What does Acts 27:18 mean?
ESV: Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo.
NIV: We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard.
NASB: The next day as we were being violently tossed by the storm, they began to jettison the cargo;
CSB: Because we were being severely battered by the storm, they began to jettison the cargo the next day.
NLT: The next day, as gale-force winds continued to batter the ship, the crew began throwing the cargo overboard.
KJV: And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship;
NKJV: And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship.
Verse Commentary:
Winter storms on the Mediterranean are fierce. Still, it's unlikely the crew had seen anything this extreme. Paul warned them not to leave Fair Havens on the south coast of Crete. Yet, since Fair Havens's port isn't sufficient to winter in, the ship's owner and pilot decided to try to get to Phoenix, just to the west (Acts 27:9–12).

They were less than halfway to Phoenix before winds shifted, blowing them southwest, away from shelter. Near the island of Cauda, they manage to bring in the lifeboat, which was dragging behind, and use ropes to stiffen the hull (Acts 27:13–17). The winds keep driving them toward the Gulf of Syrtis, a large area filled with shallow shoals and sandbars. The wind is ferocious; the waves are fierce. They need to stay high to avoid the shoals, but not too high or they'll capsize.

The ship is an Alexandrian ship, most likely hired to bring wheat from Alexandria, Egypt, to Rome. The 1.2 million people of Rome use hundreds of thousands of tons of grain a year. It's unclear what the "cargo" is, however. They won't dump the wheat until they absolutely have no other options (Acts 27:38).
Verse Context:
Acts 27:13–20 switches Luke's narrative back from Paul to the sea voyage. Paul, Aristarchus, and Luke are on a ship for Rome, but the winds keep pushing them south. They've reached a harbor to wait out the winter and Paul wants to stay. The crew refuses. They set sail and promptly hit a powerful wind which pushes them into a typhoon-like winter storm. The sailors do what they can to stay afloat, but the storm rages for days. The passengers and crew lose hope, but Paul doesn't (Acts 23:11).
Chapter Summary:
Acts 27 is an account of a famous sea voyage. Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus travel from Caesarea Maritima on their way to Rome. False charges and two years of imprisonment in Caesarea led Paul to appeal his case to a higher Roman court, and he is now on his way to that court. The chapter can be divided into seven paragraphs, alternating between descriptions of the sea voyage and Paul trying to keep everyone alive during a horrific storm. Eventually, they shipwreck on Malta. The ship and cargo are a complete loss, but no one dies.
Chapter Context:
Twice the Sanhedrin brought unfounded charges against Paul. In both cases, the ruling governor knew Paul was innocent but refused to let him go. Finally, Paul appealed his case to Caesar (Acts 24:22–27; 25:1–12). He, Luke, Aristarchus, and 273 others sail for Rome. But they shipwreck on a reef off the island of Malta. When they finally reach Rome, Paul will meet with Jewish leaders and tell them how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. Some will believe and some won't. This leads Paul to resolve, once again, to focus his efforts on the Gentiles (Acts 28).
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
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