Paul & Silas – Praising God While In Prison

Kenneth Blanchard recommends developing the practice of “one-minute praisings,” where the employer (or parent, spouse, etc.) tries to “catch someone doing something right” and then spend a full sixty seconds praising that person for the good deed. This is a lo … More

Praising

In this passage we find that a demon possessed slave girl began to follow Paul around crying out “These men are the servants of the most high God which show unto us the way to salvation” (v. 17).  Even though she spoke the truth, you can imagine the damage this would do to his ministry by identifying his message with her false soothsaying. This was the kind of help that he did not need, so he cast out the demon (v. 18). This immediately cut off the source of income for her masters. Having no concern for the girl, but only interested in the income she provided, these owners demanded the arrest of the missionaries and brought them before the authorities of the city (vv.19-20). The magistrates didn’t like trouble makers, so they had Paul and Silas beaten and put in jail.

Still hurting from the beating, and locked in wooden stocks, you would not think the prisoners would be too joyful. However, at midnight the jailer and the other prisoners were startled to hear Paul and Silas singing and praising God. God responded by shaking the prison with an earthquake that opened the doors and freed the prisoners (vv. 25-26). As the jailer was about to commit suicide Paul led him to Christ, and he ended up taking the missionaries home with him (vv. 27-34).

In this passage Paul made no effort to deal with the social problem, only with the spiritual problem. We must get right with God before we can get right with our fellow men.  Man’s first sin separated man from God: his second sin (Cain’s murder of Abel) separated man from man. The “social gospel” puts the cart before the horse, being primarily concerned with man’s relationship with man. There is a social side to the gospel, such as teaching people to read, doing translation work, building hospitals etc., but the missionary’s primary goal should be to win men to Christ.

Application

Prayer and praise are powerful weapons (II Chr. 20:20-22). I need to use them more than trying to use my own weapons.

Acts 16:16-34 (English Standard Version)

As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation." And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And it came out that very hour. 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. And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, "These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice." The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison 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, 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. 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. But Paul cried with a loud voice, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here." And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 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. 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.

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