“The crowd also joined in the attack against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and ordered that Paul and Silas be beaten with rods. After striking them many times [with the rods], they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely. He, having received such a [strict] command, threw them into the inner prison (dungeon) and fastened their feet in the stocks [in an agonizing position]. But about midnight when Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; suddenly there was a great earthquake, so [powerful] that the very foundations of the prison were shaken and at once all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer, shaken out of sleep, saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, thinking that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, saying, “Do not hurt yourself, we are all here!” Then the jailer called for torches and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out [of the inner prison], he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:22-30 AMP
How many of us going through hardships can honestly say our first response is praising God? There may be a few who can answer in the affirmative but not many. Our first human response, Christian or unsaved, is panic. These verses are very interesting to say the least. If you go back and read all of chapter 16 you’ll get the backdrop to why they’re in prison. But where I’m going with this is not that they were beaten and locked up, but what they did while they were there. I don’t know why they waited until midnight. But it must’ve been a time when all was quiet in the prison Because the jailer was also asleep.
Whatever the reason, they weren’t sleeping, their bodies were bloodied, their hands and feet were shackled, they had to be in excruciating pain, yet they broke out into praise to God. This act so moved God, it caused a supernatural response. Not only were the chains and jailcell where Paul and Silas were broken and opened, but the entire prison population’s were as well. The jailer almost committed suicide, had Paul not spoken up that they were all there. How was Paul certain that no one had left? That’s supernatural lol. The prisoners had heard the apostle and Silas singing and praising God, they were arrested by the Holy Ghost, no doubt in my mind about that. There isn’t any prison, where you weren’t trying to break out and all of a sudden you’re free and you stay put. That was the work of the Holy Spirit.
The jailer, once recovered from shock had only one question. No sermon, no twelve step program, “ what must I do to be saved?” Basically he was saying, “I want whatever you have that just did what I witnessed!” Hallelujah to the Lamb of God! We try to escape every unpleasant situation, yet sometimes, it’s that unpleasantness that will bring salvation to someone else. Revival took place that night in prison because Paul and Silas got God’s mind on their situation and turned pressure into praise. As I continued reading I also found something Paul kept quiet about before they were beaten and locked up. Information that could’ve spared them the entire ordeal. But why his silence? Let’s continue reading then we’ll unpack it.
“And they answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus [as your personal Savior and entrust yourself to Him] and you will be saved, you and your household [if they also believe].” And they spoke the word of the Lord [concerning eternal salvation through faith in Christ] to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their bloody wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. Then he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, since he had believed in God with his entire family [accepting with joy what had been made known to them about the Christ]. Now when day came, the chief magistrates sent their officers, saying, “Release those men.” And the jailer repeated the words to Paul, saying, “The chief magistrates have sent word to release you; so come out now and go in peace.” But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us in public without a trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now they are sending us out secretly? No! Let them come here themselves and bring us out!” The officers reported this message to the chief magistrates, and when they heard that the prisoners were Romans, they were frightened; so they came [to the prison] and appealed to them [with apologies], and when they brought them out, they kept begging them to leave the city. Acts 16:31-39 AMP
Two things happened during this time that needs our attention. One: The jailer got saved, but he made sure his entire family got saved as well. I’m sure Paul and Silas ministered salvation to the entire prisoner population that night. Two: Paul disclosed that he was a Roman citizen, which had he said that at the onset would’ve changed the entire narrative of what we’re reading right now. You see family, we don’t choose our assignment as believers in Jesus, the assignment chooses us. Had Paul said who he was, the jailer and his family would not have heard and received the message of salvation, the prisoners would not have been set free (spiritually) that night. God alone decides where we go and when. Whatever means He chooses or allows be it; persecution, imprisonments, lack, sickness, relocation, death. All the things we don’t like. The pressures, that horrible job and boss. Friendships that go south. Whatever it may be, know this, if you’ll get His perspective, you’ll get through it.
Job fell on his face and worshipped after he learned he had lost everything. Daniel prayed when the edict was given to kill anyone who refused to worship the idol, the three Hebrew boys, stood up to the king choosing the fiery furnace to honor God. Paul and Silas sang praises before they knew what God’s response would be. Jesus, agonized over what He was about to suffer but prayed nevertheless, not my will. Turning pressure into praise is the markings of a mature saint of God. I tell you I have testimonies, I don’t have the space. When God chooses your assignment, He doesn’t ask you what you think. He doesn’t ask for your opinion. He had Isaiah write these words: “Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Isaiah 45:9 we are servants in the hands of the Creator. He shapes and molds us for His divine purpose. Paul and Silas embraced the assignment, only when it was completed was he free to say he was a Roman citizen. You can tell by the response of those who mistreated them that had this not been an assignment, Paul could’ve made a bigger deal than having them come escort them out. This showed the crowd that they were no ordinary rabble rousers worthy of beatings and imprisonment, but honorable men of God.
Paul’s silence gave him access to a greater purpose. Bringing the hope of salvation to people who may never have heard it otherwise. Our willingness to sacrifice self for God’s greater purpose may not look like something he’d allow, but if we’re His, we’ll trust the process. We’re always asking “why me God?,” why don’t we ask “why NOT me?” Access to the will of God is greater than wealth. Myles Munroe asked this question. “If someone offered you a thousand dollars to go shopping or access to the store to get whatever you want anytime you want, which would you choose?” Most people couldn’t get past the sound of the thousand dollars, but they’d miss out. The thousand will run out, access is for a lifetime. God wants us to have access to all He has for us in Christ. I think most of us have read or heard this verse but jump over this line.
“Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.”Mark 10:28-30 NIV
Mark is the only one to write that. I wonder why? That’s Peter’s account. And he should know. If we’re going to live for Him, then we’re going to suffer for Him as well. (Philippians 1:29) I just lost some folks. But that’s ok. Wouldn’t you rather suffer for Him than for evil? The persecuted church is paying a hard price for their faith all over the world, still the church grows. “Why?” you say? Because of the promise we have in Him. If we lose our life for Him we find it. If we try to save our lives we’ll lose it. Turning pressure into praise is rewarding. I’m speaking from personal experiences. I told you I will never ask you to do anything I’m not willing to do.
Paul and Silas had a great victory that day. The people who had them beaten and locked up because they were exposed, thought they had won. But many souls were saved through their suffering Because they chose to praise instead of complain. Why don’t you try that the next time you’re going through or facing a hard time. Begin praising God through the darkness. Remember it was midnight, the lamps in the prison were out. But supernatural light filled the cell where praise was heard. God will always show up whenever He hears a sound He recognizes. Murmuring and complaining gets the devil’s attention, prayers of faith, worship and praise, gets God on the scene. Try it sometime, you’ll like the results. So whose deliverance are you holding up by your self preservation? 🤔
Father in the Name of Jesus, The decision to lay down my life may be difficult at times, but obedience is always better than sacrifice. Help me die to my own selfish ambitions and embrace a life of total surrender, even if it means suffering. Whatever grants me access to do Your will, let it be done. Use my life to suit Your plans for me. Why not me Lord? If it will bring another from eternal death to eternal life, then why not me? I sing the song I surrender all! But do I mean it? Help me be authentic in my walk with You. In Jesus Name. Amen
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 NIV
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit