January 14, 2021 – Thursday
Acts 16:29-31 NIV
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.”
What happened you might ask? After all just a few verses back (13-15) Paul and his companions had accepted an invitation from Lydia to stay at her home after she became a believer. Now Paul and Silas are being addressed by a jailer who is trembling in fear asking, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? From that we know he has not heard the gospel. Knowing this Paul and Silas replied, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household. So how did they go from being house guests of Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth?
To answer that question, we need to back up a few verses to get our answer. Turns out when going to the place of prayer where they had shared the gospel with Lydia and others, they were approached and hounded by a slave woman who was possessed and made money for her owners by fortune-telling. She was always following Paul and the others shouting (17-18), These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved. 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.
That sounds good and it was, except the spirit that possessed her made it possible for her owners to make money using her to do fortune telling. Without a spirit possessing her, she would not be making money for her owners. Thinking only about their loss of income (v19b), they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. Once there they made up charges against them saying (v20-21), These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice. But the truth didn’t matter to those in the marketplace as they became inflamed against them being biased against Jews. As a result of all this (v22-24), the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Now we have an answer to our question about what happened and what changed. But why was the jailer who had put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks rushing back to the jail and falling trembling before Paul and Silas in our verse/s of the day? Turns out Paul and Silas were not your usual prisoners as we would suspect. Although in stocks they were praying and singing hymns through the night when a violent earthquake occurred. It was so violent (v27), the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. Of course, the earthquake woke up the jailer who discovered the prison doors open and thinking the prisoners had all escaped prepared to kill himself. This may seem strange to you, but under Roman law guards who allowed their prisoners to escape received the penalty of their escaped prisoners. Somehow Paul knew what the jailer was about to do and called out (v28), Don’t harm yourself! We are all here! Now we know why the jailer fell at their feet and brought them out asking, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? They replied with the gospel, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.
Normally we think of the ABC’s of salvation, but by his action, the jailer was A-admitting he was a sinner. Now he was told to B-believe in Jesus as Lord and C-call upon His name which the jailer obviously did. We know this because he (v34) 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. Like Paul we need to be ready to present the ABC’s of salvation when given the opportunity. Details on the ABC’s of salvation may be found here and here. Take the time to watch both of them.
Prayer: Heavenly Father – Please help me to be ready to share the gospel via the ABC’s of salvation whenever the opportunity presents itself. – In Jesus name. Amen.