The Aftermath of Events Over the Slave Girl Resulting in Paul and Silas being in Prison
“The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials. “They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.”
A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape.So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.
Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself.Acts 16:20-27
The Jailer Is Saved
But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”
The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.”
And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.Acts 16:28-34
This will be a short Gem. I have received a number of questions from several of you asking the same thing.
- Why didn’t the prisoners escape?
- Why did the jailer draw a sword to kill himself?
As one person said along with his question, “it’s in the nature of prisoners to escape and jailers to kill others not themselves. Both of these actions seem so contrary to normal human behaviour.” So I am going to leave those question dangling before you before I comment any more. In the spirit of Deeper Bible I am more interested in prodding you to do your own thinking rather than giving you answers. In the way Luke has written this passage he has left us with some overall impressions that are significant.
What is the answer to these questions on the basis of what Luke has given us? What is Luke is dangling before us? Do you see some other curious elements in the part of the story that is yet to unfold? And are you still weighing up the reason as to why Paul and Silas didn’t claim their Roman citizenship earlier? Lastly keep looking at both stories of miraculous escape from prison. There are tantalizing hints of similarity between them. There is a note of incredulity about them both on the part of those who should have known better. Then finally we need switch to the other side of the fence and examine the reaction of those who started all this carry on when they find Paul and Silas (and the rest of the prisoners) were out of prison anyway and were in fact Roman citizens. It is all very interesting in the way Luke has told the story, when he could have just given us the bare facts and moved on. No, he has written this story and concatenated several stories together in a fast-moving account for a reason. Let’s investigate all of these things before we move on.
Keep reading both accounts in comparison:
Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover. But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him. The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered.
So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening. They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him.
Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent His angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!”
When he realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer. He knocked at the door in the gate, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to open it. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, “Peter is standing at the door!”
“You’re out of your mind!” they said. When she insisted, they decided, “It must be his angel.”
Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking. When they finally opened the door and saw him, they were amazed. He motioned for them to quiet down and told them how the Lord had led him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers what happened,” he said. And then he went to another place.
At dawn there was a great commotion among the soldiers about what had happened to Peter. Herod Agrippa ordered a thorough search for him. When he couldn’t be found, Herod interrogated the guards and sentenced them to death. Afterward Herod left Judea to stay in Caesarea for a while.Acts 12:4-19
Yes I have added a little more to both stories.
Anyone can pedal hard going down the hill, but you win the race (life) by pedalling hard, up the hill.William Paisley
How is that many Christian pray asking for certain things and then are surprised when He grants their request in His way?Ian Vail
Worship is no longer worship when it reflects the culture around us more than the Christ within us.A.W. Tozer
Note that Paul and Silas seem totally unfazed and unamazed by all that happened. That is the sign of confidence in prayer.Ian Vail