33 “As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. 34 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.” 35 And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. 36 Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 (We were in all 276 persons in the ship.) 38 And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea.” (Acts 27:33–38 (ESV)
While in the midst of surging seas, and debilitating despair felt by the crew and others, the Apostle Paul encouraged those around him to eat. The passengers and crew had not eaten anything for two full weeks. This was not only because of the violent storm, but probably also by the accompanying seasickness people were certainly to experience.
Paul prayed for the meal and everyone ate and were encouraged. Luke notes that there were 276 people on board. This indicates that the ship was an ocean going vessel and not a relatively smaller fishing boat one would find on the Sea of Galilee.
Following their meal, the people then threw the rest of the wheat cargo into the sea. This served to further lighten the ship so it would ride high on the surface of the water.
The phrase, “not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you,” was a common Jewish expression. In fact, Jesus used it when He explained to His disciples that they would encounter troubles as His disciples.
Luke 21:12-17 records Jesus, on the night prior to His crucifixion, saying to the disciples, “12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.”
One author comments, “How do you explain this promise in light of all the trials Jesus predicts in this chapter. Among other things, he says that the leaders will lay hands on them; persecute them; deliver them up to synagogues and prisons; bring them before kings and governors; delivered up before parents, brothers, relatives and friends; be put to death; and, to top it all off, they will be hated by all for the name of Jesus (Luke 21:12-17). After all of that, Jesus then says, “But not a hair of your head will perish.” How could he say that? Did he not just say that some would die (v 16)? Is Jesus not contradicting everything he said? No, not at all. The life that is promised here is more than mere physical life.”
Whatever you may be facing, do not despair. Do your best, and trust God for the rest.
Soli deo Gloria!