It is one of those stories we know so well that we do not even have to think about it very much in order to teach or preach on it. The story of the Philippian jailer is that familiar. Paul and Silas were in jail, an earthquake happened, they did not escape, and the jailer ended up finding salvation. But when I really think about this story, there are two things that always surprise me. It just is not the way I expect the story to go. And there are two things that seem natural developments that I am not sure are all that natural to us today.

I am always somewhat surprised when I think about Paul and Silas worshipping in jail. Singing and praying. Were they praying for deliverance? If so, they sure missed their opportunity. Were they singing songs of lament? I don’t think so. There was something about what they were doing that was compelling to the other prisoners. I wonder if they were singing songs of praise. Praising God in the midst of the storm as it were. Realizing they were forgiven by God’s grace and choosing to express that by the way they lived. Even in prison. Loving God with everything they had no matter what. Maybe praying for strength and courage. Maybe praying for the other prisoners. Or even praying for their jailers.

They did not leave the jail when they had the opportunity. Is it possible they were thinking about what the consequences would be for the jailer? Did they decide to do what was best for him? Were they loving him as they would love themselves? Is this what believers are expected to do? Love God and love the people in your world, even if that world is a cell?

The prison warden was so convicted by their lives and actions that he immediately wanted to know what to do to be saved. Is that not the reaction we all want from the people that come to know us? They will see our lives of worship, receive our gifts of service, and want to know the reason for our hope. We should expect it to happen.

So Paul and Silas shared Jesus with their jailer and those around him. They shared the word of the Lord and baptized them. Then all joined together in a meal of celebration. We too must be ready to share Jesus when the opportunity arises. Take advantage of opportunities to share our faith.

Live, serve, speak. All in the name of Jesus.

Only Jesus can bring a man from suicide to salvation.
And the kingdom will grow.

This material comes from a seminar called “Followers Making Followers” that is available through Hope For Life, a Herald of Truth ministry. For more information, visit

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