39 When it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible.
40 And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudder ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore.
41 But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves.
42 And the soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape.
43 But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land,
44 and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.
loosing the rudder ropes (v.40) — Ancient ships had two paddle-rudders, one on either side. These had been hauled in and lashed up while the vessel lay anchored. They were now unloosed and adjusted in their proper places again, being required to steer the ship straight for shore. — The Acts of the Apostles, by Thomas Walker, page 563.
mainsail (v.40) — Most commentators seem to feel that it was a “foresail,” rather than the mainsail that was hoisted to the wind at this time. We question this, however, for the following reasons: First, there is little or no proof that the word artemon must or may signify a foresail. Second, there is no indication, and little probability, that the ship had a foresail. Third, we know that the mailsail had been lowered (v.17) and that this was then used as a storm sail, or that a small storm sail was set. Finally, it was naturally their purpose to run the ship as far ashore as possible. It would appear, therefore, that a larger sail would afford the force needed to accomplish this.
Even so, they failed to achieve their purpose, for, heading toward shore they ran aground on a shoal formed by two opposing currents (v.41, “where two seas met”). — Acts Dispensationally Considered, by C.R. Stam, page 188.
stern was being broken up (v.41) — tense indicates continuous action — the waves broke up the ship piece by piece — it didn’t happen all at once
kill the prisoners (v.42) — In Rome, if a guard allowed a prisoner to escape, the guard was killed
willing (v.43) — determinative will — the centurion prevented Paul from being killed
This was Paul’s fourth shipwreck — 2 Corinthians 11:25