The Aftermath of Events the Over Slave Girl Resulting in Paul and Silas in Prison
“The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials. “They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.” A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself.Acts 16:20-27
The question we still have left we will address at the appropriate time:
- Why didn’t Paul and Silas claim their Roman citizenship at the beginning and not after they were beaten?
We have to put some questions related to the Bible in a holding bin or in residue, waiting for the right moment to address them. I was taught that years ago by a wise man. Often we expect instant answers. But quality input or answers take time. And besides you know that instant answers quickly dissipate; gone like the mist when the sun comes up. The things we wrestle with and struggle over stay with us for a lifetime.
I would imagine like me, this account of Pail and Silas in prison reminds you of Chapter 12 when we found Peter in prison. Take time to think over what Luke has served up for us. There are some interesting comparisons: differences and similarities.
After the trumped up charges Paul and Silas were stripped and beaten severely with wooden rods. Then they were taken and locked up in prison. But not just in prison, they are put into the inner prison. Our question at this point has to be, did the jailer put them in the interiora or into the tullianum?
Look how the Bible versions handle this matter:
The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. . .
- And he, having such orders, put them into the inner prison with chains on their feet. (BBE)
- The jailer did as he was told. He put them deep inside the jail and chained their feet to heavy blocks of wood. (CEV)
- Upon receiving such an order, he threw them into the inner cell and clamped their feet securely between heavy blocks of wood. (CJB)
- Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. (ESV)
- So the jailer followed these orders and put Paul and Silas into solitary confinement with their feet in leg irons. (GW)
- Having received these orders, he put them into the inner cell and fastened their feet in leg irons. (ISV)
- Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. (KJV)
- who, receiving such a charge, threw them into the inner prison, and locked their feet in the stocks. (LITV)
- He did just that—threw them into the maximum security cell in the jail and clamped leg irons on them. (MSG)
- So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. (NLT)
What do you think? Where would you have placed Paul and Silas if you had been the jailer? I think I would have put them down in the dungeon and secured them there with anything I could use. I think they were put in the tullianum. So then what are we to make of these stocks or leg irons? Notice the [xulon] are called variously:
- chains on their feet,
- chained to heavy blocks of wood,
- feet fastened in the stocks,
- in solitary confinement with their feet in leg irons,
- in maximum security and clamped in leg irons,
- in the inner dungeon feet clamped in the stocks.
I am sure you are already building up a picture of what happened and where they were.[xulon] comes from the root [xuw] anything hewn from wood but in this case the [xulon] refers to the instrument of restraint or punishment used for slaves or prisoners. It was either the heavy wooden collar through which the offender’s head was put or the stocks into which the feet were fastened or both. There was a special kind of [xulon] which fastened head, arms and feet into five sleeves or tubes. The [xulon] came to symbolize something disgraceful or shameful. It can also be extended to cover the cross to which prisoners were nailed in crucifixion.
This jailer was taking no chances with these two prisoners who had been passed to him to guard. Down in the dungeon with them with their feet fastened in the stocks. What chance was there of escaping from there? I wonder if the story of what happened to Peter in prison had been passed down to this jailer in Philippi. If not directly, I wonder if those who gave him the order to guard these two carefully and make sure they didn’t escape, told him about what had happened to Peter and how he had got out of prison. Don’t let it happen again!
Read both accounts in comparison:
Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover. But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him. The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered. So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening. They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him.Acts 12:4-10
One basic question, not for believers but for non-believers or non-Christ followers, is how do you keep these people contained? It seems impossible. Notice in both stories those responsible for guarding the prison knew what it meant to lose the prisoner so they did all they could to keep the prisoner(s) secure. What more could they do? Well maybe they should have learned from the Houdini story I told you in Gem 1683.
Do you realize that is what satan has done to you? He makes you think you are his prisoner when it reality you are free in Christ.Ian Vail
Appropriate your freedom and just walk out! Stop fiddling with the lock for hours, days, weeks, months, years. In Jesus name walk out of your prison.Ian Vail
When Christ sets you free, you are free indeed.Anon
Even death could not hold Him down. If the grave couldn’t hold him, how could anything contrived by man keep His followers in bondage?Anon
When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.Viktor Frankl – Holocaust survivor,
The limits and bondage are in your mind; learn to deal with them at that level.Ian Vail