Paul and Silas in Jail
A little background:
Paul and Silas were on a missionary trip, when Paul received a vision.
Acts 16:9 “And 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.”
So they went “immediately”. Once there, they went to Philippi, which was the chief city.
There they stayed for several days, but on the Sabbath they went to the river side, and spoke to the women who had gathered to pray.
One woman was born again and baptized, and she opened her house to them, so they had a place to stay.
As they were going to prayer, a demon possessed girl, who could tell fortunes; began to follow Paul and Silas, crying out, “These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation.”
This she did for several days.
Perhaps to some, this might seem good publicity.
But not to Paul, who was grieved that the gospel was shouted about like a piece of meat. The gospel is about Christ.
Yes, there is a “way of salvation”, but cried out like that, made it seem cheap. “Give me a coin and I will show you what to do.”
That was her line.
Acts 16:18 “And this she did many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”
Her masters, who got money from her predictions, were furious.
They grabbed Paul and Silas, and brought them before the magistrates, in the market.
With a false accusation, and no chance of defense; Paul and Silas were given over to being beaten; and jailed.
Acts 16:23-24 “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.”
Not at all a good result, it would seem. They were beaten and put into a filthy, small space with their feet in wooden stocks.
Paul and Silas, beaten and sore; were not going to stop seeking God’s Will.
They had been sent there, and so now they needed to know whether what Paul had done about this demonic girl was the right thing to do.
Or just his idea, because he disliked what she said.
Acts 16:25 “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.”
First they prayed. Maybe groaned more than prayed. Yet God heard them.
When they had heard that it was God’s Will, then they sang praises unto God.
There was no stifling the Holy Spirit, here. They prayed, then praised Him for these circumstances. Power, real power to praise rose within their hearts and spilled over into song.
They had preached to many people. They had come to the place God sent them. They had preached and led some to Christ Jesus.
And they had done what they should, about this girl.
This was still God’s Will; Hallelujah!
Acts 16:26-27 “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundation of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bands were loosed.
And the keeper of the prison wakening out of his sleep, and seeing the doors open, drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.”
The glory of God, and His power came down to them in that prison.
There was an earthquake. It opened all the doors.
When the doors opened, not one of the prisoners escaped! They were all there.
But the real power was in their praise.
It took beaten, sad men, and turned them into praising, joyful peacemakers.
Acts 16:28-30 “But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas.
And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
The power was also there for the jailer.
He would have killed himself. If those in his charge were missing, Rome would have killed him. But if he killed himself, his family might be spared.
Acts 16:32-33 “And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, and all his, straightway.”
When the Holy Spirit is not quenched; power is the result.
Power for you, and through you, to others.
Paul and Silas were badly treated, jailed.
But both praised God for the opportunity to suffer for Him.
And by that praise, power was given to bring other souls to Christ.
(It is amazing how God works through our bad circumstances, for good. But it was as they prayed and praised, that the circumstances changed)
The next day the magistrates told the keeper to let them go.
(This seems like a good time to get out of there quick!)
But Paul said, No, for they have beaten us publicly, and we are Romans, and now they want to let us go privately? No, let them come and let us out themselves.
(Romans had rights: they could not be accused without a hearing, or beaten, uncondemned. Paul and Silas had been rushed into prison; and beaten at the whim of these magistrates.)
Now Paul speaks, not in anger, but for justice. He could have had these magistrates judged, but instead required them simply to personally see to their release.
And they feared, and came themselves, and let them out.
God’s Power, for the Christian, is first in us, working joy and peace, and guidance.
Then it is through us, by the influence of the Holy Spirit, to others.
It is always to manifest Christ.