We are hot off the heels of Lydia and her family being baptized. If you’ll remember, Paul receives a vision and heads to Macedonia. Long story short, he never makes it and spends some time in Philippi. While there, he shares the Good News of Jesus and stays a while. Then, one day, he wakes up and decides to take a walk to the place of prayer where they go, and a slave girl who could predict the future comes to meet him. Love it. When Jesus is radiantly shining out of you – people want to come up and know what’s going on. Let’s learn why the Roman Jailer is Baptized.
Acts 16: 16-18
16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 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.
Don’t Annoy Paul
Our main lesson here is not to bother Paul while he is busy. No, wait, that’s not it. Sorry. For many days she followed them around shouting, “They men teach about Jesus!” Once or twice, maybe that’s okay. Buy for days? We had that moment with our children (those of you who have them) where they get stuck on a loop, right? “I lost my quarter.” “Can we go back?” “Can I have another one?” Do you have a quarter?” “I dropped it back there.” “I can’t find it, can you help me?” etc. If this following around goes on longer than 2 minutes, I lose my mind. This girl nagged Paul for many days! And he had enough.
“In the name of Jesus, I command you to come out of her.” So done. Christians do not perform exorcisms or seances, spells, etc. We command in the name of Jesus. And that is all it takes. The family then loses their mind when they release their income-producing slave girl is useless to them. When religious people persecute Christians, it is typically due to envy. But when they are persecuted by non-religious, it’s typically due to finances.
Acts 16:19, 22-24
19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 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.
Would that be enough for you to throw up your hands and call it quits? I play a game with my children, “would you rather?” This game would go, “Would you rather have someone tell you your fortune or get beaten with a whip filled with glass and bones and then put in jail?
God’s Way Is The Only Priority
Do you think God was concerned with the comfort of Paul and Silas? It would certainly be hard to keep positive in a situation like this. And to make all matters worse, it is told they were fastened in prison stocks. What an absolute disaster. Bleeding, full of pain, unable to move, no medical treatment. Terrible. And what do Paul and Silas decide to do about this?
Acts 16: 25
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
I hear, and even myself have said, I wish I could be more like Paul. Maybe try starting here. The next time you are thrown off track, pray and worship God. Right after, there was a massive earthquake that broke the foundation of the prisons. The doors flew open, the chains broke, and the Jailer woke up and was going to kill himself. Why? Because suicide was an honor in this culture, and if you lost a prisoner under your watch, you received their sentence. The roman Jailer is done.
Acts 16: 26-30
26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” 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?”
The Roman Jailer Is Baptized
Paul and Silas immediately slow down his self-execution and begin telling the Jailer about Jesus. He’s 100% convinced and desperate. They took his physical death and brought it to the feet of Jesus and desired true life. “What must I do to be saved?” the Roman Jailer asks.
Acts 16: 31-34
31 They replied, “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. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 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.
The Jailer believes and is baptized. Him and his whole family. Amen.
What happens next? Paul and Silas received orders to be released but wouldn’t go quietly. The magistrates demanded that those who beat them (Roman citizens) without a trial come and escort them out. They didn’t know that Paul and Silas were roman citizens, which alarmed them. They came, escorted them through the city, and returned to Lydia’s house praising and worshiping God (Acts 16:35-40).