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Friday, 5 May 2023
Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. Acts 16:24
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
In the previous verse, after Paul and Silas were beaten with many stripes, they were thrown into prison and the jailor was told to keep them secure. Now, Luke says, “Having received such a charge.”
It is referring to the jailor. His job was to obey the magistrates without questioning the propriety or impropriety of the situation. If he was told to keep them securely, this is what he was to do. Therefore, “he put them into the inner prison.”
Luke’s noting of this is to highlight the degradation suffered by Paul and Silas at the hands of the people of Philippi. To understand this, one needs to understand the layout of the Roman prison. Of the arrangement of the prisons in the Roman empire, Vincent’s Word Studies quotes Rev. John Henry Newman’s “Callista,” saying: “The state prison was arranged on pretty much one and the same plan through the Roman empire, nay, we may say throughout the ancient world. It was commonly attached to the government buildings, and consisted of two parts. The first was the vestibule, or outward prison, approached from the praetorium, and surrounded by cells opening into it. The prisoners who were confined in these cells had the benefit of the air and light which the hall admitted. From the vestibule there was a passage into the interior prison, called Robur or Lignum, from the beams of wood which were the instruments of confinement, or from the character of its floor. It had no window or outlet except this door, which, when closed, absolutely shut out light and air. This apartment was the place into which Paul and Silas were cast at Philippi. The utter darkness, the heat, and the stench of this miserable place, in which the inmates were confined day and night, is often dwelt upon by the martyrs and their biographers.”
Remembering that Paul and Silas were uncondemned Romans, the treatment would be absolutely insufferable. However, after the terrible beating they received, they were probably in no shape to even talk, much less argue over their treatment. Only after a period of sitting and resting could they muster the strength to hold a conversation. In this tragic state and place, it next records, “and fastened their feet in the stocks.”
The Greek literally reads “upon the wood.” Vincent’s Word Studies notes that it was an instrument of torture having five holes, four for the wrists and ankles and one for the neck. In this case, only the feet are noted as being fastened.
Life application: To get an understanding of what Christians around the world endure regarding punishment and even martyrdom, take time to read the testimonies in the Voice of the Martyrs. They can be read online, and their magazine can be ordered for those in the church to read. The amount of agony and humiliation suffered by believers in the world today is beyond the comprehension of most of those in the church.
And yet, these people are willing to suffer in these ways rather than deny their affiliation with the exalted name of Jesus. Unlike them, churches and denominations in the Western world are filled with people who presume to openly and flippantly violate Scripture. They ignore the doctrines and teachings set forth in the word of God, they claim prosperity and ease, they welcome perversion of every sort, and they gladly follow society as it morally spirals out of control.
Should bearing the title of “Christian” start to cost those who attend such churches, it is unlikely that even a small percent of them would continue to do so. Are you ready to lose everything to be faithful to the title that you claim, that of being a Christian? Western society is heading in that direction. You should be prepared now to take your stand and hold fast to your faith. It may be that you will have to decide where your allegiances truly reside.
Heavenly Father, help us to stand strong and remain faithful to Jesus through whatever trial or test that may arise. This life is really not that important when we have eternity ahead of us because of what He has done. So, Lord, strengthen us when it is needed. May our lives be faithfully lived out, regardless of the cost we must bear. Amen.