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   (1)  Telling the truth matters…especially in the Bible.

   (2)  Hyperbole is a legitimate, and honest,

literary figure of speech.

   (3)  Distinguishing it from literal fact matters.

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   For an example of this in the story about Paul’s shipwreck experience on the way to Rome, recorded in Acts 27, use the DOOR.

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   During the stormy season, the captain of the ship unwisely sailed a ship containing 276 passengers, including the Apostle Paul, along the Mediterranean Sea coast¹. Some prisoners were aboard (including Paul). After throwing overboard the considerable cargo, there was talk of abandoning the ship. Paul tells the captain, and others that they abandoned the ship they would all drown, but if they stayed aboard (until the boat ran aground throwing them off or requiring them to jump) “not a hair from the head of any of you shall perish.”²

   They did what Paul said. And everyone got to shore soaking wet–some swimming, some clinging to boards. Now, was the intent of Paul’s words that not a single strand of hair was lost? I don’t think so³. This is an example of legitimate literary exaggeration, used everywhere in the Bible and elsewhere. Contrast this with words that suggest exactness, like “276” above.

   It is not a lie. Take it from someone who has “no hair at all”–except a few, very few, isolated strands that have to be shaved off occasionally.

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  ¹ Look at the whole 27th chapter, especially for what’s specifically detailed and what’s not.

  ² Acts 27:34.

  ³ God, forgive us if we’ve overstated, but to us that expresses the magnitude of the coming event, as You have done elsewhere in, for example, saying that Abraham’s offspring shall be as “grains of sand on the seashore.”