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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Acts 16:25-40 – How did it happen?

The jailor became involved because Paul and Silas had been arrested at the instigation of the owners of the slave girl. In a sense it was all none of his business, although he soon discovered that he had to make it his business.

It is unlikely that Paul and Silas thought that morning that they would be in prison in the evening, and that they would be the means of the conversion of the jailor and his household. No doubt, Paul and Silas would have prayed to be guided to converts, but such prayers can result in unexpected answers.

The incident also tells us that the Lord will give opportunity for salvation in very unexpected places and to individuals who would not have been expecting to be converted. I am sure it had never entered the jailor’s mind that he could be saved; we don’t even know if he had heard that there were such a group as Christians.

In order to bring about the conversion of the Philippian jailor God sent an earthquake.  It was a surprising earthquake in that it did not kill or injure anyone; instead it set the prisoners free from their chains. It may be that they had been chained to rings on the walls, but the miracle seems to have been more than loosing the rings. There is something about the miracle that stops the prisoners from fleeing. Although they had been released from the grip of Roman authority, they found themselves in the hand of a higher power and seem frightened to move. And this had an effect on the jailor.

Also with regard to the jailor, this was the only occasion he would have to hear Paul and Silas. They would have been released the next day and moved on to their next place. Sometimes providence only gives one opportunity for hearing the gospel.

Providence also ensured that through the experience of Paul and Silas the congregation would receive the authentication of the civil authority. It had been founded by people who had Roman citizenship. The reason why they had been attacked was because the owners assumed that Paul and Silas did not have this privilege, one that was highly valued in the Roman Empire in general and in a city like Philippi in particular because it was a place where most of the citizens had this benefit.

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