ACTS 16:19-40 19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.
35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” 36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.”38 The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. 39 So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. 40 So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
In this vivid scene recorded by Luke, a brutal jailer meets Jesus through singing sufferers. Though Paul and Silas had been unlawfully beaten, isolated, and tortured, they responded by singing praises. Why would these men respond in such a way? Because though they were caged like beasts, they were actually free as birds in Christ. What’s even more astounding is when the jail doors flew open, they chose to stay, forgiving the jailer and saving his life. In response to their singing, forgiveness, the earthquake, and their telling him the gospel, the jailer put his faith in Jesus (he and his household!). In Acts 16, Luke shows us three radically different people, all changed by Jesus in radically different ways. Lydia needed someone to sit down and talk; the slave girl needed someone to stand up an shout; and the jailer needed someone to suffer and sing. Jesus met each one of them, through His church, right where they were at.
1. Can you in any way relate to what happened to Paul and Silas? If so, how?
2. Was there anything from the sermon, big idea, or Acts 16:19-40 that stood out to you, challenged you, or confused you?
3. How do you think Paul and Silas were able to sing through their suffering? Do you have joy in the gospel like that?
*pause and pray for your group, and the whole Church, to have this kind of joy in the gospel
4. How are Paul and Silas able to forgive this brutal jailer? What was the result? Who do you need to forgive?
5. In what ways does this story remind you of the things that happened to Jesus?
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- CHE Community Group Discussion 7.28-29.15