Chapter

Acts 27:34

ESV Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.”
NIV Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.'
NASB Therefore, I encourage you to take some food, for this is for your survival, for not a hair from the head of any of you will perish.'
CSB So I urge you to take some food. For this is for your survival, since none of you will lose a hair from your head."
NLT Please eat something now for your own good. For not a hair of your heads will perish.'
KJV Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.

What does Acts 27:34 mean?

Paul is a prisoner on a ship under the custody of Julius, a centurion. He is on the way to face Caesar's court in Rome. For two weeks a fierce winter storm has buffeted the ship, but God has promised Paul no one onboard will die, even as the ship and its cargo will be lost (Acts 27:22–24). The ship has finally reached an island and as the crew searches for a good place to land, they look out for hidden rocks and reefs. God has promised everyone will live—but not that He'll miraculously deliver them; people still need to act.

Paul made the first move when the crew lowered the lifeboat and attempted to abandon the passengers. He told the centurion he and the soldiers would not survive if the crew left. The soldiers cut the boat free, and the crew had to stay (Acts 27:30–32).

Now, Paul encourages everyone to eat. Most likely, the ship is carrying grain from Alexandria, Egypt, to Rome. Grain ships are large, with a deep draft: the distance below the water's surface which the boat's hull rides. Undoubtedly, this massive vessel will run aground before it reaches land. As expected, the ship strikes a reef, forcing everyone to swim or paddle on the flotsam from the wreck. They haven't eaten in two weeks and need energy (Acts 27:41).

When the ship runs aground, the centurion will have to act. If any prisoners escape, the soldiers could be executed. They'd prefer to execute the prisoners onboard. The centurion steps in and stops their plans. Paul has already done so much for them; the centurion will make sure he gets to safety (Acts 27:42–44).

The way Paul feeds the 276 passengers and crew is reminiscent of how Jesus fed thousands, though there's no sign of supernatural multiplication. He simply takes bread, praises God for it, and breaks it—in this context, likely meaning he distributed it to others. For the first time in two weeks, they have hope.
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