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


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.


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)

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