The inner prison - Probably what we would call the dungeon; the darkest and most secure cell.
Made their feet fast in the stocks - The το ξυλον, which we here translate stocks, is supposed to mean two large pieces of wood, pierced with holes like our stocks, and fitted to each other, that, when the legs were in, they could not be drawn out. The holes being pierced at different distances, the legs might be separated or divaricated to a great extent, which must produce extreme pain. It is this circumstance to which it is supposed Prudentius refers, in speaking of the torments of St. Vincent: -
Lignoque plantas inserit,
"They placed his feet in the stocks, his legs greatly distended!"
If the apostles were treated in this way, lying on the bare ground with their flayed backs, what agony must they have suffered! However, they could sing praises notwithstanding.
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.
This chapter is based on Acts 16:7-40.
The time had come for the gospel to be proclaimed beyond the confines of Asia Minor. The way was preparing for Paul and his fellow workers to cross over into Europe. At Troas, on the borders of the Mediterranean Sea, “a vision appeared to Paul in the night: There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” AA 211.1Read in context »
We shall meet opposition arising from selfish motives and from bigotry and prejudice; yet, with undaunted courage and living faith, we should sow beside all waters. The agents of Satan are formidable; we shall meet them and must combat them. Our labors are not to be confined to our own country. The field is the world; the harvest is ripe. The command given by Christ to the disciples just before He ascended was: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” 3T 406.1
We feel pained beyond measure to see some of our ministers hovering about the churches, apparently putting forth some little effort, but having next to nothing to show for their labors. The field is the world. Let them go out into the unbelieving world and labor to convert souls to the truth. We refer our brethren and sisters to the example of Abraham going up to Mount Moriah to offer his only son at the command of God. Here was obedience and sacrifice. Moses was in kingly courts, and a prospective crown was before him. But he turned away from the tempting bribe, and “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.” 3T 406.2
The apostles counted not their lives dear unto themselves, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ. Paul and Silas suffered the loss of all things. They suffered scourging, and were in no gentle manner thrown upon the cold floor of a dungeon in a most painful position, their feet elevated and fastened in the stocks. Did repinings and complaints then reach the ear of the jailer? Oh, no! From the inner prison, voices broke the silence of midnight with songs of joy and praise to God. These disciples were cheered by a deep and earnest love for the cause of their Redeemer, for which they suffered. 3T 406.3
As the truth of God fills our hearts, absorbs our affections, and controls our lives, we also will count it joy to suffer for the truth's sake. No prison walls, no martyr's stake, can then daunt or hinder us in the great work. Come, O my soul, to Calvary. Mark the humble life of the Son of God. He was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” Behold His ignominy, His agony in Gethsemane, and learn what self-denial is. Are we suffering want? so was Christ, the Majesty of heaven. But His poverty was for our sakes. Are we ranked among the rich? so was He. But He consented for our sakes to become poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. In Christ we have self-denial exemplified. His sacrifice consisted not merely in leaving the royal courts of heaven, in being tried by wicked men as a criminal and pronounced guilty, and in being delivered up to die as a malefactor, but in bearing the weight of the sins of the world. The life of Christ rebukes our indifference and coldness. We are near the close of time, when Satan has come down, having great wrath, knowing that his time is short. He is working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. The warfare has been left in our hands by our great Leader for us to carry forward with vigor. We are not doing a twentieth part of what we might do if we were awake. The work is retarded by love of ease and a lack of the self-denying spirit of which our Saviour has given us an example in His life. Co-workers with Christ, men who feel the need of extended effort, are wanted. The work of our presses should not be lessened, but doubled. Schools should be established in different places to educate our youth preparatory to their laboring to advance the truth. 3T 406.4Read in context »
Dispossessed of the evil spirit and restored to her right mind, the woman chose to become a follower of Christ. Then her masters were alarmed for their craft. They saw that all hope of receiving money from her divinations and soothsayings was at an end and that their source of income would soon be entirely cut off if the apostles were allowed to continue the work of the gospel. AA 213.1
Many others in the city were interested in gaining money through satanic delusions, and these, fearing the influence of a power that could so effectually stop their work, raised a mighty cry against the servants of God. They brought the apostles before the magistrates with the charge: “These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.” AA 213.2
Stirred by a frenzy of excitement, the multitude rose against the disciples. A mob spirit prevailed and was sanctioned by the authorities, who tore the outer garments from the apostles and commanded that they should be scourged. “And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely: who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.” AA 213.3Read in context »
Her masters were pleased that she cried after the disciples; but when the evil spirit left her, and they saw her a meek disciple of Christ, they were enraged. They had gathered much money by her fortunetelling, and now the hope of their gain was gone. Satan's object was defeated; but his servants caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the market place, unto the rulers, and to the magistrates, saying, “These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city.” And the multitude rose up together against them, and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely, who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison and made their feet fast in the stocks. But the angels of the Lord accompanied them within the prison walls, and caused their imprisonment to tell to the glory of God, and show to the people that God was in the work, and with His chosen servants. EW 204.1
At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and I saw that immediately the angel of God loosed everyone's bands. The keeper of the prison, upon awaking and seeing the prison doors open, was affrighted. He thought that the prisoners had escaped, and that he must be punished with death. But as he was about to kill himself, Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, “Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.” EW 204.2
The power of God there convicted the jailer. He called for a light, and springing in, came trembling and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” The keeper of the prison then assembled his whole household, and Paul preached unto them Jesus. Thus the jailer's heart was united to those of his brethren, and he washed their stripes, and he and all his house were baptized that night. He then set food before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. EW 205.1Read in context »
It is entirely wrong to buy every errand that is done for the Lord. The treasury of the Lord has been drained by those who have been only an injury to the cause. If ministers give themselves wholly to the work of God, and devote all their energies to building up His cause, they will have no lack. As regards temporal things, they have a better portion than their Lord and better than His chosen disciples whom He sent forth to save perishing man. Our great Exemplar, who was in the brightness of His Father's glory, was despised and rejected of men. Reproach and falsehood followed Him. His chosen disciples were living examples of the life and spirit of their Master. They were honored with stripes and imprisonment; and it was finally their portion to seal their ministry with their blood. 2T 345.1
When ministers are so interested in the work that they love it as a part of their existence, then they can say: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 2T 345.2
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” 2T 345.3Read in context »