Once the winds over the sea calmed down, the captain and crew supposed they could then reach their desired end and set sail away from Fair Havens, but it wasn’t long before a strong storm arose and came upon them without warning, driving them further out to sea and away from the safety of Crete (Acts 27:13-15). Luke tells us that the storm was what sailors called a Euroclydon (we would call it a Noreaster today), and the Greek seems to attest to it swirling nature, somewhat like a typhoon, but, unlike a typhoon which is soon over, this storm lasted many days.
The sudden nature of the storm kept the crew from taking normal precautions done for storms at sea. They were forced to allow themselves to be driven south and westward, and they feared being cast into the shifting sands along the African coast near Cyrene, which was about 400 miles away thus testifying to the force of these winds. They were able to get under the lee of an island where they took down the main sail, so they wouldn’t drift so swiftly, and used cables to tighten the ship’s timbers together so the storm wouldn’t break the ship up (Acts 27:16-17). After a day and a night in the storm they were forced to lighten the ship by jettisoning some of its cargo (but not all—see v.38), and the day following they did likewise with the main sail and other cables—fearing the ship would be overrun with seawater. Nevertheless, even with taking every precaution, all hope of survival slowly ebbed away from even the most experienced seamen (Acts 27:18-20).
After some time Paul stood up in their midst and with a bit of irony reminded those in charge of the vessel that they should have listened to him when he advised them to winter at New Havens. Such a remark seems to be unlike Paul—to rub salt in the wounds, as it were. However, if we look closely, he is doing here as he had done on other occasions before the authorities he faced who abused their power in order to reap a selfish advantage (cp Acts 16:37 and 25:10; see also Acts 23:1-3). Remembering what I noted in my previous blog, that Claudius and Nero insured the loss of grain vessels at sea who under contract to bring Rome her needed supplies, and offered bounties for those who braved the seas in winter in order to accomplish that end, Paul worded his statement as a rebuke against those who opposed his caution for safety. He used the word gained (G2770), which in every other instance of use in the New Testament it has to do with profit (cp. Luke 9:24; 1Corinthians 9:19-22; James 4:13). Paul was using irony to rebuke the authority that put lives at risk in the name of commercial profit. In other words, Paul told them to observe their ‘profit’ which they had thrown overboard.
However, a justified rebuke was not all that Paul had to offer. The Angel of the God (probably Jesus) to whom Paul belonged and whom he served (cp. Acts 27:23) appeared to him the night before, not only reinforcing his previous statement that Paul would go to Rome and then appear before Caesar (cp. Acts 23:11), but also promised that all aboard the ship would be saved for Paul’s sake (Acts 27:24). Nevertheless, the ship, itself, would be lost as they ran aground on some island (Acts 27:26)—justice for the greed of the owner of the vessel and mercy for the lives he put at risk for his own ends.