Paul and the Philippian Jailer
Paul and Silas, were in Phillipi. Paul cast a spirit of divination out of a slave girl. Her masters, unhappy at losing a source of income, took them before the magistrate, made accusations against them.
22The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods.23When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely;24and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;26and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.27When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.28But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!”29And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas,30and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
The Jailer Converted
31They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”32And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.33And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.34And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.
Paul and Silas had been beaten and thrown into a prison cell. At Midnight they were singing—singing hymns of praise to the Lord. There was an earthquake and they had freedom to leave. The jailer was about to kill himself because his life would have been forfeit if he had lost his prisoners. Paul stopped him by calling out that they were still there. Somehow Paul passed up an opportunity for himself and gained salvation for the jailer and his family. The jailer who may have been the one giving the beating earlier then washed their wounds and feed them. What a turnaround God worked! Paul became the good news of God just as Jesus had by giving up his rights to gain something greater. When God tells us to do things that really are not in line with our desires—He is working a plan that will bring greater good. This is true when the Lord tells us to submit to each other, for wives to submit to their husbands, to forgive people who have treated us in ways we do not want to forgive, and so many other things that go against our nature. He wants us to freely adopt His love and grace toward other people. We are not under compulsion, we are under the grace and love of God. He wants us to choose to be to others as He has been to us. And He has been good.