[After the massive earthquake that opened the jail doors and released the prisoners' chains in Philippi, Paul assured the jailer that no one had escaped. Then, the] jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household." And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.
— Acts 16:29-34 NLT
What a beautiful story of the Good News of Jesus! Paul and Silas go from being prisoners in jail under torturous circumstances to having their wounds washed by their jailer and then having all in the jailer's household as brothers and sisters in Christ. Some key things to notice:
- Luke does not separate baptism from coming to faith. Paul doesn't separate the two either (Galatians 3:26-29), and clearly the importance of the two as one event is emphasized in Luke's recounting the events — "Even at that hour of the night... [the jailer] and everyone in his household were immediately baptized."
- The repentance of the jailer is signaled by his washing Paul's and Silas' wounds and sharing a meal with them.
- Rejoicing, a theme of Paul in his later letter to the Philippians (Philippians 3:1, 4:4-7), is also a part of this conversion experience.
Belief in the Lord Jesus, baptism, repentance, and joy are all part of what it means in Acts to come to Christ!
I praise you, O God, for being the source of our joy even in the middle of our deepest challenges. Thank you for this example of such wide swings in human emotions — Paul and Silas' praise under persecution, the despair of the jailer at fearing the loss of prisoners, the washing of wounds and the tenderness of a meal for these people together, faith in Jesus as Lord, baptism in the middle of the night, and joy at receiving salvation. Only you, O LORD, can ransom life's greatest treasures out of moments of deepest darkness. I thank you for sending Jesus to be the light that leads us out of our deepest darkness! In his name, I pray. Amen.