What does Acts 27:44 mean?
ESV: and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.
NIV: The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely.
NASB: and the rest were to follow, some on planks, and others on various things from the ship. And so it happened that they all were brought safely to land.
CSB: The rest were to follow, some on planks and some on debris from the ship. In this way, everyone safely reached the shore.
NLT: The others held on to planks or debris from the broken ship. So everyone escaped safely to shore.
KJV: And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.
NKJV: and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.
Verse Commentary:
A couple of days after the Roman tribune in Jerusalem arrested Paul for becoming a human punching bag (Acts 21:27–36), Jesus sent Paul a message: "Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome" (Acts 23:11). Less than a week later, the tribune sent his prisoner away to the governor in Caesarea Maritima because the Sanhedrin had plotted to assassinate Paul (Acts 23:12–35). Governor Felix knew their charges were false, yet he kept Paul under house arrest for two years (Acts 24:22–27). When Festus took Felix's place, he, too, wanted to please the Sanhedrin. He asked Paul to move the trial to Jerusalem, probably not knowing the Sanhedrin wanted another chance to kill him. Paul berated Festus for not doing his job and appealed his case to Caesar (Acts 25:2–3, 9–12).

Paul, fellow-prisoner Aristarchus (Colossians 4:10), and Luke boarded a ship bound for a major port in modern-day Turkey where they could catch a sea-fairing ship to Rome. Since then, they have endured a two-week typhoon, sailors who tried to abandon their ship and passengers to a dangerous coast, and murderous soldiers. Along the way, Paul apparently prayed for the lives of the crew and passengers. God promised everyone would make landfall alive (Acts 27:1–43). Now, they finally do.

"On pieces of the ship" means "on things from the ship" which may include the stronger swimmers helping to drag along weaker persons.

They have landed on the small island of Malta, just south of Sicily. Soon, the weather will turn rainy and cold, and Paul will be bitten by a viper. But the people are kind, and after he heals the father of the local leader the people will turn generous. The shipwrecked survivors will spend three months on the island before catching another ship to Italy. Paul will finally reach Rome. He will spend another two years under house arrest, and the Jews will largely ignore him, but he will write the prison epistles and even bring Jesus' offer of forgiveness to Caesar's servants (Acts 28).

It's not the way Paul wanted to get to Rome, and it's not the way he wanted to live in Rome, but it's enough.
Verse Context:
Acts 27:39–44 describes dawn breaking as Paul's ship finally succumbs to the sea and wrecks. The 276 crew members and passengers can see the island they've reached. But it's still a dangerous trek to the shore. Paul and the other prisoners face a hidden reef, strong surf, and murderous Roman soldiers. They finally make it to land—where it promptly starts raining. Fortunately, the locals are friendly and helpful, and after another three months, Paul finally makes it to Rome (Acts 28).
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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