Acts 16:26-30
Acts 16:26 (KJB)
And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
While they were singing praises, suddenly there was a great earthquake. This region of the Mediterranean is susceptible to earthquakes, in fact some have been so bad they destroyed entire cities. However, this earthquake seemed to have its epicenter in the prison because God caused this earthquake in response to the praises by Paul and Silas. This earthquake had shaken the foundations of the prison and yet the prison walls did not come down nor was there damage to the edifice. What did happen was a freeing of the prisoners. All the doors had opened and along with that, the chains of the prisoners and the bars across the doors had loosed until all the exits were now made available to the prisoners. Now here is another great principle. When Paul and Silas chose to live above their circumstances and sing praises to God, God had engineered their circumstances to the point that they were free. Whenever we allow our circumstances to rule our life, we become the slave of those circumstances but when we trust the Lord and hand them over to Him, then we become free within those circumstances thus staying above those circumstances and this is exactly what Paul and Silas did. God had engineered these circumstances for another purpose.
Acts 16:27 (KJB)
And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
The jailer had experienced the earthquake and when he saw that the earthquake had opened all the prison doors, he immediately thought to take his own life. Under Roman law, if you are keeping a prisoner and that prisoner escapes, then the guard is to take the punishment which was determined upon the escaped prisoner. In this prison, there was no doubt some who were being held for capital crimes so he knew that since the doors were open, that there was a mass escape and he might as well take his own life since Rome would take his. Suicide was the way out in many pagan religions but if one dies unsaved, their problems have just begun not ended.
Acts 16:28 (KJB)
But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
Paul knew what the jailer was planning on doing because he knew Roman law. If the jailer would have killed himself, then there might have been a mass exodus from that prison. He yelled from the back of the prison that every prisoner was still there and no one had escaped. I am sure the jailer was probably surprised since he expected all to escape. He was probably more shocked that Paul and Silas did not escape since they received such harsh treatment. Paul showed a concern for the jailer in stopping him from killing himself.
Acts 16:29 (KJB)
Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
Since it would have been very dark in the back of the prison, the jailer had asked for a light to be given to him. He did not only just walk into their cell, he had sprung in and he was found trembling because of what had happened and also because Paul had saved his life by stopping him from committing suicide. When the Scripture states that he fell down before Paul and Silas, it has a meaning in the Greek of falling to ones knees as if to be in a subservient mode before someone. I am sure he was also filled with joy that he did not have to take his own life.
Acts 16:30 (KJB)
And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
Once he regained his calmness, he was so thankful for what they did for him that he brought them out of the prison. He showed that he could trust Paul and Silas that they would not overpower him and escape. He was correct and then he asks them the question of the ages on what he must do to become saved. I have pondered this statement and have wondered that if the Jailer was asking how he could save his physical life but since all the prisoners were accounted for, there was no reason for him to fear a physical reprisal. He no doubt had heard the message Paul was preaching in Philippi concerning salvation and the Lord Jesus Christ and now God was opening up his heart to the true Gospel. He heard the message but the time of his salvation was not yet until the timing of the earthquake and his personal dealing with Paul. Sometimes there is a time span between when we hear the true gospel and when we actually become saved, the time when the Holy Spirit applies it to our life. The first time I ever heard the true Gospel was when I was about 12 years old from Blind Evangelist Ralph Montanus on WOR Radio out of New York City but I did not become saved until I was 27, so there was a 15 year span.