Paul and Silas in Prison
16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”
22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.
~When chaos sounds his battle cry…sing songs of praise!
~When lies leap…pray!
~When bruised and beaten for believing…be still!
Oh this passage. This is truly one of my most favorite passages in the Bible. There are just so many lessons in this passage. Yet, I simply want to focus on the impact! – ground zero, foundation shaking, earth shifting, earthquake splitting – impact! You see, Paul and Silas were not complaining to each other about their unfair punishment. No, that’s not what you read. They didn’t use this time to validate the obvious – lies, torture, battered, and bruised. Instead, they exemplified what every Christian is called to do – consider it pure joy when you face various trials for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Following being beaten and chained…they prayed and sang.
But the impact…oh the ears that hear! Thank you Lord for speaking in such a time as this. Paul and Silas were not alone; their songs did not reverberate against cold stone walls and fall dead to the ground. No! These hymns penetrated earthly material like an arrow through a leaf! God’s truth dancing on the notes of hymns entered into the ears of the other prisoners. Nothing can stop a heart full of faith and truth, and nothing can stop holy spirit fire and power.
As their prayers and hymns filled the atmosphere, the foundation itself could no longer remain silent as it shook violently through the mighty hand of God…chain breaking, wall shaking, foundation swaying – FAITH. What happens next further intensifies the integrity of these believers – they stayed! Wait! Yes…they stayed! In fact, when the jailer woke up, he thought the prisoners had escaped and he was about to kill himself – but wait! “Don’t harm yourself,” Paul said, “We are all here!”
Be still…the true testament of peace is when you don’t run out of fear just because you see one opening…[pause]…that is speaking to someone even now. Can’t you just feel the blanket of peace as Paul and Silas prayed and sang those hymns? Broken chains and an opened door did not mean they were free to run – they were mission-minded which allowed them to be still and witness to the jailer. This act of faith resulted in an entire family receiving Jesus that night and being baptized, and don’t ever miss this…”he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.” A man just moments prior on the verge of suicide, lost without God, now filled with the joy of the Lord because two men who didn’t look at their pain, bruises, hurt, or situation; instead, they prayed, sang…and stayed!
Challenge: What doors are you running through without first being still and letting God do the impossible? This week, I challenge you to be mission-minded wherever you are! Sometimes we are seeking a quick exit when God just wants to shake the foundation you’re already on! I also encourage you to speak life in your marketplace of life. Don’t forget to pray and sing instead of grumble and complain for you never know who’s listening! May God Almighty be glorified in everything we do in word or deed.