Acts 27:17

ESV After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along.
NIV so the men hoisted it aboard. Then they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Because they were afraid they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along.
NASB After they had hoisted it up, they used supporting cables in undergirding the ship; and fearing that they might run aground on the shallows of Syrtis, they let down the sea anchor and let themselves be driven along in this way.
CSB After hoisting it up, they used ropes and tackle and girded the ship. Fearing they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the drift-anchor, and in this way they were driven along.
NLT Then the sailors bound ropes around the hull of the ship to strengthen it. They were afraid of being driven across to the sandbars of Syrtis off the African coast, so they lowered the sea anchor to slow the ship and were driven before the wind.
KJV Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, struck sail, and so were driven.
NKJV When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands, they struck sail and so were driven.

What does Acts 27:17 mean?

Jesus told Paul he would get to Rome (Acts 23:11). If not for that fact, Paul might be very concerned right now. Against Paul's advice, the owner and pilot of the ship he's currently on left the relative safety of the port of Fair Havens. They were attempting to reach a better harbor in which to spend the winter. The weather cooperated until the winds shifted just as they reached the unsheltered part of the island. The sailors realize there's no use fighting, and let the wind drive them (Acts 27:9–15).

In a short break on the lee side of the small island of Cauda, the sailors have just enough time to pull up the lifeboat and support the hull. The lifeboat had been dragged behind the ship in heavy waves and tempestuous winds (Acts 27:14) for the last twenty miles. It's probably either upside-down or filled with water, and the sailors have a difficult time pulling it onboard (Acts 27:16). They then string ropes under the hull to reinforce the structure against the heavy waves.

The wind is from the northeast and it's driving them to the southwest. They all know what that means. Off the coast of Libya is the Gulf of Syrtis, a large expanse of water filled with shoals and sandbars—like quicksand with crosscurrents. The ship can easily run aground far from the shore. Luke doesn't specify what the "gear" is or what they're doing with it. They may be lowering the sails to the deck or they may be throwing some of the sails, rigging, tackle, and/or storm anchor into the water in an attempt to slow them down.

Paul knows that God will see him to Rome, but he doesn't have the same assurance for the other 275 crew members and passengers. He apparently prays that God will grant them their lives—which He does (Acts 27:24, 44).
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