- 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
- 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
- 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.