About midnight Paul & Silas were praying & singing hymns to God in the Philippian jail, and the other prisoners were listening to them (277).
Suddenly there was a violent earthquake, which shook the entire prison building. All the doors of the cells opened & all the chains fell off all the prisoners!
When the jailer got up & saw the cell doors open, he thought that the prisoners had escaped. Three thoughts flashed through his mind:
- The prisoners had been under his watch.
- Their escape would be blamed on him.
- He would be executed for letting them escape.
In horror, the jailer pulled out his sword & was about to kill himself!
But Paul shouted, “Don’t kill yourself! We’re all still here!” The jailer called for a light, rushed in & was amazed to find all the prisoners! Immediately, he fell trembling at the feet of Paul & Silas; the jailer knew he was in the presence of a power greater even than that of his superior officers.
Rising, he led Paul & Silas out of their cells & asked, “How can I be saved?” They answered in a way the jailer did not expect: “You & your family members will be saved by believing in & following Jesus.”
The jailer wanted to understand this, and he wanted his family to understand it, too. So he took Paul & Silas to his house, where they explained the word of God to him, to his family and to all the others in his house.
The Holy Spirit caused everyone there to receive gladly the good news about Jesus. The jailer washed the wounds of the two witnesses for Jesus. Then, he & all his family were baptized.
And then, they all shared a meal together as brothers & sisters in Christ. The jailer & his family were filled with joy, because they now knew that God truly loved them.
At dawn, Paul & Silas returned to their jail cell, in order to spare the jailer from certain death.
(277) Acts 16:25-34