25.I am not mad.Paul is not angry, neither doth he sharply reprehend Festus for his blasphemous speech; yea, he speaketh unto him with great submission. F1482 For it was no place for reprehension, and it became him to pardon the ignorance of the man, seeing he did not set himself face to face against God. Also, he had respect unto his person [office]. For though he were unworthy of honor, yet was he in authority. And yet for all that he doth not therefore give place to his blasphemy, but he defendeth the glory of the word of God. Whereby we do also see, that not caring for himself, he did only take thought for his doctrine. For he doth not vaunt of his wit; F1483 he doth not labor in defense of his wisdom; but he is content with this defense alone, that he teacheth nothing but that which is true and sober.
Furthermore, [the] truth is set against F1484 all manner [of] fallacies and fraud: sobriety against all manner [of] frivolous speculations and thorny subtilties, which are only seeds of contention. Paul doth, indeed, refute Festus’ error; yet we may gather by this, which is the best manner of teaching, to wit, that which is not only clean from all fallacies and deceit, but also doth not make the minds of men drunk with vain questions, and doth not nourish foolish curiosity, nor an intemperate desire to know more than is meet, but is moderate and good for sound edification.
26. For the king hnoweth of these things.He turneth himself unto Agrippa, in whom there was more hope. And, first, he saith that he knew the history of the things; but he calleth him straightway back to the law and the prophets. For it was to small end for him to know the thing which was done, unless he did know that those things which had been spoken before of Christ were fulfilled in the person of Jesus which was crucified. And whereas Paul doth not doubt of Agrippa’s faith, he doth it not so much to praise him, as that he may put the Scripture out of all question, lest he be enforced to stand upon the very principles. Therefore, his meaning is, that the Scripture is of sufficient credit of itself, so that it is not lawful for a man that is a Jew to diminish any jot of the authority thereof. And yet Paul doth not flatter him; for though he did not reverence the Scripture as became a godly man, yet he had this rudiment from his childhood, that he was persuaded that nothing is contained therein besides the oracles of God. As the common sort of men, though they do not greatly care for the word of God, yet they acknowledge and confess generally and confusedly that it is the word of God, so that they are letted with some reverence either to reject or to despise the same.
28. And Agrippa said unto Paul.The apostle prevailed thus far at least, that he wrung out of king Agrippa a confession, though it were not voluntary, as those use to yield who can no longer resist the truth, or, at least, to show some token of assent. Agrippa’s meaning is, that he will not willingly become a Christian; yea, that he will not be one at all; and yet that he is not able to gainsay, but that he is drawn after a sort against his will. Whereby it appeareth how great the pride of man’s nature is until it be brought under to obey by the Spirit of God.
Interpreters expound this, en oligwdiversely. Valla thought that it ought to be translated thus, Thou dost almost make me a Christian. Erasmus doth translate it a little. The old interpreter dealeth more plainly F1485in a little; because, translating it word for word, he left it to the readers to judge at their pleasure. And surely it may be fitly referred unto the time, as if Agrippa had said, Thou wilt make me a Christian straightway, or in one moment. If any man object that Paul’s answer doth not agree thereto, we may quickly answer; for seeing the speech was doubtful, Paul doth fitly apply that unto the thing which was spoken of the time. Therefore, seeing Agrippa did mean that he was almost made a Christian in a small time, Paul addeth that he doth desire that as well he as his companions might rise from small beginnings, and profit more and more; and yet I do not mislike that that en oligwdoth signify as much as almost. This answer doth testify with what zeal, to spread abroad the glory of Christ, this holy man’s breast was inflamed, when as he doth patiently suffer those bonds wherewith the governor had bound him, and doth desire that he might escape the deadly snares of Satan, and to have both him and also his partners to be partakers with him of the same grace, being in the mean season content with his troublesome and reproachful condition. We must note that he doth not wish it simply, but from God, as it is he which draweth us unto his Son; because, unless he teach us inwardly by his Spirit, the outward doctrine shall always wax cold.
Except these bonds.It is certain that Paul’s bonds were not so hard, ne [nor] yet did they cause him such sorrow, wherein he did oftentimes rejoice, and which he doth mention for honor’s sake, as being the badge of his embassage, (<480617>Galatians 6:17), but he hath respect to those to whom he wisheth faith without trouble or cross. For those who did not as yet believe in Christ were far from that affection to be ready to strive for the gospel. And surely it behoveth all the godly to have this gentleness and meekness, that they patiently bear their own cross, and that they wish well to others, and study so much as in them lieth to ease them of all trouble, and that they do in no case envy their quietness and mirth. This courtesy F1486 is far contrary to the bitterness of those who take comfort in wishing that other men were in their misery.
31. They spake together.In that Paul is acquitted by the judgment of them all, it turned to the great renown of the gospel. And when Festus agreeth to the rest he condemneth himself, seeing he had brought Paul into such straits through his unjust dealing, by bringing him in danger of his life under color of changing the place. And though it seemeth that the appeal did hinder F1487 the holy man, yet because this was the only way to escape death, he is content, and doth not seek to get out of that snare; not only because the matter was not even now safe and sound, F1488 but because he was admonished in the vision that he was also called by God to Rome (<442311>Acts 23:11).
1. And after that it was decreed that we should sail into Italy, they delivered both Paul and also certain other prisoners to a centurion named Julius, of the band of Augustus. 2. And we entered into a ship of Adramyttium, purposing to sail by the coasts of Asia, and we launched forth, having Aristarchus of Macedonia, a Thessalonian, with us. 3. And the next day we arrived at Sidon, and Julius did courteously intreat Paul, and suffered him to go to his friends, that they might refresh him. 4. And when we were gone thence, we sailed hard by Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. 5. And when we had sailed on the sea which is over against Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. 6. And when the centurion had found there a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy, he put us in it. 7. And when we had sailed slowly many days, and were scarce come over against Cnidus, because the wind did let us, we sailed hard by Crete, beside Salmone; 8. And with much ado we sailed beyond it, and came to a certain place which is called The fair havens, near unto which was the city of Lasea.
1. Luke setteth down Paul’s voyage by sea most of all to this end, that we may know that he was brought to Rome wonderfully by the hand of God; and that the glory of God did many ways appear excellent in his doings and sayings even in the very journey, which did more establish his apostleship. He is delivered to be carried with other prisoners; but the Lord doth afterward put great difference between him and the evil-doers, who were in bonds as well as he. Yea, moreover, we shall see how the captain doth loose him, and let him be at liberty, when the rest lie bound. I know not what band that was which Luke calleth the band of Augustus, unless, peradventure, it be that which was commonly called the praetor’s F1489 band, before the monarchy of the Caesars. And Luke setteth down in plain words, that they were put in a ship of Adramyttium; because they should sail by the coast of Asia. For Adramyttium is a city of Aeolia. I cannot tell out of what haven they launched. Because they could not sail with a straight course to Sidon, unless the maps do greatly deceive me, we may well guess that they were brought thither, either because they could find a ship nowhere else, or else because they were to take the other prisoners, of whom mention is made, out of that region.
2. And there continued with us.Luke seemeth so to commend one man’s constancy, that he nippeth the rest. For there were more which did accompany him to Jerusalem; whereof we see two only which remained with him. But because it may be that the rest were letted with some just causes, or that Paul refused to have them to minister unto him, I will say nothing either way. Neither is it an unmeet thing to say F1490 that Luke had some special reason for which he doth commend this man above the rest, albeit he was but one of many. Surely, it is likely that he was a rich man, seeing he was able to bear the charges whereat he was by the space of three years, having left his house. For we heard before (<441711>Acts 17:11) that many of the chief families in Thessalonica did receive Christ, and Luke saith, for honor’s sake, that Aristarchus and Secundus came with Paul into Asia (<442004>Acts 20:4). Therefore, let it suffice us to hold that which is certain and good to be known, that there is set before us an example of holy patience, because Aristarchus is not wearied with any trouble, but doth willingly take part with Paul in his trouble, F1491 and after that he had been in prison with him two years, he doth now cross the seas, that he may likewise minister to him at Rome, not without the reproachings of many, besides the loss of his goods at home, and so great charges.
3. He suffered him to go to.Paul might have hid himself F1492 in a large city, which joined to the sea; but he was bound with the oracle, that he could not withdraw himself from the calling of God. Again, because the centurion had so courteously entertained him, that he suffered him to go to his friends, that they might dress and refresh him, whom he might have left in the stinking ship, F1493 he ought not nor could he provide for his own life, with the other man’s danger, without filthy treachery. F1494 Neither must we in any case suffer those who have courteously intreated us to be deceived by their courtesy through our fault. Let the readers fet [seek] the voyage whereof Luke speaketh out of those which describe places and countries; F1495 only I say thus much, that all that which is said tendeth to this end, that we may know that their sailing was dangerous and tempestuous, after that they were once gone out of the haven of Sidon, until they came near to Melita; and that afterward the mariners did strive long time with contrary winds, until a cruel storm F1496 arose, whose end was shipwreck, as we shall see.
9. And when much time was spent, and when sailing was now jeopardous, because all the time of fasting was now passed, Paul admonished them, 10. Saying unto them, Sirs, I see that this voyage will be with hurt and great loss, not only of the burthen and of the ship, but also of our souls, [lives]. 11. But the centurion believed rather the governor and the master of the ship, than those things which were spoken of Paul. 12. And because the haven was unfit to winter in, many took counsel to depart thence, if by any means they might come to Phenice, and there winter. That is a haven of Candia, and lieth toward the south-west and by west, and north-west and by west. 13. And when the south wind blew softly, supposing to obtain their purpose, when they had loosed nearer, they sailed beyond Candia. 14. But not long after there arose over against it a stormy wind, which is called Euroclydon. 15. And when the ship was caught, and could not resist the wind, we let her go, and were carried away. 16. And when we were carried into a certain isle called Candia, [Clauda] we could scarce get the boat: 17. Which they took up, and used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into syrtes, [quicksands] they strake sail, and so were carried. 18. And when we were tossed with an exceeding tempest, on the morrow they lightened the ship; 19. And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship. 20. Furthermore, when neither sun nor stars appeared now many days, and no small tempest lay upon us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.
9. When sailing was now jeopardous.He doth not only mean that the winds were contrary then, but also that the time of the year was not then commodious, which he expresseth more plainly afterward, when he saith that the fast was passed; for I think that this word was added by way of exposition, to note the end of harvest. Neither do I pass for that, that that solemn time of fasting, whereof Luke speaketh, was strange to the centurion and the rest of the mariners; for he noteth out the times of the year according to the custom of the Jews. Furthermore, we need not doubt but that it was the harvest [autumnal] fast. Though I am not of their mind who think that it was one of the four fasts which the Jews did appoint after the carrying away into Babylon. For Luke would not have put down simply, without adding any distinction, the third fast, which was in the seventh month, seeing it was not more famous than the rest, being commanded to be kept because of the death of Godolia, and because of the destruction of the rest of the people. Again, I cannot tell whether that custom were retained by the people after their return. It is more likely that he meaneth the feast of the atonement, wherein the Lord commanded them to humble their souls seven days. And they began the tenth day of the seventh month; whereto partly September and partly October doth now agree (<031629>Leviticus 16:29). Therefore, seeing they were now entered into October, it is said, not without cause, that sailing was jeopardous at that time. But and if you refer it unto hunger, (as some do) I do not see what sense can be gathered thence; for they had as yet store of wheat in the ship, so that they needed not to be hunger starved. And why should he say that the time of the voluntary fast was passed? Moreover, it shall hereafter appear by the text, that they were, therefore, exhorted by Paul to stay because winter was at hand, whose sharpness [severity] useth to shut up the seas. For though he were assured that God would govern the ship, yet he would not tempt him rashly by making too great haste.
11.But the centurion.The centurion is not reproved because he hearkened rather to the master and governor of the ship than to Paul. For what should he have done? For though he did well like F1497 Paul’s counsel in other matters, yet he knew that he was unskillful in sailing. Therefore he suffered himself to be governed by those which were expert, which was a point of a wise and modest man. Yea, very necessity did almost compel him to do this; for the haven was not commodious to winter in. Neither did the governor give counsel to commit the ship to the main sea, but to thrust into the next haven, which was almost in view. So that, with taking a little pains, they might commodiously pass the winter. Luke reciteth this not in vain; but that we may know that Paul was from the beginning furnished with the sense of the Spirit, so that he did better see what things were profitable than did the masters. We know not whether he were taught by oracles, or whether he gave this counsel through secret inspiration. This is certain, that it served afterward to his commendation. Furthermore, in that he saith that they sailed beyond the coast of Candia, until they were caught and carried away; our friend Beza doth justly reprove the error of interpreters in this word asson, who make of an adverb the name of a city.
15.When the ship was caught.Luke saith that that fell out here, which useth to fall out in extreme danger; namely, they suffered themselves to be carried of the winds. Seeing they were first gone some space, and the mariners thought that all things fell out as they would have it, undoubtedly they did deride Paul’s admonition; as rash men use commonly to wax proud if fortune favor them. Being now caught, they are grievously punished for their boldness; yea, when they drew near to an haven, F1498 they were no less afraid lest they should break the ship, than they were before of overturning the same. Luke doth diligently note all these things, out of which we may gather, that the storm was so vehement and fierce, and that it continued still at one stay, that they were still in danger of death. Also he declareth, that they did courageously use all remedies which might save them from suffering shipwreck, and that they spared not the merchandise and tackling; whence we gather that they were enforced, with a lively feeling of danger, to do what they were able. And Luke addeth, that when they had essayed all things, they despaired of their safety. And surely the very darkness of heaven was as it were a grave. Neither need we doubt but that the Lord meant by this means to commend and make more notable the grace of their deliverance which ensued shortly after. Nevertheless, he suffered his servant to labor with the rest, until he thought he should die. For he did not appear unto him by his angel, before it might seem that he was past hope of recovery. Wherefore his body was not only tossed amidst many storms, but his soul was also shaken with violent tentations. Notwithstanding the end doth show, that he stood upright by faith, so that he did not faint. Luke speaketh nothing of his prayers; but because he himself saith afterward that the angel of God, whom he served, appeared to him, it is likely that when others did curse both heaven and earth, he made his prayers to God, and so was quiet, and did patiently tarry the Lord’s leisure. And whereas he saith that all hope of safety was taken away, it must not be referred unto his sense, but only unto the means which men could use; F1499 as if he should say, that things were so far out of order, that there was no safety to be looked for at men’s hands.
21. But after long abstinence Paul stood in the midst and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened to me, and not have loosed from Candia, neither have brought upon us this injury and loss. 22. And now I exhort you that ye be of good courage: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life, but only of the ship. 23. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I worship. 24. And he said to me, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, behold, God hath given thee all those which sail with thee. 25. Wherefore be of good courage, sirs: for I believe God that it shall be so, as it hath been told me. 26. But we must fall into a certain island. 27. And when the fourteenth night was come, as we sailed in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the mariners supposed that some country appeared to them. 28. And when they had sounded, they found it twenty fathoms: and when they were gone a little farther, they sounded again, and they found it fifteen fathoms. 29. And fearing lest they should have fallen into some rough places, having cast four anchors out of the stern, they wished for day. 30. And when the mariners sought to fly out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under a color as if they would have cast anchors out of the foreship, 31. Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, Unless these abide in the ship, you cannot be saved. 32. Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and they suffered it to fall away.
21. After long abstinence.Though Luke doth not plainly express how the mariners and soldiers behaved themselves, yet he doth plainly distinguish Paul from them, declaring that he stood in the midst of them that he might comfort their faint hearts; for no man is fit to exhort but he who is himself an example of constancy and fortitude. Furthermore, Paul deferred this exhortation until they were all even at the last cast. We may easily gather out of the common custom of the infidels, that they raged and made much ado at the first. A moderate and soft voice could never have been heard amongst those cries and tumults. Now, after they be weary with working and howling, they sit still all in a damp, and Paul beginneth to speak to them. Therefore, it was meet that they should languish like men half dead, until they were somewhat quiet, and could hear a man which would give them good counsel.
Notwithstanding, Paul seemeth to deal unseasonably, when as he objecteth to them foolishness, because they would not do after his counsel when all was well, seeing that they knew that he was inexpert in sailing, as he himself also knew how unskillful and ignorant he was.
But if we consider what an hard matter it is to bring men unto soundness of mind, this reprehension was very profitable. Paul’s authority should have been nothing worth, neither should it have moved them any whit, unless they should know this, that it had not gone well with them because they had despised him before. Chiding is indeed cruel, and bringeth no comfort; but if it be tempered with some remedy, it is now a part of the medicine. So, after that Paul had made the mariners attentive, and had taught by the very event that they ought to believe him, he exhorteth them to be of good courage, and promiseth them safety. And this is a token of no small boldness, when he saith that they ought to have obeyed him. Therefore, he testifieth by these words, that he spake nothing unadvisedly; but did command them to do that which God had prescribed. For though we do not read that he had some especial revelation then given him, yet he himself knew that the Spirit did secretly govern him, so that he might without fear take upon him to give counsel, seeing he had the Spirit of God to be his guide. Whereby that doth better appear which I touched of late, that Paul in speaking thus doth awake the mariners, that they may more attentively hear what he will say. Otherwise, it had been a ridiculous thing for a man which was in danger of drowning, to promise safety to those who were partakers with him in like calamity.