Acts 16:27

Jesus truck stopping for the night.

Monday, 8 May 2023

And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. Acts 16:27

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Note: The NKJV botches many of the verbs in this verse. The BLB translation will be used to evaluate it. It reads, “And the jailer having been awoken and having seen the doors of the prison open, having drawn his sword was about to kill himself, supposing the prisoners to have escaped.”

In the previous verse, there was an earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison, opening the doors and loosing the chains. With that, it now says, “And the jailer.”

This individual will be a key figure for the next few verses. He is the one who was given charge over Paul and Silas as well as the other prisoners who were incarcerated. With the coming of the earthquake, it next says, “having been awoken and having seen the doors of the prison open.”

Luke’s use of participles leads the reader quickly from one event to the next, each dependent on the preceding event. He was awoken and he then saw the doors of the prison open. The adjective translated as awoken, exupnos, is found only here in the Bible. It is literally translated “out of sleep.”

He was roused out of sleep and saw that the prison was no longer secure. With this, his heart surely sank. Being responsible for those under his charge, he would be held accountable for their escape, even if an earthquake was involved. Rather than face such disgrace, it next says, “having drawn his sword.”

Luke, still using participles, leads the reader from thought to thought. He is prepared to take action after having drawn his sword. Luke says that he “was about to kill himself.” The verb is imperfect. He has drawn his sword and is probably thinking of his life, his wife, his children, or whatever memories he wanted to consider one last time. Standing there holding the sword and maybe pondering what purpose his life held if it had all come to this. He was given charge over prisoners, and he stood there “supposing the prisoners to have escaped.”

The verb translated as “to have escaped” is in the perfect tense. He supposes they are long gone, and he was not quick enough to have gotten up and stopped them. How could things have gone south so quickly?

Life application: Luke masterfully carries the reader from one point to another and then leaves the mind hanging for a moment before bringing us, along with the jailor, to the sudden realization that life has come to its end. He is writing this way for a reason. He wants whoever reads his narrative to think through what value life really holds.

If we simply evolved from the slime and are going back to dust, then life really has no meaning. The jailor may not have believed in evolution, but he had no knowledge of the true God. Whatever god or gods he believed in gave him no hope. Now that fate had turned against him, his life would end without any true purpose.

This is the state that the verse leaves us to consider. But in the desperate shadows of life, there is a beacon of light for those who will receive it. That light is about to shine on the heart of this supposedly doomed jailor.

Are you ready to tell someone about Jesus today? Without Him, the person you pass by on the street will have as much hope in his last moment as this jailor possesses as he stands at the jail door with a sword pointed at his stomach.

Open your mouth and speak. People need Jesus.

Thank You, O God, for Jesus Christ our Lord who gives us hope in this dark, fallen world. Amen.