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Meaning of "Being in the Same Boat"

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


The original expression meant everyone in the same boat is receiving the same fate together at the same time. Today, the expression doesn't mean everyone is in a literal boat at the same time. It is more like everyone is in the same storm where it is raining on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).

No one is exempt from the outcome when something is happening to many people at the same or similar times. During the pandemic, everybody is in the same boat because COVID-19 could and already has affected millions of people worldwide.

There are many biblical references where people were in the same boat.

Noah's Boat

The story of Noah's ark is found in Genesis 6:13-9:29. God gave Noah specific instructions to build a large boat called an ark. It was at the time when the rain did not come from above as it does today. It rained from below the earth instead of from the clouds in the sky. While Noah was building the ark, he was ridiculed. However, he kept doing what God instructed.

After the ark was completed, God instructed Noah to bring on board two of each kind of animal. When all the animals were on the boat, Noah's family of eight people entered the ark, and the only door was closed. There was just one window at the top of the ark so those on board could not see what was happening outside for forty days and forty nights. During that long period of time, Noah, his wife, three sons, and their wives were in the same boat along with the animals.

Everyone on the ark had the same experience.

Jonah in the Same Boat with Mariners

When God called Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach to the sinful people, Jonah was not as obedient at first as Noah was. Instead of going to Nineveh as he had been instructed, Jonah boarded a ship going in the opposite direction.

When a terrible storm came up and the ship began reeling and rocking, the mariners threw the baggage overboard to lighten the load. When that didn't help steady the ship, they decided that having Jonah on board was bringing on the terrible time they were having. Therefore, they threw Jonah overboard, and their problem was solved.

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Jonah had brought on trouble for everyone because they were all in the same boat.

Jesus in the Same Boat on the Sea of Galilee

On two separate occasions in the gospels, Jesus was in the same boat with His disciples during a raging storm. The first occasion is recorded in Mark 4:36–41.

When Jesus and His disciples were out on the Sea of Galilee in the same boat, they encountered a raging storm. The winds blew, waters beat against the sides of the boat, and the vessel became full of water.

Even though Jesus was in the same boat, He was away from His disciples as He slept below. The disciples became frightened. When they awakened Jesus, He arose and removed the danger by first rebuking the wind and saying to the sea, “Peace, be still!” The wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

Jesus was the one who made the request to go over to the other side of the lake. He and His disciples were all “in the same boat.” The disciples should have known and we should know that Jesus never makes a request that cannot be fulfilled.

Jesus in the Same Boat on the Lake to Capernaum

On another occasion, Jesus' disciples were on the lake to Capernaum in a boat without Him (John 6:21). The disciples were in the middle of the lake when darkness came. A strong wind began to blow, and the waters grew rough. The disciples became terrified.

When they recognized Jesus walking on water, they called for Him to be in the same boat with them. As soon as Jesus came into the boat, His disciples were no longer afraid. The lake became calm, and they reached their destination.

We should invite Jesus into our boat when storms rage on our stormy seas.

Paul in the Same Boat

The account of Paul being in the same boat with others is recorded in Acts 27:13-44. Paul was on his way to Rome to face trial when he and other prisoners encountered a raging storm. Like the men on the ship that Jonah was on, the men threw some of the ship's cargo overboard. The storm was so strong that they had to throw some of the ship's gear overboard.

For 14 days and nights, the storm continued. Paul continued to pray. People in the same boat thought they would die, but no one died in the shipwreck. They swam on broken pieces of the ship and arrived safely on the island of Malta.

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