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Acts 16:24-28

Context
16:24 Receiving such orders, he threw them in the inner cell 1  and fastened their feet in the stocks. 2 

16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying 3  and singing hymns to God, 4  and the rest of 5  the prisoners were listening to them. 16:26 Suddenly a great earthquake occurred, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. Immediately all the doors flew open, and the bonds 6  of all the prisoners came loose. 16:27 When the jailer woke up 7  and saw the doors of the prison standing open, 8  he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, 9  because he assumed 10  the prisoners had escaped. 16:28 But Paul called out loudly, 11  “Do not harm yourself, 12  for we are all here!”

1 tn Or “prison.”

2 tn L&N 6.21 has “stocks” for εἰς τὸ ξύλον (ei" to xulon) here, as does BDAG 685 s.v. ξύλον 2.b. However, it is also possible (as mentioned in L&N 18.12) that this does not mean “stocks” but a block of wood (a log or wooden column) in the prison to which prisoners’ feet were chained or tied. Such a possibility is suggested by v. 26, where the “bonds” (“chains”?) of the prisoners loosened.

3 tn Grk “praying, were singing.” The participle προσευχόμενοι (proseucomenoi) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

4 sn Praying and singing hymns to God. Tertullian said, “The legs feel nothing in the stocks when the heart is in heaven” (To the Martyrs 2; cf. Rom 5:3; Jas 1:2; 1 Pet 5:6). The presence of God means the potential to be free (cf. v. 26).

5 tn The words “the rest of” are not in the Greek text, but are implied.

6 tn Or perhaps, “chains.” The translation of τὰ δεσμά (ta desma) is to some extent affected by the understanding of ξύλον (xulon, “stocks”) in v. 24. It is possible (as mentioned in L&N 18.12) that this does not mean “stocks” but a block of wood (a log or wooden column) in the prison to which prisoners’ feet were chained or tied.

7 tn L&N 23.75 has “had awakened” here. It is more in keeping with contemporary English style, however, to keep the two verbal ideas parallel in terms of tense (“when the jailer woke up and saw”) although logically the second action is subsequent to the first.

8 tn The additional semantic component “standing” is supplied (“standing open”) to convey a stative nuance in English.

9 sn Was about to kill himself. The jailer’s penalty for failing to guard the prisoners would have been death, so he contemplated saving the leaders the trouble (see Acts 12:19; 27:42).

10 tn Or “thought.”

11 tn Grk “But Paul called out with a loud voice, saying.” The dative phrase μεγάλῃ φωνῇ (megalh fwnh) has been simplified as an English adverb (“loudly”), and the participle λέγων (legwn) has not been translated since it is redundant in English.

12 sn Do not harm yourself. Again the irony is that Paul is the agent through whom the jailer is spared.



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