Thoughts for the Day

Tuesday, 16th May 2023: Paul and Silas in prison

Holy Spirit Acts 16 Philippi Paul

Reading : Verses from Acts, Chapter 16

Paul's Second Missionary Journey

The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted in a loud voice, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.’ The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them outside and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’
They answered, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


We now pick up Paul on his Second Missionary Journey which will take him about 3 years. He travels by land, over one mountain range to Tarsus, and on through Syria and Cilicia. He was joined by Silas, and on reaching the Roman colony of Philippi Paul falls foul of a slave owner by curing his slave girl that has a spirit of 'divination'. The owner incites the crowd against them and takes them to the magistrate. They are then beaten and thrown into prison. Roman towns kept Roman laws, but they had got it wrong here, for Paul and Silas are not Jewish charlatans, but are actually Roman citizens and it's illegal to imprison them without a trial.

The beating was severe, and the stocks probably had a number of holes for the feet, designed to separate the legs apart to an uncomfortable degree. Their only help is God, so despite their pain Paul and Silas keep praying and singing hymns. What must if have felt like for other felons to hear the songs of praise to God? It would have affected many, by the time the earthquake struck. As for the jailer, if his prisoners had escaped he would have been given their punishment himself! No wonder, at first, he is willing to kill himself.

This incident gives us a pattern we should look for in our own life:

1. Danger or trouble, occurs.
2. We pray.
3. God intervenes in some way.
4. The opportunity for sharing the Gospel occurs.
5. New Christians are made with the help of the Holy Spirit.


Lord Jesus Christ,
when our life feels grim,
help us to ask for Your help.
Teach us to expect Your intervention.
Enable us to see that Your answer
may not be what we expect.
Encourage us to share the good news
of Your salvation with others,
and then continue praising You.

Follow Up Thoughts

Find out more about Philippi a UNESCO World Heritage site:

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