One of the larger islands in the Aegean Sea and separated from the western coast of Asia Minor by a strait five miles (8 kilometers) or more wide. The island measures some thirty-two miles (51.5 kilometers) in length (N to S) and varies between eight and eighteen miles (12.9 to 29 kilometers) in breadth (E to W).
Chios is mentioned in the account in Acts 20 concerning Paul’s return trip to Jerusalem at the close of his third missionary journey, in the spring of 56 C.E. The ship on which Paul was traveling left Mitylene (vs. 14) some sixty miles (96.5 kilometers) to the NE, probably in the morning, and “arrived opposite Chios” (vs. 15), likely by sunset. Then, the following day, the voyage continued to Samos, approximately sixty-five miles (104.6 kilometers) farther down the coast.
This may seem like a slow trip by modern travel standards; however, Luke’s eyewitness narrative accords well with the geography of the area and the nautical procedures of that time. The intricate passage through the island-studded waters of the Aegean would require as much light as possible for safe navigation. It has been suggested that sailing at night would have been hazardous for, even if the skies were not overcast, the moon would not have been in its brightest phase and would have set soon after midnight, since this was about three weeks after the full or near-full moon of Passover. (Vss. 6, 7, 13-15) Also, interestingly, it has been observed that the winds on the Aegean about this time of year blow generally from the N during the day and as a calm southerly breeze at night. So, understandably, a ship on a south-bound journey would likely weigh anchor at sunset and set sail with the first breath of N wind the following day.
At the time of Paul’s journey Chios was considered a free city-state of the Roman province of Asia, a status it maintained until the reign of Emperor Vespasian (69-79 C.E.). Both the island and its chief city are today called Khios by the Greeks and Scio by the Italians.