And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. 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? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 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, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.
So it has been a couple of weeks since I’ve written on this Bible study. Life has turned upside-down as we are in the middle of the Coronavirus crisis. Colleges have closed. Stores are empty. Friends are losing their jobs. We are all house quarantined. I can’t find flour or yeast for the life of me no matter what time I go to the store. For the unbelievers, I see panic and for the believers, I see clinging faith (you know the kind, “Lord, I believe, please help my unbelief” Mark 9:24).
These verses find Paul and Silas naked (verses 22-24, I doubt they took the time to put clothes back on them after the public beating), bruised and probably bleeding, with their feet in stocks. The two crazy men were praying and singing praises to God. God answers them with an unbelievable miracle. Now I’ve never been in an earthquake, Utah just had one and I doubt that it was strong enough to release shackles or to ruin the foundation of a poorly constructed prison. The poor prison keeper about had a heart attack. If prisoners escaped, he would die a dishonorable and torturing death, so he might as well end his own life. Paul stops him before he falls on his sword. The prison keeper gets saved, brings Paul and Silas home with him, all the keeper’s house gets saved, Paul and Silas get cleaned up and patched up, and he brings them back to the prison.
Funny thing, the next day the judges wanted to let them go, and Paul pulls the Roman card. As a citizen of Rome (remember Paul was born in the city of Tarsus, in the Provence of Cilicia, which was part of the Roman Empire then, now it is part of Turkey), they were illegally mistreated because Roman citizens were not to be beaten, were not to be publicly humiliated, and were always to receive a trial before any kind of punishment. (I’m wondering if Silas was thinking that he could have thought of that sooner, like the day before.) Paul says the magistrates can come and get them out themselves…gotta love Paul. He scared the magistrates to death. Apparently, it was most disgraceful for the magistrates to release Paul and Silas themselves, it of course was public because they had to lead the illegally beaten prisoners through the busy city of Philippi, which was the most important and huge city in Macedonia, and begged them to just leave (I have to wonder what that looked like). They went to blessed Lydia’s house and I’m sure she took amazing care of them so they could recover a bit. Not concerned about themselves, Paul and Silas comforts the believers before they leave.
This passage of scripture just rebukes me and cracks me up at the same time. To be so joyful and God-focused during a time of torture and discomfort is an amazing example of the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul and Silas’ testimony was clear and persuasive for the gospel, so clear that the prison keeper and his whole house accepted the Lord that night. I laugh when I see Paul’s personality shine through in scripture too. He was quite the character.
How do you react to hardship? Most of us do not have the experience of being beaten and thrown in jail. Comparing Paul and Silas’ situation to your own, are you able to still pray and sing praises to God? Or do you easily jump to complaining and worry? Look to and focus on God! He alone brings us through.
Written by Kaye Dee Richards. Kaye Dee lives with her husband Colin in Morrison, CO. They have 4 children, Joshua, Amelia, Victoria, and Julia.
To contact Kaye Dee, leave a comment, message us on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.