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Acts 16:26-29

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 1  of all the prisoners came loose. 16:27 When the jailer woke up 2  and saw the doors of the prison standing open, 3  he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, 4  because he assumed 5  the prisoners had escaped. 16:28 But Paul called out loudly, 6  “Do not harm yourself, 7  for we are all here!” 16:29 Calling for lights, the jailer 8  rushed in and fell down 9  trembling at the feet of Paul and Silas.

1 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.

2 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.

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

4 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).

5 tn Or “thought.”

6 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.

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

8 tn Grk “he”; the referent (the jailer) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

9 tn Or “and prostrated himself.”

sn Fell down. The earthquake and the freeing of the prisoners showed that God’s power was present. Such power could only be recognized. The open doors opened the jailer’s heart.

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