As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.
19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
The Philippian Jailer Converted
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.
35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” 36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.” 38 The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. 39 So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. 40 So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.
In this story, Paul and Silas enter into Philippi to spread the word about Jesus Christ. They encounter a slave girl who is being used by the devil to lure people away from the one true God. In the name of Jesus, Paul casts the demon out of her. The people who were using her to make money are upset and they have Paul and Silas arrested, beaten severely, and thrown into prison. While they are in prison, they are singing praises to God! Of all places and times to be praising God. God sends an earthquake and the jail doors swing open and the chains fall off of the prisoners. The guard is ready to kill himself since he knows the prisoners would escape, but Paul and Silas tell him that they are all there. The jailer then asks how he too can be saved. He accepts Christ, his family accepts Christ, and they are all baptized that night. The amazing thing about this story is how Paul and Silas responded to being in prison. They did not complain to God. They did not have a pity party. They praised God because they knew that He is always in total control. They were doing the Lord’s work and were beaten and imprisoned for it.
Many times our obedience to God leads us to places that we would rather not go. But we must understand what these men understood. They knew that God is always in control. They knew that nothing slipped past God. They knew that God is always working for a purpose that is larger than what we can see. God looks down the road. God knows what needs to happen. In order for the Philippian jailer and his family to be saved, he needed to hear Paul and Silas in that prison, praising God. It let him know that God was real and that He had changed the lives of these two prisoners. Paul and Silas worshiped God not based on their circumstances. The circumstances stunk! They worshiped and praised God because He is always in control, He is God. They worshiped and praised Him because He is worthy of it. Even when God lets us go down into the deepest darkest prison cell, He is there with us. Paul knew it and Silas knew it. That is why they responded to this situation with praise and worship. God is more concerned with the jailer being saved and his family being saved than with Paul and Silas having to spend some time in prison. God is carrying out His plan for the Universe and we have to trust Him in that. Even when we find ourselves in a dungeon.
- Do you praise God regardless of the circumstances?
- Have you come to realize that God is working with a bigger plan in mind than we have for ourselves?
- How would you respond if you were Paul or Silas?
Today, think about the tough times you have had recently, or are having now. Ask yourself what God might be trying to do in your life through it and in the lives of others around you.