And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas…
The words imply a punishment of more than usual severity, such as would leave their backs lacerated and bleeding. So in 1 Thessalonians 2:2, St. Paul speaks of having been "shamefully entreated" at Philippi. Those who have seen anything of the prisons of the Roman empire, as e.g., Mamertine dungeon at Rome itself, can picture to themselves the darkness and foulness of the den into which St. 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 used 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 13:37; 33:11, which follows the LXX and the Vulgate, be correct, the punishment was common at a very early period in the East (compare Jeremiah 29:26).
Parallel VersesKJV: And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,