them, 'Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss' (v. 21). But, as is often the case, they had only one opportunity to do the right thing. To change their mind once at sea was too late!
The story is a metaphor for the latter-day saints who will be protected both physically and spiritually if they heed prophetic counsel. The challenge is to faithfully hearken, even when it seems that the counsel will only slow down our journey. Indeed, our hearing is often hardest when the message of the Lord is "Wait! Not now" or "Be patient." Often, the Lord wants us to winter in a Crete-like haven prepared specifically for our safety.
Henry B. Eyring
"There seems to be no end to the Savior's desire to lead us to safety. And there is constancy in the way He shows us the path. He calls by more than one means so that it will reach those willing to accept it. And those means always include sending the message by the mouths of His prophets... Those authorized servants are always charged with warning the people, telling them the way to safety.
"When tensions ran high in northern Missouri in the fall of 1838, the Prophet Joseph Smith called for all the Saints to gather to Far West for protection. Many were on isolated farms or in scattered settlements. He specifically counseled Jacob Haun, founder of a small settlement called Haun's Mill. A record of that time includes this: 'Brother Joseph had sent word by Haun, who owned the mill, to inform the brethren who were living there to leave and come to Far West, but Mr. Haun did not deliver the message' (Philo Dibble, in "Early Scenes in Church History," in Four Faith Promoting Classics , 90). Later, the Prophet Joseph recorded in his history: 'Up to this day God had given me wisdom to save the people who took counsel. None had ever been killed who [had abided] by my counsel' (History of the Church, 5:137). Then the Prophet recorded the sad truth that innocent lives could have been saved at Haun's Mill had his counsel been received and followed.
"In our own time, we have been warned with counsel of where to find safety from sin and from sorrow...In rejecting His counsel, we choose the influence of another power, whose purpose is to make us miserable and whose motive is hatred. We have moral agency as a gift of God. Rather than the right to choose to be free of influence, it is the inalienable right to submit ourselves to whichever of those powers we choose.
"Another fallacy is to believe that the choice to accept or not accept the counsel of prophets is no more than deciding whether to accept good advice and gain its benefits or to stay where we are. But the choice not to take prophetic counsel changes the very ground upon which we stand. It becomes more dangerous. The failure to take prophetic counsel lessens our power to take inspired counsel in the future. The best time to have decided to help Noah build the ark was the first time he asked. Each time he asked after that, each failure to respond would have lessened sensitivity to the Spirit. And so each time his request would have seemed more foolish, until the rain came. And then it was too late.
"Every time in my life when I have chosen to delay following inspired counsel or decided that I was an exception, I came to know that I had put myself in harm's way. Every time that I have listened to the counsel of prophets, felt it confirmed in prayer, and then followed it, I have found that I moved toward safety. Along the path, I have found that the way had been prepared for me and the rough places made smooth. God led me to safety along a path which was prepared with loving care, sometimes prepared long before." ("Finding Safety in Counsel," Ensign, May 1997, 24)
Acts 27:15 the ship...could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive
Fearing that fierce winds would overturn the ship, the crew takes down the sails, allowing the ship to be driven before the tempest. Later (v. 17), they would raise the sails attempting to avoid getting stuck in shallow water by the island of Clauda. "Historians of Rome have long noted that Luke's description of this exciting journey is one of the most important primary sources available on ancient seamanship. Students of Paul's life cannot help but be impressed with his spiritual leadership and unfailing trust in the Lord under the most trying circumstances." (C. Wilfred Griggs, "Paul: The Long Road from Damascus," Ensign, Sept. 1975, 57)
Acts 27:18 being exceedingly tossed with a tempest
"[While on a mission, Lorenzo Snow] went to Great Britain. He was upon the sea forty-two stormy days. Writing to his aunt he described the storms:
'Just look at me in your lively imagination, in one of these terrific storms, seated to a large hogshead of water-holding on, with both hands, to ropes near by ... the ship reeling and dashing from side to side-now and then a monster wave leaping over the bulwarks, treating all present with a shower bath-see, sitting near me, a man weeping bitterly with terror on his countenance-the next moment a wave shoots over the bulwarks, dashing him from his seat and landing him ... on the opposite side, from which he arises with a broken arm and dripping wet.'
"Below, boxes broke loose and tumbled about among the groaning and crying women and children. Yet, through it all, Elder Snow was filled with peace, for he was on the Lord's errand.
"This scene was much like one involving the Apostle Paul. (See Acts 27.) In fact, there was much in Lorenzo Snow that was like Paul in terms of missionary labors." (Arthur R. Bassett, "Lorenzo Snow: Decisions of a Young Man," Tambuli, May 1993, 26)
Acts 27:22 I exhort you to be of good cheer
Harold B. Lee
"Now for a moment let us become fellow-travelers with Paul the Apostle, a young man on a voyage across the Mediterranean to Rome, where he was in the custody of Roman officers because of his 'offense' to the guilty sinners of his day in preaching the truths of the Gospel...As we voyage together toward Rome a furious storm breaks and after five days most all on board have despaired of living out the storm. Not so with this young man whose faith had brought him the peace of heavenly vision. He stood before his cowering mates and said: 'And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul . . . Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.' (Acts 27:22-25.)
"Again, you youth of today, we voyage together. It may as well be out from Golden Gate Harbor or from any international airport to an overseas destination. It may be a storm where nature's fury is unleashed or it may be a mental or an emotional storm that threatens shipwreck. Whatever the occasion or the cause, you may by faith, intensified by fasting or 'after long abstinence' like Paul, have standing by your side during 'that night' of turmoil a guardian angel of God 'whose you are and whom you serve.'
"If by 'faith we understand the worlds were framed by the word of God' (Hebrews 11:3), what think you of the possibility of your business problems, your farm difficulties or your personal anxieties being righted by that same power. If you have faith, and it is God's will, it will be so." (Decisions for Successful Living, 79-80.)
Neal A. Maxwell
"This lesson about justifiable cheerfulness even amid perilous passages apparently had been driven home to Paul, for during his voyage to Rome, he assured his fearful shipmates that not one of them would lose their lives, though their ship would be lost. Therefore, He encouraged them to 'be of good cheer' in the midst of their anxieties, and his prophecy was fulfilled.
"It remains for us, therefore, to be of good cheer even when...current circumstances seem hopeless." (Even As I Am, 101.)
Acts 27:23-24 there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve
Harold B. Lee
"The rewards that come from a life of sacrifice and service are also illustrated in an incident in [Paul's] life. You recall, he was now a prisoner on his way to Rome. As they put out from an island in the Mediterranean Sea, he had the impression that all would not be well, and they were hardly out of sight of land until a furious storm broke, and for fourteen days that frail ship was tossed about, and when, as the scriptures say, '...neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.' (Acts 27:20)
"Then it was that the Apostle Paul went down into a place by himself and prayed, and here are the words that are recorded in the scriptures which describe his experience:
Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.' (Acts 27:21-24.)
"Then the Apostle Paul quieted his shipmates with this testimony: 'Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.' (Acts 27:25.)
"There we might find illustrated the essential steps toward the abundant life, of which the Master spoke. The first step is to live the kind of life that permits up to receive the light of heaven, and a testimony that Jesus is a living reality, and that he can speak to us. One possessed of such testimony, then, from the depths of his heart, will say, as did the Apostle Paul: 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?'
"...In all our selfish motives, then and all our personal desires, and expediency, would be subordinated to a desire to know the will of the Lord, one could have the companionship of heavenly vision. If your problems be too great for human intelligence or too much for human strength, you too, if you are faithful and appeal rightly unto the source of divine power, might have standing by you in your hour of peril or great need an angel of God, whose you are and whom you serve. One who lives thus worthy of a testimony that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ, and who is willing to reach out to him in constant inquiry to know if his course is approved is the one who is living life to its full abundance here, and is preparing for the celestial world, which is to live eternally with his Heavenly Father." (Conference Report, October 1946, Afternoon Meeting 144-6.)
Acts 27:30 the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship
Russell M. Nelson
"The Lord can readily discern between those with superficial signs of activity and those who are deeply rooted in His Church...Loyalty to the Lord carries an obligation of loyalty to those called by the Lord to lead His Church. He has empowered that men be ordained to speak in His holy name. As they guide His unsinkable boat safely toward the shore of salvation, we would do well to stay on board with them. 'No waters can swallow the ship where lies / The Master of ocean and earth and skies.' (Hymn 105)
"Nevertheless, some individuals want to jump 'out of the boat' before reaching land. And others, sadly, are persuaded out by companions who insist that they know more about life's perilous journey than do prophets of the Lord. Problems often arise that are not of your own making. Some of you may innocently find yourselves abandoned by one you trusted. But you will never be forsaken by your Redeemer, who said, 'I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say.' (DC 82:10)" (Perfection Pending, and Other Favorite Discourses, 130 - 131.)
Acts 27:33 This day is the fourteenth day that ye have...continued fasting
The next time your mind turns to murmuring about fasting for a day, remember the faith of these passengers: fourteen days without food, suffering sea-sickness, torrential rains, on a ship which was about to sink, without hope of survival, and with nothing to do but wait and eat. Yet they spent their time in fasting and prayer, instead. Their trial seems worse than skipping a couple of meals once a month, doesn't it?