The earthquake (Acts 16:26)


There was a great earthquake.

It was so violent

That the foundations

Of the prison

Were shaken.


All the doors

Were opened.

Every one’s chains

Were unfastened.”

ἄφνω δὲ σεισμὸς ἐγένετο μέγας, ὥστε σαλευθῆναι τὰ θεμέλια τοῦ δεσμωτηρίου· ἠνεῴχθησαν δὲ παραχρῆμα αἱ θύραι πᾶσαι, καὶ πάντων τὰ δεσμὰ ἀνέθη.

The author of Acts indicated that suddenly (ἄφνω), there was a great earthquake (δὲ σεισμὸς ἐγένετο μέγας).  It was so violent (ὥστε) that the foundations (τὰ θεμέλια) of the prison (δεσμωτηρίου) were shaken (σαλευθῆναι).  Immediately (δὲ παραχρῆμα), all the doors (αἱ θύραι πᾶσαι) were opened (ἠνεῴχθησαν).  Everyone’s chains or locks (καὶ πάντων τὰ δεσμὰ) were unfastened (ἀνέθη).  Acts was the only Greek biblical writing that used this word ἄφνω, that means suddenly.  This earthquake was reminiscent of the Gospel of Matthew with its earthquakes.  This was so violent that all the doors were opened.  Then all the chains or the stocks came unfastened.  Earthquakes were often considered divine actions.  This might have been an escape from prison as Peter had done in chapter 12:6-11.  Have you ever been in an earthquake?

Title of this book (Am 1:1-1:1)

“The words of Amos,

Who was among

The shepherds of Tekoa.

This is what he saw

Concerning Israel,

In the days of King Uzziah

Of Judah.

This was

In the days of King Jeroboam,

The son of King Joash,

Of Israel,

Two years

Before the earthquake.”

This book was written by the prophet Amos. Apparently, he was a shepherd from Tekoa, a small village in Judah. However, he seemed to be talking about the powerful northern kingdom of Israel when King Jeroboam II (783-743 BCE), the son of King Joash (798-783 BCE), was the king of Israel. At that same time, the king of Judah was King Uzziah (781-740 BCE). This all took place 2 years before the earthquake. However, it is difficult to precisely date this earthquake, but it could probably be around 760-750 BC.