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ANCHOR (Gr. ankyra). In ancient times every ship carried several anchors. In successive periods they were made of stone, iron, lead, and perhaps other metals. Each had two flukes and was held by a cable or a chain. The word is used in Acts.27.13, Acts.27.17, Acts.27.29, Acts.27.30, Acts.27.40 and Heb.6.19; in Acts in connection with Paul’s journey to Rome, and in Hebrews in a figurative sense.

ANCHOR ăn kĕr (ἄγκυρα, G46). The ancient anchor was originally a pierced or indented stone, a form found from the Mediterranean to Polynesia. By the first cent. of the modern era, anchors of recognizable similarity to the modern type, complete with crossbar, teeth, and flukes, had been developed. There were also large wooden anchors, weighted by a lead crossbar.

Anchors are mentioned in two contexts in the NT. The first is in the brilliantly written account of the wreck of the Alexandrian grain ship in Acts 27. Finding the shoal beneath, “they let out four anchors from the stern...” (27:29). Some sailors, seeking to contrive an escape, lowered a boat under pretext of letting out anchors from the bow, in itself a not unreasonable procedure if the ship was to be braced in the swell by a quadrangular pattern of support (v. 30). To beach the galley they “cast off the anchors” (v. 40).

Metaphorically, the anchor is used as a figure for hope. “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul...” (Heb 6:19).

See also

  • Ships and Boats