April 23, 2020 – Thursday
Acts 16:23-24 NIV
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.
While the word persecution is not used, it is Paul and Silas who were flogged, thrown into prison, and had their feet fastened in the stocks. Sounds like persecution to me since it happened in Philippi in Macedonia after Paul drove a spirit out of a slave woman.
Turns out the slave had made money for her masters by predicting the future. Of course with spirit gone she could no longer do that. So her owners became very angry and had both Paul and Silas brought before the magistrates at the marketplace where they said, 20“These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.” That’s when 22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods.
So unlike many, Paul and Silas, while in prison and in stocks were praying and singing hymns to God. That’s when along about midnight, there was an earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison. Prison doors opened and everyone’s chains came loose.
When the jailer awoke to all the commotion, he saw all the prison doors open, and prepared to kill himself thinking Paul and Silas had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here. With torches and lanterns the jailer confirmed Paul and Silas had not escaped. That is when 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” This was a man who must have heard their message in the city either first or second hand. Whatever he had thought of it before, he now knew the truth of it and wanted salvation Paul and Silas had preached on.
Then came one of the most famous answers in all of history, 31 “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. As a result the jailer cleaned their wounds, then he and his household were baptized. Then 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.
Thus from some obvious persecution comes one of the most famous examples in the bible where a whole family and household were saved. Afterwards the story has an ironic ending where the magistrates had to apologize to Paul and Silas for they had beaten and jailed them without a trial, something you could not legally do to Roman citizens. Paul and Silas were both Roman citizens.
Once again the example of Paul and Silas, like that of Paul and Barnabas, should encourage us to freely and openly share the good news of Jesus Christ.
Riley D. Driver-Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton