What does Acts 16:25 mean?
ESV: About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,
NIV: About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
NASB: Now about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;
CSB: About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
NLT: Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.
KJV: And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
NKJV: But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
Verse Commentary:
Paul and Silas have been imprisoned, wrongly, at least from a certain point of view. It is true they "advocate customs that are not lawful" in the Roman Empire (Acts 16:20–21). Specifically, they are spreading the worship of a deity—Jesus—that is not authorized by the Roman government. In truth, their accusers charged them for financial reasons. Paul expelled a demon from a slave girl. The girl lost the ability to tell fortunes, and her owners lost the ability to use her to make money (Acts 16:16–19).

Promoting the worship of an authorized god was a serious crime, but the city magistrates also broke the law when they beat and imprisoned two Roman citizens without trial (Acts 16:22–24). Paul and Silas don't know what will happen, but they know God is in control. Paul references this suffering in Philippi in his letter to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 2:2). In that same letter, he will tell the Thessalonians, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18). And he will tell the Colossians that as Jesus suffered to offer salvation, he willingly suffers to spread Jesus' offer of salvation (Colossians 1:24).

Since Luke inserted himself into the narrative (Acts 16:10), the writing grew more personal and detailed. Verses 25–34 again feel impersonal and summarized. That doesn't mean this part isn't Scripture. Paul and Silas probably told Luke what happened, and the Holy Spirit directed him to include it. Verse 35 returns to the more personal, first-hand style (Acts 16:35).
Verse Context:
Acts 16:25–40 records Paul's first imprisonment. The Philippian magistrates arrested Paul and Silas and had them beaten for spreading the news about Jesus. The two are now chained in a cell, praying and singing to God. An earthquake shakes the prison, releasing all the doors and chains. Paul assures the jailer no one has left, and the jailer tends to the pair's wounds. They share Jesus' offer of forgiveness of sins, and the jailer and his household accept Christ. In the morning, the magistrates attempt to release Paul and Silas, only to be confronted with their own crime: they have illegally punished two Roman citizens. After apologizing, the magistrates ask Paul and Silas to leave town.
Chapter Summary:
Acts 16 follows Paul and Silas as they take the letter of Acts 15 into modern-day Asia Minor and Macedonia. They collect Timothy in Lystra and Luke in Troas. In Philippi, they meet Lydia and baptize her family. After expelling a demon from a fortune-telling girl, city officials illegally beat and imprison Paul and Silas. An earthquake frees them of their chains, but they stay and bring the jailer and his family to Christ. The next morning, Paul and Silas refuse to leave quietly, politely insisting that their civil rights have been violated. The officials apologize, and Paul, Silas, and Timothy go to Thessalonica.
Chapter Context:
Acts 15 ends with Paul and Silas spreading the news that Gentile Christians don't have to be circumcised. Acts 16 begins with Paul circumcising a Jewish man, Timothy, to prevent difficulties in preaching to older Jews as the boy grows into church leadership. Paul's second missionary trip finds the church growing east, into Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth (Acts 16:11—18:18). On his way back to Syrian Antioch, Paul will stop by Ephesus and soften the Jews for the extended ministry of Priscilla, Aquila, and Apollos. During his first trip, Paul planted churches and ordained elders; in his second, he commissions more missionaries.
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
Accessed 6/13/2024 11:52:03 AM
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