Acts 16:24
Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) Thrust them into the inner prison.—Those who have seen anything of the prisons of the Roman empire, as, e.g., the Mamertine dungeon at Rome itself, can picture to themselves the darkness and foulness of the den into which Paul and his friend were now thrust: the dark cavern-like cell, below the ground, the damp and reeking walls, the companionship of the vilest outcasts. And, as if this were not enough, they were fastened in the “stocks.” St. Luke uses the Greek term xylon, the same as is used sometimes for the cross (Acts 5:30; Acts 13:29). The technical Latin word was nervus. Like the English stocks, it was a wooden frame with five holes, into which head and feet and arms were thrust, and the prisoner left in an attitude of “little-ease.” Here, however, it would seem, the feet only were fastened, the rest of the body being left lying on the ground. If the Received version of Job 13:27; Job 33:11, which follows the LXX. and the Vulgate, be correct, the punishment was common at a very early period in the East. (Comp. Jeremiah 29:26.)

16:16-24 Satan, though the father of lies, will declare the most important truths, when he can thereby serve his purposes. But much mischief is done to the real servants of Christ, by unholy and false preachers of the gospel, who are confounded with them by careless observers. Those who do good by drawing men from sin, may expect to be reviled as troublers of the city. While they teach men to fear God, to believe in Christ, to forsake sin, and to live godly lives, they will be accused of teaching bad customs.Thrust them into the inner prison - Into the most retired and secure part of the prison. The cells in the interior of the prison would be regarded as more safe, being doubtless more protected, and the difficulty of escape would be greater.

And made their feet fast in the stocks - Greek: and made their feet secure to wood. The word "stocks," with us, denotes a machine made of two pieces of timber between which the feet of criminals are placed, and in which they are thus made secure. The account here does not imply necessarily that they were secured precisely in this way, but that they were fastened or secured by the feet, probably by cords, to a piece or beam of wood, so that they could not escape. It is probable that the legs of the prisoners were bound to large pieces of wood which not only encumbered them, but which were so placed as to extend their feet to a considerable distance. In this condition it might be necessary for them to lie on their backs; and if this, as is probable, was on the cold ground, after their severe scourging, their sufferings must have been very great. Yet in the midst of this they sang praises to God.

24. made their feet fast in the stocks—an instrument of torture as well as confinement, made of wood bound with iron, with holes for the feet, which were stretched more or less apart according to the severity intended. (Origen at a later period, besides having his neck thrust into an iron collar, lay extended for many days with his feet apart in the rack). Though jailers were proverbially unfeeling, the manner in which the order was given in this case would seem to warrant all that was done. Thus they dealt with Joseph, Genesis 39:20, compared with Psalm 105:18, and with Jeremiah, and with John Baptist.

Sanctorum sors est, et non moleste ferenda. Who having received such a charge,.... So strict an one from the magistrates, was doubly careful and diligent:

thrust them into the inner prison: the innermost part of it, the lowest or furthest part of the prison; so that there were the more doors, bolts, and bars, to break open, and pass through, should they attempt to make their escape:

and made their feet fast in the stocks; or "wood", a wooden machine, in which the feet of prisoners were put for security, and which we call "the stocks"; some say it was such an one, in which the neck as well as the feet were put, and so might be the same with our "pillory".

Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet {h} fast in the stocks.

(h) Because he wanted to be more sure that they did not escape, he set them fast in the stocks.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 16:24. The zealous jailor fulfilled the command ἀσφαλῶς τηρεῖν by a twofold measure; he not only put the accused into the prison-ward situated more (than the other wards) in the interior of the house (εἰς τὴν ἐσωτέραν φυλακήν), but also secured their feet in the stocks.

εἰς τὸ ξύλον, in nervum (Plaut. Captiv. iii. 5. 71; Liv. viii. 28), i.e. in the wooden block in which the feet, stretched apart from each other, were enclosed, called also ποδοκάκη and ποδοστράβη, in Heb. סַד (Job 13:27; Job 33:11). See Herod. vi. 75, ix. 37, and later writers, Grotius and Wetstein in loc.Acts 16:24. ἐσωτέραν: comparative for superlative, as often in N.T. (Blass). Not necessarily underground, but a part of the prison which would have been further from such light and air as could be had.—τὸ ξύλον, Hebrew סַד, Job 33:11 (A κυκλώματι), cf. Arist., Eq., 367, 393, 705; Herod., vi., 75; ix., 37; and instances in Wetstein, Liv., viii., 28, Plaut., Capt., iii., 70, Latin nervus. So Eusebius uses the word of the martyrs in Gaul (see Alford). In Jeremiah’s case another and equivalent word is used in the Heb. 29:26 = LXX ἀπόκλεισμα. The same Hebrew is used in 2 Chronicles 16:10, where LXX has simply φυλακή.—ἠσφαλίσατο: only elsewhere in N.T. in Matthew 27:64-66; in LXX and Polyb., cf. critical note, Acts 16:30 in [296].

[296] R(omana), in Blass, a first rough copy of St. Luke.24. the inner prison] Necessarily a place dark and without ventilation, and hence foul and loathsome; perhaps underground, like the Tullianum at Rome (Varr. L. L. v. § 161; Lev. 29:22).

their feet fast in the stocks] The stocks (lit. wood) was a means of additional security and additional torture. The feet Passed through holes and held secure made rest almost impossible. The instrument was of early use (cp. Job 13:27; Job 33:11), and the Greeks, as well as ourselves, had also the pillory, and had it made with five apertures for head, hands and feet (Aristoph. Eq. 1049).Verse 24. - Cast for thrust, A.V. In the stocks; Greek τὸ ξύλον, sometimes called ξυλοπέδη. The ξύλον was of different forms, and used as a punishment. Sometimes it was a kind of heavy wooden collar put on the neck of a prisoner, whence the phrase, Χύλῳ φιμοῦν τὴν αὐχένα (Aristoph., 'Nubes,' 592)," To make fast his neck in the pillory." Sometimes it was what Aristophanes calls πεντεσύριγγον ξύλον, "stocks with five holes," two for the feet, two for the hands, and one for the neck. Here, as in Job 13:27 (where the LXX. word is ἐν κυλύματι, Hebrew סֵד, a stake, or log), it is simply" the stocks." Thus Paul and Silas, first stripped and 1,catch, then put in the inner prison, and further made fast in the stocks, were treated with the utmost possible rigour and severity. See St. Paul's vivid reminiscence of the outrage (1 Thessalonians 2:2, ὑβρισθέντες). The inner prison

Some have supposed this to be the lower prison, being misled by the remains of the Mamertine prison at Rome, on the declivity of the Capitoline, and near the Arch of Septimius Severus. This consists of two chambers, one above the other, excavated in the solid rock. In the centre of the vault of the lower chamber is a circular opening, through which it is supposed that prisoners were let down into the dungeon. Modern excavations, however, have shown that these two chambers were connected with a series of large chambers, now separated by an alley from the prison of St. Peter. The opening into the passage leading to these was discovered in the lower dungeon. Under this passage ran a drain, which formed a branch of the Cloaca Maxima, or main sewer. Six of these chambers have been brought to light, evidently apartments of a large prison in the time of the Roman kings. Mr. John Henry Parker, from whose elaborate work on the primitive fortifications of Rome these details are drawn, believes that the prison of St. Peter now shown to tourists formed the vestibule and guard-room of the great prison. It was customary to have a vestibule, or house for the warder, at a short distance from the main prison. Thus he distinguishes the inner prison from this vestibule. With this agrees the description in the Rev. John Henry Newman's "Callista:" "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."

Stocks (ξύλον)

Lit., the timber. An instrument of torture having five holes, four for the wrists and ankles and one for the neck. The same word is used for the cross, Acts 5:30; Acts 10:39; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24.

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